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Texas Classical Review on Orli Shaham and the DSO

Guest conductor David Robertson presented a thought-provoking and ultimately thrilling all-twentieth-century program with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra at Meyerson Symphony Center Thursday night. The orchestra and guest pianist Orli Shaham rose to impressive heights, and Robertson’s command of the forces at hand, the structure of the music, and the acoustical properties of the room was evident.

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Between the two Stravinsky works, pianist Shaham joined the orchestra for Bernstein’s Symphony No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra, “The Age of Anxiety.” Named for W.H. Auden’s long, soul-searching poem of 1947, the work — also arriving with its young composer on the brink of stardom — contains almost a surplus of musical riches, with an innovative structure and an array of musical forms ranging from tone rows to jazz.

The opening movement uses that most obvious and, for audiences, understandable structural device, a set of variations, but cloaks the variations in deliberate obscurity. The second movement storms, rages, and mourns, with a long side journey into a jazz district. The orchestration as a whole is quite Stravinskian, with equal attention from Bernstein to beautiful sounds and striking effects. The composer ten years later of West Side Story is much in evidence here, though one couldn’t help wishing he had been more concise in this earlier work.

As always with Bernstein, the listener can sense the composer’s ego and presence in the music; Bernstein himself admitted that the symphony’s piano part was “autobiographical.” Shaham maneuvered skillfully through the maze of styles and technical issues: one variation a simple, long scale for piano; others relentlessly repetitive; some sections almost Chopinesque.

Shaham and Robertson, with help from a flawless orchestral performance, created the sense of a musical event — if not a masterpiece, at least a brave work by an emerging musical genius. Flanked by Stravinsky, the Bernstein symphony as heard on Thursday proclaimed the richness of classical music’s sometimes maligned 20th Century.

Read the whole review at this link.

LA Opus reviews Defiant Requiem with the Pacific Symphony

Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín, with the PSO

REVIEW

Pacific Symphony Orchestra, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa
DAVID J BROWN

To quote directly from the history of The Defiant Requiem on its website
“The story ofDefiant Requiem began in Minneapolis, MN in the mid-1990s when noted conductor and educator Murry Sidlin, then on the faculty of the University of Minnesota, happened upon a book entitled Music in Terezín, 1941-1945 by Joža Karas. The book was stacked among many others in a sidewalk sale of used and out-of-print titles, and Maestro Sidlin opened to a short chapter about a man named Rafael Schächter.”

The rest, one might say, is history, and in more ways than one. The passage of time inevitably imposes distance between past events and the present, and brings with it the dangers of blurring, distortion, misinterpretation and, worst of all, denial of those events. However, it also can bring understanding, remembrance, honoring, and perhaps most important when those events were monstrous, a sustained determination that they should never again be emulated or repeated.

Terezín, or Theresienstadt, was a concentration camp established by the Nazis in 1941 as a holding-place for Jews before being sent on to their murders at Auschwitz and elsewhere. But it was also conceived as a propaganda tool, a seemingly self-governed Jewish community supposedly run on humane lines, where education and cultural activities were encouraged. Music was a particular focus of activity at Terezín as many Jewish composers and performers were interned there, among them the young Czech composer, pianist and conductor, Rafael Schächter.

It was the series of no fewer than 16 performances of Giuseppe Verdi’s Messa da Requiem, composed 1868-1873, under Schächter’s direction at Terezín between 1942-1944 that caught Maestro Sidlin’s imagination and eventually altered the course of his life, leading him first to learn more about Schächter and the performances, then to seek out survivors’ eye-witness testimony, and finally to create the multi-media “concert-drama” Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín, first performed in 2002, which reached the Segerstrom Concert Hall this month.

Sidlin’s dramatic concept successfully walks the fine line between being true to the great masterpiece that so inspired Schächter by performing it complete, and surrounding it with visual and aural connective tissue that vividly tells the nature and circumstances of those performances three-quarters of a century ago. In addition, by the end the whole experience delivers a sledgehammer emotional impact quite aside from that of Verdi's music per se.

Video recordings of three surviving Terezín chorus-members, Edgar Krasa, Vera Schiff and Marianka Zadikow-May, projected on the big screen above the Pacific Chorale and the PSO, opened the evening and appeared later between some of the Requiem’s movements. After the first video, concertmaster Dennis Kim played part of the great Chaconne from Bach’s Partita in D minor for solo violin BWV 1004, and this led in to Maestro Sidlin’s scene-setting introduction from the rostrum.

A collage of sounds followed, representing Terezín’s teeming musical activity, to be suddenly broken off by a piercing whistle, and then the opening of the first movement, Requiem aeternam, on muted strings, with the chorus sotto voce. Sidlin drew this to a halt at measure 56 of the score, and picked up the microphone to speak again about Schächter’s character and charisma, his drive, and his motivation in mounting the work. From this point on, actors John Rubinstein and David Prather—playing, respectively, Schächter himself and a commenting “Lecturer” on spotlit podia set back left and right in the orchestra—added dramatic intensification to the documentary aspect.

All Schächter had to work with was a single vocal score of the Requiem, and the use of a damaged piano in the basement of the men’s barracks housing where he rehearsed, teaching the work by rote to his 150 singers. One of the most telling features of Sidlin’s concept was, from this point on, to introduce and conclude each section of the Requiem with just a piano playing the accompaniment, the orchestra being cued a few measures in and then giving way again to the piano shortly before the end of the movement.

Read the entire review at this link.

