While much of the local population fixated on the brackets for March Madness, a fortunate group focused on a magnificent FASO concert by soprano Suzanne Ramo in St. Andrews Episcopal Church. An acronym for Friends of Aeolian-Skinner Opus 1024, the magnificent organ in the sanctuary, FASO stages several concerts yearly featuring well-known artists.
Long-based at WTAMU, Ramo is now the quintessential peripatetic vocalist, gifting symphonic and opera audiences around the country with the rich, creamy texture of her soprano.
When contracted by FASO, she was given carte blanche to select and sequence the program. What the St. Andrew’s audience received was an amalgam of her favorites, from Mozart and Handel through this century.
She filled the Neo-Romanesque transept with her effervescent coloratura when singing Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate, especially the Allelujah, and from Handel’s Samson, Let the Bright Seraphim. For the latter she was accompanied by Robert Hinds on the piccolo trumpet, a classy combination to hear in cowboy country.
For much of the program her accompaniment alternated between Rick land on organ and Fritz Gechter on piano.
Suzanne also chose works by Gounod and Richard Strauss on the same subject: the ups and downs of love. Gounod, as sung in French by Ramo, carried a happy, laughing lilt, but the Strauss descended into an emotional German despondency.
The poetry of Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes and Thelonious Monk was also lyricized, layering the profundity with added impact.
At one point there was an unscripted intermission as neither the soloist nor accompanist returned immediately to the stage. When Ms. Ramo did return, she hollered in pure Panhandlese, “Ya’ll come on back!” And we did, ’cause she talks our talk!
The last number on the program, a fun piece entitled The Girl in 4 G by Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlan portrayed a young woman yearning for peace and quiet but sandwiched above and below by an opera singer and party central.
Our gratitude to Suzanne for this spectacular performance, and for FASO which sponsored it. Her talent reaffirmed the value of art in elevating the human spirit, a common occurrence here on the high plains.
That’s why we can say, “Keep Amarillo Artsy! Keep Austin Weird! Keep Lubbock in the Rear View Mirror!!!!”