Narrative singing engulfed Valley recital hall

Valley Colleges’ free concert series continued with emotional performances, an 1800s adventure and cross-dressing.

By Natalie Metcalf, Valley Life Editor

Glenn Carlos performs “Cosmetic Surgery, the Saga of Kate” by John Wallowitch, while Frank Garvey accompanies him on piano. (Allyson Rocas | Valley Star)

Baritone and tender tenor vocals could be heard from recital hall M106 on Wednesday, telling narratives of a struggling artist, an expedition from the late 1800s, and a botched surgery.

The third free concert of the semester continued its theme: “Music for Storytelling” with performances by concert organizer Christian Nova, applied music program student Kevin Alvarez and music department faculty member Glenn Carlos, the last of which dressed in drag. Each performance was accompanied by music department faculty member Frank Garvey on piano.

“The songs tell a bigger story throughout [the concert],” said Nova. “As opposed to a song that might express an emotional idea or a feeling, these particular songs tell stories.”

Patricia Hannifan, a music department faculty member, attended the concert this week as an audience member. In last week’s concert, “Music for Storytelling: Sung and Danced Drama,” she accompanied Applied Music Program students on piano.

Alvarez sang “Why” by Jonathan Larson from the musical biopic “Tik…Tik…Boom!” (2021). The performance was intimate and tender, as the music major honed his skills from Valley’s program. In the question and answer portion post-concert, Alvarez shared how powerful the song was to him.

“Of all the different musicals I’ve seen, that one just took me into a different world,” said Alvarez. “I saw and felt so much of what was in the story that I couldn’t help but just fall in love with Jonathan Larson’s stories and music.”

The glamorization of Hollywood life arrived in Carlos’ second half of his performance when singing “Sweet Dreams” by John Bucchino. Two people –– a straight woman from a domestically violent relationship and a gay man leaving his sugar daddy –– sit together at a train station on their way to a “better life” in Hollywood. Carlos carried the narration of the two people, playing the narrator.

Lastly, the music professor changed into a blonde wig, red dress, black heels and diamonds for his performance of “Cosmetic Surgery: the Saga of Kate” by John Wallowitch.

“Once the wig goes on, everything is taken care of,” said Carlos. “You hear these stories and it makes it even funnier. I’ll see somebody now and then –– that I know I haven’t seen in a couple of years –– and think wow the rest of us have aged a lot and this person either had some work done or they’re well preserved. [The song] is just kind of a joke.”

Nova still held his own, as he performed three pieces from “The Andree Expedition” by Dominick Argento. Each song told a story from the expedition, including a slideshow of journals and photos taken from the journey.

The next free concert will be on Wednesday, Oct. 12 and will be the first week with a new theme, “Music for Entertainment.” All concert dates can be found on the Valley College website in the calendar.