TransCentury Communications reviews Bond's "Instruments of Revelation" CD

THE ONCE AND FUTURE MODERNISTS

The Chicago area is something of a hotbed of modern classical music: a new Naxos CD of chamber works by Victoria Bond shows this clearly, with first-rate performances by Chicago Symphony members playing as Chicago Pro Musica. Actually, only two works on the disc were recorded in Chicago; the other two were done in New York – and the recording dates range from 2012 to 2016. But wherever and whenever the recordings were made, they clearly show Bond’s style and her approach to chamber-sized ensembles. Bond is nearly a decade younger than Glass – she was born in 1945, he in 1937 – and stylistically very different, but her style is quite as fully formed as his, if not so immediately distinctive. Like the Skidmore piece on the Glass-focused release, one of the works here is in seven sections: Frescoes and Ash (2009) uses clarinet, strings, piano and percussion – in varying combinations – to paint musical portraits of the ancient city of Pompeii, its doom by volcanic eruption, and (to a lesser extent) its place in the modern world. The work, which is about the same length as Glass’ Perpetulum, has an intriguing final movement called “Ash” that Bond turns into a meditation on human mortality. This works particularly well because Bond is essentially a tonal composer, so her works can and do evoke emotional responses effectively. She is also skilled in managing the sounds of this small instrumental complement, whether in the virtuoso requirements of “The Sybil Speaks” or in the intriguing violin-and-bass duet in “Chiron Teaches Achilles to Play the Lyre” – a case in which the instruments particularly neatly encapsulate the characters. Just as substantive as her Pompeii pictures is Bond’s Leopold Bloom’s Homecoming (2011), a song cycle for tenor (Rufus Müller) and piano (Jenny Lin) based on James Joyce’s Ulysses. Bond handles the voice and piano parts well, and the performers do a good job with the material, but the stream-of-consciousness text becomes rather wearing to hear after a while, and the cycle coms to seem overly long, if not quite interminable. More successful, and not just because it is shorter, is Instruments of Revelation (2010), a three-movement set for winds, strings and piano based on three Tarot cards: “The Magician,” whose meaning of ambiguity is neatly encapsulated through quick juxtapositions of solemnity with verve; “The High Priestess,” representing wisdom and secrets, with music that starts calmly enough but then becomes impassioned; and “The Fool,” both mystic and lunatic, with music that appropriately contrasts chaotic elements with amusing ones. Here and in the Pompeii miniatures, Bond shows her skill in short-form portrayals: musical visualizations neatly captured. The CD concludes withBinary (2005), a work for piano solo (Olga Vinokur) whose bright liveliness, based on the Brazilian samba, ends the disc pleasantly.

If Bond stays firmly, or at least moderately firmly, in a tonal universe, Kinan Azmeh sticks to one in which sounds of different cultures are paramount and tonality, although often present, is largely incidental…

CVNA reviews Bond's "Clara" in Baden-Baden

In Bond’s Clara, An Artist Is Seen Becoming Herself

By Susan Brodie

BADEN-BADEN – Clara Schumann’s early 200th-birthday present was a new chamber opera about her life, premiered on April 14 at the Osterfestspiele in Baden-Baden, where the brilliant musician, best known as the wife of Robert Schumann, spent some of her most productive years. Victoria Bond’s new opera Clara, on a libretto by Barbara Zinn Krieger, portrays the life of a brilliant but too-little-known artist who “had it all” in an era when a woman was expected to serve the man in her life at the expense of her own needs and ambitions.

Bond’s opera emphasizes Clara’s inner life and the conflicts of a woman struggling to balance the demands of those who depend on her against her rising consciousness of her own needs. For the young production team – director Carmen C. KruseEleni C. Konstantatou, sets and costumes, and Rebekka Meyer, dramaturgy – Clara’s musicianship is secondary: With no piano on stage, we never see anyone playing or composing music. Clara exists in relation to the three main men in her life – her father, Robert, and Brahms – as she matures out of docile acceptance of their expectations to recognizing and claiming the legitimacy of her artistic and personal worth.

The stage held a seven-panel glass structure that rotated around a platform, furnished with a rock, a few birch trees, and sand, rather like a large twelve-sided terrarium with missing panels. Lighting turned the glass transparent or reflective, and the position in rotation gave the impression of greater or lesser intimacy. Before each scene, a pantomime at the back of the stage (largely obscured from my view by set elements) introduced the theme of the following sequence. Over ten scenes (plus prologue and epilogue), as Clara works out the meaning of her life, she becomes more voluble and has more and more to sing.

The music is largely tonal and makes extensive use of themes evoking music by Schumann or Brahms (and, I presume, Clara herself), often quoting it directly. As the drama intensifies, the familiar material is transformed into something more dissonant, with harsh instrumental writing and insistent repetition, a device that also suggests Robert’s obsessions and growing sense of persecution. Clara’s inner monologues often use a chant-like style reminiscent of Poulenc, while her outward-looking solos and duets are more melodic. The final scene, wherein the recently widowed Clara calmly vows to dedicate her life to bringing Robert’s work to the world, is based on themes from Frauenliebe und -leben, the song cycle Robert wrote the year the couple married.

Seven young artists from music schools in the Baden-Württenburg district filled the eight roles plus chorus parts. As Clara, the winsome soprano Theresa Immerz tackled the substantial role with sweet lyricism, sparkling high notes, and clear diction. Baritone Johannes Fritsche conveyed the ardor and unease of Robert, while Pascal Zurek was persuasive as Clara’s loving but irascible father. Tenor Patrik Hornak was notable in the relatively short role of Brahms. Occasionally musical climaxes pushed the young singers to their vocal limits; I hope the work can one day be staged with more seasoned artists better equipped for the big moments.

Conductor Michael Hasel (flute player in the Berlin Philharmonic) brought out the romantic sweep of the piece. The twelve-member ensemble of apprentice musicians from the Berlin Philharmonic’s Karajan Academy gave the impression of a larger orchestra, thanks in part to winds and horns that provided the colors of a romantic orchestra. Lilli LorenzHolger Stolz, and young Kaylee Austin were the poised actors who added subtext to the drama.

After three performances during the 2019 Easter Festival, Clara will have eight more performances at Theater Baden-Baden in the original version with piano trio May 10-June 15. For information go here.

Read the entire article at this link.

LA Times features Defiant Requiem: 'Nazi prisoners found humanity in music'

‘Defiant Requiem’: Nazi prisoners found humanity in music. This concert keeps the message alive

By SUSAN KING

APR 10, 2019

Among the estimated 140,000 Jews who passed through the Nazi ghetto and concentration camp in the Czech town of Terezin was conductor and composer Rafael Schachter, founder of the Prague Chamber Opera.

After Schachter was arrested in 1941 and sent to Terezin, about 30 miles north of Prague, he smuggled in one copy of Verdi’s Requiem, an 1874 composition for Catholic funerals. He taught it to a chorus of 150 — artists, scholars and others who staged concerts of opera, contemporary music and chamber music at Terezin. There even was a small jazz band called the Ghetto Swingers.

Schachter’s singers, accompanied by a pianist, went on to perform Verdi’s Requiem 16 times. The chrous shrank over the years, as members were sent to death camps. By the time they were forced to perform in 1944 as the agitprop of SS officials hosting a delegation from the International Red Cross, Schachter’s group had only 60 members.

