By Linda Sicker/Savannah Morning News; Featured in the DO
Read the original article here.
It’s time to celebrate all things American.
The Savannah Philharmonic’s Celebrate America! concert Oct. 19 will do just that. The concert will feature upbeat music by American composers and a guest appearance by the co-winners of the 2012 American Traditions Competition, soprano Ann Marie McPhail and tenor Joshua Carswell.
The concert will include such crowd pleasers as George Gershwin’s “An American in Paris” and “Porgy & Bess,” as well as Elmer Bernstein’s “Theme from The Magnificent Seven,” Leonard Bernstein’s “On the Town” and “Westside Story” and Rogers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music.”
And of course there will be some Sousa marches. The concert is a melding of pop and classical.
“A kind of ‘American Classical Pops,’ if you will,” says Peter Shannon, conductor and artistic director. “I’d say that’s about as American as you can get.”
McPhail is from Atlanta. She made her career debut with the Houston Ebony Opera where she performed the role of the Countess in Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro.”
She was the first place winner of the Rose-Palmai Tenser Vocal Competition and sang at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games closing ceremonies. She portrayed an onstage singer in Tyler Perry’s movie “For Colored Girls,” and sang “Strawberry Woman” in the Atlanta Opera’s 2011 production of “Porgy and Bess.”
A voice instructor as well as a performer, McPhail has taught for the Boys and Girls Choir of Harlem. She has sung with several opera companies and will make her Spivey Hall debut with the Atlanta Chamber Players in March.
Carswell is a native of North Carolina. He has performed in Carnegie Hall’s Isaac Stern Auditorium as a guest soloist with the Annie Moses Band and the New American Choir and Orchestra.
Carswell has performed with several opera companies and symphonies. He is a winner of state and regional levels of NATS for Classical and Musical Theatre.
Today, Carswell lives in Nashville, where he is a studio musician and also teaches voice. He is recording his debut album for release in spring 2013.
Since the competition, McPhail has stayed busy, and currently is preparing for a concert in Orlando, Fla. “People are really excited about my future,” she says.
“I feel with all these things coming up, I’m being prepared for something,” McPhail says. “I don’t know what, but I’m really excited.”
McPhail and Carswell were invited back to Savannah by Shannon. “He said it was a celebratory concert,” Carswell says. “He sent me the music.
“I’m really looking forward to it. I had been to Savannah one time before the competition on a spring break trip and it’s become one of my favorite cities.”
The concert is a great chance to come back, Carswell says. “I’m hope I’ll be able to come again later,” he says.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Carswell says. “I think it will be a really great evening.”
The two will perform several duets. “We’re doing six or seven excerpts from ‘The Sound of Music and ‘West Side Story,’” McPhail says.
While in Savannah, McPhail plans to meet with friends she made at the competition for lunch and dinner dates. “They’ve assured me they’re coming to the performance, so that will be fun,” she says.
“Winning the competition has opened some doors for me,” McPhail says. “Once you’re able to list that on your resume, people take more notice of you.”
This year’s pops concert has been moved to October from September.
“Every year we had the pops concert in September in honor of Patriot’s Day,” Shannon says. “It celebrates the American spirit, and it’s been very popular.
“We wanted to find a different format and decided to move it from September to October for no real reason,” Shannon says. “We felt after doing it a couple years that it had lost a little bit of momentum, but we still wanted to give audiences a chance to hear pop stuff and American stuff, which they love.”
“An American in Paris” will be a highlight of the concert.
“It is very jazzy and fun and lighthearted,” Shannon says.
“Most of the other music is definitely lighthearted, more associated with musicals and films,” he says. “We have a couple of surprises tucked up our sleeves.
“It’s purely patriotic, an unashamedly American show,” Shannon says. “It’s our lightest concert of the year and it’s a lot of fun.”
Not that there’s anything against the music the Philharmonic has done in recent months. “To go from Shostakovich’s Fifth and a month later do ‘West Side Story’ takes flexibility,” Shannon says.
“We are an orchestra that can go easily from one genre to another without it taxing us,” he says. “A lot of people are looking forward to this.
“Some of the members of the orchestra are looking forward to this concert, as well,” Shannon says. “That translates into direct energy on stage.”
IF YOU GO
What: Savannah Philharmonic’s Celebrate America! concert
When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 19
Where: Lucas Theatre,
32 Abercorn St.
Cost: $16 to $55, with limited premium seating at $65
Info: savannahphilharmonic.org, 912-525-5050