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2013 Winter Issue 8 (March 8, 2013)

“Penelope” Takes Listeners on Odyssey From a Female Perspective

March 10, 2013
By Joe Steigmeyer

The Laudie D. Porter Guest Artist Concert on Feb. 28th featured an emphatic and moving performance of “Penelope” in the Skinner Memorial Chapel.

Shara Worden’s powerful vocal performance was accompanied by the young, but very talented sextet of yMusic’s Rob Moose (violin/guitar), Nadia Sirota (viola), Jeremy Turner (cello), Alex Sopp (flutes), Eileen Mack (clarinets), and CJ Camerieri (trumpet/horn/percussion).

The performance is a song cycle originally based on a music-theater monodrama co-written by Ellen Mclaughlin and Sarah Kirkland Snider.

Composer Sarah Snider’s work has been called “rapturous” by The New York Times and “culturally electric” by The Los Angeles Times, while Time Out New York has deemed her “among the brightest lights to emerge in recent seasons.” She earned an M.M. and Artist Diploma from the Yale School of Music and a B.A. from Wesleyan University.

Snider’s works have been commissioned and performed internationally by yMusic, among many others, and Her first album, Penelope, was named to dozens of top-ten lists internationally.

Worden, who received a B.A. in Opera from the University of North Texas, sang the story of a woman whose husband unexpectedly returns home with brain damage after a twenty-year absence.

The husband, a veteran of an “unnamed war,” no longer knows who he is and must wait and hope that he can rediscover his identity. As they pass the hours together, she reads him Homer’s Odyssey and, through the journey of the epic, she “finds a way into her…husband’s memory and the terror and trauma of war.”

Worden’s vocals beautifully interwove the story into the accompanying music, rising and falling to complement the tone of the instruments as the yMusic performers filled the chapel with their stirring notes.

The sextet of yMusic, tagged as the “six hip virtuosi” (Time Out New York), has been praised by NPR’s Fred Child as “one of the group’s that had really helped to shape the future of classical music.”

Their debut album, “Beautiful Mechanical,” was named Time Out NY’s #1 Classical Record of 2011. In addition to performing as a chamber ensemble, the group also works with artists who are interested in “expanding their sonic palette.”

Worden and yMusic’s engaging performance of “Penelope” was followed by two equally impressive numbers—in a sort of encore—that left the crowd tapping their feet and energetically clapping along to the rhythm.

The evening’s performance, however, was only made possible by the Laudie D. Porter Memorial Fund, which was established in 1986 to bring distinguished performing and creative artists to Carleton and promote discussion of the arts.

The family and friends of Laudie Porter, Assistant Professor of Flute at Carleton from 1968 until her death in 1986, created the fund to carry on Porter’s enthusiasm for bringing musicians and other artists to campus.

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