The Western Wind Vocal Sextet in
"Of Dreams, Desires & Dragons: Music by Women from Hildegarde to Joni Mitchell"
at Church of St. Luke in the Field (West Village) March 28
WHERE AND WHEN:
Saturday, March 28, 2020 at 8:00 PM
Church of St. Luke in the Field, 487 Hudson Street (between Christopher and Barrow Streets at the intersection of Grove Street, West Village)
Tickets: $35 gen. Adm., $20 students & seniors, $50 priority seating.
Patron & sponsor tickets: $100 ($50 deductible), $250 ($200 deductible) and $500 ($450 deductible).
Purchase tickets: http://www.westernwind.org/concerts.html 212-873-2848
Ensemble's website: www.westerwind.org
Running time: 90 min. including intermission.
Reviewers are invited.
NEW YORK, February 20 – The Grammy-nominated Western Wind Vocal Sextet will present "Of Dreams, Desires & Dragons: Music by Women from Hildegarde to Joni Mitchell" on Saturday, March 28 at 8:00 PM at Church of St. Luke in the Field, 487 Hudson Street, NYC (West Village). The concert celebrates Women's History Month with a rich assortment of music by classical and modern women composers.
The program features the world premiere of "Certain Dragons" by Martha Sullivan, a Medieval chant by Hildegarde von Bingen, Renaissance and Baroque works by Casulana, Cozzolani, Strozzi, and Aleotti, part-songs by Fanny Hensel, Rebecca Clarke and Amy Beach, contemporary works by Tania León and Liz Hanna and songs by Joni Mitchell.
The Western Wind singers are sopranos Linda Lee Jones and Elizabeth van Os, countertenor Eric S. Brenner, tenors Todd Frizzell and David Vanderwal and baritone Elijah Blaisdell. They will be joined by guest artists Richard Kolb on lute/theorbo and Patricia Ann Neely on viola da gamba.
All tickets can be purchased online at http://www.westernwind.org/store.html?tix. Tickets are $50 priority seating, $35 general admission, and $20 student/senior tickets. Patron and sponsor tickets are $100 ($50 tax deductible), $250 ($200 tax deductible) and $500 ($450 tax deductible). For more concert information, please call 212-873-2848 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Western Wind begins its 51st year in 2020. Since 1969, this Grammy nominated vocal sextet has devoted itself to the special beauty and variety of a cappella music. The New York Times has called them "A kaleidoscopic tapestry of vocal hues." The ensemble’s repertoire reveals its diverse background, from Renaissance motets to Fifties rock’n’roll, medieval carols to Duke Ellington, complex works by avant-garde composers to the simplest folk melodies. Visit them at http://www.westernwind.org.
B A C K G R O U N D
COMPOSERS IN THIS CONCERT
Hildegarde von Bingen (1098-1179)
Abbess, artist, author, composer, mystic, pharmacist, poet, preacher, theologian. She was born into a noble family and at eighteen she became a Benedictine nun Ordered by her confessor to write down the visions that she had received since the age of three, she went on to write short works on medicine and physiology as well as rhapsodic religious chants.
Maddelena Casulana (1544-1590)
An Italian composer, lutenist and singer of the late Renaissance. Her first book of madrigals for four voices, Il primo libro di madrigali is the first printed, published work by a woman in western music history. In the dedication to this book she wrote; "[I] want to show the world, as much as I can in this profession of music, the vain error of men that they alone possess the gifts of intellect and artistry, and that such gifts are never given to women."
Chiara Margarita Cozzolani (1602-1678)
Baroque music composer, singer and Benedictine nun. She spent her adult life cloistered in the convent of Santa Radegonda, Milan, where when she became abbess, she stopped composing. The program includes her dialogue between Angels and Shepherds where the angels command the shepherds to wake up and witness the miracle taking place.
Barbara Strozzi (1619- c. 1664)
A composer and singer publishing eight collections of songs - more music in print during her lifetime than even the most famous composers of her day - without the support of the Church or the patronage of a noble house. She is sometimes credited with the genesis of the cantata. Her works were included in important collections of song, which found their way to the rest of Europe and England. Yet she died in obscurity in Padua in 1677 with little wealth or property. She grew up in a household frequented by the greatest literary and musical minds of the age. She was the adopted daughter of poet Giulio Strozzi, who was the founder of several accademie or groups of creative intellectuals and was an influential member of the Accademia degli Incogniti. This group was almost single-handedly responsible for the 'invention' and spread of what was to become known as Opera. It was into this milieu that young Barbara was introduced as a singer and composer.
