Danielle delights

Mezzo soprano delivers at junior recital

Observer senior reporter

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

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The air outside may have been a bit chilly, but there was certainly nothing cold about the junior recital given by mezzo-soprano Danielle Brown at Northern Caribbean University in Mandeville on Sunday.

The recital was in partial fulfilment of her course of study towards a Bachelor of Music in music education which she is pursuing at the Manchester-based university.

For just over an hour the 22-year- old, who is a featured soloist with the Jamaica Youth Chorale as well as the Jamaica Choral Scholars, conducted by Dr Andrew Marshall, presented an impressive selection of musical works which delighted her small, yet appreciative audience and hopefully her assessors. The programme featured 15 works of some of the greats including Bach, Ravel, Bizet and Mozart, in four languages —English, Italian, French and German and showed Brown as definitely being one for the future.

She opened with Et Exultavit by Bach then moved into a cycle of five popular works by Ravel ( Chanson de la mariée modéré, Là-bas, vers l'église, Quel galant m'est comparable, Chanson des cueilleuses de lentisques and Tout gai!).

Brown told the Jamaica Observer that she was not completely comfortable with the opening work and had struggled with it in rehearsals. She however shook off any sign of uncertainty by the time she got to her third selection Habanera from Bizet's popular opera Carmen.

“It's one of my favourite pieces. Ever since I was introduced to it I have just gotten to love it. I was comfortable with it.”

Habanera, one of the great arias from Carmen, is written specifically for a mezzo and therefore Brown's voice was perfectly pitched for this piece. The work is the entrance piece of the title character in the opera. Performed in French, Brown handled this well and her comfort level was evident during her performance of it.

She would then switch from French to German with a four-song cycle Frauenleibe und leben ( Seit ich ihn geshen, Du ring an meinem finger, Au meinem herzen, an meinem brust and Num hast du mir der ersten Schmerz getan) by Schumann. Then it was on to a work in Italian Mozart's Smanie Implacabili from the opera Cosi fan tutte.

Brown clearly saved her strongest pieces for the end of the recital. This time she was in her comfort zone, at least as it related to language as she performed two spirituals by Florence B Price — At de Feet O' Jesus and Trouble Done Come My Way before bringing the curtains down with Oh What A Beautiful City. With these spirituals grounded in the black experience Brown's voice was in its element: crisp, clear and with the right amount of emotional attachment.

With this being her junior recital Brown clearly has a lot more to give and audiences will be the richer from that experience when she attains higher levels of study and more performance experience.

Brown noted that she began singing from birth, and continued singing in the Seventh-Day Adventist church and during her high school years at Kingsway High School in the Corporate Area. However, her growth as a mezzo-soprano, performing classical music, has been credited to her tutors at the university, specifically Dr Carline Waugh and the late Dr Kaestner Robertson, the former chair of the department of music who died last year.

“I think it was great. When I was going it over in my head before, I thought it may not have gone well, but then having people come and experience it, it went well,” said Brown.


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