Your Online Guide to the Arts in the Brazos Valley

Photos and articles by one of the Brazos Valley's leading artists... guiding you to great art and entertainment opportunities. For a blog about Brazos Valley Music History, Click HERE:

Sunday, October 18, 2015

MEGAN BERTI mezzo-soprano: A Twentieth Century Banquet!

An autumn Sunday afternoon in our Norman Rockwellian hamlet produced an unexpected journey for me. The kind of journey possible only through great art. And that was amply supplied by Megan Berti of Houston, who gave of her talent generously in the glow of the natural light and magnificent architecture of First Presbyterian Church in Navasota.

You can tell when you are experiencing great art, because it always trips multiple triggers... a banquet of personal wonder. Sounds and sights and forgotten thoughts expand and swirl like blackbirds in formation, and you never want it to end.

As one pushed through the mammoth Victorian doors you immediately stepped back in time, and the sparkling stained glass and austere, sunlit plaster walls promised that Andrew Wyeth wished he was still alive, if only to capture them. Performing Spanish and German classics, in their native tongues, Berti especially shined while presenting three of Manuel de Falla's Siete Canciones Populares Espanoles. I knew instantly that I had “heard” this music somewhere before. But I had not. Megan Berti was merely singing expertly the genre James Michener had perfectly described in IBERIA, his exhaustive book about Spain.

A great fan of Spanish culture, James Michener spent a great deal of his spare time in Spain, and considered Falla the most important composer from his favorite country. Michener often compared Spain to Texas, another of his favorite places, and he studied Spanish music like American teenagers did rock and roll. He thought Falla was the most original and inventive and inspired of all. And here a century and a world away Megan Berti brought Falla's legacy to life to an appreciative crowd. She sang Falla- saucy and evocative and even abrupt... as if she were raised in a Spanish carmen- (a rustic country cottage).


But then, just getting nestled into my cozy transportation, Berti began to sing Strauss and Brahms... with equal authenticity. I am not quite sure of all the reasons why artists choose to sing in foreign languages... But if they are going to, they must be convincing and artistic at the same time... and be able to convey emotions... and Berti prances through her cultural sampler flawlessly. It's true I would not know if she was singing, “I am going to kill you!” But whatever she sang, she has that special gift, not just that of a musician, not that of a performer, but that of a true entertainer.

Thank you to The Music Study Club of Navasota, for finding and showcasing Megan Berti and the art she lured out of the walls and out of my imagination.

Postscript: In my zeal for brevity ( a new goal of mine) I neglected to mention the equally precise and adoring accompaniment provided by her pianist... (please forgive me if I get this wrong!) Kathleen Kaun.