Baltimore Symphony, Choral Arts Society Perform Orff’s Iconic Choral Work, Carmina burana, May 1-4
Marin Alsop leads concerts featuring more than 200 musicians and vocalists; program also includes Barber’s Medea’s Dance of Vengeance
Baltimore, Md. (March 25, 2008)—Led by Music Director Marin Alsop, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will perform Carl Orff’s iconic choral work, Carmina burana, May 1, 2 and 4 at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and May 3 at the Music Center at Strathmore. The concerts will feature more than 200 musicians and vocalists, including the Baltimore Choral Arts Society and the Peabody Children’s Chorus, as well as soloists Maria Kanyova (soprano), Gordon Gietz (tenor) and Leon Williams (baritone). Also on the program is Samuel Barber’s Medea’s Dance of Vengeance. As part of the BSO’s partnership with XM Satellite Radio, this program will be broadcast nationally on XM Classics 110 on Friday, June 6 at 9:00 p.m., with an encore presentation on Sunday, June 8 at 3:00 p.m. See below for complete program information.
Debuted in Germany in 1937, Carl Orff’s secular cantata Carmina burana is not only the composer’s best known work, it is also among the most recognizable of all classical choral works, having been appropriated for use in literally hundreds of television commercials and film scores. From the devastating opening crash of the timpani, Carmina burana embraces folk tunes and strong, primal rhythms to delve into the depths of human nature: lust, greed, joy at the coming of spring and the ephemeral qualities of wealth and life. Based on 24 medieval texts written primarily in Latin, the thirteen-movement work is divided into three main sections—“Spring”/”On the Green,” “In the Tavern” and “The Court of Love”—which tell secular and sometimes bawdy allegories describing humans as powerless riders on the “Fortuna Wheel.” Like the Fortuna Wheel itself, the work implies a circular structure, with the most famous movement, “O Fortuna,” opening and closing the work.
The program opens with Medea’s Dance of Vengeance by Samuel Barber. The composer based the piece on a 1946 ballet he wrote for pioneering dancer and choreographer Martha Graham, which tells the story of Medea, Euripides’ mythical tragic character who murders her children to spite her wayward husband Jason. Nearly a decade after the ballet’s premiere, Barber distilled the score into a chilling one-movement concert work that remains one of the most successful works in his oeuvre.
Marin Alsop, conductor
Hailed for her dynamic musicianship, artistic vision and commitment to accessibility in classical music, Marin Alsop made history with her appointment as the 12th music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. With her inaugural concert in September 2007, she became the first woman to head a major American orchestra, mirroring her ongoing success in the United Kingdom as principal conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony since 2002. Since becoming the BSO's Music Director, she has garnered national and international attention for her innovative programming and artistry. The New York Times recently said, "[Marin] Alsop has reinvigorated the orchestra, institutionally and artistically."
In summer 2005, Marin Alsop was named a 2005 MacArthur Fellow, the first conductor ever to receive this most prestigious American award. The first artist to win Gramophone's "Artist of the Year" award and the Royal Philharmonic Society's Conductor's Award in the same season (2003), Maestra Alsop won the Classical Brit Award for Best Female Artist of 2005. In July 2007, she was honored with a European Women of Achievement Award, presented to individuals whose vision, courage and determination have made a major impact on increasing the influence of women in European affairs.
Ms. Alsop is a regular guest conductor with the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well as with many distinguished orchestras worldwide, including the London Philharmonic and the London Symphony. After a highly successful 12-year tenure as music director of the Colorado Symphony, Ms. Alsop continues her association as conductor laureate; she also continues as music director of the acclaimed Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in California.
Marin Alsop is a native of New York City; she attended Yale University and received her master's degree from The Juilliard School. In 1989, her conducting career was launched when she became a prizewinner at the Leopold Stokowski International Conducting Competition in New York, and in the same year, she was awarded the Koussevitzky Conducting Prize at the Tanglewood Music Center, where she was a pupil of Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa and Gustav Meier.
Baltimore Choral Arts Society, Tom Hall, Music Director
Now in its 42nd season, the Baltimore Choral Arts Society (BCAS) is one of Maryland's premier cultural institutions, with Tom Hall serving as music director since 1982. The Symphonic Chorus, Full Chorus, Chamber Chorus and Orchestra perform throughout the mid-Atlantic region, as well as in Washington, D.C., New York and Europe. BCAS programs feature both choral and orchestral music, stage and theater works, dancers, poets, narrators and other artists from a variety of disciplines.
WMAR-TV, the ABC network affiliate in Maryland, features BCAS in an annual hour-long special, Christmas with Choral Arts, broadcast twice each season and winning an Emmy Award in 2006. On local radio, Mr. Hall is arts and culture contributor for WYPR’s Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast and is the host of Choral Arts Classics, a monthly program features BCAS. BCAS concerts are also broadcast on WBJC radio and have four recordings in current release.
BCAS has commissioned and premiered several works by American composers, including Peter Schickele’s Blake's Proverbs and Libby Larsen’s Billy the Kid, commissioned jointly with the King's Singers and the City of Birmingham (England) Chorus. BCAS have also given world premieres and first local performances of works by Morten Lauridsen, Kirke Mechem, Janika Vanderwelde, Samuel Adler, Daniel Pinkham, Robert Sirota and William Mathias. See www.baltimorechoralarts.org.
