Lyric soprano Laura Bumgardner was the Musicians Club of Women’s featured artist at the Chicago Cultural Center’s Chamber Mondays Concert today at lunchtime. She was accompanied by Chao Gao on piano. The soprano was delightful, filling the Tiffany dome with her soaring vocals and mesmerizing the crowd. As usual, there was a decent turnout, independent of the smattering of Chicagoans and tourists who perennially stumble in and out of the magnificent venue, which doesn’t close to foot traffic for these occasions.
The challenging program called for Bumgardner to sing in four languages – her first selections were classical operatic tunes by Richard Strauss, in German. She filled up the melodies with emotion, plumbing the highs and lows of human experience. A trio of Tosti melodies followed in Italian, followed by five romantic selections from the French composer Claude Debussy. She rounded out the program with parts of Lee Hoiby’s English language work The Shining Place.
The concert was clearly meaningful to the young soprano – these concerts are opportunities the Musician’s Club of Women provides to its award winners – generally scholarship recipients. Bumgardner, a Dallas native, thanked her teachers, and most of all her parents, to whom she dedicated the her encore, a soaring rendition of Climb Every Mountain. The rest of the audience was as captivated as I was by every high note. Brava, Ms. Bumgardner.
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