Classical Music with William Price King – Leontyne Price – The Finale


classical musicWelcome to the last part in our series on Leontyne Price. The American soprano paved the way for so many young singers, particularly those African American artists who wanted to take their rightful place in the world of opera.  William Price King takes us through Leontyne’s final official performances.. Although I am sure at age 90, this wonderful singer still enjoys singing in private.

indexLeontyne Price was now at the peak of her career in the early 1970s and as such was often invited to sing at state occasions.  She had been invited to sing at President Lyndon B. Johnson’s inauguration in 1965 and she attended his funeral in January 1973 where she sang Precious Lord, Take My Hand and Onward Christian Soldiers.  Leontyne also perforned at state functions during President Jimmy Carter’s term in office including on the visit of Pope John Paul II.

Having missed the 1972 season, Leontyne returned to the Met in 1973 to sing Madama Butterfly for the first time in ten years.

Leontyne Price’s “Un Bel Di” from Madama Butterfly is ravishingly beautiful and demonstrates why she was one of the greatest lirico spinto sopranos ever. Here, she gives a commanding and fearless performance which would delight any Puccini enthusiast, with her rich low tones, her vibrant middle and her radiant top.

In 1976, the Met mounted a long-delayed new production of Aida, with James McCracken as Radames and Marilyn Horne as Amneris, directed by John Dexter. In 1977 Leontyne renewed her partnership with Herbert von Karajan in a Brahms Requiem with the Berlin Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall.  Following this she and Karajan returned to perform what would be her final opera performances in Europe, in Il Travatore at the Salzburg Easter Festival and Vienna’s Staatsoper.

1977 also saw Leontyne sing her last new role as the Strauss heroine Ariadne in San Francisco to rave reviews.

Leontyne Price sings “Ein Schönes War” from Ariadne auf Naxos

I believe that most opera buffs would agree that Ariadne was a great role for Ms. Price. Her voice easily encompassed the wide range that this role offers. Her German is practically faultless, and there is such a wealth of gorgeous tone, sensitive artistry and impeccable musicianship.In this aria,Ariadne recalls her love for Theseus,andimagines herself as a chaste girl, awaiting death.


In 1979 she did bring the role of Ariadne to the Met, but she was suffering from a viral infection and only performed two of the scheduled perfomances.

However, there were still some exceptional performances to come and in fall of 1981 Leontyne stepped in for soprano Margaret Price as Aida in San Francisco. In 1983 she hosted two televised performances of ‘In Performance from the White House‘.

After revisiting some of her most famous roles in San Francisco and at the Met, Price gave her operatic farewell on January 3, 1985, in a televised performance of Aida from the Met which was hailed as one of the most successful operatic performances in the Met’s history. . Time Magazine described it as a “vocally stunning performance… that proved she can still capture her peak form.” Donal Henahan wrote that the “57-year-old soprano took an act or two to warm to her work, but what she delivered in the Nile Scene turned out to be well worth the wait.

In 2007, PBS viewers voted her singing of the aria, “O patria mia”, as the No. 1 “Great Moment” in 30 years of “Live from the Met” telecasts. The performance ended with 25 minutes of applause.

Leontyne Price sang 201 performances with the Met, in 16 roles, in the house and on tour, including galas. (She was absent for three seasons—1970–71, 1977–78, and 1980–81—and sang only in galas in 1972-73, 1979–80, and 1982–83.)

Over the next twelve years, Leontyne Price continued to perform concerts and recitals with her longtime accompanist David Garvey. The programme usually combined Handel arias, French melodies, German Lieder and one or two arias

Leontyne often included American Art Songs and Spirituals in her concerts. “This little light of mine” was her mother’s favorite spiritual and one audiences loved to hear. Ms. Price used her *timbre as a form of embellishment as she moved deftly between a polished art song sound and a more robust gospel style sound to deliver spirituals. It worked beautifully.

*timbre – the character or quality of a musical sound or voice as distinct from its pitch and intensity.


Before retiring, Price gave several master classes at Juilliard and other schools. In 1997, at the suggestion of RCA-BMG, she wrote a children’s book version of Aida, which became the basis for the hit Broadway musical by Elton J and Tim Rice in 2000.

In October 2001, at the age of 74, Price was asked to come out of retirement to sing in a memorial concert at Carnegie Hall for the victims of the September 11 attacks. With James Levine at the piano, she sang her favorite spiritual, “This Little Light of Mine”, followed by an unaccompanied “God Bless America,” ending it with a bright, easy high B.

Leontyne Price now lives in Greenwich Village in New York City and it seems a fitting way to end this look at her wonderful and inspiring career with a song that demonstrates her versatility.

Ms. Price often sang songs from the Great American Songbook. Here is her concert version of “What I did for love” from the Broadway show “A Chorus Line”. She lends her deliciously silken tone to this famous tune. Breath taking!

 

Additional Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leontyne_Price

Buy the music of Leontyne Price: https://www.amazon.com/Leontyne-Price/e/B000AQ1580

William and his music

About William Price King

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.

Connect to William

Website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

You will find the previous artists..  Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Kiri Te Kanawa in this directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/classical-music-with-william-price-king/

Thank you so much for stopping by and your feedback is always very welcome. Sally

N.B.  Next week marks the first in the Creative Artist’s interviews and William Price King is the first guest.. For those of you who have enjoyed William’s music post since 2014 it will be an opportunity to ask your own questions in the comment section of the post.  I know that William is looking forward to hearing from you.. Next Wednesday March 1st.  Please join us for the first of the interactive interviews.

If you are a poet, photographer, musician, artist, storyteller then here are the details of the new series.. I already have some wonderful guests lined up but would be delighted to hear from you.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/02/05/new-series-smorgasbord-creative-artist-interview-musicians-bloggers-artists-photographers/

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Classical Music with William Price King – Leontyne Price Part Three – 1960s


classical musicWelcome to the third part of Leontyne Price’s career and performances. And to set the scene a few words from her admirers.

In The Grand Tradition, a 1974 history of operatic recording, the British critic J.B. Steane wrote that “one might conclude from recordings that [Price] is the best interpreter of Verdi of the century.” For the Russian soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, a 1963 Price performance of Tosca at the Vienna State Opera “left me with the strongest impression I have ever gotten from opera.” In his 1983 autobiography, Placido Domingo writes, “The power and sensuousness of Leontyne’s voice were phenomenal—the most beautiful Verdi soprano I have ever heard.”

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William Price King now picks up Leontyne Price’s story in the 1960s.

In September 1961, Leontyne Price opened the Met season as Minnie in La fanciulla del West. A musicians’ strike had threatened to abort the season, but President Kennedy sent Secretary of Labor Arthur Goldberg to mediate a settlement.

Following her second Faniciulla performance it became apparent that Leontyne had a problem with her voice. After losing it completely , she was forced to shout her lines until the end of the act, when standby soprano, Dorothy Kristen replaced her in the third act.

After several weeks recovering from a reported viral infection, Leontyne returned for another Fanciulla performance and Butterfly in December. Having carried out her commitments she then left for a three months to Rome. She would later comment that she was suffering from nervous exhaustion.

However, in the April, Leontyne returned to the Met to perform in her first fully staged Tosca and following that up with the Met tour which included Tosca, Butterfly and Fanciulla. It was also a landmark tour that saw Leontyne Price as the first African American to perform in a lead role in the South, specifically in Dallas.

La fanciulla del West (The Girl of the West) is an opera in three acts by Giacomo Puccini to an Italian libretto by Guelfo Civinini and Carlo Zangarini. It was based on the the play The Girl of the Golden West by American David Belasco and followed Butterfly which was also based on one of his plays. Whilst not as well known as other Puccini operas, it still has wonderful orchestration and is regarded as more melodic than some of his previous work.

