Maria Ferrante, along with Lincoln Mayorga, visited the Walker Recital Hall last Sunday, April 11, at Mercyhurst College. Both artists boast impressive resumes, ranging from Ferrante’s wide range of opera roles to Mayorga’s studio career in Hollywood.
The concert, titled “Best Kept Secrets,” was a collection of some of the best kept secrets of American Art Song. Artists highlighted were Louis Moreau Gottschalk, John Barnett, Franz Abt, Francis H. Brown and Stephen Foster.
The program flowed nicely; none of the songs were very long, ensuring the audience remained attentive and interested in music they may have never heard before. Sophomore Erin Hepler said of the musical choices, “I liked the Art Song style better than the typical long and drawn out arias or excerpts from operas.”
Every third piece or so, Ferrante or Mayorga would provide some background to the song or share a special story. One aspect Ferrante pointed out is that the composers were very connected to nature, especially with songs such as “Tell Me. O Bird! Opus 237, No.4” by Abt or Thomas Baker’s “The Katy-Did Song or Katy-Did’s Answer to Katy (1853).”
One very touching piece, Gottschalk’s “Pensez à Moi” (translated from the French as ‘think of me’), appeared at the closing of the first act. The message of the program was that love evokes all good things, and this song displayed that especially well.
The theme of the concert was that life is the same now as what it was 2,500 years ago. There was a very personal and warm feeling that radiated from the performers. Ferrante’s joyous voice touched each audience member, while Mayorga’s brilliant and flawless piano playing was expressive and enthusiastic.
Although the last four songs were all composed by Gottschalk, each was very different. “Ave Maria” was sentimental while “Viens O Ma Belle!” was delightful and catchy.
After receiving a standing ovation, Ferrante said, “I could not resist this song, having Mr. Mayorga here.” She performed “Summertime” from “Porgy and Bess” by George Gershwin, one of Mayorga’s many specialties. Overall, the concert was a nice and lovely way to enjoy a calm and restful Sunday afternoon.