The prisoners at Terezin were "starving, ill, living in terror, freezing,” and yet they mustered the energy to gather in a basement and rehearse because “they wanted to learn,” said conductor Murry Sidlin, creator of the concert “Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin.”

The program combines a choral performance of Verdi’s Requiem with video testimony from surviving members of the Terezin chorus, clips from a rare propaganda film shot by Germans in Terezin and a live performer portraying Schachter. “Defiant Requiem” has its Los Angeles and Orange County premieres with Sidlin conducting the Pacific Symphony and Pacific Chorale and Tony Award winner John Rubinstein (“Pippin”) playing Schachter; performances are Tuesday at Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa and April 17 at Royce Hall at UCLA. The latter is presented by the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust and the Defiant Requiem Foundation, the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Sidlin founded in 2008.

Read the whole article at this link.

Jewish Journal features Defiant Requiem

‘Defiant Requiem’: They Sang to the Nazis What They Could Not Say

BY ROBERTO LOIEDERMAN | APR 16, 2019 

In 1943-44, at Terézin, a hybrid ghetto/concentration camp in the Czech Republic, 150 Jewish prisoners, led by a remarkable conductor, sang Verdi’s “Requiem” as a private act of defiance against the Nazis. 

Two separate performances of “Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terézin,”— on April 16 at Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa and on April 17 at UCLA’s Royce Hall — paid homage to those prisoners and to Rafael Schächter, the man who led the choir at Terézin, where the Nazis imprisoned many Jewish cultural figures, including classical musicians. 

“Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terézin,” which has been presented nearly 50 times around the world, performs Verdi’s Christian funeral mass in its entirety. The music is intercut with film clips, narration and taped testimonies from survivors. Much more than a concert or musical event, it’s a soul-wrenching testament to the power of maintaining one’s humanity in the most inhumane circumstances. 

In a phone interview with the Journal, Murry Sidlin, 78, who created, crafted and conducted “Defiant Requiem,” said that 25 years ago, when he was conductor of the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, he wandered past a table of used books. “I walked over and pulled a book from the middle. It was sticking out, almost beckoning me,” Sidlin said. “It was called ‘Music in Terézin.’”

The book, by Joža Karas, deals with music and the Holocaust. Sidlin was drawn to it because he is a noted orchestra conductor and music educator, and his grandmother was killed during the Holocaust.

“That book is about musicians at Terézin,” Sidler said. “I opened the book at random to a chapter called ‘Rafael Schächter.’ It said he had grown up in Romania and had excelled in music. In the last paragraph, it said that [at Terézin] he put together a volunteer choir of 150 singers and taught them Verdi’s “Requiem” by rote, because there was no score other than his own, and they performed it 16 times between September 1943 and June 1944.”

Read the whole feature at this link.

National Sawdust Log profiles composer Jeremy Gill

Jeremy Gill: 
Whitman, Pascal, and 
Varieties of Variations

Words: Christian Carey
Images: Arielle Doneson

While Jeremy Gill is best known as a prolific composer, he is a musician who wears many hats. An accomplished pianist, active conductor, and lecturer, Gill is a staunch advocate for new music in all of these contexts. Born in Pennsylvania and currently based in New York City, he has strong connections to Boston and the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York, as well.

Several recordings of Gill’s work have been released. His first chamber music disc for Albany dates all the way back to 2008; the label also released Book of Hours/Helian in 2011. More recently, Boston Modern Orchestra Project released a portrait disc of Gill’s orchestral music, and the Parker Quartet documented his hour-long Capriccio for Innova.

While there is a some vocal music on the BMOP CD, more of Gill’s vocal music is yet to be committed to disc. An upcoming portrait concert at National Sawdust, on April 7 at 7pm, affords its audience the opportunity to hear this compelling side of the composer’s output. The program sets two significant vocal works alongside pieces for chamber forces. Variant 6, a mixed vocal sextet, performs Gill’s Six Pensées de Pascal and, in celebration of the bicentennial of Walt Whitman’s birth, the composer’s Whitman Portrait.

Also featured on the program are a formidable Duo for Violin and Piano and the premiere of Lascia fare mi, a duo for two violins. In a recent conversation, Gill discussed his upcoming activities.

NATIONAL SAWDUST LOG: What inspired you to set Walt Whitman’s poetry? How did you come to work with Variant 6?

JEREMY GILL: If I had to pick a single favorite American poet it would be Whitman. I wanted to set his poetry for many years, but I always ran into trouble when I tried. Whitman is so expansive and all-inclusive that I never felt I could adequately address his breadth via a single singer, say—his poetic persona is too multi-faceted, and his attempts to encapsulate the whole of what he understood to be the American experience too wide-ranging.

However, when I was a fellow with American Opera Projects’ Composers & the Voice program, I was tasked with composing one song for each of AOP’s six resident singers, and these ran the gamut from bass-baritone through high coloratura soprano. This wealth of vocal personalities allowed me to explore Whitman’s many faces, moods, and proclivities.

Read the entire article at this link.

New York Amsterdam News previews Port Mande at National Sawdust

Duo Port Mande uses music to bring many worlds together

by Nadine Matthews 

Although both clarinetist Mark Dover and pianist Jeremy Jordan in the past lived in Los Angeles, it took moving to New York City for them to meet. The move for each was serendipitous, as it allowed them the opportunity to meet and collaborate. Explains Jordan, “New York is big but everything is easy to get to unlike say, Los Angeles, where the city is a geographic sprawl. Because of that, different little sects and pockets form. In New York, you can get on the train and experience whatever you want to.” The opportunities to travel from their Inwood Manhattan and Astoria Queens neighborhoods gave Dover and Jordan a chance to develop a collaboration borne of a similar vision of the world.

The duo’s name, Port Mande, is their take on the French word portmanteau which is the combining of multiple other words. Jordan elaborates, “We’re encouraging the breaking down of boundaries in music and the breaking down of boundaries as a whole.” He points to a lack of communication and collaboration in the music community that he would like to see disappear. “Jazz musicians don’t interact with gospel musicians who don’t interact with classical musicians, who don’t interact with orchestral classical musicians, who don’t interact with Broadway musicians. Music is not supposed to be about that. It’s supposed to be about collaboration.”

Jordan and Dover’s experiences as musicians had a much more interactive, diverse flavor. Recalls Dover of their early New York years, “There was kind of like a collective of musicians that were coming mostly out of the Juilliard School and a little bit out of Manhattan School of Music. They would put together these like cabarets almost, and it would be in some apartment in Brooklyn or Inwood, or a warehouse. There would be shows where it would be classical musicians coming together, jazz musicians, hip-hop artists, stand up comedians—kind of like a variety show.”

