Soprano Lillian Sengpiehl was the featured performer for the library’s Music for a Sunday Afternoon on Sun, July 8, 3-5pm. Sengpiehl explored the love of the duo performance across many genres and performance styles. She dived into works from the great American Songbook, original new music, classical art song and opera. Sengpiehl’s performance featured works by Rodgers and Hammerstein, Randy Newman, Harold Arlen, George Gershwin, Stephen Schwartz, Seth Osburn, Anthony Newley, Jimmy Rowles, George Bizet and Leonard Bernstein.
Sengpiehl is acclaimed for her beautiful vibrant sound, the color of voice, and also for her poise, beauty and impressive ease onstage as a skilled actress. Her unique interpretations and musicianship have kept her busy for a decade singing new works and traditional works of opera, concert and musical theater. Sengpiehl is a Topeka native who now lives and works in Los Angeles.
Sengpiehl’s performance of the aria Homesick Woman from Crescent City was praised by Mark Swed in the Los Angeles Times as “outstanding,” and Joseph Mailander noted she was a “stunningly talented soprano, stepping into the stage in a large way with sincerity.” She has also soloed with the Topeka Symphony Orchestra, singing opera arias featured in film and musicals. Sengpiehl has performed leading roles with opera companies and orchestras throughout the United States and abroad.
Having started her own musical journey at the tender age of 4, Sengpiehl takes music education very seriously. Although she began teaching Opera in the Schools with the New York City Opera, her career as an educator blossomed when she moved to Los Angeles in 2005. Sengpiehl is currently the musical director for All About Kids, a performance program for at-risk youth. In addition, she maintains a very active private studio teaching classical music technique for singing, as well as Broadway and pop techniques for performers in movies, television and commercials.
During the July Music for a Sunday Afternoon performance Ellen Sommers joined Sengpiehl on piano. Sommer is a much sought-after collaborative pianist, chamber musician and coach. Sommers is a frequent performer in the live broadcast studio at Kansas Public Radio. She is a founding member of Allégresse, a fresh and inspiring trio for flute, oboe and piano, and currently serves as a lecturer in piano at the University of Kansas School of Music. Sommers performs regularly with faculty, visiting artists and students.
Topeka’s own Greg Fox, owner of RowHouse Restaurant, sang Beautiful City from the musical Godspell with Sengpiehl during her library performance.
“I have been attached to Lillian since our first time singing together,” said Fox. “Beautiful City is what we make of our lives.”