Vittoria Aleotti (1575-1620)
Italian Augustinian nun, a composer and organist. She was renowned for her skills at the organ and also well known in playing other instruments such as the harpsichord, the trombone, and other wind instruments. She had the talent and the skills to lead an ensemble of twenty-three nuns; she was also the Maestra at the convent until her death. She enjoyed complex music and would often use harmony and dissonance to heighten the text. However, she was at times criticized because some thought that as the music became more complex by utilizing more voices, the holiness of the music disappeared and gave way to pleasure! Program includes both a sexy madrigal and a sacred motet.
Fanny Hensel (1805-1847)
Fanny Hensel Mendelssohn, Felix Mendelssohn’s sister, was born in Hamburg, the oldest of four children. She was descended on both sides from distinguished Jewish families and shared the early musical education and upbringing of her younger brother Felix. The siblings shared a great passion for music. Like Felix (who was born in 1809), Fanny showed prodigious musical ability as a child and began to write music. Visitors to the Mendelssohn household in the early 1820s were equally impressed by both siblings. However, Fanny was limited by prevailing attitudes of the time toward women, attitudes apparently shared by her father, who was tolerant, rather than supportive of her activities as a composer. Although Felix was privately broadly supportive of her as a composer and a performer, he was cautious (professedly for family reasons) of her publishing her works under her own name. Felix did however arrange for a number of her songs to be published under his name. Program includes several of her Romantic vocal quartets.
Amy Beach (1867-1944)
Amy Beach was born in New Hampshire into a distinguished New England family. A child prodigy, she was able to sing forty tunes accurately by age one; by age two she could improvise a countermelody to any melody her mother sang. She taught herself to read at only four years old and began composing simple waltzes at five years old. She began formal piano lessons with her mother at the age of six and a year later started giving public recitals, playing works by Handel, Beethoven, Chopin and her own pieces. The Program includes one of her Shakespeare Songs for four high voices.
Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979)
Rebecca Clarke achieved what she called “my one little whiff of success” in 1919 when her viola Sonata tied for first place in a competition sponsored by Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge. Clarke lived much of her life in the US, although she was born and educated in Great Britain. Striking for its passion and power, her music spans a range of 20th-century styles including Impressionism, post-Romantic, and neo-Classical. Although she wrote nearly 100 works (including songs, choral works, chamber pieces and music for solo piano), only 20 pieces were published in her lifetime. The program includes her Ave Maria.
Tania León (b.1943)
Born in Havana, Cuba, Tania León is highly regarded as a composer and conductor, and recognized for her accomplishments as an educator and advisor to arts organizations. A longtime resident of New York, she has played important roles at its institutions such as the Dance Theater of Harlem, Brooklyn Philharmonic, American Composers Orchestra and its Sonidos de las Américas festivals, and the New York Philharmonic, which she served as New Music Advisor. The Western Wind is performing "Bambula," the final movement of a three-movement work called "De Orishas." "Bambula" employs vocal percussion and call and response chants.
Liz Hanna (b.1988)
Liz Hanna has been associated with The Western Wind first as a vocal ensemble workshop participant and later as the workshop coordinator. Her piece, entitled “If We Listened,” will be a world premiere. She says, “The concept is centered around our relationship with the earth and the experience of learning how to be in that relationship in a way that is truly listening, nonviolent, and ultimately recognizing of kinship. This is partly in response to the fires, but also bigger/more general than that -- I've been learning from ecofeminist theory in the past couple of years and understanding the relational habits expressed towards 'femininity' relative to the earth as mother and life-giver has been enlightening. My goal is to explore this musically.”
Joni Mitchell (b. 1943)
Roberta Joan "Joni" Mitchell is a Canadian singer-songwriter. Drawing from folk, pop, rock, and jazz, Mitchell's songs often reflect social and environmental ideals as well as her feelings about romance, confusion, disillusionment, and joy. The program includes two of her songs: "Woodstock" and "Both Sides Now," arranged by Yumiko Matsuoka.
Martha Sullivan (b. 1964)
Martha Sullivan composed her first works for voice during the seven years she sang with the Gregg Smith Singers, who promoted new American choral music for half a century. She has become a sought-after New York composer of music for voices. In 2018, Ms. Sullivan was awarded a Chamber Music America Composer’s Commission award to create "Certain Dragons,” a multi-movement work for The Western Wind. The five movements of "Certain Dragons" are unified by texts that all refer to dragons by John Keats, W.B. Yeats, Siegfried Sassoon, Trad. African-American and Martha Sullivan herself.
WESTERN WIND: SIGNATURE PERFORMANCES AND RECORDINGS
In the United States, Western Wind has appeared in many distinguished venues, including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, ArtPark, Ordway Theater, the Metropolitan Museum, the Frick Museum, the Jewish Museum, Folger Shakespeare Library, Library of Congress, and Cleveland Museum of Art.
In Europe, the sextet has appeared at the Geneva Opera, performing works it commissioned: "Batéy" by Tania León and Michel Camilo and "De Orishas" by Tania León. The Western Wind has also recorded early and contemporary American vocal music for the German National Radio at Cologne and made several triumphant tours of northern Italy, performing Italian Renaissance as well as American music. The group has appeared with the RAI Orchestra and Chorus of Rome at the Rome Opera and at Venice’s legendary opera house, Teatro La Fenice. In 1985, The Western Wind premiered Cesar Franck’s opera, "Stradella," for La Fenice in an outdoor Venetian setting. At the request of the State Department (USIA), The Western Wind has also performed American and Latin American music throughout East Asia. In March 2012 The Western Wind was invited to inaugurate the first Australian Jewish Choral Festival, performed widely in the Sydney area and created a special program for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
In 2007, The Western Wind won the ASCAP-Chamber Music America Award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music. In addition to their many live performances, The Western Wind appears frequently on radio, television, film and CD. A series of public radio holiday specials by The Western Wind has been broadcast nationwide since 1989 and the group has been televised on The Today Show (NBC). On film, the ensemble sings music by Philip Glass in the movies "Koyaanisqatsi" (Nonesuch Records) and "Candyman."
Public Radio holiday programming includes "Chanukkah in Story & Song," narrated by Leonard Nimoy, "The Birthday of The World: Music and traditions of the High Holy Days, narrated by Leonard Nimoy and "Holiday Light: Singing Angels, Silver Bells," narrated by Roma Downey, which have all become public radio perennials. Award-winning recordings include "I Am the Rose of Sharon: Early American Vocal Music" (Grammy nominee, 1973) and "The Happy Journey" (both Early American Vocal Music), "Christmas in the New World" and "Holiday Light" (Christmas); "Mazal Bueno, A Portrait in Song of the Spanish Jews," narrated by Tovah Feldshuh; "Taste of Eternity, A Musical Shabbat," "The Passover Story," narrated by Theo Bikel; "Blessings and Batéy," featuring music by David Darling, Tania León, and Michel Camilo; "My Funny Valentine" (Pop and Jazz) and "Man in The Moon: music of Robert Dennis." A CD featuring two works written for The Western Wind by Meredith Monk and Eric Salzman was chosen album of the week by WQXR Q2. Western Wind’s latest release is "We Are Still Here – The Holocaust Through Music & Memory." A version of this program, narrated by Danny Burstein and Jessica Hecht, is distributed to public radio stations by Public Radio International.
The Western Wind presents workshops in ensemble singing at Smith College and other venues in Washington, DC and Vermont. The ensemble is in residence at several New York City public high schools, providing intensive instruction in ensemble and solo repertoire as well as interdisciplinary lecture demonstrations. (www.westernwind.org)
SINGERS OF THE WESTERN WIND VOCAL SEXTET
Elijah Blaisdell (baritone) performs with ensembles across the country as both a soloist and a chorister. An early and new music specialist, his most recent credits include performing as an Adams Fellow with The Carmel Bach Festival, featured soloist with Grammy-Award winning ensemble The Crossing, "St. Matthew Passion" with Bach Society of St. Louis, "Coffee Cantata" and "Dido and Aeneas" with Madison Bach Musicians. He is a chorister with The Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Grammy-nominated ensemble True Concord, Grammy-winning ensemble Seraphic Fire, and Boston Lyric Opera. Blaisdell holds a Master of Music in vocal performance from New England Conservatory and resides in New York City.