Their collaboration, which the public will be able to enjoy this April 6 in concert at National Sawdust in Williamsburg, is marked by each of the musicians’ extensive experience and broad musical tastes. The duo will be joined by a host of guest artists for a program that ranges from 21st century classical, to jazz, to hip-hop. Selections include original and traditional works, music by Schumann and Ragonese, and more.

They’ve both worked in jazz, hip-hop, classical, pop and gospel. Michigan native Dover grew up on the Motown sound. “I grew up,” he says, “listening to Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Martha Reeves. I think naturally that drifted into 90s R&B and hip-hop.” Jordan, who hails from Chicago and began playing piano as a toddler, was heavily exposed to gospel as a child. “Both of my parents were music ministers at different churches. I guess in a way they were like Bach, modern day choristers.”

As to what he wants audiences to take away from hearing them, Dover says, “We want to show people that this music that we all celebrate is actually more similar than it is different. And that our real joy and love for all types of music can be combined into something unique that respects the individual genres, but also celebrates them.” For Jordan, it’s also about shifting the perspective of the audience’s experience. “There’s now this invisible curtain between the audience and the musicians. We want the audience to feel they’re as much a part of it as we are. Before recording music, people could only hear music by making it themselves or going somewhere to hear it.”

Jeremy Gill interviewed by David Osenberg on WWFM The Classical Network

On Tuesday April 2, 2019 composer Jeremy Gill spoke with David Osenberg of WWFM about his recent compositions, including Six Pensées de Pascal and Whitman Portrait, both of which will be performed in his composer’s portrait concert at National Sawdust on April 7.

Listen to the interview at this link.

Complete details about Jeremy Gill’s portrait concert at National Sawdust at this link.

Insider Interview: Assaff Weisman of Israeli Chamber Project

On Tuesday, April 16 at 7:30 pm, the acclaimed Israeli Chamber Project returns to the Baruch Performing Arts Center with works including Mozart/Andre's Clarinet Quartet in E-Flat Major, Bartok's Contrasts, Brahms' Piano Quartet in C minor, Op. 60, and more. In this Insider Interview we spoke to ICP pianist Assaff Weisman about programming choices, performing at BPAC, and more.

Classical Music Communications - In an ensemble with a modular instrumentation, how do you go about choosing programs for individual concerts, tours, etc.?

Assaff Weisman - This is a pretty intricate ballet, as you might imagine, and requires balancing artistic and aesthetic goals with quite a bit of logistics. In each of our programs we try to weave together different works that have a common thread running through them, in a way that might reveal something about the program as a whole. Our three New York programs this season are good examples of this. We opened with a look at Debussy and his influence on French music in the years following his passing. Coming up this month is a program of homages, and we conclude the season with a tribute to several Jewish composers, each from a very different background. Our clarinetist and Artistic Director, Tibi Cziger, takes repertoire input from the members of the ensemble but he is ultimately responsible for programming decisions. The logistics challenges come into play when he have to consider which of our very busy musicians are available for any given program. This determines the instrumentation available, which is where things get complicated. Luckily, we built the ensemble with this kind of flexibility in mind, so have been able to make it work with some creative thinking.

CMC - What inspired you to choose the repertoire for this “Homages” tour?

AW - One of the recurring themes in our programming is the question of musical influence. What influences a composer's language or serves as inspiration - in a specific work, or in their overall style - is a fascinating topic that we have enjoyed exploring. This program of homages enables us to examine this question through the work of four composers with whom we feel a special bond. Each of these homages came to be through very different circumstances. Bartok's Contrasts pay homage to his native Hungary's folk music and to American jazz by way of the two musicians who commissioned the work - Hungarian violinist Joseph Szigeti and jazz great Benny Goodman. Brahms' C minor Piano Quartet, has its roots in both Beethoven and Goethe and can be seen as a personal letter to his the composer's unattainable muse, Clara Schumann. And there are equally interesting threads in the Mozart and Leef.

CMC - What is it about the Leef piece that attracts you to it? 

AW -  We have performed Yinam Leef’s Triptych several times over the years and think it's a fantastic piece! It evokes a Middle Eastern flavor, especially in the rhapsodic second movement, with its cantorial viola solos, but still retains a strong, clear structure, with all the instruments beautifully balanced. The three movements are quite varied in character, making for great contrast, but the whole work still feels as though cut from one cloth. The rather unusual instrumentation: string trio, piano, and clarinet fits our ensemble to a T.

CMC - What do you like about the Baruch Performing Arts Center and what does this venue mean to the ensemble?

AW - This will be our third season at BPAC, and we are feeling quite at home at Engelman Hall. From Director Ted Altschuler to the backstage crew, everyone does their part to put the music at the center and allow it to shine. We appreciate this so much, and it seems that the audience does, too! We are very much looking forward to being back on that stage. 

Musical America Praises Brian Mulligan at Baruch PAC

Two Song Cycles, One a Post-minimalist Premiere, One an Argento Classic

by Clive Paget March 15, 2019

To read review, click here.

New York Classical Review: Brian Mulligan at Baruch PAC

With a pair of song cycles, Mulligan offers an Argento tribute and New York premiere

By David Wright March 14, 2019

Dominick Argento, the superb American composer of vocal music who died last month at age 91, was remembered Wednesday night in the best way possible: with a stirring performance of one of his most significant works.

In recital at the Baruch Performing Arts Center, baritone Brian Mulligan and pianist Timothy Long boldly went where no man had gone before—or few, at any rate—with a passionate rendition of Argento’s 1974 cycle, From the Diary of Virginia Woolf.

Crafting his setting of the intimate thoughts of a great English woman writer for a great English woman singer—mezzo-soprano Janet Baker—Argento said his goal was to create a Frauenliebe und -Leben for the 20th century. He aimed, like Schumann in that work, to trace a woman’s life through many stages, in this case from the opening question, “What sort of diary should I like mine to be?” to the final song, “Last Entry,” composed to a text written three weeks before the author’s death by suicide. The resulting work earned Argento that year’s Pulitzer Prize.

It took more than the usual suspension of disbelief to appreciate a performance of this about-and-for-women work by a burly, bearded six-footer with a powerful bottom register that would qualify him as a bass-baritone in the book of most listeners. But interpreting a song is about inhabiting a character, and after a few minutes Mulligan and his piano partner had one believing that this big hearty American guy was a frail and depressive, but keen-eyed, Englishwoman.

