'Singing in the Juneau Rain' concert held this weekend

Posted: Thursday, March 11, 2010

The muffled crackle of an afternoon shower fills the streets of downtown Juneau as echoes of a voice and piano are heard coming from behind a foggy window. Sue Kazama and Philippe Damerval are rehearsing a Carpenter song, full of rich chords and jazzy syncopation. Suddenly the music stops.

Courtesy Of Philippe Damerval
Courtesy Of Philippe Damerval

"Let's do this part again ... I feel like your tempo wasn't right," Kazama observes.

"It's 84 to the dotted quarter, right? Was I too slow?" Damerval asks.

"No, the main tempo was right, but over here there is an accelerando, and I think we need to pick up the pace."

"Oh, right. I hadn't seen that. Duh!"

They start over. This time Damerval increases the pace at the right spot, and with a nod and a smile Kazama indicates she's happy with the result.

The Carpenter song is among the works featured in this weekend's "Singing in the Juneau Rain," concerts, performed by baritone Damerval and pianist Kazama. Performances will be held at the new Holy Trinity Church on Saturday, March 13, at 8 p.m., and on Sunday, March 14, at 3 p.m. at Aldersgate Methodist Church.

Four years ago Damerval gave his first solo recital in Juneau, featuring Schubert's Winterreise song cycle, a mainstay of the baritone art song repertoire. For the performance of Winterreise, Damerval relied heavily on the expertise of John d'Armand and the partnership of Kazama on the piano. So this year, Damerval wanted to honor them both by putting several of d'Armand's favorites on a new recital program, and working on them with Kazama.

"Dr d'Armand basically gave me my voice," Damerval said. "He was the first to recognize my type of voice as baritone. I'd been labeled either a tenor or a bass for years. He helped me get on a path of steady improvement, ridding me of my bad habits and setting me up with new, better ones. Singing used to hurt. It doesn't anymore."

All the pieces of the program of the upcoming recital are either d'Armand's top picks for Damerval, or were introduced to him by other voice teachers he took lessons with as they came to town as guests to give recitals and master classes. One such teacher was d'Armand's daughter, Jenny d'Armand.

"Without them, so much music would be out of my reach," Damerval said. "When I set out to do this recital, my first step was to ask John for suggestions of repertoire. I knew he would choose pieces that I would sound good doing."

Also on the menu for this recital: Schubert, Brahms, Liszt, Korngold (think 1940s film music), French art songs, and works by American composer John Duke.



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