"Executed to perfection"

"...On Friday evening, the soprano Karen Parks made a selection of [Harry T.] Burleigh's arrangements of spirituals and some of his art songs the centerpiece of a program entitled "Nobody Knows" at Weill Recital Hall/Carnegie Hall. Her artistic collaborators were the pianist Wayne Sanders and cellist Seth Woods. The house was sold out.

Of special interest were Burleigh's seldom-heard art songs "Oh! Rock me, Julie" and "His Helmet's Blaze" and a transcription of his setting of the spiritual "Nobody Knows" for voice and cello by Carlos Simon.  Parks not only sang these works beautifully, but offered highly individual interpretive insights into the texts.

The program also included arrangements of spirituals and art songs by [other African-American composers]. These were executed to perfection by Parks and her remarkable pianist, Sanders.

Deserving of special mention was the handling of the dialect in the spirituals which always poses a problem for concert artists.  Parks brought authenticity to her pronunciation of texts. Nothing sounded artificial. The audience, which included a number of singers, rewarded her with much applause throughout the evening."

-Raoul Abdul, Reading The Score 

Tony Howell

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