When a bassoonist teams up with a pianist and a mezzo soprano

Karan Pillai Published :  20th April 2018 06:00 AM   |   Published :   |  20th April 2018 06:00 AM


Trust the KM Music Conservatory (KMMC) to bring together musicians from three vastly different genres and styles. Today, at Goethe Institut — as a part of their Musix series of performances — a bassoonist-mezzo soprano couple will perform along with a pianist to present renditions of 17th-20th Century Western classical compositions in various languages. Cynthia L Smith, the lyric mezzo soprano from Tenessee, USA, tells us that some of the pieces are as old as 270 years. There are also a few folk songs in Yiddish (a language spoken by Jews) and solo works by each of the three musicians. “I also have a duet with my husband Aaron W Smith, who began training as a bassoonist from the age of 13,” says Cynthia, who has been a Western classical voice faculty at KMMC for four years now. Over the past three years, Aaron has arranged three scores for chamber opera performances at KMMC, while the pianist, Gabriel Jones, who was raised in Brighton, UK, is also a faculty at the institute, where he teaches his trade as well as 20th Century music history.

Cynthia L Smith
Gabriel Jones

Today’s concert is the trio’s first project together, although they have performed in other countries individually. Their biggest challenge while preparing for today? Finding songs written specifically for mezzo-sopranos and bassoonists. Cynthia explains, “Few composers write for musicians from our field. What’s tough is finding songs that fit our ensemble without having to arrange or transpose scores,” adding that although the bassoon (a woodwind instrument) is not as popular as other Western classical instruments, it is by no means endangered. Hence, out of the 12 pieces that they will be performing, only two are originally composed for a mezzo-soprano and bassoon. “They are Ah! Nos peines by Italian composer Cherubini and the Edgar Allan Poe songs by Beverly McLarry, a soprano from the state of Oklahoma, USA,” Cynthia informs, adding that the other Western classical composers featured in their list include names like JS Bach, JW Hertel, Frédéric Chopin and others.

Today. 7 pm. At Goethe Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan.