Blaire Pingeton

It would seem as if the voice of an angel was filling the Timken Room last Saturday night during Blaire Pingeton’s ’09 Senior Recital, but those who attended will tell you that the two are one and the same. Each spring, the Music Department invites distinguished musicians in the senior class to perform a recital. With such an impressive repertoire and résumé under her belt, it was little wonder that Pingeton would give a recital. She has sung with the Phillips Academy Chorus for four years, the Fidelio Society for two years, traveled on all four Cantata tours, taken private voice lessons continuously within the music department, and is a current co-head of Azure, Andover’s all-female a capella group. Donning a glamorous purple gown, Pingeton took the stage with style last Saturday, beginning her recital with “Alma Mia” from George Frederic Handel’s Baroque opera Floridante. The gentle, simple piece served as a charming introduction to the much more challenging repertoire that lay ahead. Pingeton next performed four songs from Samuel Barber’s 1953 song cycle Hermit Songs, inspired by anonymous poems written by Irish monks between the eighth and thirteenth centuries. Harmonically complex and winding, each piece had the audience guessing as to what was next. Additonally, each song’s lyrics had a different mood, spanning from humorous to deeply somber, keeping the audience interested in each mini-story. Pingeton prefaced her next piece, “Mein Herr Marquis” from Johann Strauss’s opertta Die Fledermaus, by explaining the aria in its context in the show, where Adele, the chambermaid scoffs at her lowly status, convincing the audience at a ball that she is indeed aristocracy. Pingeton also demonstrated her acting skills in this bouncy aria, where, built into the song’s chorus, the character laughs on pitch (hence the aria’s nickname, “Adele’s Laughing Song”). By the end of the aria, Adele is in such hysterics that she sings all the way up to an E-flat above high C, many sopranos highest pitch. Pingeton effortlessly launched the note that would intimidate most singers, dazzling her audience with her range. Three solo pieces in French followed: “Mandoline” by Claude Debussy, “Ici-bas” by Gabriel Fauré, and “Notre Amour” by Gabriel Fauré. Pingeton displayed her mastery of French diction in these lovely romantic songs. The soloist next tackled W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan’s daunting soprano aria, “Poor Wand’ring One” from the well-known operetta Pirates of Penzance. A cute, satirical piece in which the beautiful ingénue Mabel offers her love to the handsome pirate Frederic (“Take any heart—take mine!). Again, peaking at an E-flat, Pingeton proved to be a very durable performer, which takes lots of endurance when one is singing continuously for one hour. Among the audience, tears began to fall when Rebehkah Wickens ’09 joined Pingeton in singing the famous Flower duet from Léo Delibes’s opera Lakmé, a beautifully lush and moving harmonic chase between the soprano voice (Pingeton) and mezzo-soprano voice (Wickens) until they finally converge in the end. I myself joined in singing Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s “Somwhere” from the Broadway classic West Side Story. The recital was scheduled to conclude with Pingeton singing Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” with backup support (and superb choreography) from her a capella group, Azure. The audience, however, vociferously demanded for an encore, and Pingeon graciously agreed, singing “Happy Ending,” a popular song by London singer Mika. With the help of the seniors in Azure, Pingeton gave us a touching finale to remember her with.