Fourteen-year-old Donald Collup was a member of George Bragg’s famous Texas Boys’ Choir. George Bragg has been hugely supportive of The Better Land, and it was he who put me in touch with Donald, who gave me every co-operation; his interesting story is included below.
When Donald became a member of the Texas Boys' Choir in 1965 at the age of ten, he was assigned a place in the first alto section. Later, becoming a member of the main touring choir of twenty-six boys, his voice grew in range and confidence and he was moved up to second soprano. After a year of touring, recording and concertizing, his voice bloomed into a full soprano, with a range of about two octaves.
'I gave Donald a copy of Mozart's Exultate Jubilate. This was accompanied by a recording of the work by a fine European soprano. He came to me three days later with the entire work memorized. We worked through the second section first, the Alleluia, bit by bit at a time. The rehearsal was done before the group work, approximately twenty minutes every day.
'Later we worked on the other sections in the same way that we had worked the first. Finally, we managed to get the whole work under control . We had labored for about three months.
'Everything was in order. We decided to present the work intact with orchestra. We had six concerts lined up, and it was important that the first performance was successful. It came off, as did the follow-up concerts. He sang beautifully thereafter. Beautiful, robust, languid tones, with crisp diction. His voice opened up and became bigger and more appealing'. (George Bragg)
Donald's childhood experience of music served as a springboard into a varied musical career as an adult. After his voice changed at the end of his 15th year, he concentrated on his piano studies, attending Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University as a piano major. He later added voice and eventually decided to pursue a career in singing. The piano did, however, remain in the background throughout his musical life as he served as an accompanist to many singers including mezzo-soprano, Katharine Ciesinski and bass, Paul Plishka. After further studies at the Curtis Institute of Music and Yale University, he gave many recitals in the United States and Europe as well as taking prizes in the international singing competitions of Paris, Hertogenbosch and Toulouse. In addition to concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony and the Orchestre de la Capitole de Toulouse, he also sang roles with the opera companies of Santa Fe, Philadelphia and Baltimore. A life-long dream of singing the role of Pelléas was fulfilled in 1995. More detailed information about Donald's career and availability of recordings can be found by visiting "DCzCDz" at: http://www.collup.com."
Copyright © 2000 by Stephen Robert Beet