Campus Life

Musical duo perform to packed recital hall

Mezzo sopranist Susanne Mentzer’s voice combined with collaborative pianist Louis Menendez’s music in a performance March 6.

The audience packed the Snow Fine Arts Recital Hall awaiting the show.

UCA’s College of Fine Arts and Communication sponsored the event.

Junior Derrick Vanderwall said Mentzer was lively.

“She was something I’d never even seen before,” Vanderwall said.

Mentzer is a mezzo soprano who, for more than 20 years, has sung in leading roles at the Metropolitan Opera and has appeared in many opera houses and orchestras on four continents.

Her current and recent appearances include Berlioz’s “L’enfance du Christ” in Madrid, Beethoven’s “Missa solemnis” in Tucson, the role of the Beggar Woman in “Sweeney Todd” with Opera Theatre St. Louis, Mahley’s “Das Lied von der Erde” with the Houston Ballet, among many others. She currently maintains a studio in the San Francisco Bay area.

From 2000 to 2006 she was an associate professor at the DePaul University School of Music in Chicago, where she served as vocal department coordinator in music and vocalism.

Mentzer has worked at the Aspen Music Festival and School, San Francisco Opera Merola
program, Songfest (2013), the Castleton Festival, with Chicago Opera Theater and as a repertoire coach with Houston Opera Studio.

She serves on The George London Foundation and The W.M. Sullivan Foundation boards as a mentor to young singers.

She also writes a blog for the Huffington Post as an arts advocate.

Mentzer received the Thelen Award from the Alexian Brothers raising over one million dollars for Bonaventure House in Chicago, a residence for homeless people with AIDS.

Her piano accompanist was Louis Menendez, who is a highly regarded New York collaborative artist, conductor, pianist, educator and composer.

Menedez is known for his ability to coach the best singers, as well as help musicians with musical notes, rhythms and entrances.

He has worked with artists such as cellist Yo Yo Ma and flautist James Galway.

Menendez has conducted more than one hundred and forty opera productions throughout the United States; collaborating with other musicians around the states.

He is also an operatic coach to others who are on the same path of expressing their skills of art music.

Menendez currently lives in Arkansas but is from Philadelphia. Menendez was a faculty member of the Curtis Institute of Music and the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia before relocating to New York to continue to spread more of his work of art music in front of others.

Menendez joined the faculty of Curtis Institute of Music immediately upon obtaining his Master of Music degree from Temple University.

Menendez also joined the staff of Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts; holding both positions down. Mentzer sang three collections for the first half of the concert.

Each was an arrangement of five songs. The first was originally by Clara Schumann, the second by Alma Mahler and the third by Lili Boulanger. Then came intermission, which lasted about 10 minutes. The concert continued with three songs originally written by Rebecca Clarke and a series of half-minute songs by Carrie Jacobs Bond. The final pieces were “Love after 1950” and a series of five songs by Libby Larsen.

Menendez composed all of the show’s piano music.

The concert was met with applause, as well as a final standing ovation, from the audience.

Junior Caitlin Neil said her favorite part of the performance was Mentzer singing the “Half- minute Songs.”

“[Mentzer] used a lot of gestures too, so that made it better,” she said.

Neil said she enjoyed the concert, particularly Mentzer’s personality and Menendez’s piano playing. Vanderwall said the “Half- minute Songs” were funny and that Mentzer was a good singer.

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