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Dance Project’s ‘An Artist’s Proof,’ features new works by opera singer-composer team

Opera singer Korby Myrick and her husband, composer Richard Hereld, are making a musical splash this weekend on a visit to her old hometown.

The two of them will have a role, separately and together--as singer (Myrick) or as pianist or composer (Hereld)--on no fewer than four out of the six dances in "An Artist's Proof," a concert at Stevie Eller Theater given by Tucson's own Artifact Dance Project.

And to their delight, for one dance "To Live, Love and No Longer Be Alive," they'll perform together.

"Korby is a spectacular singer and a wonderful musician," Hereld said proudly of his wife, a Tucson High grad who holds two degrees in music from the UA. "She's really special."

Hereld will play piano for Myrick's solo rendition–in German–of Schumann's beloved song cycle "Frauenliebe Und Leben." Six dancers will perform brand-new choreography by guest artist Joshua Blake Carter, director of Giordano Dance II Chicago; the movement evokes the tragic love story told in the songs.

"We went to rehearsal last night and saw the dancing," mezzo-soprano Myrick said last week, shortly after the couple arrived in town from their home in Connecticut. "It was wonderful. And it's gorgeous music."

Myrick will also solo on Ralph Vaughan Williams' "Along the Field," with violin played by Ben Nisbet, co-artistic director of Artifact.

"It's voice with violin," Myrick explained. "Williams went away from the typical piano. It's a really different sound."

The accompanying dance will be a duet by Claire Hancock, another Artifact co-artistic director, and guest dancer Ryan Lawrence.

Two of Hereld's own musical compositions, "Prism" and "April of the Ferns," will get their premieres.

"This is the first time any of my music has been choreographed and performed in a dance concert," Hereld said. "It's very exciting."

In "Prism," no fewer than twelve dancers will perform moves choreographed by co-artistic director Ashley Bowman. Hereld ceded piano duties to local pianist Alexander Tenster because "I wanted the pleasure of watching and listening from the audience," he said.

For "April of the Ferns," four women and one man dance Hancock's choreography.

Winner of the 2014 Lumie Award for Best Emerging Arts Organization, Artifact specializes in modern dance that's influenced by ballet. The three artistic directors, Hancock and husband-and-wife Nisbet and Bowman, insist on live music for all their concerts, drawing in part on Nisbet's musical connections (he's a violinist with Tucson Symphony Orchestra).

Even the non-Myrick-Hereld works on this weekend's program will have live music. Nisbet and Tenster play the adagio from Brahms' Violin Concerto opus 77 for violin and piano on "Sentinel," a dance for four men created by the late UA Dance prof David Berkey(cq).

Kevin Justus and his musical trio Zephyrus Trio D'Anches will play a musical collage of work by five French composers in the narrative dance "A Night at the Ballet." Inspired by early silent films, the piece features choreography by Bowman.

Myrick last collaborated with Hancock a decade ago, when they put together a music-dance performance of the Purcell opera "Dido and Aeneas," with the Catalina Chamber Orchestra. Since then, her opera career has kept her on the move around the country, though she returns to Arizona occasionally to sing with Arizona Opera and Tucson Symphony Orchestra. But her opera career keeps her on the move around the country. She's delighted finally to have the chance to work with dancers once again.

And she and Hereld are so impressed with Tucson's music scene that they're planning to move here permanently, with hopes of forming a small opera company.

"We'll perform unusual works, with a smaller chorus and focus on the singing," Myrick said. "We have many dear friends and colleagues here, so many people who could be involved."

Added her husband, "We've been adopted by this wonderful community."

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