"An Evening of Song"

By Patricia E. Finger

Louisville baritone Lynn Thompson delighted his fans in a recital entitled "An Evening of American Song," dedicated to the memory of Leonard Bernstein, at the University of Louisville on October 18, 1990. Thompson and his superb piano accompanist, Grace Baugh-Bennett, performing as a team known as Ars Vocalis, continued with the spirit of the University of Colorado "Festival ol American Song," at which they performed in May of this year.

The recital included Three Shakespeare Songs, Op. 37, a series of songs by Amy March Beach, which demonstrate the composer's great respect for the singer by the use of melismatic passages intended purely to demonstrate the singer's voice and technique. Samuel Barbers Melodies Passageres, Op. 27 and his beloved James Joyce Songs, Op. 10, reflect the compositional gifts he possessed during his lifetime. Thompson performed these difficult songs, which has the text written in French, with great sensitivity.

The second half of the program began with five Emily Dickinson Songs by Arthur Farwell. Thompson chose to perform these songs to the original poetry written by Dickinson. Farwell, however, was not familiar with Dickinson's poetry as she conceived it, due to its revision by well-meaning publishers after her death. Four Poems, Op. 15, by Charles Martin Loefller, enabled Thompson to exhibit to the audience the richness of his voice. The only composer on the program not born in the United States, Germany-born Loeffler wrote these as his only art song settings of American Poetry. A real delight of the evening, saved for last, was the Childhood Fables for Grownups, Set One (1954), composed by Irving Fine to poems by Gertrude Norman. Each of the Fables was dedicated to Fine's composer friends, Arthur Berger, Harold Shapero, Leonard Bernstein and Lukas Foss. Thompson delivered these witty poems with customary exquisite finesse.

Thompson, who performs regularly with the Louisville Bach Society, will be heard on the upcoming Bach Society children's concert, "The Young Mozart," which is being taped for public television in November 9 1990, honoring the 200th anniversary of W.A. Mozart's death in 1791. On December 9 of this year, Thompson will perform Ralph Vaughan Williams' five Mystical Songs with the University of Louisville Symphony. As a resident artist with Kentucky Opera in 1989-90, Thompson toured throughout the state as "Aaron Blunder" in Barab's opera for children, The Toy Shop. This season he will return to the University of Louisville Opera Theatre in the role of "Count Almaviva" in Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro on April S and 6, 1991.

Other upcoming appearances include a performance of Brahms Liebeslieder Walzer, Op. 52, at the University of Louisville and on March 4, 1991, he makes his debut with the Ceruti Chamber Players in a performance of Charles Martin Loefller's Rhapsodies pour voix, clarinette, alto et piano. A benefit recital for the McDowell Music Club at Highland United Methodist Church by Ars Vocalis will be performed on April 14, 1991.