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Four hands, two voices

KIMBERLY NICOLETTI
summit daily news

Michael Bunchman is an example of how small town doesn’t equal small success. Bunchman grew up in Summit County, but now he makes a living in New York City as a professional pianist.

He will join his wife, Jessica Medoff Bunchman, a soprano; pianist William Hobbs; and baritone Patrick Mason in a Breckenridge concert showcasing contemporary classical music, which Michael Bunchman said most people haven’t heard.

The concert is a bit of a University of Colorado at Boulder reunion. Hobbs and the Bunchmans all earned their undergraduate musical degrees at CU, and Mason teaches at the school. In fact, Mason was Jessica Medoff Bunchman’s teacher and mentor, and he performed a song at the Bunchman’s wedding. As an accomplished baritone, Mason became a Grammy finalist in Solo Vocal Performance in 2006 for his recording of “Songs of Amy Beach.”

“Pat is an incredible performer,” Jessica Medoff Bunchman said. “When you’re on stage with such a dramatically charged (artist), it only makes your performance stronger.”

The Bunchmans met Hobbs in Aspen in 2001. Hobbs has performed in renowned opera houses worldwide, serves on the coaching staff of the Juilliard Opera Center and works in Chicago as the assistant conductor for Lyric Opera and will debut at the Aspen Music Festival as a conductor, after working in a Seattle Opera production this summer.

“We’re so blessed to have so many colleagues who are so talented,” Jessica Medoff Bunchman said.

“Everyone involved here goes beyond the music and performance and takes it to the next level,” Michael Bunchman said.

In addition to all of the close connections, the Bunchmans chose to expose Breckenridge audiences to one of their good friends: Lowell Liebermann. Liebermann is a New York composer – one of the nation’s most frequently performed and recorded living composers. His music has garnered a reputation for its technical mastery and audience appeal.

One of his pieces the musicians will perform is “Appalachian Liebeslieder,” a fun song written for “four hands” (two pianists playing the same instrument). Though the name means “love song” in German, Liebermann wrote the lyrics in English, telling the story of a young woman who falls in love with a mechanic when her car breaks down and ends up moving to the Appalachian Mountains.

One of Jessica Medoff Bunchman’s favorite pieces she will perform Saturday is Benjamin Britten’s “Cabaret Songs.”

“The singer has to be very versatile both vocally and dramatically, so I get to really sink my teeth into it,” she said.

Concert highlights also include vocal solos, piano solos, duets for two performers at the piano and favorites from classical composers and the American Songbook.

“It’s a unique contemporary sound that I think the audience will really enjoy,” Michael Bunchman said of the repertoire.


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