Le Bell Canto by June LeBell

A Very Artistic Artist Series

Posted June 25, 2010 at 3:30 pm

by June LeBell

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The first of the star-studded roster that knocked me over was the wonderful young soprano (well, she’s a little older now, but aren’t we all?) Courtenay Budd. Courtenay was last in Sarasota a few years ago when I brought her here under the auspices of Young Concert Artists, the not-for-profit concert management group that gave birth to the likes of Ruth Laredo, Dawn Upshaw, the Tokyo String Quartet, Pinchas Zukerman, both Ida and Ani Kavafian, Emanuel Ax, Gerard Schwarz and, well, you get my drift.

Courtenay has the kind of voice that just melts your heart while she’s also one of the finest musicians I know. And her pianist on the Artist Series is going to be none other than Charles Wadsworth) . Charlie has been to Sarasota several times, appearing at the Van Wezel for the Sarasota Concert Association, and on my Music Monday Series at SILL about two years ago. One of the founders of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and a long-time leader at both Spoleto festivals (USA and Italy), Charles has been at the keyboard for Beverly Sills, Judith Blegen, Frederica von Stade and myriad other great performers.

These two High C’s — Courtenay and Charlie — make a formidable presence and present-in-the-sense-of Gift to the Artist Series.

Then I was surprised and thrilled to see that the singer/actress Liz Callaway will be part of the “Light” series in January, appearing with Alex Rybeck, one of America’s finest cabaret and Broadway music directors and pianists. They’re offering songs by Sondheim, Gershwin, Rodgers and that great composer of so many, many pieces of music, “more.”

Funny thing is Liz and Alex will be my guests on my Met Museum fall lecture series, Tuesday, Oct. 5. If you’re in New York City at that time, get your tickets (we’re often sold out) and hear this pair in informal conversation and song. Oh, and the following week, I’m interviewing Liz’s sister, the amazingly versatile singer/pianist, Ann Hampton Callaway, same time, same place. Ann can take anything you throw at her  any topic, melody, verse — and turn it into a song.

It would be fun to get the sisters to Sarasota for a duo concert like they recently gave in New York’s Town Hall.

Back to the Artist Series of Sarasota, Artistic Director Lee Dougherty Ross has lined up some spectacular talent for the upcoming season. It should be lots of fun so don’t procrastinate. Order tickets now. This is not an ad. Just a prod from an admiring friend.


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