May 28, 2018

My Residency with Lyric Fest (Benjamin C.S. Boyle)

What a year it’s been! Like all wonderful times, we remember the beginning as if it were years ago and the end as having come impossibly quick. From the opening concert from the pianist’s point of view and the recital of my songs in December, to the Debussy portrait in music and the finale with the amazing Bryan and Irini… what a year indeed!

Oftentimes people ask me what it’s like listening to my work as it is being performed. Am I nervous? (Nope, I’m not the one on stage.) Am I surprised? (No, I know every inch of the piece and have played it countless more times than anyone else has.) In fact, normally I spend more time focused on the audience around me. Are the listeners engaged? Can one feel them collectively sigh at a particularly beautiful moment, gasp at a climactic one or (my favorite) produce that special kind of silence at the end of a quiet song when the musicians finish the piece and the audience doesn’t want their collective moment to end?

Suffice it to say, none of these things happen without incredibly committed and generous colleagues. To the audience, a composer is only as good as his performers, and I’ve been luckier than many. First and foremost, I want to unequivocally thank my dearest collaborator, Laura Ward. As a pianist myself, I am intimately aware of what her job requires and am constantly stunned at how effortlessly she makes it seem. She is a treasure, a jewel in the musical crown of Philadelphia. Next, how could I properly thank my incredible singers? Bryan, Irini, Sarah, Dan, Hannah and Suzanne. This is a list that any composer would die for. My deepest thanks go to you for sharing your gifts and illuminating my scores.

I’d like to thank once again my friends Christina Stasiuk and George Farion, who made this entire season possible. They have always made me feel like part of their family. I hope the piece they commissioned, Spirits in Bondage, will live on as a testament to our friendship.

Finally, I’d like to thank all of you listeners who came to these lovely concerts. Music is a three-legged stool: composer, performer and audience. The final one is by far the most important, as they lend the other two purpose. I hope you all enjoyed this magical season that I’ll never forget.

Benjamin C.S. Boyle

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