Artists Laura Claycomb and Marc Teicholz relate how Open Your Heart evolved from a long friendship:
This project is the result of my electric artistic friendship and long standing musical partnership with Marc. The choice of pieces happened over time and was guided by our quest for a truly authentic and idiomatic sound for soprano and guitar. We met in the early 90’s when I was an Adler Fellow at San Francisco Opera, and Marc had returned to make music in his native Bay Area after law school. A fortuitous encounter on a chamber music program led to a profound friendship that has deepened over the years through concerts, recitals and mutual admiration. The result of our long-held desire to capture the fruits of our collaboration on CD, this disc offers some of our favorite songs, compiled under the theme of opening your heart – not just to love, but to the possibilities the world has to offer in life and friendships.
The Blitzstein songs were arranged by Marc and Dusan Bogdanovic; the Falla, Bizet and Debussy’s “En sourdine” are Marc’s transcriptions; the “Mandoline” transcription is by Tilman Hoppstock. The Villa-Lobos, Seiber and Walton songs were originally composed for guitar and voice.
Voice with single-stringed instrument is, of course, one of the most common and successful combinations in the history of music, with the guitar (in its varied guises) being vibrantly present in every century and culture because of its easy portability. We see this phenomenon more in popular music today, but its roots reach far into musical history, encompassing many great compositions as well. We hope that magnifying this combination via two performers of wide stylistic sympathies will make for an immensely satisfying listening experience.
For me, this CD documents the long friendship that I have enjoyed with Laura. I first met her when she was in the Merola program in San Francisco. She sported a striking mass of red hair, a penetrating gaze and laugh, a precise ear, and of course a golden voice. I was immediately struck by how this Dallas girl balanced
a hardheaded, earthy practicality with a searching, idealistic passion. For a Berkeley boy whose measure of seriousness matched the shabbiness of his attire, meeting this strong, charismatic, be-sequined artist (I remember that she used to change gowns at intermission) was a revelation. We began an enduring friendship fueled by many frank conversations and several satisfying musical projects, including this CD. We recorded it at George Lucas’s staggeringly beautiful Skywalker ranch (I imagined I was Harrison Ford) with the help of the extraordinarily gifted Peter Grunberg. I was particularly excited because I had borrowed an especially dulcet-sounding 1965 Jose Rubio instrument from the Harris Guitar collection for the recording (Thank you, John)! This guitar was built for the great British guitarist Julian Bream, for whom the William Walton songs on this CD were originally written. While it may well have been me, sitting next to Laura, who had the best seat in the house during this recording, I hope our listeners will share my boundless pleasure in complementing her radiant voice and spirit.
Open Your Heart
This beguiling album is the first for Delos by brilliant American coloratura soprano Laura Claycomb. Best-known for her work in opera, she explores here an entirely different aspect of her artistry: a more intimate and personal interpretive approach featuring assorted art songs with guitar. And she has found an ideal partner in guitar wizard Marc Teicholz: her longtime collaborator and musical soul mate.