Encores & Curtain Calls: Old Deerfield Sunday Afternoon Concert
Submitted photo The Aug. 17 Old Deerfield Sunday Afternoon Concert will include works by Christine Lavin, Zina Goldrich and March Heisler, Zeke Hecker and show tunes from Stephen Sondheim and others. Pictured, from left, sopranos Lisa Woods and Terry LaFleur and, in back, composer Jerry Noble, who will accompany them.
“Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song.
The Aug. 17 Old Deerfield Sunday Afternoon Concert brings the return of sopranos Lisa Woods (mezzo) and Terry LaFleur (stratospheric) — sometimes solo and other times in glorious two-part harmony — to the Music Room of Memorial Hall Museum at 3 p.m. They will be accompanied by composer Jerry Noble.
I have yet to make the acquaintance of LaFleur. However, familiarity with Noble, who has always been, first and foremost, about enjoying both himself, his colleagues and the music and with Lisa Woods, who speaks with an almost girlish enthusiasm about her love of song, old and new, and her delight in collaboration, leads me to believe the air will be thick with spontaneity and delight.
The concert will include works by Christine Lavin, Zina Goldrich and March Heisler, Zeke Hecker and show tunes from Stephen Sondheim and others.
A recent talk with Woods:
JM: It looks as if you’re doing premieres by three different regional composers?
LW: Right. We’re doing three that Jerry (Noble) wrote and then one that Zeke (Hecker) wrote; Zeke’s is a little big longer, like 10 minutes, and Jerry’s three total probably 3 minutes apiece. Zeke’s is more of a scene.
JM: And apart from that ... ?
LW: The first half we consider the lighter half, the three pieces we mentioned, and I’m doing “Alto’s Lament,” (a comic send up of the constant plight of the alto as second banana) and Terry’s doing “Good Thing He Can’t Read My Mind.” That’s kind of like the lighter half. The second half is actually going to be Broadway, some more modern Broadway, I want to say, more beautiful Broadway music from “Jekyll & Hyde” and “Sideshow” and “Chess.”
JM: So, mostly not highbrow music.
JM: What is it that decided you to do these concerts in tandem with Terry LaFleur?
LW: Actually, we formally met in December of 2012, but I didn’t realize that our paths had actually been crossing for about eight years prior because she’s a member of Trinity Church in Springfield and very active working with the chamber groups and children’s choruses there in the music program in general. And, and when Commonwealth (Opera) used to do their gala concerts there, I used to perform in those and she would see me there and say ‘Hi’ to me a few times. Then, when I sang in Wilbraham United Players’ production of “The Mikado,”Terry, as well as being a voice teacher also plays the violin, she was in the pit and had students in the show. So, we had actually been seeing each other for about eight years. In December of 2012, we both sang in “Candycane Cabaret” and at the end of the program, she started chatting with me and she said, “You and I should sing together sometime,” and I said “Sure” and we started talking and it took off from there. We formed ‘Bella Voce’ and we have a website. Things are going quite well, we’ve actually built quite the fan base now. We have a lot of repeat people coming to our classes, so it’s very exciting for us right now.”
JM: And how would you contrast your two voices?
LW: Well, she’s a soprano, obviously, a very high soprano; I would say I’m more classical, not that she isn’t but that my voice is definitely more operatic. She sings classical but also does a lot of Broadway and a lot of musicals; she’s actually very excellent at that whereas I don’t do as much of that as she does. She actually just won an award for her work as Margaret Johnson. Both of us sang in “The Light on the Piazza” with Wilbraham United Players, which was nominated for many awards by the Mass Critics’ Circle; Terry actually won Best Actress in a Musical for her performance.
JM: “Light in the Piazza” is a recent musical ... (by Adam Guettel and Craig Lucas)
LW: Right, it is, like, 2005, I believe.
JM: Are all of your and Terry’s concerts done together?
LW: Not all, we have our solo stuff and we have our together stuff. Terry and I have been together for five years and our concerts are everything: a lot of times we start off with classical pieces, then we go to Broadway and then we go to American composers.
JM: You’ve said Zeke Hecker’s piece is a 10-minute scene from an imaginary drama?
LW: Yes, it’s called “United” and Terry and I are going to be in two chairs; let me just read directly from the paragraph at the beginning of the script we got for the scene: “Two chairs, facing the audience, representing adjacent seats on a United Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Hartford ... In the window seat is Margo ... a young woman in her 20s, and in the aisle seat is Susan — which is me — somewhat older, around 40.” And the plane hasn’t left the ground yet and, basically we start a conversation, and it’s what happens from there that makes it interesting.
JM: In effect, he’s attempted to write a mini-opera for you.
LW: Right, exactly, that’s what I sort of asked him for because, in the past, I’ve actually sung some songs of his at a couple of Old Deerfield concerts and when Terry and I hooked up I saw it would be awesome if he could write something for the two of us. And he asked me, “Do you want a comedy or a drama type of situation?” And, in like two hours, he had something written! So it’s definitely something lighter, on the comedy side. We enjoy doing that.
JM: And Jerry Noble has provided three discrete songs?
JM: In what idiom?
LW: His songs are almost a spoof on singers and are entitled “Terry’s Song,” “Lisa’s Song” and “It’s Almost Showtime.” Terry’s song is about how the song is all about her, the diva, the stereotype; and my song is about how it’s not the soprano, the diva, who’s the star of the show, it’s actually me, the mezzo. We actually did “It’s Almost Showtime” recently at Trinity Church in Springfield and the audience loved it.”
Admission to the Aug. 17 concert is $10; $5 for students and seniors. For further information, call Memorial Hall Museum at 413-774-3768, ext. 80.
An author and composer, columnist Joseph Marcello of Northfield focuses on music and theater. He can be reached at email@example.com.