On Tuesday and Thursday, February 16 and 18 at 8 PM, Kaufman Center and New York Festival of Song (NYFOS, www.nyfos.org) present The Voluptuous Muse, a celebration of the lush tonality and decadent Romanticism of late 19th- and early 20th- century song. NYFOS will bring its "A-list artistry" (TimeOut NY) to the music of Richard Strauss, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Alban Berg, Gustav Mahler, and Karol Szymanowski. The concerts will be presented at Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Center, 129 West 67th Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue), New York, NY 10023.
Tickets, $40 - $55 with group discounts, are available by calling 212-501-3330, or visiting www.kaufman-center.org. In addition, there are a limited amount ospecial $15 student discounts available by calling New York Festival Of Song at 646-230-8380.
The artists will be tenor Joseph Kaiser, a rising young star of the Metropolitan Opera who just scored a major triumph at the Opéra Comique in Paris in the rarely-performed operetta Fortunio; Dina Kuznetsova, the Russian-American soprano who starred as Tatyana in Eugene Onegin opposite Dmitri Hvorostovsky at the Chicago Lyric Opera; mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey, another fast-emerging Met artist, most recently heard in their new production of The Tales of Hoffmann; NYFOS Artistic Director Steven Blier ("A national treasure when it comes to the art of song" - The New York Times) and Associate Artistic Director Michael Barrett (General Director of the Caramoor Center For Music and the Arts) as pianist/hosts.
NYFOS's next concert at Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Center will be The Sweetest Path, on March 16. This program, which celebrates the first great flowering of French art song, is the second annual collaboration between NYFOS and the Caramoor Vocal Rising Stars program. It will also be presented on March 13 in the Music Room at Caramoor. The NYFOS season ends with The Newest Deal (May 4 and 6), a program of recent American works including the premiere of the Harold Meltzer song cycle Beautiful Ohio*, created for and performed by tenor Paul Appleby, and a complete performance of Gabriel Kahane's instant classic, Craigslistlieder.
Erich Korngold (1897 -1957). Called (with Max Steiner) "the father of film music," he created famous movie scores, but also romantic instrumental and vocal classical music, including the opera Die Todt Stadt. His work was praised by such composers as Richard Strauss and Giacomo Puccini.
Alma Mahler (1879 -1964), although primarily remembered as the wife and muse of Gustav Mahler, Walter Gropius and Franz Werfel, also composed songs, instrumental works and part of an opera. Fourteen of her songs were published in her lifetime.
Gustav Mahler (1860 - 1911) wrote mainly symphonies and songs, often fusing the two into symphonic lied. He was greatly influenced by Wagner, but his work is also distinguished by the use of folk themes and progressive tonality.
Joseph Marx (1882-1964) was an Austrian composer of opera, symphonies, symphonic poems, choral works, piano concertos, songs, and chamber music, as well as organ and piano music, characterized by modern harmonies and complex polyphony.
Nikolai Medtner (1880 - 1951) was a Russian composer who wrote a substantial number of instrumental and vocal compositions, all of which include the piano. His work was characterized by an intimate connection with Russian poetry and its images.
Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943) was the last great representative of Russian late romanticism. His music had a thoroughly personal idiom which included lyricism, expressive breadth, often unique structure and rich, distinctive orchestral colors.
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844 - 1908) composed operas, symphonies and smaller-scaled works laced with Russian folk and exotic harmonic elements mixed with traditionAl Western composition. He is considered a main creator of the "Russian style" of composition, and taught and influenced many prominent 20th-century composers.
Richard Strauss (1864 -1949) was one of the most famous late romantic/early modern era composers. Profoundly influenced by Wagner, he created operas (including the Der Rosenkavalier and Salome), lieder and tone poems.
Karol Szymanowski (1882-1937) was born in Russia to a Polish family, and his music drew on Polish folk styles and those of contemporary Russian and French composers. He wrote orchestral and solo instrumental works, as well as songs and choral works in a highly individual rhapsodic style.
Hugo Wolf (1860 - 1903) created instrumental and vocal works, but was most famous for his hundreds of songs, greatly influenced by Richard Wagner. They are marked by their concentrated intensity, using tonality to express feeling.
Alexander Zemlinsky (1871-1942), a protégée of Johannes Brahms, wrote orchestral works, operas, chamber music, choral works and songs, influenced by his teacher, Wagner, Mahler and others. He also taught, and among his students was Erich Korngold.
Joseph Kaiser - Over the past year, the young tenor has performed the title role of Faust at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis; the title role of Messager's Fortunio at the Opéra Comique under the baton of Louis Langrée; and the role of Admete in Gluck's Alceste at the Aix-en-Provence Festival, also with Mr. Langrée. The artist sings the role of Narraboth in a concert performance of Salome with Valery Gergiev and the Verbier Festival Orchestra, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with Ivor Bolton and the Wiener Symphoniker at Vienna's Konzerthaus, and Stravinsky's Pulcinella with Roberto Abbado and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. Other recent roles have included Tamino in Die Zauberflöte under the baton of James Conlon at the Los Angeles Opera and as Steva Burja in Jen?fa at the Bayerische Staatsoper in a new production by Swiss theatre director Barbara Frey, conducted by Kirill Petrenko. He returned to the Salzburg Festival as Septimius in a new Christoph Loy production of Handel's Theodora, conducted by Ivor Bolton, and sang Narraboth in Salome at the Metropolitan Opera, (where he had previously played Romeo to the Juliet of Anna Netrebko) with Patrick Summers conducting (seen internationally on The Met: Live in HD experience). His dynamic concert schedule has featured performances of the Berlioz Requiem, under Marek Janowski, with the combined forces of the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich and the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with Christoph von Dohnányi and the Boston Symphony Orchestra; Mendelssohn's Elijah with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal, and a European concert tour with soprano Annette Dasch and Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern under the direction of Christoph Poppen. He can be heard with the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson in the NYFOS performance of Spanish Love Songs, accompanied by Steven Blier on Bridge Records.
