June 14, 2013

Ira Spaulding & The Park Slope Singers Perform Elijah

Ira Spaulding 
I spent a lovely evening in Brooklyn two weeks ago, listening to The Park Slope Singers perform the second part of Felix Mendelsohn's Elijah under the excellent leadership of Ira Spaulding, who also sang the baritone part of Elijah.

While listening to Mendelsohn' arching melodies in the Gothic Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Bay Ridge, I was reminded why professional and amateur  choruses enjoy performing Elijah: it's a great sing! In this, the Park Slope Singers did not disappoint, their voices blended beautifully.

Mr. Spaulding has done right by his singers: diction, phrasing, dynamic contrast and tonal balance were in evidence, as was the unquantifiable yet plainly evident commitment to Musick.

I'm starting at the end, but one thing became clear at the after-party in the adjoining meeting hall: Ira Spaulding's five year tenure has been a very good one. His singers clearly adore him, and with good reason: his gesture as conductor is clear and concise, while his manner of making music is infused with enthusiasm; three qualities that are often in short supply on the podium.

One of the high points during the evening? "Oh come everyone that thirstest," the penultimate number sung by a quartet of soloists (Julia Poyer, Netania Steiner, John Hicks and J. Robert Charles) chosen from the ensemble. One could see Mr. Spaulding is as exacting as he is nurturing: demanding much, he obtains much in return. You simply can't get singers to follow you so closely if 1) you don't know what your are doing, and 2) you aren't highly skilled.

Another high point was hearing Mr. Spaudling sing. He has a refined voice; full, even, with ample amplitude and a burnished beauty, especially in the upper range. I was reminded of my student days, when the singer's training focused on tonal beauty and textual meaning in equal measure. It's the kind of approach that is, oddly, being neglected in our Conservatories in the mad rush to the stage. Quicker, faster, sooner, yesterday instead of today: you have to take your time in becoming an artist. Mr. Spaulding clearly has. 


  1. Cool! Ira's path and mine crossed several times during my years in Amsterdam. I am SO happy to hear he is back in this country (too!) and carrying on his excellent work!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Bruce! Ira is- as they say- a good guy! So glad to know what you know each other!


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