Friday, April 29, 2011

Soprano Rosalind Lee Savors the Unexpected in Bach's Music

Soprano Rosalind Lee of Oak Park will be making her Bach Week Festival debut April 29 in a duet with tenor Hoss Brock in Bach’s Cantata No. 4, Christ lag in Todesbanden ("Christ Lay in the Bonds of Death").

She will be singing this part in concert for the first time.

“One of the things that I particularly enjoy about the movement is how the two voices weave together,” she says. There’s also “an unexpected harmonic turn in the duet” that she finds engaging. She savors the element of unpredictability in Bach’s music, which “makes you sit up and listen. That's part of the magic of Bach,” she says. “I love being able to convey that feeling of excitement to the audience."

She adds, “I'm really looking forward to working with [festival music director] Richard Webster for the first time, and I can't wait for the concerts!”

Bach’s music has figured prominently in her development as a singer.  One of her first scholarships was to the Interlochen National Music Camp when she was in high school. For her audition, she sang "Schafe k
önnen sicher weiden" from the cantata Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd, BWV 208.   

She sang the echo duet from the Weihnachts-Oratorium, BWV 248, with Kathleen Battle with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra under Raymond Leppard.  She performed the cantata Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen, BWV 51, at the 2010 Handel Week Festival in Oak Park, where in recent years she’s been featured in cantatas for solo soprano.

Baroque music has been a constant in her career.  She sang the role of Venus in the opera La purpura de la Rosa by Tomás Torrejón y Velasco with the Bloomington Early Music Festival. She performed the soprano solos in the Vivaldi Gloria with the Indianapolis Symphony.

Lee says “a huge influence” in her musical life was her choir director at Oak Park and River Forest High School, Robert Fuller.

“I was terribly spoiled by the level of music-making I was able to participate in even before I entered college," she says. During my senior year, we performed the Mozart Coronation Mass, and I was able to sing the “Agnus Dei” solo.  Shortly after that, we went on a field trip to see The Marriage of Figaro at the Lyric Opera.  I remember Mr. Fuller leaning over to me during "Dove sono" and pointing out how Mozart had used part of the same tune for the “Agnus Dei” solo I had sung earlier.

“That year, he also had just four of us sing the cantata Aus der Tiefen, BWV 131, on one of our concerts.  These wonderful solo experiences really stuck with me and helped fuel the fire under me to become a professional singer.”

Lee recently appeared with the Chicago Symphony Chorus in Verdi’s Otello and Berlioz’s Lélio with Riccardo Muti and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at New York’s Carnegie Hall. She also sang in the chorus in last week’s Chicago Bach Project staging of the St. Matthew Passion.