Victor Herbert Renaissance Project Live! (Newsletter)
1 November, 2019
The Victor Herbert world says goodbye to one of its restorationists. Quade Winter of Pendleton, Oregon, died of cardiac arrest on 8 October, 2019. It is the first loss to the Victor Herbert Renaissance Project Live! family that has gathered together since 1996 to bring the music of Herbert back to an American audience. Alyce Mott, artistic director of VHPLive!, published an obituary for Mr. Winter in the VHSource Newsletter and shared it with us at Operetta Research Center.
Quade Winter (1951-2019), a resident of Weehawken, New Jersey has been putting the scores of Victor Herbert into the computer since 1997 when he created new scores and parts for Herbert’s Eileen (1917) at the request of James “Doc” Stuart of the Ohio Light Opera (OLO). Winter, at the time an operatic tenor with a substantial career in Europe, had had the experience of doing his own handwritten transpositions for his own repertoire. This led to giving composing a try and the young artist sent his new version of Thespis to Ohio Light Opera – “stone cold, out of the blue, no advance inquiry (even spelled Doc Stuart’s name wrong)” – simply to see what might happen.
Shockingly, the company elected to give this budding composer’s opera its world premiere in 1996 under the direction of Dr. James Stuart. That work impressed Stuart enough to seek Winter’s assistance on a Herbert restoration project he was contemplating. While Winter had handwritten the performance materials for Thespis, he decided to invest in the music notation software Finale and taught himself to use the program to create Eileen. It is always amazing how far some basic manual reading can take any computer program user.
After teaching himself the program, Winter next turned his attention to the raw materials. He found that the Library of Congress (LOC) had all the original Herbert autograph scores. He simply needed permission from the Victor Herbert Foundation to photocopy them.
The LOC has had the longstanding policy of requiring researchers to obtain permission to photocopy any major collection materials if either a Foundation or a family is still in existence with a relationship to the materials. Alyce Mott has been the Victor Herbert Foundation photocopying representative since 1996. Contacting the Victor Herbert Foundation led to contacting Alyce Mott for a permission letter addressed to the Library to photocopy the Eileen material.
The total process included learning Finale, locating the scores, obtaining the permission letter, traveling to Washington, standing at the photocopier for hours capturing the original material, and finally, sitting for hours at the computer painstakingly inputting each note and mark on every page. Doc Stuart loved Winter’s work, and he was asked to continue his work with the The Red Mill and Sweethearts, providing hard copy scores and parts to the OLO performing library.
Again, each new set of performance materials was created from the original scores, trusting Herbert’s genius to provide these extraordinary orchestral sounds to today’s audiences. With each new number/song, Quade’s appreciation for Herbert grew.
He also became one of the first restorationists to sign on with VHSource, offering his materials digitally in Shop VHSource from the beginning when the on-line music store opened its doors in June 2009. Since his work for OLO, Winter has also restored Herbert’s spoof of Lohengrin, The Magic Knight, a Herbert arrangement of “Liebestraum” by Franz Liszt, and numerous individual songs.
Winter’s music background centered around his career as an operatic tenor with a BA in Theater from the University of Oregon. In 23 years as a dramatic tenor, he sang the masterpieces of Strauss, Verdi, Donizetti, Wagner, Mozart, Bach, Händel, Beethoven and many others. He performed throughout the USA, Germany (where he lived for 9 years), Austria, Canada, Italy, New Zealand, Scotland, France, Yugoslavia, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Switzerland, appearing at La Scala, Carnegie Hall, New York City Opera, the Vienna Musikverein, the San Francisco Opera, and many other venues. His repertoire included leading roles in Puccini’s Turandot, Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci (in Italian, German, and English), and Strauss’s Salome.
Those nine years in Europe led to a real comfort level with language and assisted Winter in turning his skills towards translations of opera. He has seen many of those projects performed over the years, including his versions of: Die Fledermaus, Tosca, Boccaccio, Carmen, Pagliacci, and The Gypsy Baron.
It’s important to remember that restoring Herbert scores is primarily a technical skill with a strong dose of patience, capturing all the exact Herbert markings and notes into the computer precisely as the composer placed them on the paper. Winter’s singing career allowed him to be able to read music and scores – his attention to detail and computer expertise makes him a fine restorer. For Winter the favorite part of the process was when he was about halfway through an operetta. “When I begin I’m sure I’ll never finish; when I finish, I have nothing more to do.”
The most amazing thing he learned from this detailed study of Herbert was the composer’s simplicity – making the smallest orchestra sound huge, and Herbert’s skill at underlining his melody and thus making it “sound.”
Quade Winter was one of the most prolific Herbert restorationist with the longest history. He was truly a “go to guy” when one needed a project done quickly and was excellent at correcting any errors found during orchestral “playdowns” (first live orchestra read through of a new set of parts). His busy Herbert restoration work did not keep him from composing and other projects. His new version of the one act opera, The Carp, music by Quade Winter (1999) and original book and lyrics by Frank Desprez (1886) was produced in 2011 by Concert Operetta Theatre, Daniel Pantano, Artistic Director, Philadelphia, PA.
If you look at any score you will see an incredible number of notes, causing one to wonder how restorationists keep their eyes from crossing. Proofing becomes extremely important and a constant need, but nothing beats the orchestral playdown for catching every missed note, and quite honestly, to hear Herbert’s work flow forth once more from an orchestra is truly nirvana!
Bravo Quade Winter!