March 16-22, 2006
Arts : ArtpicksFever Pitch
Contraltosthe low, rich, molasses-like female voicesare among the rarest type of singing voice to occur. Or maybe one should say that good, soloist-quality contraltos are rare, their services much coveted by opera companies and orchestras all over the world. Philly's own Marian Anderson helped to define the category for the 20th century. Clearly, major players in the music world hope for Meredith Arwady to help do the same for the 21st: Only 27, she's already piled up an impressive array of awards and major engagements. The Michigan-born Arwady has sought her musical path in Philadelphia since 2000, when she came to attend Curtis to work with the famous pedagogues Marlena Kleinman Malas and Mikael Eliason. Besides standing out for her unusual gifts at Curtis, she's played supporting roles at the Opera Company with vocal class and spark, and is slotted for Mistress Quickly (a plum lead) in next season's Falstaff. She won fine notices this fall for a major new production, Tippett's The Midsummer Marriage at Lyric Opera of Chicago. With the expert Eliason at the piano, Arwady offered a highly enjoyable local recital in 2004. This time out they undertake an all-English language program that will access both sentiment and Arwady's ready sense of humor: Elgar's haunting Sea Pictures plus songs by Bernstein, Bolcom, Barber, Purcell and Weill.
Meredith Arwady, contralto, with Mikael Eliason, piano; Thu., March 16, 8 p.m., $11-$22, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, American Philosophical Society, 427 Chestnut St., 215-569-8080, www.pcmsconcerts.org.