Michael Bannett


CD Review

Michael Bannett: Journey Through the British Isles
BY DOUGLAS NESLUND

The Celtic spirit in all its forms and variations has never been better served than this brand new compact disc release by 14-year old Michael Bannett, a very gifted young man from the Bay Area whose future will certainly include music.  And given absolutely fine control of his changing voice, an adult singing career is fairly assured.  Although not represented on the present album, Michael is also at home on the opera stage. When Salvatore Licitra made his West Coast concert debut last year, it was Michael who sang the Shepherd Boy solo as the lead into the aria "E lucevan le stelle" (from Tosca).  He also twice performed the role of First Boy in San Francisco Opera’s "Magic Flute" by Mozart.

The recording might well have been subtitled: A Journey Through Voice Change.  Indeed, Michael sings soprano, alto, and tenor ranges - and beautifully in every "altitude." No adolescent cackling, cawing, or bridging is in evidence, but a velvety smooth voice in every respect throughout, encompassing saucy folk songs, soulful ballads, and songs of the pub life, all of which were recorded in the space of less than three weeks.  Besides being a "must have" recording for fans of things Celtic, this collection puts into the dust-bin the outmoded concept that adolescent boys ought not to sing at all during voice change.

Many fine musicians of folk and Baroque instrumental artistry contributed to the making of this album, with arranger Sudhananda figuring prominently.  Michael’s family played a major role as well, with mother Barbara providing piano support on five of the generous 18 tracks and sister Laura singing harmony on "It Was a Lover and His Lass."  But in the end, it is Michael himself who seals the deal with a true artist’s instincts and an unusually mature vocal sensitivity.  His early vocal training as a member of the San Francisco Boys Chorus has served him well.

A complete track list with audio samples, and details of how this private recording may be purchased, can be accessed on the internet at http://www.michaelbannett.com.

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This page was last modified on 14 September 2004