Don is Krim back in Soller…
By Shirley Roberts
Published in the Majorca Daily Bulletin
on Sunday 23rd October 2016
Don and his partner David moved to Soller in 2005 after discovering the place like so many people before them – on the train. They were based in Barcelona at the time and were holidaying here. One trip and they discovered that in the mountains of the Tramuntana there was a place which was alive with the electricity of the music and they wanted to be part of it. The discovery of the established musician base here and their welcome of his unusual voice meant that he was at home in the Soller Valley from day one. The mavericks of the music world seemed to be waiting for him to join them in Soller.
Don was an actor by University training in New York and like many actors had to have another profession to go alongside to feed himself. He chose the Alexander Technique after discovering its benefits. He became an Alexander Technique teacher and learned so much about the voice within the technique. To speak and to breathe is as important as posture and it was this that sent him on his own journey of discovery. His own teacher is Beret Arcaya who taught him to understand the range of his voice and took him kicking and screaming into the high ranges of the Counter Tenor.
Don often refers to himself as a “schizophrenic countertenor.” Is he Don, or is he the countertenor voice? Are they one or separate entities? They are one — now — but it has not been easy. Don started as a pop and theatre singer. But he always liked to sing high, taking every opportunity he could in his own or other’s music to interpolate and improvise a harmony way above the melody.
His classical music training was self-restricted to the piano. The first time he went to a voice teacher his words were: “if you are going to make me sound like a classical singer I am not interested”.
This probably accounts for why, even now after all the years of training and the dominance of classical in his current repertoire, he still maintains a sound which is in many ways not classical, and certainly not like any other countertenor. His voice has a colour palate and a dynamic range, a style, which is distinct within his voice type. More than one press notice has used almost the same words, yet in different contexts:
“Krim has a voice of surprising power that is also capable of the smallest of intimacy” said the local reporter in Spain at his debut town hall concert, singing Handel and Hispanic music. “An amazing range — and not just melodically — that part is obvious…I’m talking about the dynamics and textures, the very things that give you Goosebumps.” That quote was from a Hollywood reporter who just happened to hear Don sitting in at a jazz spot in Hollywood singing “God bless the child” and “My funny valentine”.
Don had to actually learn to like classical music, and especially classical or operatic singing. He got there through Handel — but only by first jazzing it up. “Classical, gospelly, pop” is what his Bill Evans styled jazz pianist/arranger called it as she effortlessly helped him convert “He was Despised” and “Oh Sleep” into a baroque-jazz fusion. His next recording will probably feature some of this style.
As much as Don resisted however, his voice simply loved baroque music. Of course the training regime was well suited to it: 450 exercises in vocal agility by Manuel Garcia from the 19th Century was his alma mater. I was intrigued to learn that many consider Manuel Garcia the most important voice teacher (pedagogist) that the world has ever seen. He is also the inventor of the laryngoscope. In 1854 Manuel Garcia became the first man to view the functioning glottis and larynx in a living human.
As an actor by University training (he hated the music department and left, finding it too academic and stifling), Handel operas were not cutting it for him. Vivaldi became the focus for awhile, leading to a still ongoing relationship with pianist, harpsichordist, organist Dr. Eric Kinsley of Cal Lutheran University in Southern California where Don lived. The two did many concerts at the university, churches throughout the Los Angeles region, and at Laguna Beach Live.
Don’s musical turning point was discovering the late, great American mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson — first in concert, then her Bach Cantatas album. Everything changed. “I became obsessed with her voice, with her musicality, with her theatrical instincts — everything she did was what I had been struggling for within myself but I had no models, only pieces here and there. She showed me that it could be done, that I wasn’t crazy or perhaps most important, alone. “
Don Krim is a singer with choices – his own. He did not come to this place by a conventional route or at the behest of an agent. This gives him a remarkable freedom to pursue his musical interests. The gospel and jazz songs ready for the Theatre Principal concert have been a huge pleasure for him and could feature much more in his future. His past work in Majorca includes regular collaborations with Maestro José María Moreno and his regular recital pianist is the renowned Suzanne Bradbury. Credits include: Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater with Camerata Sa Nostra; Carmina Burana with the Capilla Mallorquina; Handels Ode to the Birthday of Queen Anne with Maestro José María Moreno; Don was invited by celebrated harpsichordist Tim Roberts and Bernat Cabot to sing Handel, Bach and Vivaldi at the International Festival of Music, Bunyola with Arts Musicae.
His Debut CD’ I am no longer of this world’ is a tribute to the late extraordinary America mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, featuring Peter Lieberson´s Rilke Songs and Mahler´s Rückert Lieder. This is completely unchartered territory for a countertenor and is an example of the unusual musical instincts and capabilities which Don brings as a truly different kind of countertenor. The CD, recorded in Mallorca in the Church of San Felip Neri and mastered at Sound Mirror in Boston features Suzanne Bradbury on piano and was produced by José María Moreno.
Don’s alternative Soller world is based in Mexico these days. He has moved to the Guanajuato region and has immersed himself into the music and theatre wonderland that is contained there. New singing and acting opportunities have presented themselves and a new career in radio plays. Don would like to live in Soller but as a US citizen there are restrictions on how long each year he is allowed to be here. This was part of the decision to move from Los angeles to the nearest place they could find with the Soller vibe. Mexico is a delight which he is dscovering daily and never ceases to be amazed by the parallels there are with his Soller home.
Home exchanges with the famous have taken him to some wonderful locations and created musical opportunities. Don summers in Salzburg where he gives Master classes to students and sings Mozart. The serendipity of life pleases him and how that one introduction leads on to wonderful musical moments. These days he sings in New York, Mexico,
San Francisco , Salzburg and Majorca .
Don Krim is a true English speaking Solleric – he has found a home, friends and true acceptance of his unusual musical style in the Soller Valley. This autumn we are fortunate to have a Don Krim concert in Soller on Sunday 30thOctober 2016 at 8pm in the Escolapies Cultural Centre. Next spring there are many more Mallorca concerts planned but for now we are honoured that Soller has the benefit of his most unusual voice.
Welcome back Don…