If you've been to a student recital before, you probably expect to hear something like a traditional concert by a touring artist.

Recitals by doctoral students are a somewhat different affair. In the course of completing the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at New England Conservatory, performance majors present not just one, but three full-length recitals, for which they also write program notes. Composers present a recital of their chamber music, then complete a large-scale original work. In both cases, it's an opportunity to observe multiple facets of an emerging artist.

Tonight's concert is an unusual collaborative project between three D.M.A. students. Guitarist Caio Afiune is a student of Jerry Bergonzi, Frank Carlberg, and Miguel Zenón. Vocalist Nedelka Prescod is a student of Karen Holvik and John McNeil. Vocalist Joseph Copeland is a student of Dominique Eade and Ken Schaphorst. These three are joined by vocalists Michael Mayo and Farayi Sumbureru; Hery Paz and Lihi Haruvi, saxophone; Aaron Bahr, trumpet; Chris McCarthy, piano; Neil Patton, bass; and Robin Baytas, drums.

The three D.M.A. students have written notes on their own pieces, as well as the following introduction to this project.

Dido and Aeneas is an opera by Henry Purcell and librettist Nahum Tate. It is based on book IV of Virgil’s Aeneid, and it recounts the love of Dido, the queen of Carthage, and Aeneas, the Trojan hero. Aeneas initially pursues Dido and falls in love with her; however, witches conspire to break their relationship by tricking him into believing the gods want him to leave Carthage and establish Rome. Reluctantly, Aeneas leaves her and sets sail. In the devastation of being jilted, Dido decides to take her own life.

Inspired by this remarkable opera, we all felt very inspired to recreate this music according to our own perspectives. We initially built our conceptual framework for this recital around Dido’s Lament, each of us reinterpreting the piece in our own way. We have also used material from other acts of the opera to contextualize the story, giving the listener an inside view of its trajectory.

Caio Afiune Introduction

Joseph Copeland Remember Me (Dido’s Lament)

Dido’s Lament is beautifully written. Here Dido, Queen of Carthage, is a jilted lover who not only bears the weight of a heavy heart but the responsibilities of an entire kingdom. Whether her rash decision was the result of pressure, pride, other variables is a matter of perspective. I wanted to write music and lyrics that expressed the feelings of someone who was denied the promise of love. I used the melodic material of Dido’s Lament in various ways, altering rhythms, including augmentation and diminution of melodic fragments. I also made use of the ground bass. Elements of gospel and soul were also incorporated.

Caio Afiune Overture

The main idea for this tune came from the overture of Purcell’s opera, and originally it was supposed to be a ballad. As the ideas evolved, this composition also transformed and the original ballad remained as just the introduction for an adventurous 12/8. The B section quotes “with drooping wings,” the closing section of Purcell’s opera, giving this tune a cyclic sensation.

Joseph Copeland Hazel

Hazel is a piece that is based on the story of the fictional character I created, Matthias Quartermaine. It is a musical excerpt that paints the picture of an intimate connection shared by two lovers. This piece has evolved over time from etude to duo piece, to its present form. Although there is no material used from Purcell’s opera in this piece, I thought it appropriate as it represents love, passion and intimacy—something Dido and Aeneas shared before Aeneas left her to establish Rome. For the purpose of this recital, Hazel represents a window to Dido’s soul. It is a memory of what she had; and contextualizes emotionally what may have led to her demise.

Nedelka Prescod Banish Sorrow, Banish Care

I've decided to use my visible platforms to address depression. The first act of Henry Purcell's Dido and Aeneas begins with a one-sided conversation between two sister-friends, one that could happen between any two friends. We can imagine the unheard side as we receive the response

"Shake the cloud from off your brow,
fate your wishes does allow:
empires growing, pleasures flowing,
fortune smiles and so should you.
Shake the cloud off of your brow."

In the scheme of Dido things, these are the words I wish Lady Di would have held closer to her heart. They are the words I will say to myself and anyone who believes there's nothing beyond the present struggle. And even as united voices further encourage Dido,

"Banish sorrow, banish care.
Grief should ne’er approach the fair"

we can receive the powerful message that we are greater than the issues and have the power to overcome … to breathe a breath larger than the circumstance. And this too shall pass. In 6/8 I tap into an ancient energy that empowers me to dance beyond the sorrow and beyond the care.

Joseph Copeland Conspiracy Theory

In Purcell’s opera, Dido was completely unaware of those who hated and conspired against her. The sorceress and her witches not only conjured up a storm to rain on Dido and Aeneas’s parade in the grove, but also sent an elf disguised as Mercury to convince Aeneas to leave Carthage (and Dido) for Italy. It almost seems at times that everyone else had control over Dido’s fate but Dido herself. This is the inspiration for Conspiracy Theory. Material for this piece came from different portions of Act II of Dido and Aeneas. I took the melody of the sorceress’ aria (The Queen of Carthage, whom we hate) and re-harmonized it. I also made use of the chorus laughing, as it seems that everyone was in on the conspiracy but Dido. The idea is to connect seemingly different motives, and show that they are actually part of one conversation or idea.

Nedelka Prescod Dido’s Ballad

Dido's Lament is the ultimate soul ballad. Soul as in the genre and soul as in the source of the aria's every word and purpose.

"When I am laid in earth may my wrongs create
No trouble in thy breast
Remember me, but ah! forget my fate"

Dido's words speak of a mindful, final decision made over love and control lost. The story with its many possible endings, ends here … finally under Dido's control … her way, her say.

In the spirit of "her way, her say," I offer Dido's Ballad my way. A shift from 3/4 to 4/4, maybe a more contemporary approach to the harmonic movement, the prized bass ostinato that evolves and a not so traditional choice of vocal delivery.

Caio Afiune Dido

Dido’s Lament was the source of inspiration for this one. Here, several foggy echoes of the melody are heard while the band switches back and forth between 5/4 and 4/4, adding to the feeling of confusion that comes hand in hand with abandonment.

Pompeiian fresco photographed by Stefano Bolognini

Date: April 23, 2014 - 8:00:PM
Price: Free
Location: Pierce Hall

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