A Classical Country and Western Recital

On March 3rd I attended a voice recital by Dr. David Grogan at Southeastern Oklahoma University. Dr. Grogan sang his songs with a music stand, with an explanation in the program that he was “trying it out”, because apparently it was not standard to perform with music up until some time in the 1800’s. Dr. Grogan’s recital was country and western themed, including some spanish songs and German show tunes.

Dr. Grogan demonstrated that he is not only a excellent singer, but also a skilled performer and communicator. Even though he was simply putting on a recital, and he had a music stand in front of him, he communicated- through movement, facial expressions, and his voice- more than most performances I have seen. Dr. Grogan is expansively expressive, effortlessly transitioning from serious to silly in his songs, all with impeccable vocal production.

Dr. Grogan is a baritone. Nevertheless, he might be easily be mistaken for a bass, with a rich, strong and resonant low range which filled the entire recital hall. Dr. Grogan also holds in his vocal arsenal an impressive high range. He sang a selection of German songs from the musical “Arizona Ladies”, which he afterwards confessed were written for tenor. He sang these song with such ease, skill and beauty that one might mistake him for a tenor.

Although he is a classically trained singer who teaches classically, Grogan confessed that he finds classical recital to be “a little stuffy sometimes”, and this was reflected in the theme and the songs he chose to sing at his recital. He sang a selection of songs by composer Charles Ives, one of which he was practically shouting to music; interesting, well-executed, and definitely not classical. Interesting, well-executed, and definitely not classically neatly sums up what Dr. Grogan’s recital was like.

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