At the end of Act I, Price, as Minnie, recalls her happy childhood and sings about her ideal love in the aria “Laggiù nel Soledad.” This is the only role Leontyne Price sang which was not exactly for her. Nonetheless, her voice is captivating and she soars up to those high C’s with no problem and makes them ring.

Although other African American opera stars had performed in leading roles at the Met, Leontyne Price was the first to achieve recognition on both sides of the Atlantic, the first to be repeatedly invited to perform with the Met in various leading roles, and the first to earn the highest fee, which put her on a par with the leading sopranos at the time such as Joan Sutherland and Maria Callas. Not an easy road to success in a time of segregation and continued racism against African Americans in opera. Especially when opportunities in general were limited in the world of opera.

Following the successful tour, Leontyne added more roles to her repertoire at the Met. These included Elvira in Verdi’s Ernani, Pamina in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Fiordilgi in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, Tatyana in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Oenegin, Cleopatra in Barber’s Antony and Cleopatra, Amelia in Un ballo in maschera, and Leonora in La forza del destino.

Così fan tutte, ossia La scuola degli amanti (Thus Do They All, or The School for Lovers) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is an Italian opera buffa. Buffa was first used as an informal description of Italian comic operas, also know as commedia in musica or dramma bernesco, and were particularly associated with productions in Naples in the first half of the 18th century. A buffa in the beginning tended to contain everyday settings, local dialects and simpler librettos. If you like to our modern day soap-opera. Cosi fan tutti was first performed in Vienna in January 1790. The libretto was written by Lorenzo Da Ponte who also wrote Le nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni.

Here is Leontyne who loved singing Mozart, and her Fiordiligi is considered one of the best. “Come scoglio” (Like a rock) demands a singer who can handle the extreme parts of the soprano range with great ease and Price was perfect in the role.

By 1966 Leontyne Price was at the peak of her career when she sang Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra by American composer Samuel Barber and conducted by Thomas Schippers in the newly opened Met’s house at Lincoln Center. Leontyne and Samuel Barber had worked together several times from her early career and remained close friends. This collaboration allowed Samuel Barber, who knew her voice well, to tailor the music for Cleopatra’s role perfectly to suit both her register and range.

Following this role, Leontyne decided to cut back on her operatic performances and to focus on recitals and concerts. The schedule of new productions at the Met and also the need to adjust her vocal technique as she moved into her forties was tiring. However her career continued to flourish as she toured major cities and large universities.

As she moved into the 1970s, Leontyne returned to Europe to perform in Hamburg and London’s Covent Garden with further recitals in Vienna, Paris and the Salzburg Festival. She was so popular at the festival that she continued to return six times between 1975 and 1984.

Leontyne was invited back to the Met, but only undertook three new roles after 1970 which included Ariadne in Richard Strauss’ Ariadne aux Naxos in San Franciso and New York.

In 1971 she performed in Il tabarro (The Cloak), which is one act opera by Giacomo Puccini with an Italian libretto by Giuseppe Adami. It was based on Didier Gold’s play La houppelande.. It is the first of a trio of operas known a Il Trittico first performed at the Met in New York in 1918.

Here is Leontyne Price singing “E ben altro il mio sogno” Il Tabarro Live 1971. In the role of Giorgetta from Puccini’s “Il Tabarro”  Leontyne Price is at home. This role is perfectly fit for her voice and she does a magnificent job in this impassioned duet with Luigi, dreaming of a better life in Paris, in the aria “E ben altro il mio sogno.”The characterization is rapturous.

Additional Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leontyne_Price

Buy the music of Leontyne Price: https://www.amazon.com/Leontyne-Price/e/B000AQ1580

William and his musicAbout William Price King

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.

Connect to William

Website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

You will find the previous artists..  Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Kiri Te Kanawa in this directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/classical-music-with-william-price-king/

Thank you so much for stopping by and your feedback is always very welcome. Sally

Classical Music with William Price King – Leontyne Price – Part Two – Star on the Rise.


classical music

Welcome to part two of the life and music of American Soprano Leontyne Price. Last week we looked at her early life and the artists who inspired her. This week we cover the rest of the 1950s and the rising star of this talented singer. It was not alway easy as there was still a great deal of bigotry against African American opera singers but as you will see Leontyne Price did not allow this to stand in her way.  William Price King now picks up the story.

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In 1955  the world of opera had opened its doors to Leontyne Price who was still only 28 years old. In the February she was invited to sing Puccini’s Tosca for the NBC Opera Theatre under music director Peter Herman Adler, and was the first African American to appear in a leading role in a televised opera. This did not avoid controversy as a number of the NBC affiliates, both in the southern and northern states, cancelled the broadcast in protest. However, despite what must have been a very difficult time for Leontyne, she returned for thee more NBC Opera broadcasts in 1956, 1957 and 1960.

This was not to be the only incident of bigotry in her career, and in fact when she was touring with Herbert von Karajan in Salzburg in 1960, a stone was thrown through her window. In 1964 her perfomance of Donna Anna in Atlanta was marred by protests from certain factions.

Her collaboration with the Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan began in 1955 when he was on tour with the Berlin Philharmonic. He reportedly leapt on stage to accompany her himself during her audition as she performed Pace, pace, mio Dio from Verdi’s Forza del Destino.

This is a slightly later recording in 1963.

In the last act of “La Forza del Destino” Price sings “Pace, Pace, mio Dio,” a powerfully dramatic moment where she prays for peace on her tortured soul and expresses her love for God and for Alvaro. Verdi arias were made for Price’s voice. Her “Pace, Pace mio Dio” is like no one else’s, a real treasure. Her rich, warm, pure voice is stunning and she spins her golden sound beautifully and freely.

The next three years were to be very busy for this rising star in the classical music world.  Leontyne performed in recitals with her accompanist David Garvey, and she also appeared with a number of orchestras across the United States. Her star was also on the rise internationally and she toured India in 1956, Australia in 1957 under the U.S. State Department banner. In May 1957 Leontyne made her first public appearance in the concert version of Aida, at the May Festival in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

That September she performed for the first time on the grand opera stage in San Francisco singing Madame Lidoine in the U.S premiere of the Dialogues of the Carmelites.

Dialogues des Carmélites is a French Opera in three acts divided into twelve scenes, with linking orchestral interludes with music and libretto by Francis Poulenc and was completed in 1956. The libretto was written after a book of the same name by French author Georges Bernanos who had died in 1948.The story is based on the 1794 history of the Martyrs of Compiègne who were guillotined during the French Revolution.

The world premiere of the opera was in January 1957 in La Scala in Milan in Italian, in its original French in the June and then in English in San Franciso in the September.

A few weeks after her debut in this new opera, Leontyne sang her first on-stage Aida, stepping in for Italian soprano Antoinetta Stella who fell ill. And in May of 1958 she made her European debut, as Aida, at the Vienna Staatsoper at the invitation of Herbert von Karajan.

Leontyne Price sings “O Patria Mia” from Aida (Verdi)

In Act III, on the eve of Amneris’ wedding to Radames, Aida, overcome with nostalgia on the banks of the Nile, mourns her homeland which she will never see again in the aria “O Patria Mia.” Price’s “Aida” is phenomenal, and pure perfection. It is considered a testament to her career. Her clear diction, lustrous tone, and flawless legato stand out in this aria.

After this wonderful European debut invitations flooded in and Leontyne performed at London’s Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and the Arena di Verona in Italy as Aida. The following year she returned to Vienna in the role as well as Pamina in The Magic Flute. Leontyne made her debut at the prestigious Salzburg Festival in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with Karajan.

Leontyne Price and Herbert von Karajan’s dynamic collaboration was to be instrumental in her early successes in both the opera house, concert hall and recording studio where they produced complete recordings of Tosca and Carmen as well as a bestselling holidy music album, A Christmas Offering.

On May 21, 1960, Price made her first appearance at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, again as Aida, becoming the first African American to sing a leading role in Italy’s greatest opera house. (In 1958, Mattiwilda Dobbs, from Atlanta, had sung Elvira, the secondary lead soprano role in Rossini’s L’italiana in Algeri.)

