Geneseo’s Department of Music held a faculty recital on Sunday Sept. 10, featuring assistant professor of music, soprano Pamela Kurau, who performed the first half of the program with pianist Joseph Werner, the principle keyboard for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. The program, entitled “A River Runs Through It,” was a collection of river songs and sentimental compositions.
Students, faculty and friends congregated in Doty Recital Hall for an intimate and enjoyable performance. As the lights dimmed, the chatter in the audience ceased from the anticipation—and the crowd erupted in applause as Pamela Kurau and Werner first took the stage.
The duo began their program with the song “Au bord de l’eau” by Gabriel Faure. Translating to “At the Water’s Edge,” it is a pleasant song filled with rich imagery and emotion. Pamela Kurau sang the French lyrics with ease, all the while still displaying passion and excitement with her voice and facial expressions.
The second piece performed was Samuel Barber’s “Hermit Songs.” This work is a collection of 10 short, anonymous Irish songs from the eighth to 13th centuries written by monks and scholars. The lyrics of these songs slowly drew the audience in, acting more like a poem than a song. In between each of the 10 songs, the spectators were so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. It would be impossible not to appreciate how quickly and accurately the two performers portrayed the feelings behind each song.
The sixth part of the “Hermit Songs,” entitled “Sea-Snatch,” was both intense and exciting, while “The Monk and his Cat” was a playful story for the eighth part, telling a tale of a scholar and his cat living together peacefully. The difference in emotion was apparent between these two songs.
The music produced by both the vocalist and pianist flowed in effortless harmony. Pamela Kurau’s ethereal voice complimented Werner’s skillful piano playing. It was like the two were communicating in a language that only they themselves understood; as Pamela Kurau sang, the pianist retorted or gently responded with a stroke of the piano keys.
Following the intermission, W. Peter Kurau joined the performance on the horn. W. Peter Kurau is currently a professor of horn at the Eastman School of Music and the principal horn of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.
The addition of the horn added even more soul and depth into each piece. It was clear that the three musicians worked together perfectly as they performed “Banalités”—another French piece divided into five parts.
Out of all of the songs included in the program, the highlight was the last piece, Alec Wilder’s “Did You Ever Cross Over to Sneden’s?”
Its nostalgic lyrics and dreamlike quality allowed the audience to reminisce about the past. The words created images of a flowing river, of white houses clinging to hills and of a setting sun—all of which made the listener ponder their childhood in an eerily sorrowful, yet beautiful way.
The entrancing “Did You Ever Cross Over to Sneden’s?” was the seamless end to an enchanting performance.u