Less of a leap of faith was required for the work that preceded Argento’s on this program, Gregory Spears’s Walden—five eloquent settings of Thoreau’s prose composed for Mulligan and Long last year, premiered last September in Washington, D.C., and making its New York bow Wednesday.

Both cycles set extensive texts by master prose stylists, crafting a vocal line of considerable range but natural phrasing, in a piano environment that tended toward tintinnabulating textures. Both dealt in ear-friendly polytonal harmonies; Argento’s was subtly unified by a twelve-tone row woven through it, which a listener would probably not notice without having read up on the piece.

A big difference was in the texts, Thoreau’s being carefully crafted and polished for publication–though with an easy American gait–while Woolf’s private thoughts came tumbling out in an even more untrammeled stream of consciousness than one finds in her experimental novels.

In both cycles, musical contrasts of fast and slow, loud and soft between the songs were subtly drawn, and so the spotlight fell squarely on the singer and his English diction to convey the meaning of the texts. 

Fortunately, Mulligan proved an eloquent orator and actor, pointing up the passion and the irony of Thoreau’s thoughts on nature and society, and evoking Woolf’s observations of herself, her home life, the pity and privations of war, a Roman street scene, and a very public British occasion, the funeral of the novelist Thomas Hardy. (It was in the wry comments on this last that one most missed an actual female voice in this recital.)

For his part, pianist Long shaped Spears’s minimalistic repeated figures to support the text, and easily took the ball and ran with it in expressive preludes and interludes. Even the seemingly-simple chordal sections in the Woolf songs contained many subtle variations and inflections crucial to the meaning of the text, and Long made those moments tell.

The second Woolf song, “Anxiety,” proved a tour de force for the duo, the pianist doubling the singer’s agitated line in precise unison, amidst constantly-changing meters, while executing a presto toccata himself.

Mulligan brought a wide variety of timbres and articulations to his part, especially in the emotionally-fraught Woolf songs. Besides a remarkably clear and projected lowest register, which he dipped into sparingly throughout the evening, his high notes ranged from a trumpet-like burst to the most ghostly pianissimo. Expressive turns in the text prompted various shades of whispers, growls, and mezza voce, as the moment required.

In sum, the evening offered much to reflect on: two great writers, an American living out his philosophy in the woods, and an Englishwoman vibrating like a string in sympathy with life in peace and war; and two American composers, one newly gone and remembered by his classic song cycle, and the other newly on the recital boards with a cycle of his own.

And also dessert: an encore selected from Mulligan’s latest CD of old baritone songs, Wolseley Charles’s gleefully macabre, tongue-twisting ballad “The Green-Eyed Dragon.”  It could hardly have been less relevant, or more entertaining.

The next music presentation at Baruch Performing Arts Center will be the Aaron Diehl Trio in classical, jazz, and third-stream selections, 8 p.m. March 28. baruch.cuny.edu/bpac; 212-352-3101.


Insider Interview: Jeremy Gill, composer

On Sunday, April 7 at 7:00 pm, at National Sawdust (80 North 6th St., Brooklyn), composer Jeremy Gill showcases his compositions inspired by the words of Whitman, the philosophy of Pascal, and the film The Last Tango in Paris.  In this Insider Interview, we spoke with Gill, whose upcoming composer portrait concert is presented by Chris Grymes' Open G performance series.  More info online at nationalsawdust.org.

Classical Music Communications: What led you to a career as a composer?

Jeremy Gill: I started composing shortly after I started playing, and my first composition was performed publicly when I was 12 years old. My first instrument was saxophone and I played in a lot of concert bands, so my first pieces were written for the large ensembles in which I played. I only started playing piano later, and didn’t study piano at all until I was about 16 years old (I taught myself, and was playing a lot by then). By the time I enrolled at the Eastman School for my undergraduate degree I was certain that composition would be my main focus (oboe was my main performing instrument by then) as it has remained. Composing was a natural extension of my music making, and performance and composition have both continued in tandem.

CMC: How would you describe your composition style, and what other composers do you draw inspiration from?

JG: It’s impossible to describe one’s style, but I can say whose work I admire and emulate in one form or another. Among recent composers, George Rochberg and George Crumb were both teachers of mine and are important influences. György Ligeti is extremely important for me, particularly his earlier and later works (the middle, experimental music is less interesting to me). Bartók is hugely important, and I admire Stravinsky. Benjamin Britten is extraordinarily smart and there are several pieces of his I love (the Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings above all; Turn of the Screw is nearly perfect). Arthur Honegger’s symphonies are fabulous and I return to them often. The classical period is the one for which I feel the greatest affinity – I never, ever tire of discovering a new Haydn menuet, and Beethoven is the most important composer for me of any period. Of romantics, Brahms is probably the dearest, although Schumann’s Lieder are central for me and I feel his symphonies are underrated (the second is perfect). I love Borodin – almost every note he wrote! I love much early music, too, particularly Monteverdi and Machaut, but there are many other gems that I come across by composers I’ve never known before (Tromboncino, for example).

CMC: How does your work as a pianist and conductor inform your compositions?

JG: All music making informs all music making, for me. When I am playing or conducting I am discovering things that will help with a compositional problem, or provide a model for a particular work. I am also a regular concert-goer. I think it’s very important to be listening to other people’s performances, new works, etc. Recordings are wonderful but some pieces do not work in real life acoustics and it’s important to hear that (for a composer, at least). I also perform my own music, and I learn how to clarify my works when I encounter problems conducting or playing my music.

CMC: How does literature inform or inspire your vocal and instrumental compositions?

JG: I am a big reader, and on some level I’m always looking for texts to set, but I’m inordinately picky. When I wrote my chamber opera I read 80 short plays before I found the one by Don Nigro that I used. I enjoy dense poetry – setting Hart Crane’s Voyages II in my Before the Wresting Tides was one of my greatest text setting joys – there was so much to find there and in his life. Georg Trakl’s poem Helian was a thrilling discovery – as I read it I knew it would be a song cycle. But novels can also inspire me and do. I am particularly interested in early 20th century European novels – the novelistic tradition that Milan Kundera is always promoting and defending.

CMC: What do you look for in a text?

JG: If I’m setting a text I generally need to have a moment – a point of revelation that is the text’s raison d'être. I also respond well to a narrative arc that can translate into musical form. And I really need to love the words, their rhythm and sound. I hate verbose texts with no innate sense of music and don’t understand the current mania for setting political speeches and “found” texts – even well-written prose that doesn’t have a musical affect generally won’t work for me.

