by Sarah Block, Library Communications
Celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Marta and Austin Weeks Music Library and the 2014 acquisition of the historical Roger Gross Opera Collection, more than one hundred librarians, community members, and students and faculty of the Frost School of Music gathered for a reception and vocal performance at the library on Friday, January 23.
The event was presented by the University of Miami Libraries (UML) and the Frost School of Music. Dean of Libraries Chuck Eckman opened the program by describing the growth—and growing impact—of the Weeks Library over the past decade. “The generosity of the Weeks family and countless supporters have allowed the library to become a trusted resource for many, especially the students of the premier Frost School,” Eckman said.
Frost School of Music Dean Shelton Berg spoke on the importance of the library for music students, then introduced the three vocal performance students who sang pieces they selected from the Roger Gross collection while in Professor Karen Henson’s musicology class, “Singers and Opera Performance from Handel to ‘Live in HD’” last semester.
Max Moreno, a bass vocalist pursuing his doctorate in musical arts (DMA), who performed first—an aria written by Mozart in 1797 for German singer Ludwig Fischer—described the scope and purpose of the class, and the value of the collection, which helped the students dig deeper into the lives of the historic opera singers whom they were emulating, even allowing them to fill in biographical gaps in their online research.
“We studied the different lives of these singers from throughout the history of opera and discussed the relationships between the composers that they sang for, the performances they presented, and just the general artistry—who they were, and why they were important to the field of opera,” Moreno said.
Sopranos Ana Collado, a senior in the Department of Vocal Performance, and Jennifer Voigt, also pursuing a DMA degree, followed with works by Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) and Cathy Berberian (1925-1983), respectively. Master’s piano student Leo Thorp accompanied the singers.
The library acquired the collection after the death of Roger Gross (1938-2013), a well-known New York autograph dealer and opera connoisseur who, over the course of his lifetime, accumulated thousands of books and other historical materials from the eighteenth century onward.
“This is a major acquisition for the University to have as a resource, and to see it explored, and hear it brought to life with such talent is deeply inspiring and rewarding,” said Nancy Zavac, Head of the Weeks Library, following the performance.
Zavac concluded the program by thanking her staff and all who were in attendance, with a special nod to University Trustee Marta Weeks-Wulf, who with husband Austin Weeks (d. 2005) provided the funding to build the library. “We have so many marvelous collections and materials on hand for our users, and so many of them thanks to the suggestions, donations, perseverance, and passion from our faculty, students, and friends – friends like [Marta]. This facility would not exist without her and her family’s thoughtfulness and generosity.”
For more information on the Weeks Library or the Roger Gross Opera Collection, visit http://library.miami.edu/musiclib.