BAMirror team moves into the spotlight

BAMirror contributors will be walking the walk as well as talking the talk over the next couple of weekends. Three of our regular reviewers (Lee Shepherd, Julian Shepherd and Tony Villecco) and Broome County Arts Council Executive Director Sharon Ball are all donning their performance hats.

Villecco, a tenor, will be featured in Nov. 17 in “Basically Baroque,” billed as “an evening of rare and not so rare vocal and musical selections from the 17th and 18thcenturies. Also performing will be Jeffrey Wahl, recorder; Madeleine Iannone, harpsichord, and Emily Creo, bass continuo.

The concert will begin at 8 p.m. at the Unitarian Church 183 Riverside Drive, Binghamton.

Cost at the door: $10 (senior citizens and students, $8). Information: (607) 727-3894.

Ball will be the special guest narrator for the Binghamton Community Orchestra’s “An Armed Forces Salute,” and Julian Shepherd will be playing with the orchestra. The concert, at 7 p.m. today (Nov. 10) at East Middle School, 167 E. Frederick St., Binghamton, will feature works by Copland, Cohan, Sousa, Gould, Beckel and Tchaikovsky.

Cost: $10 (senior/student, $7; 12 and under or with military ID, free). Call (607) 222-6308, or visit

Lee Shepherd will be one of the many members of the Binghamton University Chorus performing the Verdi Requiem Sunday (Nov. 11) with the Binghamton Philharmonic. Jose-Luis Novo is the BPO conductor; Bruce Borton directs the University Chorus. Featured soloists will be Janice Chandler Eteme, soprano; Stacey Rishoi, mezzo-soprano; Marco Panuccio, tenor, and Gustav Andreassen, bass.

The performance will be at 3 p.m. in the Osterhout Concert Theater of Binghamton University’s Anderson Center stage. Cost: $42-$15 (children, $10) Call: (607) 723-3931, or visit

Obviously, self-reviewing is frowned upon here at BAMirror, but we did ask our talented trio “What is the coolest thing about what you’re doing?” and here are their replies:

“I spent many years singing in church and school choirs, community musical theater, in funk bands and soul bands, in a cappella women’s groups, vocalizing as a soloist and as a public speaker of everything from poetry to broadcast news,” Ball said. “Singing or talking for me is all about the rhythm, and it’s fun to have the chance to ‘talk’ with orchestral accompaniment.

“Narrating Jim Beckel’s Liberty for All is also an emotional experience, a rhythmic recitation of some of the most magnificent American speeches ever written. Of course, I recognize that glorious words often camouflage horrific deeds. But lifted up and united to stirring music, glorious words can remind us of our aspirations to be better and fairer, kinder and more honest about who we’ve been, who we are and who we hope to be. That’s how I feel when I speak this piece.

“A few years ago, I was honored to narrate Liberty for All with the Binghamton Philharmonic for the 4th of July. I’m equally honored to revisit the piece with the Binghamton Community Orchestra for Veterans Day. For me, it’s a reunion of words, music and meaning, with a beat.”

“For me,” said Villecco, “the Baroque period is one of the richest, most lavish periods for not only music, but art, architecture, dress, culture and society as a whole. Music-wise, this period is very special to me because I have a lighter tenor, which is able to execute the longer lines and melismas and ornamentation.

“Actually, the Baroque period of music is often loosely compared to jazz music when the players ‘scat’ or improvise on the spot. Baroque composers gave singers many opportunities to add their own unique ornamentation on the da capo section of the aria. But it’s clearly the sometimes seemingly ‘simple’ melodic lines, which are just so very moving. They pull the listener right in; at least that’s the way I have always responded when hearing music from the 17th and 18th centuries.”

Said Lee Shepherd: “Of the many, many big choral works I’ve sung, the Verdi Requiem is the most beautiful — inspiring, highly emotional and very difficult (double choruses, lightning-fast fugues). Verdi keeps you on your toes musically, then rewards you with a passage so exquisite it’s worth all the hard work.

“Maestro Jose Luis-Novo is preparing us meticulously — on top of many months’ work with our gifted regular conductor, Bruce Borton, We’ll have a huge chorus — 146 singers on stage — the BU Chorus augmented by members of the Downtown Singers, Madrigal Choir and other choirs around town who’ve joined us just because they love the Verdi Requiem and didn’t want to miss the opportunity. Oh, yes, and we have the best back-up band ever (the Binghamton Philharmonic).”

— By Barb Van Atta

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