CMC: In writing for a specific artist, how do you tailor your work to their character and style?

JG: Some players have very strong personalities that I respond to. I remember writing for pianist Peter Orth; I would listen to him perform and then go home to my sketches and try to imitate his playing with my music, imitate how I thought he might approach the ideas, and this helped me form the piece for him. I’ve written for the Parker Quartet a lot, and I love the way they approach music of all types, so just try to write them music that I think will fire their imaginations, based on what I know of their proclivities. For singers it’s generally quite straightforward – I find the sweet spots in their voices and write to those points. Many singers even have single notes that are particularly shimmery and expressive: I wrote some songs for Sarah Wolfson years ago and I loved her high A-flat so much that structured the songs so that she had a beautifully expressive high A-flat in each song.

CMC: What projects are you focusing your attention on lately?

JG: I am nearly finished with a four-hand piano concerto, which has been occupying me for over a year on and off. This current incarnation of the work (which is the final version!) was begun when I moved to NYC in September. I have three opera projects in mind, in various states of development. One, in collaboration with a London-based soprano and choir, may have a scene ready by the fall. I’m playing a lot lately, which is nice – this spring its some Elliott Carter with Lucy Shelton (she’s the best person to do that rep with!), lots of art song repertoire on a National Opera Center Emerging Artist Recital; conducting music by Carlos Carrillo, and playing my own Whitman Portrait at National Sawdust in April. My wife and I will be in Prague and Brno in June, where I’ll perform some recitals.

Pianist Orli Shaham Premieres David Robertson’s “A Goldberg Conjecture”

On Sunday, Feb. 24, pianist and host of Pacific Symphony’s Café Ludwig, Orli Shaham performs the world premiere of David Robertson’s “A Goldberg Conjecture.” This new version of Bach’s Goldberg Variations re-imagines this famous solo harpsichord work for piano and string quartet.

The pianist Orli Shaham, curator and host of the popular chamber music series in Costa Mesa, said she was looking for a different kind of entry point into this seminal work by J.S. Bach. “It’s such an incredible piece,” she said. “Every pianist wants to perform it. And, pretty much every pianist has performed it.”

Shaham felt that the combination of piano and string quartet was one of maximum versatility, and so she turned to David Robertson to create this new adaptation for her and selected members of the string section of Pacific Symphony. Why him? While Mr. Robertson is internationally known as a conductor, he has long had an interest in writing music – even before he triple-majored in composition, conducting and French horn at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Over the past few years, he has created a number of transcriptions for the interactive concert series for children, Orli Shaham’s “Bach Yard” (formerly “Baby Got Bach”).

“A Goldberg Conjecture” is beyond a mere transcription of Bach’s music, says Robertson. “It is actually a hybrid form. There are places where I allow Bach to be just him, and then there are moments where I really get in there and mess things up. It’s an enlargement of elements that I feel are fascinating within the piece.” Robertson’s title is a play on words of the “Goldbach Conjecture,” an 18th century mathematical treatise.

Orli Shaham is delighted with the way David Robertson takes advantage of the modern keyboard and its reach in this music. “He’s taken into account how different sounds and timbres affect each other. In some cases, he’s put variations on top of one another to be played simultaneously. He has created a fascinating sound world employing various string techniques in combination with the piano.”

The premiere on February 24 includes just half of the variations from Bach’s original music. Robertson is still working on his ‘conjecture’ of the entire Goldberg Variations, so Café Ludwig audiences have something to look forward to.

Performance Details
Sunday, February 24 at 3:00 p.m.
Pacific Symphony’s Cafe Ludwig
Samueli Theater at Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Orli Shaham, piano and host
Dennis Kim, violin
Bridget Dolkas, violin
Meredith Crawford, viola
Timothy Landauer, cello

PERLE: Classic Suite, Op. 3
BACH/MOZART: Fugues transcribed for String Quartet from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2, K. 405
BACH-LISZT: Prelude and Fugue in A minor, originally for organ, BWV 543
J.S. BACH /D.E. ROBERTSON: “A Goldberg Conjecture” (World Premiere)

Lucid Culture Reviews Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra

Darkly Compelling, Lushly Relevant Orchestral Works in Washington Heights

This past evening a string subset of the Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra played a lush, majestic, sweeping, potently relevant program of works by 20th and 21st century composers. The performance validated conventional wisdom in real estate bubble-era New York: the fringes are where the most cutting-edge artists are supposed to be. Ask yourself how many members of the Philharmonic actually walk to work: it’s a fair bet that a good percentage of this talented ensemble did.

The group echoed Music Director Chris Whittaker’s poise on the podium, at least with as much poise as a string section can maintain playing distinctly troubled music. The central theme was Japanese, comprising works by composers with Japanese heritage, setting up a harrowing look back at the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Fukushima wasn’t addressed, but it might as well have been, considering how plaintive and elegaic the overall ambience was.

Both the opening and concluding pieces, Kenji Bunch’s Supermaximum and Christopher Theofanidis’ A Thousand Cranes opened with percussive rustles from the bass section, a neat pairing. The former was an alternately kinetic and stark interweave of 19th century gospel-inflected pentatonic melody and more distinctly Asian motives. Permeated with the call-and-response of chain gang chants, it spoke for itself as a reminder of how little has changed in over a century.

The showstopper was an understatedly aching, enveloping take of Toru Takemitsu’s Requiem For String Orchestra. Moving gracefully from an austere pavane to stabbing close harmonies that foreshadow Julia Wolfe’s work, and then to to cellular Glass-ine phrasing, the group locked in on its relentless, overcast atmosphere.

Karen Tanaka’s Dreamscape suite often had a similarly circular but more distinctly nebulous effect, their group parsing its starry pointillisms and sparely memorable hooks with delicacy to match their lustre, harpist Tomina Parvanova and concertmaster Mark Chien tracing lively comet tails and deep-space bubbles.

Theofanidis’ piece was inspired by the Japanese tradition of making paper cranes. As the myth goes, producing a thousand of them allows for a wish to come true. That activity became a meme among those stricken with radiation poisoning and all kinds of other horrible illnesses after August of 1945.

The triptych is a hard piece to play, partly because it covers so much ground, emotionally speaking. There was unexpectedly calm jubilance in the opening overture of sorts, which disappeared as reality sank in. The group nimbly tackled the precisely dancing pizzicato section and then let the mournful washes afterward linger. The steady procession up to a decidedly unresolved ending was just as poignant.