Eric S. Brenner (countertenor) has been hailed for his "penetrating eloquence" (NY Times), "astonishing musicality" (NY Classical Review) and "Mr. Roboto majesty" (Stage Mage). You may recognize him as the angry monk just to Madonna’s right in footage from the 2018 Met Gala. Brenner is countertenor soloist in recent performances and recording of Hannah Lash’s "Requiem" (Naxos) and Du Yun’s Pulitzer Prize winning "Angel’s Bone" (VIA Records). Other engagements include: alto soloist in Vivaldi’s "Introduction & Gloria" at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue; soprano and alto soloist in Handel’s "Messiah" at Avery Fisher (Geffen) and Alice Tully Hall; Bernstein’s "Chichester Psalms" at St. Thomas Church, St. John the Divine, and St. Ignatius Loyola; soprano in collaborative concerts with Les Canards Chantant and the Folger Consort at the National Cathedral; Doodle in "Scarlet Ibis" by Stefan Weisman and David Cote; and Poet in Virko Baley’s "Holodomor" in Ukraine. Brenner is also co-composer with Matt Shloss of music for Rob Reese’s Yahweh’s Follies. He writes fiction and persists in being an incorrigible Mets fan. (www.ericsbrenner.com)
Todd Frizzell (tenor) is a native of Denver Colorado. He has spent the last 25 years performing in San Francisco, Hawaii, and New York City. He has been featured on ABC-TV’s Nightline, singing music from a Mass written in the first millennium which he also performed in Limoges, France in May 2001. He has performed internationally with New York’s Ensemble for Early Music. He serenaded Dame Judi Dench in June 2000 at Broadway’s Ethyl Barrymore Theater. He was the tenor soloist in Handel’s "Israel in Egypt" at Avery Fisher Hall with the National Chorale and soloist at Alice Tully Hall with the National Symphony Orchestra. He has performed with the Choir of St. Luke in the Fields, The New York Virtuoso Singers, Musica Antica at St. Bart’s and the New York Concert Singers and has appeared at the Bard College Festival.
Linda Lee Jones (soprano), a New Orleans native, is active as a soprano, teacher and massage therapist in New York City and Central New Jersey. She has performed with prominent choral groups including Musica Sacra, the New York Choral Artists, St. Ignatius Loyola Church and the Mostly Mozart Festival as well as with some of the world's finest orchestras and conductors. Ms. Jones is a member of the professional Chorale of the Carmel Bach Festival in Carmel, CA and sings regularly with the choir of Trinity Wall Street. As a soloist, she has appeared with the Symphony Chorus of New Orleans, the Louisiana Vocal Arts Chorale, the Masterwork Chorus of NJ and the Argento Chamber Ensemble in New York. Before relocating to New Jersey, she served as Director of Music for Munholland United Methodist Church in New Orleans, where she worked with choristers of all ages. Ms. Jones hold a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance from Loyola University.
Elizabeth van Os (soprano) is one of New York City’s most dynamic performers, making waves not only as soloist and ensemble member but also as a co-founder of the non-profit Pleiades Project. Opera-zine parterre noted her "striking impression" and Voce di Meche praised her "lovely, affecting" voice and "justifiable passion." Born Elizabeth Smith, she holds performance degrees from the Eastman School of Music and Brigham Young University in Idaho. (www.elizabethvanos.com)
David Vanderwal (tenor) is a native of Portland, Oregon. He has performed as a soloist with The American Bach Soloists, Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra, Austin Symphony Orchestra, Oregon Symphony, New York Collegium and Tafelmusik. Recently Mr. Vanderwal performed in Handel’s "Messiah" with the St. Paul’s Cathedral Choirs of Buffalo, NY, Pax Christi of Toronto,ON; Danbury (CT) Symphony Orchestra, The Mendelssohn Choir (CT) and First Congregational Church of Greenwich, CT. He performed Bach’s "Easter Oratorio" and a new concert, "Mass of John Tavener," with the Choir of St. Thomas Church in New York. Mr. Vanderwal appeared at the Carmel Bach Festival in California and taught at the International Bachakademie’s Stuttgart Festival in Überlingen, Germany. He also presents a set of song recitals throughout the year.
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PICTURES of the sextet and all composers represented in this concert are available for download at: https://photos.app.goo.gl/gLpD9HxazX6YTDG79