Crispin Swank's Final Oberlin Recital
Crispin Swank, who gave his senior recital last spring (Bach
Sonata BWV 1005
and some lute songs), was enrolled for one more semester to finish his two degrees, and decided to give a farewell recital comprised almost entirely of self-accompanied songs.
He is one of those rare talents: he can sing, beautifully, and simultaneously play the guitar at a really high level. Further, he has a natural theatrical bent and is a ham; he works the audience with confidence and handles the multiple pressures of this act with aplomb. In all my years of teaching, I've only had two other students who could do this credibly: Matthew Hinsley (Oberlin, BM '96) and Loren Fortna (UA, MM 2000). Matt played and sang the Song From the Chinese of Britten and the Vogelwiede of Castelnuovo-Tedesco, among other things. He went on to further work on this art at the masters level and beyond, taking serious voice lessons and eventually recording a voice/guitar cd by himself (See my
). Fortna used to self-accompany himself on Dowland songs and Schubert lieder in class, beautifully.
Crispin Swank is also capable of this arresting feat, in spades. Performing in the gorgeous Stull Hall, he chose to intersperse Britten's two brilliant song cycles to the guitar, Songs From the Chinese and Folk Song Arrangements, and sprinkle in a few Dowland ayres along the way; he offered one solo--the formidable Dowland fancy, Forlorn Hope. He had conceived a story-line that made sense of the various texts and moods and authored a sequence that rendered the music fresh and surprising. At the end, for an encore, he played and sang his own song, "Habit," and invited up to the stage Kaeli Mogg, soprano and Mohit Dubey (a guitarist, but adept at the piano) to join him.
This is a show that might have legs out in the world--nice work, and good luck in your next adventure, Crispin!