Don Krim, Countertenor, in San Miguel

Don Krim

By Fredric Dannen

Los Angeles vocal sensation and countertenor Don Krim will make his San Miguel de Allende debut. One night this past summer, Krim was visiting San Miguel, and over dinner I told him about the Circus piano bar then operating on Zacateros. I dared him to drop in and sing; he gamely agreed. We found a boisterous crowd that night, well lubricated with alcohol, and music could barely be heard through the din of crowd noise. Krim got up and launched into “God Bless the Child,” the Billie Holiday standard. After just a few bars, the crowd noise started to diminish, and less than a minute into the song, the only sound from the stunned audience was an occasional whoop of approval over a particularly beautiful high note.

Concert
Canciones Negras
Don Krim, countertenor
With pianist Enrique Prado and special guest Ken Bichel
Tue, Dec 8, 7pm
Miguel Malo Auditorium, Bellas Artes
Hernández Macías 75
250 pesos

Krim sings high notes almost exclusively. He is a countertenor, that rarest of voices, a male whose natural vocal range, without falsetto, is that of a mezzosoprano. Krim’s voice is “gorgeous,” says Spanish conductor José María Moreno, who adds, “It is a voice that transmits, so expressive, displaying so much musicality.” Grace Bumbry, one of the Metropolitan Opera’s greatest stars, heard Krim sing at a church in Salzburg and immediately invited him to teach breathing techniques to her students in Berlin. “An extraordinary talent,” Bumbry says of Krim.

Following his sensational Circus bar appearance, Sanmiguelenses have been asking me when Krim might return. That time is at hand. He will give a single concert on Tuesday, December 8, at 7pm, at the Bellas Artes. The acclaimed pianist Enrique Prado will accompany Krim, and local keyboard star Ken Bichel will make a guest appearance. Tickets are 250 pesos, on sale now at Solutions, Recreo 11; La Conexion, Aldama 3; Los Milagros, Reloj 17; or at the door on the evening of the concert.

An actor by training, Krim grew up with a love for jazz and blues, and today he is the only countertenor to my personal knowledge who uses his remarkable vocal instrument to interpret popular as well as classical music. He calls himself a “schizophrenic countertenor,” and his website is appropriately named www.countertenorblues.com. “In many ways,” Krim says, “this upcoming concert precisely exhibits my split personality.” Titled “Canciones Negras,” Krim’s concert will run from Baroque to blues⎯from Handel to Berlioz to jazz standards, spirituals, and ballads such as “House of the Rising Sun.”

The concert’s title comes from one of its centerpieces, the extraordinary 1945 song cycle “Cinco canciones negras” (five black songs), by Catalonian composer Xavier Montsalvatge, a depiction of the Afro-Cuban experience written in protest to the racist regime of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. Suffused with Cuban dance rhythms and jazz chords, the cycle displays Krim’s virtuosity, as well as that of his superbly talented accompanist, Enrique Prado.

 

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