Students of Professor Robert McIver presented a benefit performance in memory of the esteemed Professor William McIver on Friday, Jan. 21. The program featured Ralph Vaughn Williams’ “Serenade to Music” and Warren Martin’s “The True Story of Cinderella.”
All proceeds from the concert were donated to the William McIver Memorial Scholarship Fund. This fund will award a scholarship each year to a graduate student particularly interested in the area of vocal pedagogy.
William McIver taught at the Eastman School of Music from 1997 until his untimely death from cancer in 2003. During this time, he provided a wealth of insight and exceptional instruction for his students. His interest and counsel in the area of vocal pedagogy made him an immeasurable loss for the Eastman community.
McIver was heavily involved in the National Association of Teachers of Singing, Music Teachers National Association and the American Choral Directors Association. McIver also taught on the faculties of Oberlin College and Conservatory, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and Lycoming College before coming to Eastman. William McIver possessed a unique and ardent dedication to teaching voice.
The evening’s performance began with Vaughn Williams’ “Serenade to Music” for 16 solo voices, violin and piano. Eastman vocal professor Benton Hess accompanied the ensemble with violinist Andrew Lisbin, filling out the orchestral part with remarkable energy.
Robert McIver conducted a choir of his own students as they sang with notable strength and resolve. The work is comprised of several solo sections interspersed with unison singing. The distinctive use of a choir composed of solo voices results in a wide range of vocal color and type. These portions were sung exceptionally well and were a joy to listen to.
Warren Martin, a former colleague of Robert McIver, wrote “The True Story of Cinderella.” This little-known work is a witty and humorous reworking of the famous Cinderella fable. It is also specifically intended to be performed as an oratorio, a large musical composition for orchestra, vocal soloists and chorus that is not an opera.
The piece draws on several popular idioms and is structured in a series of quirky airs, subtle “patter-like” duets and broad ensemble numbers.
Junior Kathryn Blomshield and Ted Christopher, associate professor at Eastman, proved themselves an ironic and graceful match as the evening’s bickering queen and king.
The trumpet-like delivery of graduate student Jonathan Rohr’s voice in his role as the Herald was comical and impressive.
Graduate student Brittany Palmer filled in as Cinderella at the last minute, singing with ease and confidence.
The performance included a special appearance by Dean of the Eastman School of Music James Undercofler, striking midnight on the tubular bells.
The rest of the cast represented an exceptionally high level of singing and characterization.
The performance was a success both as a musical event and as a memorial for William McIver. Senior voice major Allen Stowe enjoyed being a participant in the concert.
“I’m grateful that we were able to perform tonight,” Stowe said. “And I’m glad this award will benefit students in the future.”
Lethbridge can be reached at email@example.com.