Dina Kuznetsova - the Moscow-born soprano graduated from The Academic Music College of the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatoire (piano). She received her vocal training at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. In 1999, while attending the Music Academy of the West, California, Dina Kuznetsova sang the title role in Handel's Rodelinda and won the Marilyn Horne Foundation Competition, which granted her a New York debut recital in May 2000. That summer, she gave a duet recital under the auspices of Renata Scotto's Opera Academy in Savona, Italy. Ms. Kuznetsova's international performances in a wide variety of lyric and coloratura repertoire began with Merab in Saul in Brussels, followed by Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and Adina in L'elisir d'amore (Berlin Staatsoper), Giulietta in I Capuleti e i Montecchi (London's English National Opera) and the title role in Rodelinda (Munich's Staatsoper). She has brought her Musetta to San Francisco, her Violetta to Costa Mesa (Opera Pacific) and Boston Lyric Opera, and her Gilda to Boston Lyric Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago and Cincinatti. Kuznetsova sang the title role in The Cunning Little Vixen at Lyric Opera of Chicago. She also returned there as Juliette in Romeo et Juliette. Highlights of the past year included a return to the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Tatyana in Eugene Onegin opposite Dmitri Hvorostovsky and conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, her Vienna State Opera debut as Gounod's Juliette and her Royal Opera and Covent Garden debut as Lauretta in a new production of Gianni Schicchi.
Kate Lindsey returns this season to the Metropolitan Opera in the role of Nicklausse in Offenbach's Les Contes D'Hoffmann, and makes her debut at the Bayerische Staatsopera as Cherubino in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro. A graduate of the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Lindsey's roles with the company have also included Cherubino, Wellgunde in Wagner's Ring, Stéphano in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette, and Siébel in Gounod's Faust. Additional performances include Cherubino at Théatre des Champs-Élysées and Boston Lyric Opera, Lazuli in Chabrier's Étoile and Angelina in Rossini's Cenerentola at Wolf Trap Opera. As a Young Artist at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Lindsey sang Mercédès in Bizet's Carmen, Stéphano, and Rosina. She made her debut with Santa Fe Opera as Zerlina in Mozart's Don Giovanni, and returns to the company this summer as Nancy in Britten's Albert Herring and Nicklausse. Concert performances include Ascanius in Berlioz's Les Troyens at the Tanglewood Music Festival and Ravel's L Enfant et les sortilèges with the New York Philharmonic, as well as performances with the Mostly Mozart Festival and the Cleveland Orchestra. She will make her Seattle Opera debut this year in the title role in Daron Aric Hagen's Amelia.
Artistic director Steven Blier co-founded the New York Festival of Song (NYFOS) in 1988 with Michael Barrett. Since the Festival's inception he has programmed, performed, translated and annotated over one hundred vocal recitals with repertoire spanning the entire range of American song, art song from Schubert to Szymanowski, and popular song from early vaudeville to Lennon-McCartney.
Mr. Blier also enjoys an eminent career as an accompanist and vocal coach. His recitals with Renée Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli, Samuel Ramey, Susan Graham, Frederica von Stade, and Jessye Norman, have taken him to the stages of Carnegie Hall, La Scala, and London's Wigmore Hall. He has premiered works of John Corigliano, Ned Rorem, William Bolcom, John Musto, Paul Moravec, Tobias Picker, Robert Beaser, and Lee Hoiby, many of which were commissioned by NYFOS.
In addition to his many recordings with NYFOS, Mr. Blier's discography includes four volumes of songs by Charles Ives with baritone William Sharp (Albany Records), a Grammy-nominated CD of American songs with Mr. Sharp (New World Records), and first recordings of music by Busoni and Borodin with cellist Dorothy Lawson (Koch International). His two most recent releases are The Land Where the Good Songs Go with Sylvia McNair and Hal Cazalet, and Spanish Love Songs with Joseph Kaiser and the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (Bridge Records).
Mr. Blier is on the faculty of The Juilliard School, and has been active in encouraging young recitalists at summer programs, including the Wolf Trap Opera Company, Glimmerglass Opera, and the San Francisco Opera Center.
NYFOS co-founder and Associate Artistic Director Michael Barrett is Chief Executive and General Director of the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts. In 1992, he co-founded the Moab Music Festival with his wife, violist Leslie Tomkins. From 1994 to 1997, he was the Director of the Tisch Center for the Arts at the 92nd Street Y in New York.