In 1959, after hearing her in Il Trovatore that August at Verona with tenor Franco Corelli, Met General Manager Rudolf Bing invited her to join the Met company in the 1960–61 season. On January 27, 1961, she made a triumphant debut in Il Trovatore.

Tacea La Notte Placida” from Giuseppe Verdi’s “Il Trovatore.

In Act I of Verdi’s “Il Trovatore,” Leonora tells her servant, Ines, that she heard someone serenading her in the garden, a knight in black armor who she had once crowned as the champion of a tournament. She confesses her love for him in this *cavatina “Tacea La Notte Placida,” which she sings with an entrancing blend of lyricism and expressivity. Her control is amazing and her diction is excellent.

*cavatina – In opera the cavatina is an aria, generally of brilliant character, sung in one or two sections without repeats.

The final ovation lasted at least 35 minutes, one of the longest in Met history. Price’s debut at the New York City’s Metropolitan Opera House was such a success, it marked the beginning of her residency as one of the opera’s principal sopranos. She flourished as a prima donna at the Met, starring in such roles such as Cio-Cio-San in Madama Butterfly, Minnie in La Fanciulla del West and, perhaps most notably, as Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra.

In recognition of this extraordinary run, Time magazine put her on its cover on March . That fall, American music critics named her “Musician of the Year” and she was put on the cover of “Musical America.”

In his review, The New York Times critic Harold C. Schonberg wrote that Price’s “voice, warm and luscious, has enough volume to fill the house with ease, and she has a good technique to back up the voice itself. She even took the trills as written, and nothing in the part as Verdi wrote it gave her the least bit of trouble. She moves well and is a competent actress. But no soprano makes a career of acting. Voice is what counts, and voice is what Miss Price has.

The career of Leontyne Price was well and truly launched.

Additional sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leontyne_Price

Buy the music of Leontyne Price: https://www.amazon.com/Leontyne-Price/e/B000AQ1580

William and his music

About William Price King

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.

Connect to William

Website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

You will find the previous artists..  Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Kiri Te Kanawa in this directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/classical-music-with-william-price-king/

Thank you so much for stopping by and your feedback is always very welcome. Sally

Classical Music with William Price King – Leontyne Price – The Early Years.


classical music

Welcome to the last in the Classical Music with William Price King series. And to finish the series on some of the great contemporary opera singers of our time, we will be covering the life and work of American Soprano Leontyne Price. This outstanding soprano rose to international acclaim in the 1950s and 1960s, and was one of the first African Americans to become a leading artist at the Metropolitan Opera.

Leontyne Price said this of her debut at the Met: It was the first operatic mountain I climbed, and the view from it was astounding, exhilarating, stupefying.

In an interview Leontyne Price once recalled that Maria Callas had told her, during a meeting with the older diva in Paris, “I hear a lot of love in your voice.” The sopranos Renee Fleming, Kiri Te Kanawa, Jessye Norman, Leona Mitchell, the mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, bass-baritone Jose Van Dam, and the counter tenor David Daniels, have talked about Leontyne Price as an early inspiration.

Among her many honors are the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1964), the Spingarn Medal (1965), the Kennedy Center Honors (1980), the National Medal of Arts (1985), numerous honorary degrees, and 19 Grammy Awards, 13 for operatic or song recitals, five for full operas, and a special Lifetime Achievement Award in 1989, more than any other classical singer. In October 2008, she was one of the recipients of the first Opera Honors given by the National Endowment for the Arts.

William Price King now picks up the story in the 1920s and Leontyne Price’s early years and influences.

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After a long wait of 13 years, James who worked in a lumber mill and Katie Price, a midwife and member of the church choir, welcomed their daughter, Mary Violet Leontyne Price into the world in February 1927 in Laurel Mississippi.  She was to become the focus of their loving attention and was introduced to music at the age of three when given a toy piano leading to lessons with a local teacher. James and Katie sacrificed much to ensure that Mary’s musical talent was developed, and even sold the family phonograph to fund the purchase of an upright piano despite their daughter still being in kindergarten.

Katie Price’s influence as a member of the church choir was instrumental in encouraging her daughter’s singing.

At 14, Leontyne was taken on a school trip to hear contralto Marian Anderson sing in Jackson; an experience she later said was inspirational. Marian Anderson who was born in 1897, was one of the most celebrated singers of the 20th century. Most of her career was spent performing in concerts and recitals in major venues and with prominent conductors and orchestras throughout the US and Europe between 1925 and 1965.

Here is an example of the inspirational voice of Marian Anderson, that Leontyne Price would have heard in the early 1940s, singing a spiritual Deep River.. Marian lived to the wonderful age of 96 and inspired many young singers in the 20th century.

In her teen years, Leontyne accompanied the “second choir” at St. Paul’s Methodist Church, sang and played for the chorus at the black high school, and earned extra money by singing for funerals and civic functions.

During the war years, Leontyne worked part-time alongside her aunt in the home of a wealthy white couple, Alexander and Elizabeth Chisholm. Mrs Chisholm actively encouraged Leontyne to play the piano and also discovered Leontyne’s incredible singing voice. This led to her accompanying her at several recitals and church concerts in the state during Leontyne’s college years.

Aiming for a teaching career, Leontyne enrolled in the music education program at the all-black Wilberforce College in Wilberforce, Ohio. Her success in the glee club led to solo assignments, and she was encouraged to complete her studies in voice. She sang in the choir with another soon-to-be-famous singer, Betty Allen. With the help of the Chisholms and the famous bass Paul Robeson, who put on a benefit concert for her, she enrolled at the Juillard School in New York City. She won a scholarship and was admitted to the studio of Florence Page Kimball, who would remain her principal teacher and advisor throughout the 1960s.

In the summer of 1951, she studied in the opera program at the Berkshire Music Center and sang the title role in Ariadne auf Naxos by Richard Strauss with a German libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. It combines slapstick comedy with beautiful music and the theme was aimed at appealing to a less high brow audience than traditional opera.

This is the first leading role that Leontyne Price performed during her long and illustrious career and in this slightly later recording shows the beauty of her voice.

In this aria full of despair, Ariadne, after having been left by her love Theseus, describes the land of death to which she will go to escape her pain. She welcomes death, thinking that in death she will find everything that she has been denied in life. Price is in great shape in this aria and handles the difficult high *tessitura passages very well.

The dark color of her voice is intriguing, yielding a fascinating portrait – soulful, heartfelt, melancholic – of Ariadne. A memorable moment. and a remarkable triumph.

* tessitura – The range of a vocal or instrumental part in a musical composition.

This was followed in 1952 with the role of Mistress Ford in the Juilliard student production of Verdi’s Falstaff and to her casting in the all-black opera, Four Saints in Three Acts by American composer and critic Virgil Thomson. When the opera went to Paris after its initial two week run on Broadway, Leontyne Price joined the cast of the Robert Breen/Blevins Davs revival of George Gershwin’s Porky and Bess in the title role on tour. With its major city tour including Chicago and Washington over it in the U.S, the production, sponsored by the State Department began a tour of Europe.

Summertime is an aria that Gershwin composed in 1934 for the opera “Porgy and Bess,” a brilliant mixture of jazz and song styles of blacks from the South during the early twentieth century in the U.S.

Leontyne Price was 25 years old when she recorded this. ‘Bess’ was her break-through role. Summertime is a lullaby sung by Clara to her baby in Act I, indicating that everything is going to be all right. The song is reprised in Act III, by “Bess” and Price sings it passionately with a knockout downward *glissando which climaxes this performance. Her voice is exquisite. A real treat!

*glissando – a continuous slide upwards or downwards between two or more notes.

Primarily Leontyne Price focused on a recital career, particularly because of the earlier influences of Marian Anderson and other successful black concert singers including Roland Hayes and bass baritone William Warfield.

However, the role of ‘Bess’ was to demonstrate that Leontyne Price had both the voice and performance skills to sing on the operatic stage.  This led to the Metropolitan Opera inviting her to sing Summertime at the Met Jamoboree fund-raiser in 1953 at the Ritz Theater on Broadway.. this made Leontyne the first African American to sing with the Met, although not on the actual stage of the Met. That distinction when to Leontyne’s childhood inspiration Marian Anderson who sang Ulrica in Verdi’s Un Ballo un Maschera in January 1955.

Whilst touring with Porky and Bess, Leontyne found time to also sing the premiere of Hermit Songs.

Hermit Songs is a cycle of ten songs for voice and piano by Samuel Barber. Written in 1953 on a grant from the Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation, it takes as its basis a collection of anonymous poems written by Irish monks and scholars from the 8th to the 13th centuries, in translations by W. H. Auden, Chester Kallman, Howard Mumford Jones, Kenneth H. Jackson and Seán Ó Faoláin. They are small poems, thoughts or observations, and speak in straightforward, droll, and modern terms of the simple life these men led, close to nature, to animals and to God.

The Hermit Songs received their premiere in 1953 at the Library of Congress. Samuel Barber accompanies Price on piano. The most famous of these songs is The Monk and his Cat which Price performs with sensitivity, restraint, control, and charm.


Additional sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leontyne_Price

Buy the music of Leontyne Price: https://www.amazon.com/Leontyne-Price/e/B000AQ1580

About William Price King

williampriceking

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.

Connect to William

Website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

You will find the previous artists..  Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Kiri Te Kanawa in this directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/classical-music-with-william-price-king/

Thank you so much for stopping by and your feedback is always very welcome. Sally

Classical Music with William Price King – Dame Kiri Te Kanawa – Part Three


classical musicWelcome to the final part of the series on the music of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.. I hope that you have enjoyed this taste of both her life and work, and that you will enjoy her singing for many more years to come.

Kiri Te Kanawa is retired from performing in opera but still gives virtuoso performances of both classical and contemporary music that we can all enjoy. Today William Price King will take us through some of the highlights of the last 20 years of her formal career and also a look at some of her passions off stage.

classic-kiri

There are almost 120 albums featuring Kiri Te Kanawa and in the 1980s and 90s she released a great many recordings of both classical and popular music.

A wonderful project resulted in both an album and a documentary when the great Leonard Bernstein decided to re-record West Side Story… This was a very personal project as he conducted her own music for the first time. Of course it was wonderful casting to bring Kiri Te Kanawa into the role of Maria, and to continue this more operatic theme to the musical, José Carreras was cast as Tony. The album won a Grammy Award for Best Cast Show Album in 1985 and here is an excerpt from the exceptional documentary of the rehearsals.

This is one of the finest versions of West Side Story, conducted by Leonard Bernstein, ever. It is certainly on par with the original Broadway version. It’s always a big gamble to place opera singers in the roles of Broadway singers, but this one works to perfection as you will hear with Jose Carreras as Tony, and Kiri Te Kanawa as Maria. It is a privilege to see these great artists at work and especially to hear Kiri Te Kanawa deliver a sublime performance under the baton of Leonard Bernstein. It’s magic!

Following the success of this more operatic approach to the popular musicals, Kiri performed again alongside José Carreras and American jazz singer Sarah Vaughan in the recording of the musical South Pacific (music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II). Here is This is How it Feels in rehearsal with a few words from José Carreras about the adjustments he made to his operatic voice to reflect the lighter musical theme.

There were some other noteable recordings released in the next 15 years including
Other recordings include, Blue Skies (1986); Kiri Sings Gershwin (1987): Italian Opera Arias (1991); Our Christmas Songs For You (1996); and The Ultimate Christmas Album (1996) with Luciano Pavarotti, Leontyne Price and Dame Joan Sutherland.

61k3qcjavzl-_ss500This album included both classical and more contemporary Christmas music such as Mendelssohn’s Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and Have Yourself a Very Merry Christmas written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane for the 1944 musical Meet Me in St. Louis with Judy Garland.

Here is a review by one of the fans of the album.

The Title Is No Lie By R. Mixon December 25, 2006

I probably own too many Christmas CDs.

Many of them, though good, are indistinguishable from one another. But ‘The Ultimate Christmas Album’, a compilation of holiday recordings culled from London’s vaults, has set itself apart. It has been my most-played Christmas CD for several years now.The recordings are unparalleled; the Bach Choir’s vigorous “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” (complete with thunderous pipe organ), Pavarotti’s tender “Ave Maria” and “O Holy Night”, Leontyne Price’s spritely “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and wistful “Silent Night”, the crystaline children’s voices in the Choir of Trinity School’s reading of “The First Nowell”–every selection on this CD could stand alone as a highlight.

For those of you who prefer your Christmas music with a classical bent, this is the CD you’ve been looking for. The selections are brilliantly chosen, recorded and programmed. I cannot recommend this any more-strongly. It is perfect.For once, you can believe the hype–this IS the ultimate Christmas album.

land-of-the-long-white-cloudAs a departure from music, Kiri Te Kanawa also wrote a Children’s book in 1989. Land of the Long White Cloud – Maori Myths, Tales and Legends. A collection of nineteen tales from various Maori tribes of New Zealand about the trickster Maui, the Creation, monsters, birds, animals, and special places.

Sadly Kiri and her husband Desmond Park divorced in the late 1990s. Although a very private person, the remarks that Kiri made at the time, reflect her belief that her career and the pressures and demands to remain at the top of a very difficult profession, played a part in the split. In the first post on her life we covered her early training with the nuns at school but it was only as an adult that she revealed the abuse that she suffered at the time.

The Whanganui Chronicle reported. “I am as tough as I am today because from age 12, when I was at a convent school in Auckland, I was beaten by the nuns.” “You have to be tough in the opera world or you are not going to make it. Just because you can sing an aria does not make you an opera singer.”

The world continued to delight in her performances through to her eventual retirement from the opera stage and she also received some further prestigious awards from her own country and around the world.

In the 1990 Australia Day Honours, Te Kanawa was appointed an Honorary Companion of the Order of Australia for services to the arts, particularly opera, and to the community. In the 1995 Queen’s Birthday Honours Te Kanawa was appointed to the Order of New Zealand.

There is no doubt about Kiri Te Kanawa’s love of New Zealand and in 1999 she released a new album, Maori Songs. She admits to seeking solace and rejuvenation in the lush, green north coastal region, where the ocean amiably wanders in and out of peaceful inlets. Ironically, the diva who made her mark singing the roles of royalty in elaborate costumes on ornate stages, is a self-described tomboy, who enthusiastically fishes, hikes, boats, plays golf and tennis, and even shoots clay pigeons

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa excels in this Maori song cycle. Her voice is excellent and she moves smoothly and effortlessly through these haunting melodies and creates an atmosphere which is quite soothing to the ear. She modulates her voice to the point that one would not believe that she is an opera singer and sings these New Zealand Maori lullabies in a creative and heartfelt way.

In recent years her appearances on stage have become infrequent, although she remains busy as a concert singer. She appeared in performances in Samuel Barber’s Vanessa in Monte Carlo (televised in 2001), with the Washington National Opera (2002), and the Los Angeles Opera in November/December 2004.

She sang in her last opera, Vanessa, in 2004, but continues with recitals and concerts and organizing the Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation, to help young music students.

The Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation

Founded in 2004, Kiri Te Kanawa stated that here vision was “that talented young New Zealand singers and musicians with complete dedication to their art may receive judicious and thoughtful mentoring and support to assist them in realising their dreams.”

The foundation manages a trust fund to provide financial and career scholarships to young New Zealand singers and musicians. As part of its mission, the Foundation created scholarships at both the Royal College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music. Kiri Te Kanawa takes a very active role in ensuring that her vision is realised. She conducts master classes and coaching sessions around the world and supported other musical institutions who shared her aims, such as the in the position of Patron for the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition and her own BBC Radio 2 initiative to find gifted opera singers of the future.

In April 2010 she sang the Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss in two performances at the Cologne Opera in Germany.

Also in 2010 Te Kanawa played the spoken part of The Duchess of Krakenthorp in Donizetti’s La fille du régiment at the Metropolitan Opera, and sang a tango. She repeated this role at the Met in a revival during the 2011–12 season, and repeated it again in Vienna in 2013 and at Covent Garden in March 2014 (a run that comprised her 70th birthday).
In 2013, Kiri Te Kanawa appeared in Downton Abbey playing Dame Nellie Melba, an Australian operatic soprano.

Buy the music of Kiri Te Kanawa: https://www.amazon.com/Dame-Kiri-Te-Kanawa/e/B000AQ0GZI

To end this short season on this beautiful and charasmatic singer one last peroformance and return to her classical roots. “Dove sono,” from Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro.

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, as the Countess, very brilliantly laments her broken heart and her husband’s wandering affections in this aria,” Dove sono” in Act 3. This is quite challenging because this aria has long *legato phrases that require skilled breath control and great vocal technique. When sung well, this aria reveals all of the beautiful qualities and textures of the voice. Kiri Te Kanawa is exceptional in this role and her mellow tone and elegance are admirable.

*legato – sung or played in a smooth flowing manner, without breaks between notes.

Additional sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiri_Te_Kanawa

About William Price King

williampriceking

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.
His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.

Connect to William

Website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

We hope you have enjoyed this look at the life and work so far of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.. Next week the last in the Classical Music series with the story of one of the first African Americans to become a leading performer at the Metropolitan Opera.

Classical Music with William Price King – Dame Kiri Te Kanawa – The Early Years


classical music

Welcome to the new series of Classical Music with William Price King. We are delighted to feature Kiri Te Kanawa, the renowned soprano from New Zealand who took the world by storm in the 1960s, and continues to inspire and delight audiences with rare but outstanding performances.

classic-kiri

Kiri Te Kanawa has a stunning voice and has received critical acclaim from her work in Opera and also in popular music. I asked William Price King if we could include Kiri in this series, not just because she is an opera singer, but because when I was a teenager and first heard her voice, it was the first time that I really started to appreciate classical music. Probably because she was only a few year’s older than I was and made the world of opera more accessible to our generation.

I will hand over to William to share her early life and career and also to hear some of her first public performances.

Kiri Te Kanawa had a challenging start in life in 1944 when she was born into a family who were unable to financially support another child. Her birth name is Claire Mary Rawstron and she originates from the town of Gisborne on the coast of New Zealand. Her father was a native Maori and her mother from European extraction and she was adopted at only a month old by Tom and Nell Te Kanawa who were of similar backgrounds. Her new parents named her Kiri which is the Maori word for ‘bell’.

As an only child, Kiri enjoyed the attention of both her parents. She accompanied her father on his fishing trips, and on one occasion nearly drowned, when the boat overturned and she was trapped underneath. Thankfully her father was able to dive down and rescue her. Her mother, who played piano, provided the entertainment in the household as there was no television. Kiri recalls that she was singing from a very early age with performances on the purpose built mini stage, complete with curtains. Her mother heard something very special in Kiri’s voice and told her that she had a vision of her performing at the London’s Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.

It became Nell Te Kanawa’s mission to turn that vision into a reality, and over the next few years there were to be many changes in the family’s circumstances. It was a monumental challenge to take this young girl with raw talent to the stages of the most famous opera houses in the world.. Kiri Te Kanawa is quoted as saying, “the reasons that I’m here today is because of the sacrifice of my parents.”

As we have discovered in the previous posts on classical artists, music in the home has played a vital role in developing an initial talent and love of music.. But, the second most important element of a successful career, is in the commitment of teachers in the early days at school, to take that talent further.

After a course in business school where Kiri learned shorthand and typing she took a job as a receptionist. This left her evenings free to perform and to study singing with Dame Sister Mary Leo who had tutored her at St Mary’s College in Auckland. She began to sing in the popular musicals of the day such as The Sound of Music that were being staged in Auckland as well as performing in local cabarets. It is clear that this following song in particular held a place in her heart.

Kiri te Kanawa gives a fantastic rendition of “Climb Every Mountain” (Rogers and Hammerstein) in this 1994 performance with the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by Stephen Barlow. She embodies the grace and style for which she became famous.

At age sixteen and with several recordings released, it appeared that Kiri Te Kanawa was destined to a career as a popular singer. This however was not what her mother had envisaged for her talented daughter, who persuaded The Maori Trust Foundation to support Kiri while she studied further.

With her living expenses covered it offered Kiri the freedom to continue to study classical music with Sister Mary Leo with more focus and to enter the singing competitions locally. At sixteen she won the Auckland Competition and in 1962 she was runner up in the more prestigious Mobile Song quest winning the competition in 1965 aged twenty-one.

It was time to expand her audience and in 1965 Kiri Te Kanawa entered aria competitions of both the Sydney and Melbourne Suns, two of the most important events in Australia at the time. She came second in the Sydney competition but won the Melbourne event singing “Leise, leise” (sung in English as “Softly Singing”) from Weber’s Der Freischützwon.

This was to be a pivotal time in Kiri’s career and at age only 21, with her prize money and a scholarship from the New Zealand government, she set off to England where she would sing in her first opera.

In 1966 Kiri enrolled at the London Opera Centre and would study under renowned vocal coach Vera Rozsa.

Vera Rozsa was a Hungarian opera singer and vocal coach who had enjoyed a successful career in her Budapest until the tragic years of the holocaust. Tragically her first husband was interned and died as di many of her family and friends. She herself was in hiding until the end of the war, narrowly escaping capture by the Nazis. Following the war she was soloist for the Budepest Opera and later the Vienna State Opera. Unfortunately, due to her years in hiding during the war, part of one lung had to be removed which was to severely impact her ability to perform in operas. She visited a specialist in Brussels, who told her that she would never be able to sing more than nine or ten minutes at a time: as a result, she developed expertise in a breathing technique, that not only enabled her to continue singing, although not in demanding opera roles, but to make singing easier for many future students.

Vera married a former British army intelligence officer in 1954 and came to the UK to live. She continued to perform for a period of time before achieving acclaim as an outstanding vocal coach, teaching first at the Royal Manchester School of Music for ten years before moving to London. She held master classes around the world and also was a judge at many of the most important competitions globally.

It was after a master class at the centre by Australian conductor, Richard Bonynge that he identified that Kiri Te Kanawa, who was considered to be a mezzo soprano was a soprano. The basic division of female voices is Contralto (low) Mezzo-soprano (middle) and Soprano (high) and this can influence the roles within an opera. The tendency is for the mezzo sopranos to play a secondary role to a soprano and this was therefore quite an impactful development.

The time that Kiri Te Kanawa spent being taught by Vera Rozsa led to an improvement in not just her intonation, diction, interpretation and acting, but also allowed for her naturally lighter voice to be developed.

Kiri first appeared on stage as the Second Lady in Mozart’s The Magic Flute, as well as in performances of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas in December 1968 at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre. She also sang the title role in Donizett’s Anna Bolena.

The period from 1969 to 1970 was a pivotal one in several respects. She left the London Opera Centre and began her new career, at first singing small travesti roles, as in Handel’s Alcina at Royal Festival Hall, before her major triumph of 1969 as Ellen in Rossini’s La donna del lago at the Camden Festival.

After her success at the Camden Festival as Ellen, she was offered the role of the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro after an audition of which the conductor, Colin Davis, said, “I couldn’t believe my ears. I’ve taken thousands of auditions, but it was such a fantastically beautiful voice.”

