On Oct. 3, the St. Olaf College Department of Music was honored to welcome guest-artist Anton Belov. The recital took place in Urness Recital Hall at 7:00 p.m.
A Russian artist and graduate of Juilliard Opera Center, Belov has appeared in various concerts throughout the United States and earned a high reputation. A brilliant performer in all opera, oratorio and concert repertoire, Belov’s legacy includes over sixty recitals throughout the United States in places such as Carnegie Hall in New York City and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
Belov has won first place in eight vocal competitions, among which are the George London Competition, the Young Concert Artists International Competition and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He is also a prolific author on Russian lyric diction, and stays active in academics as assistant professor of music at Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore.
There were a total of five pieces presented in the recital. These were “Der Wanderer” with David Gindra ’18 (baritone) and Benjamin Kerswell ’18 (piano); “Connais-tu le pays” with Mary Katherine Maney ’17 (mezzo-soprano) and Jared Miller ’17 (piano); “Deh, piu a me non v’ascendete” with Eric Spradling ’18 (tenor) and Thomas Pearson ’19 (piano); “Per pieta, bell’idol mio” with Olivia Schurke ’18 (soprano) and John Carson ’18 (piano) and finally “The Vagabond” with Julian Gruber ’19 (baritone) and Nicholas Love ’19 (piano).
The recital was as much educational as it was artistic. After each performance, while praising the students for their “gorgeous” voices, Belov gave each of them comments as well as some tips, together with quick practice. Occasionally the audience, mostly Ole voice faculty and majors, was asked to interact in the lesson.
Anton Belov spent a lot of time on improving singing technique. In almost every performance he stressed the stance of the singer and how they should transfer vitality into every single note. In Gindra’s recital, he advised the singer to take risks, to avoid safe sound and to make his voice “naked” before people.
“It’s OK to sing dangerously,” Belov said.
In Gruber’s performance, he gave good advice about not trying to sing when you are sick, especially on important occasions. If you have an audition with an important person, Belov believed you should cancel it.
“Know why? Because if you go to an audition with a very important person and he hears you once, he will not have time to hear you again. You did not sing well, the first impression is everything,” Belov said.
At the Q & A session, many interesting questions were posed. For example, Belov was asked about how he starts a piece and responded that a good place to start is the translation. Belov emphasized the importance of understanding what you sing.
“You should know what you are singing about, and you should care what you are singing about,” Belov said. “Never sing about stuff that you do not care about. Just never do that. That is really boring.”
He continued by giving examples of how understanding the lyrics will deeply change the perception of the singer towards the song, drawing from a wide range of knowledge from middle age religious emblems to German philosophy. According to Belov, his passion for poetry was partly because of his father, a poet and literature teacher.
At the end of the recital, Belov briefly mentioned a summer program operated by him and his colleagues called Atlantic Music Festival in Maine. The four-week program of intense training will provide participants with necessary skills for graduate school admissions as well as the professional level. Further information can be found at atlanticmusicfestival.org.