On May 3, mezzo-soprano Kathryn Findlen joins pianist Rick Rowley at The North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh for a “Carolina Portrait: Songs and Piano Works by Kenneth Frazelle,” sponsored by the Raleigh Chamber Music Guild. Findlen — a champion of Frazelle’s vocal music — presented the May 2013 New York premiere of the composer’s cycle Songs in the Rearview Mirror at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, and has subsequently toured the work around the country. “Carolina Portrait” features selections from Frazelle’s song cycles Appalachian Songbook, Return, Songs in the Rearview Mirror, Sunday at McDonalds, and Vanishing Birds.
“[When I program a concert,]” Findlen shares, “I choose the works I perform both by the texts and the beauty of the composition. For me, Ken’s music has both while embodying the elements that connect us as humans.” Several songs on the program feature Frazelle’s settings of works by noted North Carolinian poet (and friend) A. R. Ammons, as well as the composer’s own texts. Findlen continues, “No other composer [with whom] I have worked writes his own texts as Ken does…His sound world is connected to place (America and North Carolina) and Southern culture. I often see snapshots of my own childhood as I am singing his pieces. Singing is a 3-D experience for me, [and] the fact that Ken also uses imagery in his compositions is powerful…I look forward to this concert at The North Carolina Museum of Art…” Pianist Rick Rowley rounds out the Frazelle portrait-concert as he performs solo piano excerpts from Blue Ridge Airs I, Lullabies and Birdsongs, and Book of Blue Flowers.
Next fall, Findlen continues her tour of Frazelle’s Songs in the Rearvew Mirror when accompanist Richard Masters joins her for the Boston premiere at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. In spring 2016, Findlen and Masters team-up again to premiere Findlen’s own Frazelle-commission — Songs of Clay and Stone. The new song cycle will be a sonic travelogue, which will explore the landscape, ancient pueblos, and artists of the Four Corners area of the American Southwest.