Leontyne Price

By Patricia E. Finger

It rarely happens that a performer receives five curtain calls at the end of a concert in Whitney Hall, but Leontyne Price brought her fans to their feet time after time following her sold-out Bingham Endowed Series recital, in Sunday, March 24.

Price inspirationally performed a wide variety of music, from arias to spirituals, pleasing her adoring fans from all walks of life. Her warmth radiated throughout the concert hall, infecting every seat in the house. Wearing an exquisite green, sequined taffeta gown during he first half, she changed into an exact copy in blue for the second half.

Price began with an aria from Handel's "Giulio Cesare," singing a bit flat on some of the sustained notes. However, the rest of the evening contained many inspiring moments, especially during the simple lieder of Joseph Marx, Waldeligkeit and Marienlied, and Richard Strauss' Befreit.

Her superb accompanist, David Garvey, played the piano with great sensitivity to the music and to Price's interpretations. Mr. Garvey, recognized for his playing of American music, has been the sole accompanist of Price for thirty-six years.

Price performed several works by Lee Hoiby, a twentieth-century American composer, including songs based on poems by Emily Dickinson, "Wild Nights" and "There Came a Wind Like a Bugle." The best of the Hoiby songs, "Goodby, Goodby World" from Thornton Wilder's "Our Town," was sung with the poignancy needed to project the message of the text, "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? Every, every minute?"

One of the most magical moments of the evening came when Price performed Gershwin's "Summertime," from "Porgy and Bess," demonstrating the sensitivity and technical abilities for which she is renowned. This music helped to begin her career in 1952, when she made her debut with "Porgy and Bess," touring Vienna, Berlin, London and Paris.

Price sang several spirituals, including "Witness and Ride On, King Jesus," but perhaps the best of these came in one of her encores, "This Little Light of Mine." Her mother's favorite spiritual, no other song can appropriately embody the contributions of this beautiful, black American woman. With her legendary voice, lovely smile, and warm elegance, Leontyne Price could not have shone brighter for her Louisville audience.