The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
University of Kentucky senior Rachel Sterrenberg won the encouragement award at Saturday’s Mid-South Regional round of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
The soprano from Madison, Ga., has had quite a year as an undergraduate in a program that usually shines its brightest spotlight on graduate students including performing the title female role in Charles Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette in October and following that up with a win at the Kentucky District round of the Met Auditions in November at Memorial Hall.
The winner of the Mid-South Regional was baritone Anthony Clarke Evans, apparently channeling some of the winning mojo of the men’s basketball team at his alma mater, Murray State. According to Amanda Balltrip of Lexington-based United Artists and Authors Agency, the Elizabethtown-based singer has not been taking voice lessons since 2008 and has been working as a car salesman. He’ll need to make time for a trip to New York for the national semi-final round and possibly the finals.
The runners up, who do not advance, were soprano Vanessa Isiguen from Charlotte, N.C., in second place and baritone Thomas Gunther of Cincinnati in third. Gunther was also a Kentucky District winner.
Ronald Saykaly didn’t know exactly what he was paying for.
The Lexington physician and his wife, former concert pianist Teresa Garbulinska, attended the inaugural Chamber Music Festival of Lexington in 2007 at the invitation of some friends.
At the first event, they met festival president Charles H. Stone. Saykaly says, “I was so impressed with what they did, the tremendous volunteerism and high quality of the performance, I told Charlie, ‘Look, if you ever need help, I’d be happy to help you with something.’”
Less than a year later, Stone came calling. He had met a young composer, Daniel Thomas Davis, and wanted to commission him to write a new work to be premiered at the second edition of the festival. Saykaly thought it sounded like a great idea. He had no idea what Davis would write and whether it would have a life beyond the festival, but he bought in.
“It turned out to be rather successful,” Saykaly says.
He has supported a commission at the festival each year since then.
Davis’ Book of Songs and Visions ended up being played around the United States and Europe, and it won the 2009 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award. It came back around to the Bluegrass when Lexington Philharmonic music director Scott Terrell programmed a symphonic version of it for the orchestra’s 2010-11 season.
“I said, ‘Scott, you know, that’s my piece, and if you’re going to bring him here, I’d like to commission it,’” said Saykaly, who had joined the Philharmonic board about that time.
That planted the seeds for the Saykaly Garbulinska composer-in-residence program between the Philharmonic and the Chamber Music Festival, which will bring one composer to both orchestras every other year.
Davis’ Philharmonic commission last February was an informal start to the program. The commissioning of Daniel Kellogg, who wrote a piece called Look Up at the Sky for last summer’s Chamber Music Festival and will have a new work on Friday night’s Philharmonic concert, is the first formal manifestation of the effort.
“We sat down with Ron and said, we have these two entities,” says Terrell, who chooses the composer with Chamber Music Festival director Nathan Cole, a Lexington native and associate concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. “We have the orchestral entity where I, as a conductor, know there are composers really hungry to have new works commissioned. Then you have an organization that already has several new compositions under its belt. We said, there has to be a way this can work to our mutual strengths.”
It also can put Lexington on the classical-music map.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich