Samuel Barber (1910 – 1981) was an American composer. He won the Pulitzer Prize for music twice: for his opera Vanessa (1957), and for his Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (1962). Adagio for Strings has been called “the saddest classical work” and was played following the deaths of Presidents Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy. On November 1, 2019, Rulee Stallmann organized a concert for the Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center, featuring local musicians playing a selection of Barber’s repertoire on the Main Stage.
Rulee began the concert accompanying soprano Sarah Simmons as she sang “Sure on this Shining Night”. Matt Guschl performed Canzonette for Oboe and Strings Op. 48. A string quartet made up of Rachel Handlin and Paul Zafir on violin, Betty Lewis on viola, and Michael Beert on cello accompanied bass-baritone Joel Ross for “Dover Beach Op. 3”.
The second half of the concert featured a choral version of “Sure on this Shining Night” with sopranos Rachel Handlin and Sarah Simmons, altos Debra Dew and Margo Stedman, tenors Tim Anderson and Joe Sweeney, and bass singers Timm Adams and Joel Ross. Joel Ross and Rulee Stallmann combined their talents on one piano keyboard to play elements from “Souvenirs: Ballet Suite Op. 28”.
Probably the highlight was a complete performance of Barber’s opera “A Hand of Bridge”. The opera clocks in at around nine minutes long and featured Rulee on piano while Timm Adams, Tim Anderson, Sarah Simmons, and Margo Stedman played cards and sang of delights and regrets. Finally, cellist Mike Beert returned to the stage to play a solo version of “Sure on this Shining Night”.
The concert was recorded in its entirety and will be aired on the August 2nd episode of Performance. Performance airs Sunday nights at 7:00 pm and features complete concerts from local venues, including the various stages of the Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center. If you’re interested in finding out when an artist will air on the show, check our Facebook page or sign up for our newsletter.