Praise for her Idamante in Mozart’s Idomeneo led to an offer of a three-year contract as junior principal at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden where she made her debut as Xenia in Boris Godunov and a Flower Maiden in Parsifal in 1970, fulfilling her mother’s dream.

The performance that began her stratospheric rise was as Countess Almaviva in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro in December of 1971.

One of the best scenes from Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” comes in act three when the Countess, Kiri te Kanawa sits Susanna, Ileana Cotrubas down at her desk with pen in hand as they plot out a conspiracy against her husband in order to trick him. Kiri Te Kanawa is ravishing and her phrasing, perfect, in this duet, “Sull’aria,” (A little song on the breeze).

Buy the music of Kiri Te Kanawa: https://www.amazon.com/Dame-Kiri-Te-Kanawa/e/B000AQ0GZI

Additional Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiri_Te_Kanawa
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vera_Rozsa

About William Price King.

williampriceking

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.
His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.

Connect to William

Website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

We hope you have enjoyed the first in the new series and would be grateful if you could share on social media. thanks Sally

Classical Music with William Price King – Andrea Bocelli – My Christmas Album


classical music

Today William and I thought we might take a slight break in the series with the last part of Andrea Bocelli’s story (for now) next Wednesday. Nothing brings Christmas alive more than wonderful music and we are sharing three of the tracks Andrea’s 2009 Christmas Album which is filled with the most amazing songs you can wish for at this time of year.

christmasThe album was Andrea Bocelli’s 13th studio album and first Christmas release in November 2009. Apart from one original track, God Bless Us Everyone, which closed the 2009 film, A Christmas Carol, all the other songs are ones we all recognise and love.  I have had this album since 2009 when David bought it for me for Christmas. It is played every year and is much loved.

Over 2 million copies sold before Christmas that year in the United States alone with worldwide sales of over 5 million and it was one of the best-selling albums of 2009.

You can buy the album: https://www.amazon.com/My-Christmas-Andrea-Bocelli/dp/B002L430KK

The first track I have chosen is Adeste Fideles by John Francis Wade and Jean Francois Borderies.

My second choice is a classic Christmas song that most of us will have listened to over our lifetime.  White Christmas by Irving Berlin live from the Kodak Theatre 2009.

My last choice is one that shows the showmanship, humour and universal appeal of Andrea Bocelli… Andre Bocelli with Jingle Bells with The Muppets..

You can buy the album: https://www.amazon.com/My-Christmas-Andrea-Bocelli/dp/B002L430KK

William will continue the story of Anrea Bocelli next week, with the years 2010 to present day with more music from this wonderful performer.

williampricekingcover of Home by William Price King

William has two wonderful albums available and I am lucky enough to have both.. You can find them at the following link.

ITunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

Connect to William.

Websitehttp://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/wpkofficial

You can find the other posts in the Bocelli series and the other artists that we have featured in this directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/classical-music-with-william-price-king/

I hope you have enjoyed this Christmas music post and as always look forward to your feedback.  Thanks Sally

 

 

Classical Music with William Price King – Andrea Bocelli – Part Two


classical music

It is only when reading through the research for Andrea Bocelli that you realise what a prolific singer and performer he is. From 1994 his engagements appear to be back to back and it is a wonder that he managed to get into the recording studio to produce 116 albums in total.. So far!

61kaxfhzjll-_ss135_sl160_

William Price King picks up the story in September 1994 when Andrea was invited to sing at the renowned Pavarotti’s annual Charity Gala Concert, Pavarotti International in Modena. Bocelli sang Ruggiero Leoncavallo’s Mattinata’ (Morning).. A song with quite an interesting back story.

It was the first song ever written for the then Gramophone Company in 1904 (which later became HMV). Ruggero Leoncavallo was an Italian composer who was best known for his two act opera, Pagliacci written in 1892, and still one of the top twenty list of most performed operas worldwide. ‘Mattinata’ was dedicated to the renowned Italian tenor, Enrico Caruso, and he was the first to record the song with Leoncavallo at the piano.. Just one of over 260 recordings between 1902 and 1920 by the great Caruso.

Also during the gala performance, Andrea sang a duet with Pavarotti, Maurizio Morante’sNotte e Piscatore’.

This was the year that Andrea Bocelli made his opera debut in Verdi’s Macbeth as Macduff. Performing at the Teatro Verdi in Pisa. It was also in 1994 that Andrea, who considered himself to be an agnostic, reverted to catholicism. It followed his immersion in the works of Leo Tolstoy who promoted the belief that life was not the result of pure chance, but had purpose and meaning. He performed the hymn ‘Adeste Fideles’ in Rome before Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Basilica at Christmas.

Having won the newcomer section at the 1994 San Remo Festival, Andrea was invited to return in 1995. This time he entered the main competition with ‘Con ti Partiro’ and finished in fourth place.

Although we shared this song in the preview for the series it is an opportunity to see Bocelli perform the song in Italian and early in his career. The song was included on his second album, Bocelli, produced by Mauro Malavasi and released in November 1995. In Belgium, the song became the best-selling single of all time.

In this piece, Con te Partiro, Bocelli’s young voice is strong and well supported.His mixing of high and low notes confirm his distinct timbrewhich is extraordinary and transcendent,and his performance is as impressive as the power he brings to its expression.


Later in 1995 Bocelli was invited to sing with soprano Sarah Brightman and they translated the title of the song to ‘Time to Say Goodbye’. The single topped the German charts and stayed there for over three months. Three million copies were sold and this beat the previous record of best-selling single by one million copies, the single also won a sextuple platinum award.

In 1996 Bocelli released his third album. Viaggio Italiano is Andrea Bocelli’s third studio album and first classical album. The album features some of the most popular opera arias and Neapolitan songs of all time, such as Ave Maria, Nessun Dorma, O Sole Mio and la Donna è Mobile. Although released only in Italy in 1996, it sold close to 300,000 copies. Bocelli later received the ECHO Klassik “Best seller of the year” award for the album, after its international release, in 1997

Bocelli gives a warm,passionate,and heartfelt delivery of Schubert’s Ave Maria. It’s unbelievably heavenly and inspirational.

Bocelli continued to gain fans around Europe, topping the charts in Spanish charts with ‘Vivo Por Ella’ ( I Live for Her) his duet with Queen of Spanish pop Marta Sanchez. This was followed in 1997 with the French version of the song, ‘Je Vis Pour Elle’ sung with French singer Hélène Ségara; a hit in Belgium and reaching number one in France.

On March 3rd 1997 he appeared in Hamburg, Germany, with Sarah Brightman to receive the ECHO music award for Best Single of the Year for Time to Say Goodbye. This was followed in the September with Bocelli’s concert at the Piazza dei Cavalieri in Piza, A Night in Tuscany which was his first concert to air on PBS.

Whilst continuing to perform concerts and to record further albums, Bocelli remained committed to performing opera roles and early in 1998 he made his debut in a major role as Rodolfo in La bohème at the Teatro Comunale in Cagliari.

opera-albumHis fifth album ‘Aria: The Opera Album’ was released in March. There was some negative reviews for the album from opera purists who felt that his voice was not strong enough to master the arias. If you read the reviews on Amazon, it is clear to see there is definitely  a divide between the critics and the massive response from Bocelli’s fans who loved the album.. Here is one review that sums up this controversy.

CHANGE YOUR REVIEWER !  By DAVID WILLIAMS on March 1, 2000

Thanks to Rick Holden (Sceptic@traveller.com) for showing Ms Miller how to write a proper review. Having listened to the album myself I can only agree whole heartedly with his comments. Unfortunately there are too many critics out there who try to analyse music note by note and impress us with their technical jargon.

The joy of music is all about liking what you hear, and whether or not the music moves you. How can anyone enjoy listening if they’re listening for flaws or mistakes instead of enjoying what they hear. Perhaps Andrea Bocelli isn’t the greatest Opera singer, I don’t know, but I can say that he has one of the most wonderfully melodic voices I have ever heard and he sings like a man who is enjoying every note he delivers.