Peabody Children’s Chorus, Doreen Falby, Director
Founded in 1989, the Peabody Children's Chorus is dedicated to providing age-appropriate vocal training to young people. The Chorus brings children together to rehearse and perform art and folk music of multiple cultures, languages, historical periods and styles. In six ensembles rehearsing at two campuses, young people gain invaluable experience making music in ensemble settings. Ear-training and music-reading skills are also emphasized.
Approximately 300 children between the ages of six and 18 participate each year in three levels of training. Members of the Training Choir (ages 6-10), the Choristers (ages 10-14) and the Chamber Singers (ages 12-18) rehearse high-quality treble music of advancing challenge and sophistication, and perform in public concert at least twice each year.
The Peabody Children's Chorus performs frequently with other arts organizations such as the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, the Baltimore Opera Company, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Concert Artists of Baltimore, the Peabody Conservatory's Opera Theater and the Peabody Symphony Orchestra. The Chorus has performed in master classes with Mark Cudek, Vern Falby, Tom Hall, Bobby McFerrin, John Shirley-Quirk and Webb Wiggins, and has toured in England and France.
Maria Kanyova, soprano
Maria Kanyova has received praise for her portrayals of the leading heroines in Italian, French, German, Russian and Czech opera with companies throughout the United States. Ms. Kanyova has received awards from the Liederkranz Foundation, the National Federation of Music Clubs and the Greater Miami Opera Guild. She is also the winner of a 2001 Richard Tucker Foundation Career Grant and a 2000 Sullivan Foundation Award, and is the recipient of both the Betty Allen Prize and the Richard F. Gold Career Grant for her achievement with the New York City Opera.
In the 2007-2008 season, Ms. Kanyova returned to New York City Opera, reprising her role as Nedda in the Stephen Lawless production of I Pagliacci. For Los Angeles Opera, she played Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni under the baton of Hartmut Haenchen. She performed at Boston Lyric Opera as Adina in James Robinson’s production of l’Elisir d’Amore, conducted by Stephen Lord, and the title role in a concert version of Madama Butterfly with the Midland Symphony. In June 2008, she will return to the Opera Colorado as Pat Nixon in Nixon in China, conducted by Marin Alsop, which will be recorded for release on the Naxos label.
Gordon Gietz, tenor
Gordon Gietz is one of the most promising young tenors of his generation. His career is focused equally on operatic and concert repertoire, encompassing a wide range of musical styles. Mr. Gietz’s 2007-2008 season included a return to Nationale Reisopera for the title role in Les contes d’Hoffmann. Other opera engagements included Janácek’s The Excursions of Mr Broucek at Geneva Opera and a reprise of the role of Yonas in Kaija Sariaaho’s Adriana Mater for the Barbican Centre. He performed on the concert stage in Stravinsky’s Les Noces with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and in Messiah with the National Arts Centre Orchestra and Rossini’s Stabat Mater with the St. Louis Symphony.
Mr. Gietz’s concert experience includes appearances with some of the world’s leading orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, The Philadelphia Orchestra, l’Orchestre Métropolitain, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.
Leon Williams, baritone
American baritone Leon Williams enjoys a fine reputation on several continents for his warm, handsome voice, charismatic personality and superb musicianship. He recently opened the brand-new concert hall in Amarillo, Texas, performing Lee Hoiby’s I Have a Dream with James Setapen and the Amarillo Symphony and returns there in 2008-2009 for Walton's Belshazzar's Feast.
His has performed with the Honolulu Symphony, the Florida Orchestra, Reading, Kansas City, Alabama, Portland, Indianapolis, Colorado, Westchester, Grand Rapids, Hartford and Colorado symphonies, the National Philharmonic, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s and the Warren Philharmonic. He recently added two new roles to his operatic repertoire: Anthony in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd with the Toledo Opera and Papageno in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte with the Hawaii Opera Theatre, both meeting with unanimous critical and public acclaim. A much-in-demand Porgy and Bess principal, he sang as Porgy with Yuri Temirkanov conducting the performance in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Mr. Williams has won top prizes in the Naumburg, Joy-in-Singing and Lola Wilson Hayes competitions.
COMPLETE PROGRAM INFORMATION
Celebrity Series (Meyerhoff)/Special Presentation (Strathmore): Carmina burana
Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 8:00 p.m.—Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (JMSH)
Friday, May 2, 2008 at 8:00 p.m.—JMSH*
Saturday, May 3, 2008 at 8:00 p.m.—The Music Center at Strathmore
Sunday, May 4, 2008 at 3:00 p.m.—JMSH
*The Friday, May 2 concert is preceded by Classics in Conversation, a free pre-concert lecture at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. The program begins at 7:00 p.m. and is free to ticket holders.
Marin Alsop, conductor
Baltimore Choral Arts Society
Tom Hall, Music Director
Chorus prepared by Leon Wanenchak, Assistant Conductor
Peabody Children's Chorus
Doreen Falby, Director
Maria Kanyova, soprano
Gordon Gietz, tenor
Leon Williams, baritone
Barber: Medea's Dance of Vengeance
Orff: Carmina burana
This concert will be broadcast on XM Satellite Radio (XM Classics 110) on Friday, June 6 at 9:00 p.m., with an encore presentation on Sunday, June 8 at 3:00 p.m.
Tickets for this program range from $15-$84 and are available through the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Ticket Office, 410.783.8000, 877.BSO.1444 or BSOmusic.org.