Last Sunday, the Eastman School and Rochester communities had the opportunity to hear a not very publicized yet astounding concert. Countertenor Daniel Brondel and pianist Russel Miller presented a diverse thirty minute program at the Christ Episcopal Church. This concert was part of the Candlelight Concert Series at the church, which features different performers every month before the 9 p.m. Service of Compline. He is currently residing in Rochester and is singing in the St. Anne’s Church choir and in Schola Cantorum at Christ Church. Former Eastman student Brondel completed three years of his DMA degree in organ performance before deciding to terminate his studies. Brondel performed an extraordinarily difficult program. Most of the songs he sang are now executed by women. He opened the concert with Orphe’s from Act I, Scene IV of Christoph Willibald’s Gluck’s ‘Orphe et Euridice.’ He immediately displayed his virtuosity in this piece. In contrast, Brondel demonstrated his perfect voice control on Olivier Messiaen’s ‘La ville qui dormait,’ a slow and soft piece. There was no tone shaking or excessive vibrato. In Francis Poulenc’s ‘C’est ainsi que tu as,’ Brondel performed a masterful legato. A real vocal legato is very difficult for a singer to do as it is so easy to instead slide through the notes in a glissando fashion. The first real shock for the audience came when Brondel sang Richard Strauss’ ‘Zueignung’ in the original key. The piece is indeed meant to be sung by a man, but most countertenors can only dream of singing an a5 without having a passage to lead up to it and without sliding into the note. Strauss himself had to make some slight text adjustments in order to avoid any gender specifications, thus allowing women to sing the piece. Today most men perform this work a major third lower. Brondel confidently sang a full, rich a5, which was dramatic and passionate. Brondel’s stage presence and acting throughout the concert made clear that this was a real musical statement without the connotation of empty vocal acrobatics. In ‘Idaspe’ by Riccardo Broschi, Brondel went up to a b5 several times. His voice startled the musically educated audience, which was amazed to see that the concert would close with Gioachino Rossini’s ‘Arsace’ from Act I, Scene V of the opera ‘Semiramida,’ an aria sung today by lyric sopranos. In this showcase aria, Brondel flawlessly sang virtuoso passages within the span of two octaves and a fourth. Right before the end of the concert, after half an hour of extraordinary countertenor singing, he went up to a c sharp above the staff with a perfectly controlled voice, which could fill any hall with its magnitude. The listeners erupted in applause even before the end of the accompaniment. Brondel began singing countertenor only three years ago. His musicality and voice, which borders a phenomenon, are all prerequisites for a most certain rapid international career. His half an hour concert on Sunday night was the best possible proof of this young man’s miraculous talent. Fol can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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