His background or his potential for the future don’t bother me, he is the man of the moment, and that’s all that matters. I recently watched a video performance of his ‘Evening in Tuscany’ which I would reccommend to all fans. Maybe Andrea will never be a great Opera singer, but who cares? He can move audiences without all the fancy dress. VIVA ANDREA!

It was now time to win over the United States and in April, Bocelli made his debut with a concert at the John F. Kennedy Centre in Washington. This was followed the next day by a reception a the White House with President Bill Clinton.

As a very definite response to some of his critics, Bocelli appeared in Monte Carlo in the May and won two World Music Awards. One in the category “Best Italian Singer”, and one for “Best Classical Interpretation“. He was also named one of People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People of 1998. This was consolidated in September when he received his second Echo Klassik award for the best-selling Aria: The Opera Album which sold almost two million copies, one million of them in the United States achieving Platinum status.

Here is ‘E lucevan le stelle‘ from the album – Bocelli’s grasp of style and vocal technique are quite evident in this aria, and his talent undeniable.His sound is not rounded in a Pavarotti-like way but is quite virile with a *baritone-like color used over a wide *vocal range without any suspicion of strain. Do enjoy this aria which is performed lovingly, sincerely,and skillfully.

Note: barione-like color – timbre
Note: vocal range –the measure of the breadth of pitches that a human voice can sing.

As the millennium drew to a close there was very little that could stop the phenomenon that was Andre Bocelli.

On Thanksgiving Eve, Andrea was a guest on Celine Dion’s televised These Are Special Times where they sang ‘The Prayer‘. The duet was included on Celine Dion’s album of the same name and the song also appeared on the film Quest for Camelot in 1998. ‘The Prayer’ won the Golden Globe for Best Original Song in 1999 and at the 41st Grammy Awards, Bocelli was nominated for Best New Artist.

His seventh album, Sacred Arias contained exclusively sacred music and reached number one on the US Classic Billboard charts two weeks later. This made Andre the first vocalist to hold all three top places on the chart with Aria: The Opera Album in second place and Viaggio Italiano in third place. To promote Sacred Arias, Bocelli recorded his second PBS concert in Rome and this special was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Classical Music-Dance Program.

To end the decade and millennium on a high note, Bocelli performed at the Royal Variety performance at the end of November 1999 by invitation of Queen Elizabeth. The following day his autobiographical novel, La Musica del Silenzio was released in Italy.

book

BUY Andrea Bocelli’s Music: https://www.amazon.com/Andrea-Bocelli/e/B000APRADU

Official Website: http://lnx.andreabocelli.org

Additional material https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrea_Bocelli

About William Price King

williampriceking

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.
His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.

Connect to William

Links to website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

You will find the previous series on Luciano Pavarotti and part one of Andrea Bocelli in this directory:

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/classical-music-with-william-price-king/

Thank you so much for joining us today.. We would be grateful if you could reblog or share the post to give this new series a great send off.. thanks Sally

Classical Music with William Price King – Luciano Pavarotti – The Finale


classical music

We have reached the end of the story about the incredible rise to fame and stunning career of Luciano Pavarotti. Today it is time to pay this wonderful tenor tribute as we follow him through the last years of his life.  He won awards and thrilled millions with his unique performance style but until his death, very few knew about the health issues that took their toll on his vitality and his ability to perform.

I now hand over to William Price King to take us through the last seven years of Luciano’s life and to share the accolades from fans and critics alike.

index

“Music making is the most joyful activity possible, the most perfect expression of any emotion” Luciano Pavarotti

The new millennium did not start on a high note for Pavarotti as the Italian tax authorities took him to court on tax fraud charges. Although he lived in Monte Carlo he still owned a great many properties in Italy and he was accused of owing almost five million dollars in back tax. This carried a prison sentence of as much as eighteen months in prison. Thankfully he was acquitted and all charges dropped.

This difficult, and what must have been humiliating episode, was offset by the continued support of his fans and also by the awards and honours he received in these years. This included Kennedy Center Honors in 2001.

Following on from the scrutiny into his business affairs, Luciano’s personal life became the subject of public interest when he left his wife Adua after over thirty years of marriage in 2003. It was revealed that he was now living with his assistant with whom he already had a young daughter. Once his divorce was finalised he married Nicoletta Mantovani and in tribute to their relationship he released his final compilation which was his only ‘crossover’ album.

Ti Adoro featured thirteen songs which were written and produced by Michele Centonze who had been part of the production team for the Pavarotti and Friends concerts between 1998 and 2000.

Luciano described his album as a wedding gift to his new wife Nicoletta.

In the Il Canto video one can easily see how versatile Pavarotti was. The modern Italian pop style of that day suited him well and the soft musical arrangements did not compete with his voice, leaving him free to just have “fun” in a lighter vocal medium.

Also in 2003 Luciano Pavarotti was made a Commander of Monaco’s Order of Cultural Merit. This was not to be his only award in these last years as his work for charity was also recognised.

Pavarotti had annually hosted the Pavarotti and Friends charity concerts in his home town of Modena, inviting top artists from the music industy to join him in raising awareness and money for several United Nation causes. Artists included B.B. King, Andrea Bocelli, Bono, Mariah Carey, Eric Clapton, Celine Dion, Elton John, Queen, Sting and the Spice Girls.

Concerts were held for War Child, and victims of war and civil unrest in Bosnia, Guatemala, Kosovo and Iraq. After the war in Bosnia, he financed and established the Pavarotti Music Centre in the southern city of Mostar to offer Bosnia’s artists the opportunity to develop their skills. For these contributions, the city of Sarajevo named him an honorary citizen in 2006.

In 2001, Pavarotti received the Nansen Medal from the UN High Commission for Refugees for his efforts raising money on behalf of refugees worldwide. Through benefit concerts and volunteer work, he has raised more than any other individual.

Other honors he received include the Freedom of London Award and The Red Cross Award for Services to Humanity, for his work in raising money for that organization, and the 1998 MusiCares Person of the Year, given to humanitarian heroes by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Unfortunately the awards for recognition were accompanied by continued criticism of his performance skills in a tell all book written in 2004 by one of his former managers. In The King & I, Herbert Breslin one of his former managers, was critical of Luciano’s acting abilities when performing opera; also his ability to read music and learn new roles. These criticisms were addressed by Pavarotti in his 2005 interview with Jeremy Paxman for the BBC, where he was adamant that he could read music although he admitted that he did not read orchestral scores.

In December 2004 at the age of 69, Pavarotti  announced his farewell tour beginning in  2005 and finishing in 2006. He intended to celebrate his forty years on the stage by appearing in many of his old venues and include new locations on this forty city tour.

In March 2005 Pavarotti underwent neck surgery to repair two vertebrae and further back surgery in early 2006. Following this it was clear that the great man was physically and vocally frailer. However, he received a rapturous welcome from his devoted fans as he began his tour, including at his last performance of 2005 in Taiwan.

Despite being very ill at the start of 2006, Pavarotti was approached by the Winter Olympics committee to sing during the opening ceremony for the winter games on February 10th. His performance received the longest and loudest ovation of the night from the thousands of international athletes, officials and guests. Little did they know at the time that there was a story behind the performance.

Pavarotti *lip synched his performance. Though his voice was in great shape the bitter cold made a live performance impossible. Also Pavarotti was in severe pain with his spinal problems. Consequently, it was decided in advance that the only way to do this performance was to pre-record. So, in this video the orchestra pretends to play, the conductor (Leone Magiera) pretends to conduct and Pavarotti pretends to sing. None the less, this is a great recording and a tribute to a great artist at the end of his career.


Note. lip synch is a technical term for matching lip movements with pre-recorded sung or spoken vocals that the listener hears.

