Monday, June 6, 2011

Frohnmayer Appreciation Weekend - Description

This past weekend (June 3-5) was Frohnmayer Appreciation Weekend at Loyola University New Orleans. It was a glorious time!

Phil and Ellen Frohnmayer have taught voice in the College of Music & Fine Arts at Loyola University New Orleans since 1982. They came to Loyola after a seven- or eight-year career of singing opera in Germany. They are wonderful teachers and wonderful singers, and they have kept a full schedule doing both--teaching and performing--for nearly thirty years. In the last several years, Phil has had two bouts with cancer, requiring surgery and chemotherapy each time. He is clear of cancer at present and continues his teaching, as does Ellen. Phil and Ellen have a daughter, Anne Marie, who is also a singer and lives in Pennsylvania.

Several of the Frohnmayers' former students decided to have a reunion and appreciation weekend for the Frohnmayers, who truly are beloved voice professors. The Frohnmayers are very involved with their students, helping them not only with their singing but also with life issues and with launching their careers. So--a committee of former students arranged for a truly magnificent weekend of appreciation, music, and legacy building. This last means that a Frohnmayer Legacy Fund has been established to support the teaching and performing of opera at Loyola University New Orleans. I am proud to say that I have made a contribution to this fund.

I have to say that I have NEVER seen anything like this done for any professor at Loyola (or anywhere)! Well, I would like to give a description of the weekend.

GALA RECEPTION & MUSIC EVENING--NEW ORLEANS OPERA GUILD HOME--FRIDAY EVENING. This was an evening of visiting with friends, old and new, all connected with the Frohnmayers. It was an evening of delicious food served buffet style. It was an evening of appreciation, as letters were read by former students who could not be present. It was also an evening of music, performed in an intimate, living-room setting. Here are some of the pieces that were performed:

  • "Papageno-Papagena" from The Magic Flute by Mozart--Anne Marie Frohnmayer sang the role of Papagena in a very animated way!
  • "Mi Chiamano Mimi" from La Boheme by Puccini
  • "La Ci Darem La Mano" from The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart
  • "I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General" from The Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert & Sullivan

PRAYER SERVICE--IGNATIUS CHAPEL AT LOYOLA--SATURDAY MORNING. This included prayers, readings, and music. Each person lit two candles, representing something to be healed and something to be thankful for.

MASTER CHAT WITH PHIL--NUNEMAKER AUDITORIUM AT LOYOLA--SATURDAY MORNING. This was a master class in which several of Phil's current and former students each sang a piece and Phil provided a critique and worked with the student on breathing, posture, vowel quality, dynamics, and many other aspects in order to achieve an effective musical and emotional production. I was sitting with people who had never before seen a master class and who were absolutely fascinated at all that goes into perfecting a piece of music. We really were watching a true master at work with his students. Among the pieces performed were an aria from Billy Budd by Benjamin Britten and "Un Bel Di" from Madame Butterfly by Puccini.

GALA PERFORMANCE & CHAMPAGNE RECEPTION--ROUSSEL AUDITIORIUM AT LOYOLA--SATURDAY EVENING. This was a wonderful musical evening. These are some of the musical highlights:

  • "Walking" by William Horne (a Loyola music professor), sung by Patrick Jocobs and accompanied on piano by Logan Skelton. This piece consists of an email by Phil Frohnmayer set to music by William Horne! Phil had written about the walks he took through New Orleans neighborhoods while being treated for cancer.
  • Two poems by Emily Dickenson ("The Moon Is Distant from the Sea" and "'Hope' Is the Thing with Feathers") set to music by Logan Skelton, sung by Suzanne DuPlantis and accompanied on piano by Logan Skelton. Logan told us that "The Moon Is Distant from the Sea" suggested to him the relationship between Ellen and Phil as Phil was being treated for cancer--Ellen reaching out to Phil and influencing him with her love and care and Phil responding.
  • "Gluck Dass Mir Verblieb" from Die Tote Stadt by Erich Korngold, sung by Tyler Smith and Betsy Uschkrat and accompanied on piano by Carol Rausch. This was special because I often sit at the same lunch table with Tyler and Betsy (who are married and who both teach voice at Loyola) in the faculty dining room. This weekend was my first time to hear them sing--and they are wonderful, alone and together! I also learned that Tyler and Betsy will be giving a full recital on Saturday evening, September 17! I absolutely plan to attend this concert!
  • "Sola, Perduta, Abbandonata" from Manon Lascaut by Puccini, sung by Melody Moore and accompanied on piano by Carol Rausch
  • "Madamina, Il Catalogo E Questo" from The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart, sung by Kenneth Weber and accompanied on piano by Carol Rausch
  • 'E Strano . . . Ah, Fors'e Lui . . . Sempre Libera" from La Traviata by Verdi, sung by Rachel Elizabeth De Trejo and accompanied on piano by Carol Rausch. Gorgeous!
  • "Aprite Un Po' Quegli Occhi" from The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart, sung by Alfred Walker and accompanied on piano by Carol Rausch
  • "The Promise of Living" from The Tender Land by Aaron Copeland, sung by everyone who had performed and accompanied on piano by Carmen Leerstang

Also, Donald Boomgaarden, Dean of the College of Music & Fine Arts, gave a beautiful explanation of the Frohnmayer Legacy Fund, and Tony Decuir, Associate Dean of the College of Music & Fine Arts, read several letters from former students who could not be present and gave his own reminiscences of the Frohnmayers' arrival at Loyola in 1982.

It was an inspiring and gorgeous evening!

This post has described Frohnmayer Appreciation Weekend. My next post will describe what the event meant to me.

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