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Subject: John HOLIDAY's DC debut makes for a magnificent Marian Anderson Vocal Award winner(2-15-18)
From: Alan Savada <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Alan Savada <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 16 Feb 2018 10:44:29 -0500
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While numerous countertenors have graced the stages of the Kennedy Center over my 4 decades living here, their visits are few and far between. Indeed, Vocal Arts DC has had only three (albeit in 5 recitals) over their close to three decade existence! Mr Holiday presented a varied and exciting program joined by two talented pianists, Kevin  J. Miller for the first more traditional part, and Neeki Bey for the second jazzier section:


Handel "Ombra mai fu" from Xerxes


Debussy "Romance"


Poulenc "Hotel"


Hahn "Si mes Vers Avaient Des Ailes"

          "Offrande"

          "A Chloris"


Margaret Bonds -  Three Dream Portaits:

         I. Minstrell Man

        II. Dream Variations

       III. I, Too


"I'm Gonter Tell God All O' My Troubles"


Theodore Morrison - Chamber Music:

         I. Strings in the earth and air

        II. O cool is the valley now

       III. Lightly come or lightly go

       IV. Now, o now, is the brown land

        V. I Hear an army charing upon the land


Pause


Gershwin "Summertime" from Porgy & Bess


Karl Suessdorf "Moonight in Vermont"


Thelonius Monk "Round Midnight"


Thomas "Fats Waller "Ain't Misbehavin"


Nat King Cole/Irving Mills "Straighten up and Fly Right"


Burt Howards "Fly Me to the Moon" added intro "My Funny Valentine"


Encores: Lift Every Voice & Sing, This Little Light of Mine


I must first add a comment about the most beautiful and humble Facebook post that Mr. Holiday (disclosure:friend & client) wrote prior to the recital showing a picture of him when he was 6 years old; you would have been in tears as he is such a kind, honest and generous human being.

He entered in a smart three-piece suit and hat, placing the hat on the piano and had us from the first words of the Handel recit which rang through the Terrace Theatre. This indeed was a historic evening as so few counter-tenors have graced this stage, and none has ever won the award (now in its 16th year). The opening notes of the aria proper were caressed and held so beautifully that I think the entire house was melting (well, it was close to 70 degrees outside!).

The Poulenc offered a gorgeous glissade on the word "fenetre" and I have to say while the Hahn songs are more often sung by women, this was a most welcome change.

I have never heard the Bonds cycle and loved every second of it. The first gutsy reflective song introduces three so very different "portraits" which Mr. Holiday relayed with emotional care.

The spiritual was introduced as his mother's favorite song and Mr. Holiday dedicated it to her (she was in the audience). I can see why she loves it, especially the way he adds amazing vocalization interpolated between the verses.

The final set of the first half was also a new work for me and imbedded within was some coloraturish (is that a word) singing clearly added by Mr. Holiday for excellent embellishment. We also had a perfect farewell to Mr. Miller's piano in the final song as he really let loose on the keyboard.


There was a brief pause, which we soon discovered was for a clothing change as our star returning in a three-piece velvet suit with a different hat. He introduced Mr. Bey as his friend who introduced him to jazz and proceeded to sing (with a mike) a super jazzy take on the Gershwin making this portion more of a cabaret scene. It gave us the dusky countertenor with a tad of scat; the other side of Mr. Holiday. We must also take note indeed of Mr. Bey's superb playing and solos.

"Round Midnight" had the final "round" being twirled around his mouth to the delight of us all!

Before the final song he wished everyone a belated Valentine's Day, as he seemed to forget about it with all that went on the day before in our beleaguered country and wished that we all could simply love each other. He slid from an added "My Funny Valentine" into the final song and then came back for two encores, which he had the audience on their feet stomping, clapping and singing along with him.

What a moving, momentous and memorable evening this truly was for all in attendance!





ALAN SAVADA of Washington, DC

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