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Great Art at Eastern this week talks with Travis Sherwood about the upcoming radio production of Bea

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GENTRY:  And now Great arts at Eastern, from the Portales campus of Eastern New Mexico University. I'm Jeff Gentry, Dean of the College of Fine Arts here on KENW, your Public Radio Network. Today my guest is Travis Sherwood of Eastern's Department of Music. Thank you for joining me today.

SHERWOOD:  Thank you, Doctor Gentry. It's a pleasure to be here.

GENTRY:  Now you've maintained an active opera series since your arrival on the High Plains in 2014. How do vocal students benefit from operatic productions? 

SHERWOOD:  Well, I think whether it's opera or musical theater, time on the stage is always valuable. And it's an essential part of a student's education. And so, these young artists need the opportunity to get on stage and demonstrate their craft. 

GENTRY:  Great well our listeners will be treated to Beauty and the Beast on March 20th. Tell me about Vittorio Giannini's radio opera.

SHERWOOD:  Well, this was an opera that came out in the late 1930s. And it was originally composed to be performed on radio. And it's really exciting to think about a time in our country where these large broadcasting companies were spending lots of money paying composers to write operas specifically for the radio.

GENTRY:  Right radio was King. And in my youth, I remember listening to the CBS radio mystery theater, but I never heard an opera.

SHERWOOD:  Right, exactly, yeah, and so Beauty and the Beast was written specifically for the radios.

GENTRY:  Great, and now the opera stars Taylor Bassing, Cameron Colson, Chandlar Head yourself. Is it more of an ensemble so that no one faces an excess vocal load?

SHERWOOD:  Well, that's an interesting question. There's actually only one point in the opera where the entire ensemble sings together. It's for a few measures at the very end. It's mostly solo singing, actually, with the occasional duet or maybe a trio. I and that was done on purpose when we picked this piece in order to allow students to be socially distanced from each other and not require a ton of ensemble singing.

GENTRY:  Well, Giannini was thinking ahead to COVID-19, right?

SHERWOOD:  I supposed maybe he was.

GENTRY:  So, who plays Beauty?

SHERWOOD:  Beauty is our student Anna Gonzalez; she is a senior vocal performance major here at ENMU.

GENTRY:  Fantastic. and what contributions will come from your collaborators Stephanie Beinlich and Lincoln Gregory Gallagher?

SHERWOOD:  Well, Gregory Gallagher is our music director and will also be playing piano for the recording that we're making. And Stephanie Beinlich has been handling a lot of the PR for us. As well as some of the social media campaign that we've been doing. And a lot of behind-the-scenes work that needs to be done on a large project like this.

GENTRY:  I've seen these really neat posters that you guys have created where everybody is in the poster I see gets to be the star of the show. Which is fun.

SHERWOOD:  Exactly. It was a very unique opportunity with a small cast that we're able to create posters that feature each of the students individually.

GENTRY:  That's great. So, the Premier is March 20th at 11:00 o'clock am here on KENW. We get to listen to opera on the radio during this live show. You know, like our listeners, and so will it air more than once?

SHERWOOD:  We're hoping that it will, yes, absolutely. But we want people to really tune in at 11:00 AM on March 20th for the premiere. We are cited in the spirit of authenticity to be able to offer this over the radio.

GENTRY:  Right across New Mexico and West Texas on the KENW Radio Network, that's got to be exciting.

SHERWOOD:  Absolutely yes. And then, you have the opportunity to listen to it live as well through the KENW website. So people from all over the country are all over the world. For that matter- to have access to this programming.

GENTRY:  Alright, so that's a week from now on March 20th. Now let me ask you, Travis do you have a favorite role to sing in as a baritone?

SHERWOOD:  Oh, I have many favorite roles, but in this opera, in particular, I'm able to sing the role of the father. And this is my first time singing a role here at ENMU, and I'm really excited and have enjoyed being able to collaborate with the students in that manner.

GENTRY:  Yeah, it's great to be in the mix, right, just part of the team.

SHERWOOD:  Absolutely yeah.  

GENTRY:  Well, Beauty and the Beast airs across the KENW radio network at 11:00 o'clock AM mountain time on March 20th. You can learn more about this program at KENW.org. And all the Great Arts at Eastern are found on our calendar at enmu.edu/fineartsevents. Thank you, Travis Sherwood.

SHERWOOD:  Thank you, Doctor Gentry my pleasure.

GENTRY:  I'm Jeff Gentry thanks for listening on KENW, your Public Radio Network.

Beauty and the Beast: A Radio Opera

Composed by Vittorio Giannini

Directed by Travis Sherwood

Music Directed by Gregory Gallagher

Coordinated by Stephanie Beinlich

Premiers Saturday, March 20, 2021 | 11 a.m.

KENW FM Radio | Find your station, kenw.org/Public-Files

Listen online at KENW.ORG