David Robertson Conducts Ensemble ACJW with Soprano Dawn Upshaw Today
Today, December 14, at 7:30 p.m. in Zankel Hall, celebrated conductor David Robertson, music director of the St. Louis Symphony, leads Ensemble ACJW in a performance of Luciano Berio's Folk Songs featuring guest soprano Dawn Upshaw, who last performed the piece at Carnegie Hall in March 2004. ACJW's inventive program also includes Steve Reich's City Life, the composer's homage to his hometown of New York City, and Bartók's Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta.
Italian composer Luciano Berio wrote the song cycle Folk Songs in 1964. The work consists of arrangements of folk music from various countries and other songs. Berio had an emotional attachment to folk song, once declaring that, "When I work with that music, I am always caught by the thrill of discovery."
Steve Reich's City Life is a composition scored for two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two vibraphones, un-pitched percussion, two samplers, two pianos, string quartet, and double bass-all of which are amplified, with the exception of the un-pitched percussion. The work uses digital samples amongst the instruments in performance, which play back a wide variety of sounds and speech samples, mainly recorded by Reich himself in and around his hometown of New York. These sounds include car horns, air brakes, car alarms, and many others associated with the city.
Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta occupies a special place among Bartók's compositions, not only for its fearlessly independent choice of instruments (two string orchestras and a percussion battery, of which the celesta is not as prominent as its position in the title implies), but also for the intense expressiveness and vitality of the materials.
About the Artists: Joining rare, natural warmth with a fierce commitment to the transforming communicative power of music, Dawn Upshaw has achieved worldwide acclaim as a singer of opera and concert repertoire, ranging from the sacred works of Bach to the freshest sounds of today.
From Salzburg, Paris, and Glyndebourne to the Metropolitan Opera, where she began her career in 1984 and has since made nearly 300 appearances, Ms. Upshaw has also championed numerous new works created for her, including John Harbison's The Great Gatsby; Kaija Saariaho's Grawemeyer Award-winning opera L'amour de loin and oratorio La Passion de Simone; John Adams's nativity oratorio El Niño; and Osvaldo Golijov's chamber opera Ainadamar and song cycle Ayre.
In 2007, she was awarded a fellowship by the MacArthur Foundation, the first vocal artist to be awarded the five-year "genius" grant, and in 2008 she was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Ms. Upshaw is artistic director of the Vocal Arts Program at the Bard College Conservatory of Music and a faculty member of the Tanglewood Music Center. She holds honorary doctorate degrees from Yale University, the Manhattan School of Music, Allegheny College, and Illinois Wesleyan University.
A four-time Grammy Award winner, Ms. Upshaw is featured on more than 50 recordings, including the million-selling Symphony No. 3 by Henryk Górecki. She has recorded extensively for the Nonesuch label, and may also be heard on the Angel/EMI, BMG, Deutsche Grammophon, London, Sony Classical, and Telarc labels.
A consummate musician, masterful programmer, and dynamic presence, David Robertson has established himself as one of today's most sought-after American conductors. A passionate and compelling communicator with an extensive knowledge of orchestral and operatic repertoire, he has forged close relationships with major orchestras around the world through his exhilarating music making and stimulating ideas. In fall 2013, Mr. Robertson launched his ninth season as music director of the 134-year-old St. Louis Symphony. In January 2014, he assumes the post of chief conductor and artistic director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in Australia. He also leads the summer 2014 US tour of the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, a project of Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute.
Mr. Robertson is a frequent guest conductor with major orchestras and opera houses around the world. In the 2013-2014 season, he conducted the new production of Nico Muhly's Two Boys at the Metropolitan Opera and appears with orchestras including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. In past seasons, he has appeared nationally with the Boston and Chicago symphony orchestras, Philadelphia and Cleveland Orchestras; and internationally with the Berliner Philharmoniker, Staatskapelle Dresden, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and Sydney and Melbourne symphony orchestras, among others.
With more than 45 operas in his repertoire, Mr. Robertson has appeared at many of the world's most prestigious opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Opéra de Lyon, Bayerische Staatsoper, Théâtre du Châtelet, Hamburg State Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and San Francisco Opera.
Born in Santa Monica, California, Mr. Robertson was educated at London's Royal Academy of Music, where he studied horn and composition before turning to orchestral conducting. Mr. Robertson is the recipient of numerous awards and honors.
Created in 2007 by Carnegie Hall's Executive and Artistic Director Clive Gillinson and The Juilliard School's President Joseph W. Polisi, Ensemble ACJW is an inspirational collective of young professional musicians who are fellows in a two-year program that supports them in building careers as top-quality performers, innovative programmers, and dedicated teachers who fully engage with the communities in which they live and work.
Ensemble ACJW fellows-chosen for their musicianship, but also for their leadership qualities and commitment to music education-come from some of the best music schools in the country, including The Colburn School, Eastman School of Music, The Juilliard School, New England Conservatory, Rice University, University of Southern California, and Yale School of Music.
"The new face of classical music for New York ... these performers have the musical goods," said The New York Times. This is just one of the many accolades Ensemble ACJW has received for the quality of its performances and its fresh and open-minded approach, performing a wide range of music-from centuries past to works written days before an event-in a variety of performance venues. The group performs its own series at Carnegie Hall and has regularly appeared at The Juilliard School's Paul Hall and other venues throughout New York City, including (Le) Poisson Rouge nightclub in Greenwich Village, Subculture in NoHo, and Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn. As part of a partnership with Skidmore College that began in 2007, Ensemble ACJW gives master classes for university students and performs for the Saratoga Springs community in both concert halls and in informal settings around town.
Along with performance opportunities at premier venues in New York City and beyond, Ensemble ACJW fellows each partner with a New York City public school to share their artistry with-and become central resources for-music classrooms in the five boroughs. Ensemble ACJW fellows also take part in community work through the Weill Music Institute's Musical Connections program, in which they perform at multiple non-traditional music venues across New York City, including healthcare settings, correctional facilities, and senior-service organizations. Throughout the two-year program, Ensemble ACJW fellows participate in rigorous, ongoing professional development to ensure that they gain the necessary skills to be successful in all areas of the program and to become leaders in their field. Areas of emphasis include artistic excellence, engagement strategies on and off the stage, advocacy, professional skills, and preparation for their in-school work.
Exemplary performers, dedicated teachers, and advocates for music throughout the community, the forward-looking musicians of Ensemble ACJW are redefining what it means to be a musician in the 21st century. Visit acjw.org to learn more.