Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Mark Thatcher ’06 will give a senior vocal recital consisting of works by Monteverdi, Cavalli, Ravel, Schubert, and other composers this Sunday at 8:00 in Lang Concert Hall.
Thatcher’s programming inspiration was a 1974 recital by mezzo-soprano Dame Janet Baker, during which she sang 17th century music for the first half and 18th and 19th century music after intermission. Thatcher will be accompanied by several instrumentalists for the first half of the program, and the second half, consisting of 19th and 20th century music, by pianist Susan Nowicke. The program includes Ravel’s “Histoires naturelles,” a set of songs about animals ranging from ironic to magical, several arias from Monteverdi’s “The Coronation of Poppea,” and a set of songs by the tonal 20th century English composer Gerald Finzi set to Shakespeare.
Though the music encompasses five languages and almost as many centuries, Thatcher says “the principles of singing never change and the principles of honoring the text never change.” He emphasized that whether the song was in English or another foreign language, the text requires close attention, as “you have to be true to the text itself regardless of what the audience understands.” Though some technical differences and the notation and dynamics are much more precise for the later music, Thatcher notes that the essentials of musical communication remain constant.
As a countertenor, Thatcher has a unique challenge in finding repertory to sing. “Any sort of song repertoire…I feel is up for grabs. People are coming to accept that more as countertenors enter more into the mainstream.” “I don’t feel inhibited singing from the role of a male or a female,” he says, noting that he pushed traditional musical gender roles in his junior recital last spring.
Thatcher will graduate at the end of this semester, and plans on auditioning for conservatories, young artist programs at opera companies, and entering competitions.