- “Our World” and “Las estrellas” (2014) from Worlds of Beauty by Amy Leventhal
- “Of Being” (2013) and “Caedmon” (2001) from The Believers by Mary Lynn Place Badarak
- “A Man Who Showed the Way” (2007) by Douglas Tappin
- “Little Lamb” (2015) by Mary M. Boyle; text by William Blake (1757-1827)
- “Love Ritual” (2009) by Dr. Sharon J. Willis
- “Let There be Peace on Earth” (2007), Travis Vaughn, III
- “Laughing Monkeys of Gravity” (2003) by Curtis Bryant, text by Stephen Bluestone
- “Hold On” (2007) and “Soon I Will Be Done” (2004) by James V. Cockerham
- “from Isaiah 40” (2014) by Michael Kurth
In a historic but bare church sanctuary in need of renovation, backed by a little upright piano, Atlanta coloratura soprano Arietha Lockhart gave a Tuesday-night recital of recently-composed pieces by Atlanta composers. She was accompanied by the prodigiously-capable Todd Skrabanek (known as “The Skrabanek Philharmonic” for his ability to pull an orchestra’s worth of textures out of a single acoustic piano). It was the kind of rather impromptu recital where most of the members of the audience are the composers themselves and their friends and families. But a range of interesting music was performed nonetheless.
A couple of stand-out pieces were notable for their comedy. “Love Ritual” by Dr. Sharon J. Willis is a five-movement monologue of a vain, coquettish contemporary young woman relating her story of meeting a man, instantly being infatuated with him, and fretting obsessively over his failure to call her on the phone for a couple of days. Ms. Lockhart obviously enjoyed slipping into this role, with a lot of sly winks, visual and musical.
“Laughing Monkeys of Gravity” is Curtis Bryant’s setting of four poems by Stephen Bluestone on the films of iconic comedic movie stars: Laurel and Hardy, Abbot and Costello, The Three Stooges, and Charlie Chaplin. The performance of voice and piano was all the more impressive when I spoke to the composer and learned that he originally composed this piece for a “Pierrot Lunaire” sextet: soprano, flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano. This performance was a piano reduction. Todd Skrabanek bore up admirably under the challenge.
The recital concluded with the premiere of “from Isaiah 40” by Atlanta Symphony Orchestra bassist and composer Michael Kurth. He wrote an art song that nonetheless keeps a “contemporary worship” feel, down-to-earth yet ascending to the absolute heights of pitch and expression that a coloratura soprano can create. Ms. Lockhart provided the ideal vehicle, soaring on the eagle’s wings in song.