William Stone is well known for his international reputation as an opera singer, concert artist and recitalist, whose career has spanned the last 35 years. But, little known is the fact that he is also an accomplished potter with strong ties to the creative process of working with clay.
Through his association and study with Iowa master potter and teacher, Dean Schwarz, he was introduced to the Bauhaus tradition of Marguerite Wildenhain, with whom he was able to study for a summer several years before she died. Upon her death, a diary was discovered in her personal belongings, which Schwarz gave to Stone to translate with the hope that his years of singing lieder and his familiarity with Marguerite personally might lend the right interpretation to what she had written when she was in her twenties. What it revealed, to the surprise of everyone who knew her, was an intimate relationship with her craftsman master in the Bauhaus, Max Krehan. Her diary begins at his death and spans the following seven months as she copes with his absence and influence on her life and craft.
From his years of performing the great cycles of Schubert, Schumann, and even more contemporary composers such as Lee Hoiby, Stone had always felt the diary would lend itself well to being set to music. He was able to elicit the interest of Philadelphia composer Maurice Wright, who embraced the project with enthusiasm, and the resulting cycle for baritone (or mezzo) and string quartet will be performed this coming week-end with William Stone as the soloist. It is the culmination of a project that has been in the making for the past 20 years, molded, like clay, by the hands of devoted musicians and potters to become To Kiss the Earth.
The premiere of To Kiss the Earth was circumvented by the tragic events of September 11. In the ten years since, the piece has languished awaiting its debut in the right circumstances. With a longstanding devotion to new music and admiration for Bill Stone’s artistry, Lyric Fest was delighted at the prospect of presenting the world premiere of the cycle after Bill broached the compelling concept. Experience the premiere – alongside readings from Wildenhain’s diary by co-founding artistic director Suzanne DuPlantis and new works by Curt Cacioppo and Allen Krantz – this weekend.
A large portion of Marguerite’s diary, along with Stone’s Introduction to it, appears in Marguerite Wildenhain and the Bauhaus: An Eyewitness Anthology, published by South Bear Press, 2007. The introduction to the diary is also viewable at www. williamstonebaritone.com.