Beverly Hoch opened this season's Young Artists Series in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater yesterday afternoon with a remarkable demonstration of vocal acrobatics.
The young soprano from Kansas won her right to the appearance by winning this year's Kathleem Ferrier Award in New York City. Hoch is blessed with a lovely, clear, high, lyric soprano which she handles with great skill and assurance. There are no terrors for her in notes that go upward from high C to a top F that is unforced and admirably controlled, and she can manage the coloratura requirements of "amor" by Richard Strauss with all the aplomb of a budding Zerbinetta. Her trill is easy, her pitch excellent.
Nor does Hoch spend all her time either in the astral heights or in dizzying runs and leaps. One of the most welcome features of her program were four songs by Gustav Holst for voice and violin. In these, as in her opening Handel scenes, Hoch was sensitively joined by Daniel Phillips, whose playing has been enjoyed here in the past.
But by the time Hoch had worked her way through five Strauss songs, Mozart's concert aria. "Vorrei Spiegarvi, O Dio," and charming Ronsard songs that Darius Mihaud wrote for Lily Pons, a certain sameness had become too apparent in her approach to music. Hoch is young enough to spend every moment for her working hours in carving out syllables so that phrases take on their rightful shapes and songs make their full impact. And where, from this excellent product of Kansas, were the songs from her own country? Discreet piano accompaniments, that did not offer the spur that Hoch needs, were provided by Margo Garrett.