On Tuesday, July 10, the VdGS-NE helped present This Cross Upon My Breast, the 2018 Silbiger Grant performance. Joshua Garvey, with a viol consort assembled by Hannah Davidson, performed works by Dowland and gave the New England premiere of John Harbison’s The Cross of Snow. A review of the performance follows.
On July 10, Joshua Garvey and gambists Karen Burciaga, Hannah Davidson, James Williamson, Carol Lewis, and Zarina Irkaeva performed “This Cross Upon my Breast,” a program featuring the New England premiere of John Harbison’s 2016 “The Cross of Snow” and the music of John Dowland. Each song portrayed a different expression of sadness and grief. Garvey drew inspiration for this theme from a desire to shed light on the burden of sadness that so many people hide due to social stigma, especially marginalized members in our society including the LGBT community. Garvey and members of the Viola da Gamba Society – New England collaborated with several local charities focused on mental health and LGBT support including Tunefoolery, The Home For Little Wanderers, Boston Glass, and the Triangle Program. The arrangement of voice and viol consort worked perfectly for this celebration of community and support with Garvey’s mellow, sensitive voice weaving in and out of the texture, at times instrumental and at others soloistic.
The title “This Cross Upon my Breast”: a reference to the Harbison cycle became a reference to what happens when we as a society speak out about our inner suffering and support each other – the trauma that weighs us down transforms from a burden into an expression of the divine.
Carolyn Balkovetz, mezzo soprano is a graduate of the Longy School of Music’s Historical Performance program. She specializes in art music as a form of storytelling. This May, she premiered her work “The Death of Venus”, an early music cabaret mixed with live storytelling. She is currently performing with the group Canto Armonico and in Promenade Opera Project’s production of “Cendrillon.”