Soprano Louise Toppin Hopes Listeners Find New Favorites

| February 25, 2011
Soprano Louise Toppin, a finalist in the Munich International Competition and winner of the Metropolitan Opera regional auditions, will perform music by well-known European and African-American composers at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 4 in Memorial Chapel at Sweet Briar College.

Toppin says her programs are always intended to both educate and entertain. “I enjoy the exploration of unusual repertoire,” she says. By programming composers such as Vincenzo Righini or the Chevalier de Saint Georges Joseph de Bologne, who were contemporaries of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Toppin is able to present music “that feels familiar but is actually new to the audience. It is my hope that the concert experience leaves the audience with ‘new favorites’ to explore further.”

Louise Toppin

Louise ToppinToppin will begin her performance with lesser known works by well-known European composers, including Mozart, Hugo Wolf, Claude Debussy and Gaetano Donizetti. The music, which ranges from the only two French songs Mozart produced to the beginnings of Debussy’s “harmonic language that so characterized him later as an impressionist composer,” may be brand new to much of the audience, she said

The second half of the concert will focus on music by African-American composers. Five songs by expatriate Robert Owens, which refer to figures from the Italian commedia dell’arte, will be set to the poetry of Langston Hughes and precede a set of spirituals by composers Thomas Kerr, Undine Moore and Jacqueline Hairston. The concert will conclude with Song of the Seasons by Margaret Bonds, a group of unpublished songs that were premiered in the 1950s in New York. Like Owens’ work, they are a collaboration with Hughes’ poetry.

In addition to her performance, Toppin will teach a master class to selected Sweet Briar voice students at 7 p.m. March 3. Toppin’s goal is to present ideas from her experiences to students who are already knowledgeable in applied vocal study. “It is a pleasure to watch the light bulb turn on when something you say pulls a musical, technical or dramatic concept together for the student,” she says. “I learn something from each student I work with.” The class may be observed for free.

Toppin, a graduate of the University of Michigan, Peabody Conservatory and the University of North Carolina, has received critical acclaim for her operatic, orchestral and oratorio performances in the United States, Czech Republic, Scotland, Japan, China, Uruguay, Sweden, the Caribbean, Bermuda, New Zealand, England and Spain.

Tickets go on sale Monday, Feb. 28. Admission is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, $5 for students, and free for children younger than 12 and for members of the SBC community. General seating applies. To reserve tickets, contact the box office at (434) 381-6120 or [email protected] or order by credit card at

Category: Music, Performing Arts, Uncategorized