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Voices of the Italian Holocaust: A Recital of Vocal Music with Caroline Helton

Sunday, January 30, 2011
5:00 AM
Britton Recital Hall, Moore Building

Featuring soprano Caroline Helton and pianist Kathryn Goodson

Soprano Caroline Helton and pianist Kathryn Goodson, who recently released their first CD of solo vocal music by Jewish composers,Voices of the Holocaust, will be performing a new program of music exclusively by Italian Jewish composers. With the help of Italian musicologist Aloma Bardi, Helton and Goodson have prepared a program that displays these composers’ astonishing stylistic variety in the period before and during World War II.

“It is an extreme privilege to have my very own personal musicologist, Aloma Bardi, finding these gems for Kathryn and me to perform,” explains Helton. “Given the state of publishing and archives in Italy after World War II, music by obscure composers (made all the more obscure by the fact they were Jewish) is terribly difficult to find. Aloma actually found a piece that was thought to be lost Vocalise (Chant Hebraïque) in our own Library of Congress. Not only has Aloma done years of research, but she has also matched the repertoire to my voice, so that Kathryn and I were able to compile a musically diverse program very easily out of the pieces she provided us.”

The pieces on the program have very rarely been performed in Italy. The recital will mark the American premiere of many of them, including Mario Castelnuovo’s Vocalise (Chant Hebraïque), which until recently was believed to be lost. The texts are variously drawn from the great Italian poets Dante, Giosuè Carducci, and Giacomo Leopardi, as well as the French Jewish poet Max Jacob.

“Each composer represented on this program has a completely unique voice in his harmonic vocabulary, piano writing and text setting,” Helton continues. “The subject matter ranges from the most lighthearted settings of folk tunes in the Piedmontese dialect (spoken by Primo Levi) to the most profound poetry by beloved Italian masters. Each composer captures the heart and soul of the text in his settings and enlarges that text through the magic of melody and harmony to create song, the most literary of musical art forms. Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco is profound (think Debussy); Vittorio Rieti is playful and ironic, like Poulenc and Kurt Weill; Luigi Sinigaglia is sweet; and Guido Alberto Fano has a lush Puccini style.”