While continuing with his international “farewell tour”, Pavarotti was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in July 2006. He underwent surgery and the tumour was completely removed but it did obviously result in the cancellations of most of his planned concerts in the USA and Europe. His health declinded further following the surgery and he was forced to cancel the tour completely.

He died at his home in Modena on September 6th, 2007 just before his 72nd birthday surrounded by his family.

His manager, Terri Robson, issued this statement, “The Maestro fought a long, tough battle against the pancreatic cancer which eventually took his life. In fitting with the approach that characterized his life and work, he remained positive until finally succumbing to the last stages of his illness”.

Pavarotti’s funeral was held in Modena Cathedral. His ceremony was an international event attended by political heads of state, Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, celebrities and over fifty thousand music lovers from all over the world. The funeral procession wound its way through the streets of Modena, crowded with mourners and his coffin was laid to rest in the Pavarotti family crypt. The funeral was televised around the world by CNN and Opera Houses including the Vienna State Opera and London’s Royal Opera House published tributes.

He posthumously received the Italy-USA Foundation’s America Award in 2013.

Without a doubt, Nessun Dorma is the aria which sums up all that is great about Pavarotti.

The whole world knows him thanks to his knock-out, rock star performance of this piece. But for me, personally, my favorite tenor aria is Che Gelida Manina from La Boheme, my all time favorite opera.

Rodolfo, the leading tenor in this opera, must be youthful, passionate, warm, and sensitive and no one has done it better than Pavarotti in my book. He was always elegant and brilliant in this role. In this video from a performance at the Met in 1977 you’ll find an amazing Pavarotti, completely convincing as he sings “Che Gelida Manina” with that unforced, open-throated quality -*lasciarsi andare – that made him the greatest tenor of modern times. He shares the stage with Renata Scotto as “Mimi.”

Note: lasciarsi andare – to let go

Additional material : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luciano_Pavarotti

Buy the music of Luciano Pavarotti: https://www.amazon.com/Luciano-Pavarotti/e/B0017PCMVM

About William Price King

williampriceking

William Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.
His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.

Connect to William

Links to website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

You will find the other posts of the series in this directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/classical-music-with-william-price-king/

We always enjoy your feedback and of course if you could please share on your own social media by clicking on a few buttons.. thanks Sally

Classical Music with William Price King – Luciano Pavarotti – Part Four – 1980s


classical musicLast week William Price King took us through the career and performances of Luciano Pavarotti in the 1970s and this week we cover his increasing popularity in the media, his friendship with Princess Diana and his work for charity.  I will now hand you over to William.

51sjpewzxl-_sx329_bo1204203200_To begin the article today, here is a 1980 recording of Pavarotti, who was a master at spreading the joys of fine music to the masses sings “Pourquoi me reveiller, au souffle du printemps? (Why do you wake me now,ohsweetest breath of spring?)” from the opera “Werther” (Act 3) with *lyrical warmth and delicacy. You’ll find in his performance the familiar suppleness and expressiveness that have been the foundations of Pavarotti’s fame. This incredibly beautiful music was composed by one of my favorite French classical composers, Jules Massenet.

Note: lyrical – lighter voices are often associated with the term “lyric” and are usually brighter and more agile; heavier voices are often associated with the term “dramatic” and are usually powerful, rich, and darker.

At the beginning of the 1980s, Luciano set up The Pavarotti International Voice Competition for young singers. The Academy of Music, home of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Opera Company of Philadelphia was the venue for the finals for the first competition in 1981 with over 80 finalists selected from 27 countries.

The second competition, in 1986, staged excerpts of La bohème and Un ballo in maschera. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of his career, he brought the winners of the competition to Italy for gala performances of La bohème in Modena and Genoa, and then to China where they staged performances of La bohème in Beijing. To conclude the visit, Pavarotti performed the inaugural concert in the Great Hall of the People before 10,000 people, receiving a standing ovation for nine effortless high Cs.

In 1982, Pavarotti was persuaded to appear in the film Yes, Giorgio which unfortunately received negative feedback from the critics, but it did reinforce Luciano’s popularity with his fans. Here is an excerpt from the film which shows a very different side to Luciano.

He was deemed to be more successful in Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s adaptation of Rigoletto for television, released that same year.  Over 20 of his live opera performances were also televised and most are still available on DVD and are well worth collecting as a record of his amazing career. He was able to reach millions every time one of his performances was televised and this strengthened his status as one of opera’s leading figures.

He returned to the Vienna State Opera and La Scala in the mid 1980s and to the role of Rodolfo in  La bohème with Carlos Kleiber conducting and his long term friend and soprano Mirella Freni as Mimi.  In 1985, Pavarotti sang Radames at La Scala opposite Maria Chiara in a Luca Ronconi production conducted by Maazel, recorded on video.

His performance of the aria “Celeste Aida” received a two-minute ovation on the opening night. He was reunited with Mirella Freni for the San Francisco Opera production of La bohème in 1988, also recorded on video.

Pavarotti also reached those who might not be opera fans but still appreciated the beauty of his voice. He recorded contemporary songs with composer and conductor Henry Mancini and became the world’s third highest top-selling musician behind Madonna and Elton John.

Here is Moon River with the Henry Mancini Orcherstra and American soprano Nancy Gustafson.

Luciano also turned his talent to support charities and he performed at benefit concerts to raise money for victims of natural disasters. He was a friend of Princess Diana and he supported her cause to eliminate landmines worldwide. Likewise Princess Diana would attend his own benefit concerts, raising their profile, such as the benefit to raise money for Bosnian children in light of the civil war during the mid 1990′ staged in Modena in September, 1995. Pavarotti was asked to sing at Princess Diana’ funeral but declined as he felt he would be unable to perform ‘with grief in his throat’, but he did attend the service.

With Pavarotti’s popularity and his move into solo tours and performances, it was considered by many in the opera world that he was not focusing on broadening his classical repertory for recitals or new operatic roles. But here is a performance recorded in 1990 that should have reassured his critics

In the role of Cavaradossi, Pavarotti is unbelievably moving, *appropriately dark and fully convincing in the aria “E lucevan le stelle (And the stars shone)” which he sings with aplomb. He, once again, showed himself to be a persuasive Puccini hero. His voice is strong and pure, and his performance exhibits the characteristic strength, warmth, and passion of his singing.

Note:  appropriately dark – suggests the color of the voice.

Additional material : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luciano_Pavarotti

Buy the music of Luciano Pavarotti: https://www.amazon.com/Luciano-Pavarotti/e/B0017PCMVM

  Next time we will follow Pavarotti’s career in the 1990s and into the new millennium.

About William Price King

williampricekingWilliam Price King is an American jazz singer, musician and composer. Originally he studied classical music and opera but over the years his style has evolved to what many refer to as the ‘sweet point’ where music and voice come together so beautifully.
His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme. His jazz album, ‘Home,’ is a collection of contemporary songs and whilst clearly a homage to their wonderful legacy it brings a new and refreshing complexity to the vocals that is entrancing.

His latest album Eric Sempe and William Price King is now available to download. The repertory includes standards such as “Bye Bye Blackbird” (a jazz classic), Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” Queen’s “The Show Must Go On”, Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven” and other well-known jazz, pop, and rock classics.

William and Eric Sempe have also brought their own magic to the album with original tracks such as Keep on Dreaming and Red Snow with collaboration with Jeanne King
Download the new album. http://cdbaby.com/cd/williampriceking

William is currently in France where he performs in popular Jazz Venues in Nice and surrounding area.
Connect to William

Links to website – http://www.williampriceking.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WilliamPriceKing
Twitter – @wpkofficial
Regular Venue – http://cave-wilson.com/
ITunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/william-price-king/id788678484

You will find the other posts of the series in this directory.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/classical-music-with-william-price-king/

Thank you for dropping by and we would be thrilled to receive your feedback and if you would share.. Sally