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April 16, 2012

Janice Chandler Eteme soars in Tiffany Series recital at Brown Memorial

Not long after I arrived in Baltimore a dozen years ago, I heard a performance by soprano Janice Chandler Eteme.

I felt then that she had one of the most innately beautiful, warming voices I'd encountered in a long while, and that she would be well worth hearing even if she were merely doing vocal exercises. I still feel that way.

So it was nice to be in the singer's presence again Saturday night at Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church, where she gave a recital presented by the Tiffany Series.

Chandler Eteme, ably accompanied by pianist JoyAnne Amani Richardson, chose a program rich in melodic and textual quality.

There was much to savor, from the stately lines of Handel's "Dank sei dir Herr," which she delivered with an intensely glowing tone, to the introspective, haunting songs "Chanson triste" and "I'invitation au voyage" by Duparc, which the soprano caressed eloquently.

Perhaps with the over-reverberant acoustics of the church in mind, most of the tempos were on the slow side. That kept the notes from mushing together, but the pace sometimes ...

worked against the material, as in Schubert's "Gretchen am Spinnrade" and Faure's "Notre amour." Although wonderfully vivid in phrasing, both could have used more momentum.

Where the music called for spaciousness, though, Chandler Eteme provided it in abundance and to memorable effect. Schubert's "Nacht und Traume" was a particularly transfixing case in point.

The soprano included a welcome burst of operatic singing in the concert -- two selections from Verdi's "La traviata." She negotiated the coloratura of "Sempre libera" valiantly and got to the heart of the aria. With a promising tenor, Devin Mercer, she also sculpted "Parigi, o cara" quite elegantly. (Too bad Mercer did not also provide the off-stage tenor lines for "Sempre libera.")

Chandler Eteme summoned remarkable tonal radiance and communicative power for the beloved Margaret Bonds arrangement of "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands." The afterglow of that performance stayed with me through the rest of the weekend.


Posted by Tim Smith at 6:26 AM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Clef Notes

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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