MAHLER PROJECT - PATRICK COOK, TENOR
With our performance of Das Lied von der Erde just a few short days away, we wanted to share the experience of putting this incredible work together. We are so lucky to be joined by such talented musicians, including our stunning vocal soloists!
Take a moment to get to know our featured tenor, Patrick Cook!
What drew you to this Mahler project?
I first came to know the music of Gustav Mahler as a high school student at the Baltimore School for the Arts. In music history, we listened to selections of Mahler’s Second Symphony (Resurrection) and I was overwhelmed by the power of hissetting of “Urlicht”. Eager to dive into this glorious repertoire, I asked my teacher to assign me a Mahler song. She replied that Mahler’s songs were too long, too high and too demanding for a young singer and that there were not any songs that would be appropriate for my stage of development. I was intent on proving her wrong and set about to find a piece I could sing for my coming graduation recital. After perusing the music library, I came to the conclusion that her statements were true. Undeterred, I selected the shortest song with the most modest range and decided to transpose the entire piece by hand so that I could sing Mahler on my high school graduation recital. My determination and passion ultimately won my teacher to the cause, and my transposed version of “Liebst du um Schönheit” remains in my personal music collection to this day. This performance of Das Lied von der Erde will be my second time performing the music of Mahler and I am thrilled to share this exciting piece with the UMD community. This piece has long been on my wish-list and I jumped at that chance to perform such a prolific work.
What exactly is a ‘Heldentenor’? In its original form, Das Lied von der Erde is a symphony with alto and tenor vocal soloists. Mahler frequently used vocal soloists in his symphonies, but sparingly in one or two movements. The tenor and alto alternate movements in Das Lied von der Erde, and are used like traditional vocal soloists and as voices within the overall musical texture. As with much of the Germanic vocal repertoire, big voices are required to be heard over the larger and fuller orchestra. A heldentenor, or literally “heroic tenor”, is a type of tenor voice that is generally characterized by fullness, volume and clarity, necessary traits when singing over a full orchestra. The tenor part in Das Lied von der Erde requires huge climactic swells to the very highest notes in the tenor range with the sustaining power to be heard over a dense symphonic texture. The musical forces required for Mahler’s orchestral works are massive, which often preclude them from the regularly programmed repertoire.
Why should people come to this concert? The arrangement for this performance will be the chamber orchestra reduction by Arnold Schoenberg which allows us to share this amazing “song-symphony” in a more intimate setting. I hope that the listener will be able to hear the incredibly detailed instrumentation used in the piece. Throughout the symphony, the performers must alternate between soloistic moments and nuanced ensemble playing. Even though Das Lied von der Erde has the scope of a full scale symphony, this version truly feels like chamber music at its most extreme.
After this Mahler concert, what personal upcoming performances are you looking forward to? After Das Lied von der Erde, I will be making my debut with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in a semi-staged concert production of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide under the baton of Marin Alsop. For more information and a detailed performance calendar please visit www.patrickcooktenor.com.
A Little More About Patrick: Described by the Washington Post as “imposing and promising”, tenor Patrick Cook is earning praise for his performances across the country in venues including The Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. In 2011, Cook performed for President Obama’s Town Hall meeting in College Park, MD. Cook is a 2011 and 2010 DC District Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He can be heard on the American Symphony Orchestra’s recording of Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots as Bois-Rosé and Premiere Moine. Cook holds advanced degrees from the University of Maryland, Bard Conservatory, and The Juilliard School. Cook sings in the Washington National Opera Chorus and serves on the faculty of Northern Virginia Community College.