Kander: Wonderfully Technical & Performative

I am spectacularly grateful to Katy for premiering Rahassya!” — Susan Kander

On April 9, 2022, Susan Kander’s newest vocal work Rahassya will be premiered by mezzo-soprano Katherine Pracht-Phares at Bowling Green State University’s Bryan Hall (Ohio). Joining Pracht-Phares are percussionists Nick Fox on vibraphone and David Esselburn on marimba. The 20-minute work is based on Kahlil Gibran’s celebrated work ‘The Prophet,” and features text-settings in ten different languages.

Katherine Pracht-Phares, mezzo-soprano

As Pracht-Phares prepares for the premiere, she shares some thoughts about Kander’s new work. “Rahassya’s poetic text, taken from Khalil Gibran’s ‘The Prophet,’ slowly releases the story of a woman, Almitra, whose personality is described through strong, intricate melodic bursts, percussive shimmers on tambourine, and curious harmonic shifts. She makes her way forward through 10 languages, each colored with its unique rhythmic and harmonic hue. When Almitra encounters the Prophet, she asks him ‘the secret of death.’ Through otherworldly tones that bend and swell from the vibraphone, the Prophet’s response opens a door to an ethereal dance which the singer joins playing tambourine. As the Prophet leaves, people keen, and Almitra learns she may have been some part of the Prophet’s prophesy.

“This is the first time I’ve performed with percussion accompaniment, and, the first time I’ve played percussion in a performance! Susan has given each of us a wonderful technical and performative stretch in Rahassya. We are thrilled to premiere this piece for the BGSU audience where ears are well trained and eager to hear, perform and support contemporary music; and, we are so grateful to Susan for joining us for the premiere!”

Upcoming: later this spring, Kander’s vocal chamber work A Garden’s Time Piece will be performed by the Boston-based group Juentas New Music Ensemble.