Friday pick: Maria Briggs gives us lots of ‘L’Amour’ at Fresno State

Maria Briggs wants to get romantic.

The voice professor’s concert at Fresno State’s Concert Hall, titled “L’Amour” (7:30 p.m. Friday, March 11) is a chance to do just that. Let’s get to the details:

Pictured above: Soprano Maria Briggs performs Friday, March 11.

Q: Your concert is titled “L’Amour.” What is the sexiest song on the program and why?

A: That’s a great question! This program is filled with gorgeous, sensual music and poetry. There are also pieces that explore melancholy, loss and nostalgia. The overall title “L’Amour” refers to all those aspects and probably a thousand more complex emotions we humans experience when we are in love and when we are loved. What better to express all the subtleties, colors and fantasies than say music of Fauré or Debussy woven around the poetry of Romain Bussine and Paul Bourget? “L’Amour” is mysterious, enchanting and secretive. These songs are incredibly sensual and beautiful, but not overtly “sexy”, except perhaps one — Fauré’s “Tuscan Serenade.” I feel it is the most straightforward, masculine, passionate and “sexy” piece in the program — it is also the least “French” sounding as it is written in an Italian serenade style and I absolutely adore performing it!

Q: Which do you think is more romantic: someone singing an art song outside your window, or someone giving you a box of chocolates and a Bitcoin?


A: Hahaha — I am a huge fan of Art Song and chocolate! I am yet to learn more about Bitcoins, so that creates some mystery …. I’d say combine all three!

Q: Tell me a little about Ellie Choate and Meghan Bennett. What is it like to make music with them?

A: They are both sensational musicians and amazing human beings. I am so privileged to be able to know them and to share the stage with them! Our rehearsals usually go like this: occasionally the three of us manage to stop laughing and at that point we make some music.

Meghan has recently joined our music department as a Flute professor. She has performed with most major orchestras in the country, she has taught at Oberlin Conservatory and Princeton among many other top music schools.

Ellie and I met when we were involved in the Orpheus concert series. We just immediately hit it off — she is such an accomplished musician with several recording credits and teaching appointments at UC Irvine and CSU Long Beach. She is comfortable in any musical genre or performance medium. She has collaborated with Pierre Boulez, appeared in film, TV, pop concerts — you name it!

Q: What is the most contemporary song on your program?

A: Three songs for voice and harp written by Californian composer Jeffrey H. Rickard.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: I think the combination of voice, harp and flute in a recital is very rare and very beautiful. It is truly worth your time. There are some very scary, unsettling things happening around us right now. I feel it is more important than ever to remind ourselves of our humanity, of our capacity to produce beautiful work that stands the test of time:

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

— John Keats

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Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

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