I love to create original work.
Mezzo Laid Bare is a 90 minute solo theater piece featuring traditional classical vocal repertoire and original monologue. For mezzo and pianist. Premiered in 2011. Details below.
Candor and Bel Canto, an interactive solo recital about contributions to Western classical music from the African diaspora. For mezzo and pianist. Premiered in 2013. Details below.
CONNECTED, an exploration of rhythm and movement in Renaissance, Baroque, and hip-hop music. For mezzo and continuo. Premiere in 2016. Details below.
Mezzo Laid Bare
Mezzo Laid Bare gives us a peek inside the chaotic mind of mezzo-soprano Stephanie McGuire in a groundbreaking mashup of classical recital and downtown theater. This show, which presents an unorthodox and uncensored look into the world of classical performance and the struggle between an artistʼs public and private selves, weaves traditional recital repertoire, operatic arias and monologue into an intimate solo performance. Sex, opera, doubt, Handel, Strauss, dreams, delusions, seclusions, spirituals, suicide, Schubert, stereotypes, archetypes, gender, race, God, faith, noise, art, Mahler…and more! 90 minutes. With musical director and pianist Noby Ishida (Carnegie Hall, Merkin Concert Hall). Developed and directed by Tamilla Woodard (“inventive” -NYTimes). Contains explicit language.
Selected Reactions to Mezzo Laid Bare presented at Laguardia Performing Arts Center on December 11, 2011 and at the Baltimore Museum of Art on April 5, 2012.
“What an inventive, expressive, courageous performance you gave! As I said to you, you said things all performers wish they could! You looked so beautiful and elegant, which was a great contrast to your “candid” speeches. My friend and I were so happy to be there. Congratulations!” -Stephanie Sundine, opera director
“Truly, the best show we’ve been to in years by FAR.” -Vora Vor, recording artist
“Thank you for the tour de force performance last night. You are a phenomenal multi- talent and pretty and smart ta boot. You said many things that needed to be said, and left me with a lot to think about.” – Malinda Allen, choreographer, Allen Body Group
“You’ve invented a new art form! Not sure what to call it…it’s recital 2.0 — a first, probably…You are an original.” -Cara Beckenstein, singer/songwriter, pianist, guitarist
“Amazing! There are no words in exchange for the gift that you gave each of us last night. I was overwhelmed with emotion…and then transformed…miraculous…” -Rita Walters, Senior Associate Director of Development, Johns Hopkins University
“I don’t speak any foreign languages. At first I felt frustrated that I didn’t know what you were singing about. But your voice was so beautiful and the piece so engaging that I transcended my frustration and was transported.” -Isabelle M.
Candor and Bel Canto
Candor and Bel Canto: A Concert Exploring Black Presence in and Reaction to Western Classical Music.
This recital presents traditional European classical vocal repertoire alongside African- American art song, spirituals, and other black-composed works. Throughout the program, Stephanie engages her audience with questions and information about the rich history of African Americans in Western classical music. A relaxed and engaging performer, Stephanie shares running commentary throughout the show, bringing audiences along and making sure everyone participates and has a great time. Candor and Bel Canto is family friendly; children and teenagers are especially encouraged to come.
Selected Reactions to Candor and Bel Canto presented at Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA, January 13, 2013:
“Choice of repertoire was very eclectic– perfectly selected and performed with confidence and command of both the text and music.” -Laurence Kaptain, Dean, LSU College of Music and Dramatic Arts
“I became more aware or the connectedness of musical forms…I truly enjoyed your presentation, the vocal rendering as well as the narrative. Such presentation style assists in highlighting the importance of the arts, particularly within secondary and primary educational systems.” Rachel Vincent-Finley
“We were exposed to different forms of music which we normally aren’t exposed to. I was intrigued by the way you present this art form and the message that you have” – Khris Lloyd
“I didn’t know of the many black composers. I had no idea of what to expect since this was my first classical performance. I was blown away by the rich history you shared with us in regards to the black contributions.” -Clarence Copeland
“I like how you explained the history of music. I enjoyed the history of the songs and explaining the protocol of opera. Most black people do feel a little alienated from opera because it seems so ‘proper’.” -Angela Hunt Copeland
“[I learned about] new singers and new artists who have made historic contributions to opera and classical music. Great performance, great narration of the meaning of the lyrics and renditions.” -Tom D. West
In an era where academics compare Shakespeare’s couplets to the Wu-Tang Clan’s, I see no reason why classical music should be considered inaccessible or elitist. To that end, I am currently developing a show with the working title CONNECTED: Exploring the Baroque and Hip-Hop through Movement and Song. CONNECTED will be developed with a director, several choreographers working in Baroque, contemporary, and hip-hop dance, a percussionist, and a lute player. CONNECTED will be available for presentation at theaters, festivals, and universities.
I got the idea for CONNECTED jogging on my treadmill one morning. Because I have a love-hate relationship with jogging, I always nees good tunes to propel me forward. This particular morning, I was using Monteverdi and Kendrick Lamar to get it done, and I realized that the music I listen to most often strictly for pleasure is early music and hip-hop.
I realized that both musics are based on dance forms and have integral and complex rhythmic foundations.
As I thought about my love for early music and hip-hop, my mind wandered to my experiences listening to the radio. When I listen to early music on, say, WQXR, the commercials are for international vacations, expensive watches, and hybrid cars. When I listen to hip-hop radio, the commercials are for dubious debt relief companies, shady electronics rental places, and payday loan sharks.
That makes me profoundly sad.
So I thought maybe just bringing these two musical forms together, across the centuries, in a celebration of music, movement, and human togetherness, might bring awareness to the profound economic injustice that leaves untold numbers of human casualties in its wake every single day.
That’s why I’m developing CONNECTED. I hope you’ll keep connected with me during the journey.