LMC hosts ‘master’ vocalist Anderson

The Los Medanos College Choral/Vocal Division, led by Professor Silvester Henderson, put on a Holiday Master Class Recital in the recital hall Tuesday, Dec 5.

The featured performer was Grammy Nominated Operatic Artist Karen Anderson, who came all the way from South Jordan, Utah to perform. Lively and animated, Anderson opened the show with a performance of “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion” from George Frederic Handel’s “Messiah” Christmas mass oratorio. Afterward, Anderson performed opera excerpt, which she described as a “great way to start your career” in music, and Professor Henderson said a few words to the assembled audience before the student soloists began their performances.

First up was alto Kaelisia Brown, performing “When I Fall In Love” from the 1952 romantic war film “One Minute to Zero.”

“You just kinda hung out, you brought the audience into you,” Anderson praised of the performance, adding that singers trying overly hard to project themselves unto the audience must “watch out” in case they overextend their voice.

Anderson provided feedback in real time to each performer, with each of them performing brief encores after taking her words into consideration – for Brown, Anderson had a few tips on where to start her notes.

“Knowing the voice, where it’s resonating, is really important,” Anderson coached.

Baritone singer Kyle Martinez continued the show with “Long Ago & Far Away” from the 1944 film “Cover Girl” starring Rita Hayworth and Gene Kelly. Anderson commented that Martinez “presented very well” and praised his ability to “communicate” the words, but gave him some tips on improving posture and diaphragm use, sharing a story of a particularly strict musical coach who once had her perform a number with balloons under her armpits to show her the importance of how one stands while singing.

Next up was mezzo soprano Isabella Bishop, singing “Simple” from the 1980s musical “Nine” starring Raul Julia. Anderson applauded Bishop for singing out of her range with the song, and gave her a few tips on how to string together and when to put stress on consonants while singing multisyllabic lyrics.

Tayadi Bodely-Bush, a bass singer, continued with the song “Somewhere” from the fan favorite Leonared Bernstein musical “West Side Story.” Anderson seemed particularly impressed with his performance, commenting on the beauty of his voice.

“This is the voice I’d like to have someday,” said Anderson. She went to give similar advice to Bodely-Bush that she gave to Bishop on when to stress certain syllables

“H’s are really difficult because we like them a little explosive,” she said adding, “But we have to be careful we aren’t letting the ribcage drop to produce them.”

The penultimate performance was mezzo soprano Alize Vance, with a powerful performance of the somber Italian language aria “Ombra Mai Fu” from the Handel opera “Serse.”

“What a melody, you did beautiful,” Anderson praised, complimenting the sweetness of Vance’s voice but advising that she “breathe higher” while singing.

The final soloists was baritone Donovan Lowe with an emotional performance of “Since I Gave My Heart Away,” a musical number about the worthlessness of material possessions compared to love from “Geppetto,” a 2000 television musical remake of Disney’s adaptation of “Pinocchio.”

“You know how to communicate,” said Anderson, with some advice for Lowe on how to pitch his vowels to prevent ‘dragging’ his voice down. “Beautiful, beautiful.”

After a group bow, Anderson once again addressed the performers and the audience, reflecting about the healing power music had for her after her husband died a few months ago and congratulating and thanking the soloists for participating in the recital.

“If you don’t make a mistake you will never grow,” she said. “You gotta step up to these challenges.”

The show closed with a traditional holiday recital of the “Hallelujah” chorus from Handel’s “Messiah” by the LMC Chamber Chorale, but not before some final words from Professor Henderson encouraging enrollment in a music program, even if one does not have existing musical talents.

“We have a large fraction of individuals who come solely because they love music and want to learn,” he commented. “We thank each of you for coming and hope you will visit us again.”