The orchestra are staging monthly concerts  this spring: the next one is March 23 at 3 PM at at Fort Washington Collegiate Church, 729 W 181st St. just up the hill from the 1 train, with works by Korngold, Britten, Anna Clyne and Michael Torke. Admission is free; $25 gets you into the reception afterward and for the rest of the season as well.

Admiral Launch Duo's debut CD reviewed by The WholeNote

“Launch” may be described as a way to introduce something new, which is precisely what the US-based Admiral Launch Duo is achieving with their uncanny/intriguing instrumentation. Since their 2013 Fresh Inc Festival debut, saxophonist Jonathan Hulting-Cohen and harpist Jennifer R. Ellis have spent years working together. Their debut 10-composition release features wide-ranging stylistic commissions, transcriptions and premiere recordings.

Five Admiral commissions are included. Patrick O’Malley’s three-movement Thaumaturgy is a current day exploration of harp and sax effects. Amazing how the performers can match colours on two such diverse instruments in an arpeggiated ripple section, while the loud programmatic final meteor movement stuns with harp glissandos and high pitch sax notes. More wailing sax extreme high dramatics with mournful contrasts appear in Christine Delphine Hedden’s  Amhran na Casca, while dark low and high tones emulate emotional distress in Angelica Negron’s  Still Here. Close atonal interchanges and tight playing are heard on Jasper Sussman’s …nice box! “Oh So Square”  and  Natalie Moller’s nature-inspired starshine & moonfall.

The other works include changes of sonic pace. Highlights include traditional Romantic harmonies and melodies in the duo’s arrangement of Marcel Tournier’s  La Lettre du Jardinier, and a contemplative lyrical harp part against sensitive saxophone phrasing and surprising flute-like tone fluttering on composer Ida Gotkovsky’s own arrangement of her Eolienne.

Musical common sense assumes that it just won’t work but like anything different, the Admiral Launch Duo’s talent, balance and sonic experimentation blossoms with repeated listening.

Tiina Kiik

Cleveland Classical reviews "Launch" by the Admiral Launch Duo

by Hannah Schoepe

As the month of Valentines Day and love, February is abundant with hearts and couples of all kinds. The Admiral Launch Duo’s new album Launch could be seen as an “opposites attract” type of situation. Not many musicians had thought of bringing the saxophone and harp together until Jonathan Hulting-Cohen (saxophone) and Oberlin and CIM grad Jennifer R. Ellis (harp) came along. Released by Albany Records in December 2018, the album showcases 18 tracks of uniquely crafted music.

The sense of ensemble is wonderfully exacting throughout as the duo creates contrasting moods with exceptional poignancy. The album has excellent sound quality — the only shortfall is the different dynamic capabilities between the instruments combined with the harp’s inability to sustain notes at length, making the saxophone the dominating force.

The repertoire was mostly commissioned by the duo, including Natalie Moller’s Starshine & Moonfall, Patrick O’Malley’s Thaumaturgy, Christine Delphine Hedden’s Amhrán na Cásca and Kitchen Dance, Stephen Rush’s Whirlwind, Angélica Negrón’s Still Here, and Jasper Sussman’s …nice box! “Oh So Square.” The remaining tracks are arranged from previously existing works for harp and either flute, voice, or oboe. Clearly the newcomer in this genre is the saxophone, but Hulting-Cohen embraces the role whole-heartedly, making the instrument shine in a bright new light.

The playlist is wrought with a vast range of emotions, beginning with Ida Gotkovksy’s five-movement suite Eolienne. The first movement, “Lyrique,” is mysterious and scintillating. The second, “Intermezzo,” brings warmth and playfulness, reminiscent of children playing in the park on a sunny day. In the final movement, “Declamatoire,” Ellis brings out her harmonies with striking clarity and precision.

Starshine & Moonfall is magnificent, introducing an abundance of intriguing harmonies. The saxophone carries the melody throughout, occasionally taking on the chord arpeggiation from the harp. In the liner notes, Moller describes the inspiration she drew from nature, calling the piece an “evensong that charts the waning of a day through a horizon embraced by sunset, the unfurling of twilight, and the radiance of a star-speckled midnight.”

The duo breaches new territory with Whirlwind, an inventive composition the composer characterized as a “Funk-Indian Toccata plus a slow cadenza.” Hulting-Cohen whirls through his many notes with captivating enthusiasm, propelled along by the jazzy rhythms he shares with Ellis.

After Negrón’s heartbreaking Still Here, which explores conflicting and contradictory emotions in abusive relationships, comes Sussman’s …nice box! “Oh So Square,” the wackiest track on the album. Wackier than a “Funk-Indian Toccata plus a slow cadenza,” one might ask?

The answer is yes. Hulting-Cohen explores a tremendously wide range of sounds — even creating a very real-sounding scream. Sussman marks the opening of his score with this message: “think Moody Dinosaur…you’re a baby dinosaur, you’re upset—are you sad? Angry? You can’t decide!” More concretely, he describes the work as exploring “the excitingly personal space between fixed and free, a space where experimentation, storytelling, and a unique state of presence are all embraced and celebrated” — and the duo play it with gusto.

The Classic Review: "A fascinating, highly engaging album"

Review: “Launch” – The Admiral Launch Duo

Tal Agam - February 15, 2019

The oldest pieces in this highly original album of the saxophone and harp duo “Admiral Launch” is Marcel Tournier’s ” La Lettre du Jardinier”, published in 1912. Save for Ida Gotkovksy’s wonderful “Eolienne” from 1969, the rest is literally contemporary music, with wonderful discoveries. Saxophone player Jonathan Hulting-Cohen and harpist Jennifer R. Ellis present a full album of original, some commissioned pieces for these two instruments, and some highly successful transcriptions, some made by the original composers of the pieces.

Patrick O’Malley’s “Thaumaturgy” (tracks 7-9) is indeed full of magic tricks, incorporating any conceivable effect of the two instruments yet never sounds self-indulged, with the musical line clearly articulated. Christine Delphine Hedden’s “Amhrán na Cásca” (Track 10) is heartbreaking, with the middle, violent outburst giving a true meaning to the composer’s intent to ”…expresses the desolation of loss that wracks your being…”, as she explained in the nicely organized booklet.

