Christine Chung and Krystle Manuel-Countee

Two talented sopranos, Christine Chung ’09, and Krystle Manuel-Countee ’09, serenaded friends and teachers with farewell songs on Sunday in the Timken Room. The first half of the concert featured Chung, a dedicated member of Fidelio and the Academy Chorus. Though this was Chung’s first solo recital, she seemed calm, smiling radiantly in a blue dress. She started the concert with a short, lively piece by Henry Purcell, appropriately titled, “Let us dance, let us sing.” The second piece, “Hush, ye pretty warbling quire,” by G.F. Handel, featured Allen Combs, Instructor in Voice, mimicking the sound of a piping bird with a recorder. Chung delighted the audience when she sang the first word, “Hush!”, above the warbling. Another audience favorite was “Beau Soir” by Claude Debussy, a flowing piece that conjured the image of water flowing smoothly over round stones. Skillfully performed in French, the song advised listeners to “savor the charm of living while we are young.” Chung finished with “Mai” by Gabriel Faure, which featured beautiful French poetry by Victor Hugo. In one of the most touching moments of the whole recital, Chung sang, “do not cease to bring close to your heart…the path that ends where the road begins…” Chung’s successful path at Phillips Academy is ending shortly, but she will begin a new road at Cornell University in the fall. “I will miss both chorus and Fidelio,” Chung said. “I’m glad I decided to do [the recital]. It was a great experience.” She began to sing only when she came to Phillips Academy; she can hopefully continue to pursue her passion for singing. After Chung made a thank-you announcement to the audience, Manuel-Countee took the stage. Manuel-Countee’s vibrant voice seemed to spill out with ease. Her projection was perfect above the piano accompaniment by Christopher Walter, Instructor in Music. Manuel-Countee’s first piece was “How beautiful are the feet of them” from Handel’s Messiah. The gifted soprano struck high notes with impressive precision and intonation. Manuel-Countee tapered off sweetly at the end of each phrase, proof of her artistic care. One of the audience favorites was “Danza, danza, fanciulla gentile” by Francesco Durante, a lively, staccato dance in a minor key. Another highlight of the concert was “A Pastoral Song” by Haydn, which Manuel-Countee passionately performed with a voice that could belong on Broadway. Occasionally, she added stylistic scoops leading into notes deserving extra nuance. Manuel-Countee said her favorite piece was “En Priere” by Gabriel Faure, in which the singer asks to be given “the necessary gentleness to ease suffering, to relieve sorrow…” After each song, Manuel-Countee’s smile won the hearts of the audience. Tina Su ’11 said, “By the end of the concert, I could hear my heart beating. Wow!” Manuel-Countee, also a member of chorus and Fidelio, said she will miss “the amazing and talented singers as well as the instructors, Mr. Walter and Mr. Combs. They made learning music great!” After the concert, Jack Walker ’09 said, “I thought [the concert] was unbelievable.” Echoing the opinions of many other audience members, Walker added, “I thought the music was beautifully chosen by both girls…I was blown away. I’ve never heard anything like it.”