Jack McDuffie Special to the Journal
January 13, 2014
ELIZABETHTOWN — A mezzo soprano with local roots, Kathryn Findlen, will be in concert at a special performance in Bladen County on Sunday, Jan. 26, at 3 p.m. The program will be held at Elizabethtown Presbyterian Church and is open to the public.
Her performance will feature selections from the songbooks of acclaimed North Carolina native composer and professor at the North Carolina School of the Arts Kenneth Frazelle and poetry by A.R. Ammons, a Columbus County native whose works were among the best known by American poets from the 1950s until his death in 2001. His works continue to be widely read and used today. He was the recipient of the National Book Award for Poetry in 1973 and 1993.
Findlen will be accompanied by pianist Charlie Magnone, who has earned critical acclaim for his work in a number of venues. He performs regularly as a soloist, collaborative artist, and ensemble member and is an avid performer of both classical and contemporary music. Magnone also plays guitar for The Gorgeous Hands, a rock band from Austin, Texas, and writes and arranges music for a variety of artists.
Findlen’s professional work has been primarily in Texas; however, in 2013 she performed composer Kenneth Frazelle’s autobiographical work, Songs in the Rearview Mirror, in Weill Recital Hall at New York’s Carnegie Hall. A resident of the Austin, Texas, area, Findlen appears as a mezzo soloist for the Verdi Requiem with the Austin Symphony Orchestra.
During her professional career, she has worked with Pulitzer Prize winning composers John Harbison, Robert Ward, and most recently with George Crumb, bringing their works to life on the concert stage.
Findlen is co-founder and artistic director for the community chamber series, Kaleidoscope, in Austin, Texas, where she has a voice studio. She is also a voice instructor at Southwestern University at Georgetown, Texas.
A North Carolina native, Findlen began her training in the Brevard Music Center Opera Program. Earning both her high school diploma and undergraduate degree in music from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Findlen earned a master of music from the University of Texas at Austin. She also completed her opera apprenticeship at Austin Lyric Opera.
Findlen has four-generation family ties to the Elizabethtown community and Bladen Community College. Sam and Helen Parker, her great-grandparents, and Louis and Louise Parker, her uncle and aunt, owned and operated department stores in Elizabethtown for many years. Her grandmother, Alma Parker Farris, operated the family business until her retirement a few years ago.
The family was an early supporter of the move to open a community college in the county. One of the buildings on the BCC campus is named for her uncle, Louis Parker, who was a leader in the establishment of the college. The family established two of the earliest Bladen Community College Foundation endowments, the Sam and Helen Parker and Louis and Louise Parker Endowed Scholarships, to honor their family members who had been instrumental in the establishment of the college.