The programming is highly effective, moving from the lyrical to dramatic, from the western to the eastern influenced. And there is some Jazz too; Listen to the fun ”Whirlwind” (Track 11), by composer Stephen Rush. Maybe less successful, to these ears at least, is a piece where studio effects are being incorporated, as in Angélica Negrón’s “Still Here” from 2017. The piece, says the composer… “explores the idea of trespassing from the perspective of emotionally abusive relationships…”. Programmatically this piece may be intriguing, but is unfortunately thin in musical material.

Yusef Lateef’s “Romance for soprano saxophone and harp” is perhaps the best performance in this album, full of relaxed, inner conviction and superb duo playing by Hulting-Cohen and Ellis. This multifaceted piece can hardly get a better representation. Originally written for either oboe or soprano saxophone, after listening to this performance I wouldn’t want to hear it in any other way, or in any other instrument.

A fascinating, highly engaging album, then. Nice recording quality too, though the production clearly favors the saxophone over the sometimes backward harp. Recommended.

WOSU celebrates President's Day with Victoria Bond's "Soul of A Nation"

Celebrate Presidents' Day With New Recording Of Four Fresh Concertos Inspired By U.S. Presidents

By JENNIFER HAMBRICK  FEB 14, 2019

Democracy has been called the worst form of government except for all the others. In the United States, democracy is inextricably linked with the presidency, that august office which votes fill, which pundits punch and where the buck famously stops for the commonweal. 

Presidents’ Day officially honors the lives and legacies of two former U.S. presidents in particular – George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. But the holiday has come to stand as a day of appreciation for the service of all of the nation’s presidents, past and present.

In her recording Soul of a Nation: Portraits of Presidential Character (Albany Records), composer and conductor Victoria Bond brings the words and ideals of four illustrious commanders-in-chief into the limelight as spoken texts in four new musical works.

Listen to the interview here.

Each work is a concerto for solo instrument with string or wind ensemble and augmented by spoken narration that, in librettos written by Dr. Myles Lee, resound with the spirits of Washington, Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

“Each of these presidents had such an important role in shaping our American history,” Bond said in a recent phone interview. “For each of the presidents, I wanted to find the quintessential instrument that would represent his – and they’re all men – his personality and his time.”

To that end, the flute gives voice to Washington in Bond’s Pater Patriae: Concerto for Flute and Wind Ensemble.

“Because of the Revolutionary (War) era and fife and drum tunes, I figured the solo instrument for Washington would certainly be the flute,” Bond said.

The solo violin represents Jefferson in Bond’s Soul of a Nation: Concerto for Violin and String Ensemble

“Thomas Jefferson was himself a violinist,” Bond said. “Even though he didn’t perform in public, he played almost every day.”

Bond cast the exuberant Teddy Roosevelt as a solo trumpet in The Crowded Hours: Concerto for Trumpet and Wind Ensemble. Roosevelt’s distant cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt is represented by a solo clarinet in The Indispensable Man: Concerto for Clarinet and Wind Ensemble.

“Franklin Delano Roosevelt lived, of course, in the era of big band and Benny Goodman,” Bond said. “So it was a natural to have a clarinet solo and to reference music of the 1940s big band era, kind of jazzy work.”

The concertos on Soul of a Nation: Portraits of Presidential Character aren’t Bond’s first compositions inspired by the U.S. presidency. Bond earlier composed the opera Mrs. President, about Ohio native Victoria Woodhull who, in 1872, became the first woman ever to run for the highest office in the land.

In an era in which women were expected to occupy roles closely circumscribed within the domestic sphere, Woodhull’s presidential campaign and its coverage in the public sphere were nothing short of extraordinary.

“The epithets that were hurled at Victoria Woodhull make you cringe when you hear them,” Bond said. “She was actually called Mrs. Satan.”

“She was pictured in Harper’s Weekly with horns on her head and a demonic expression,” Bond continued. “She was the wrecker of the family. And there’s still plenty of that sentiment going around. We have not overcome that yet.”

However, Bond says that, as demographics and opinions shift in America, she believes someday a woman will come to occupy the U.S. presidency – sooner or later.

Says Bond: “It is a glass ceiling, and it is going to shatter. There’s no question about that. It’s just a question of when.”

Baruch Performing Arts Center: NYC premiere of Gregory Spears' "Walden"

March 13: Baritone Brian Mulligan and pianist Timothy Long perform the New York premiere of Gregory Spears' Walden

Program also includes Dominick Argento's Pulitizer Prize winning From the Diary of Virginia Woolf

“a voice that is rich, secure, and really, really big” –The New York Times

On Wednesday, March 13 at 7:30 pm, straight from its world premiere at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., the Baruch Performing Arts Center presents Brian Mulligan and Timothy Long performing the NYC premiere of Gregory Spears' song cycle Walden. The program also includes Dominick Argento's From the Diary of Virginia Woolf, winner of the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for Music.

Tickets are $36 for general admission ($16 for students) and are available at www.baruch.cuny.edu/bpac. Baruch Performing Arts Center is at 55 Lexington Avenue (enter on 25th Street between Third and Lexington Avenues), in Manhattan.

Gregory Spears' opera Fellow Travelers was a sensation at the 2018 Prototype Festival. His latest work, Walden, composed for Brian Mulligan was heralded as "a gripping performance" (The Washington Post) at its world premiere in the Fall. With texts drawn from Henry David Thoreau's classic 1854 book, Walden "speaks with a naked intimacy that’s almost painful" (The Washington Post). The cycle is paired with Dominick Argento's From the Diary of Virginia Woolf, written for Janet Baker in 1974.

Praised for his "velvety, evenly and effortlessly produced baritone and nuance-rich phrasing" (Opera News), Brian Mulligan frequently appears with the world’s leading orchestras and opera companies including the Metropolitan, San Francisco, and Houston Grand Operas. He is joined by pianist Timothy Long, whose "collaboration at the piano [with Mulligan] was so sympathetically symbiotic that it seemed...that a single musical intelligence was at work (The Washington Post)."

CALENDAR LISTING

March 13, 2019 at 7:30 pm

Baruch Performing Arts Center presents:

Brian Mulligan (baritone) & Timothy Long (piano)

Program:

Gregory Spears: Walden *NYC premiere*

Dominick Argento: From the Diary of Virginia Woolf

Baruch Performing Arts Center

55 Lexington Avenue in Manhattan

(enter at 25th Street between 3rd and Lexington Avenues) 

Tickets are $51 for premium seating, $36 for general admission, and $16 for students, and are available at www.baruch.cuny.edu/bpac