If you’re following the rolling celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday year, consider attending the final recital in the St. Mark’s Recital Series. It will take place Friday at the church and will feature a trio of stellar musicians.
Soprano Gemma Kavanagh and flutist Rochelle Mann will be joined by pianist C. Scott Hagler to present a program titled “The Birds and the B’s.”
At the end of a remarkably rich program, Kavanagh will reprise her comic rendition of “Glitter and Be Gay.” The song is from Bernstein’s “Candide,” his opera based on Voltaire’s satirical novel about hyperventilating optimism and steady-breathing realism.
In early April, when Kavanagh performed the work at the lecture-recital prelude for the San Juan symphony Bernstein celebration, she performed with devilish gusto. The song is a darkly comic piece about the effort it takes to shine, smile and glitter while not feeling at all gay. Kavanagh seemed to relish the part, and she brought Voltairean wit and Bernsteinian humor to minor key, major key shifts, not to mention the stratospheric “Queen of the Night” demands.
The St. Mark’s recital has a dual framework as it’s titled “The Birds and the B’s.” First, it’s a musical aviary with songs about larks and wrens, plus three Irish folk songs reinterpreted by John Corigliano, most likely filled with feathered references.
The B’s of the title refers to music by Bach, Beach, Benedict and Bernstein. And just before the Bernstein fireworks, Kavanagh will sing of bluebirds in Harold Arlen’s “Over the Rainbow.”
Judith Reynolds is an arts journalist and member of the American Theatre Critics Association.