Oakland East Bay Symphony Opens 25th Season with Verdi and Wagner Opera Tonight
Top-of-the-charts Romanticism meets a contemporary fusion of symphony, electronic music and improvisation in a tour-de-force concert that will open Oakland East Bay Symphony's 25th anniversary season tonight, November 8, at 8 pm at the Paramount Theatre. Music Director Michael Morgan has programmed the kind of musical range, interest and innovation for the opening that dynamically demonstrates the orchestra's long-established reputation for audience-captivating and imaginative music.
The November 8 concert will feature the Oakland East Bay Symphony debut of Canadian-American soprano Othalie Graham performing two of opera's most heroic and bravura moments: Verdi's "Ritorna vincitor!" from Aida and the Immolation Scene from Wagner's Götterdämmerung in celebration of the 200th anniversaries of both composer's births in 1813. Contemporary American composer Mason Bates' music returns to Oakland East Bay Symphony withMothership, which features his alchemical mixture of orchestral timbres, electronic music and improvisation. Maestro Morgan will also conduct Copland's Appalachian Spring, the first piece for which he took the podium for the first time as Music Director of the Oakland East Bay Symphony in 1990, and the concert is rounded out by Verdi's Overture to La Forza del Destino and Siegfried's Rhine Journey from Götterdämmerung by Wagner. The concert will be preceded by a talk given by John Kendall Bailey at 7 pm. For information about the 25th season opening concert and Oakland East Bay Symphony, visit www.oebs.org .
Wells Fargo is Concert Sponsor of Opening Night, and Bell Investment Advisors is Sponsor of the 25th Anniversary Season. The Oakland East Bay Symphony season is also supported by grants from the California Arts Council, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the City of Oakland's Cultural Funding Program.
About the Artists
Canadian-American Soprano Othalie Graham is critically acclaimed throughout North America. Emerging into the Wagnerian repertoire, Ms. Graham's notable roles include Senta in Der Fliegender Holländer, Isolde in Tristan und Isolde, Brünnhilde and Sieglinde in Die Walküre, and Elisabeth in Tannhäuser. Other prominent roles include the title role in Elektra, Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, Leonora in Fidelio, Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera, Leonora in La Forza del Destino, Ariane in Ariane et Barbe-Bleue, Serena in Porgy and Bess, and Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana.
Recent engagements include leading roles with companies including Arizona Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Opera Columbus, Opera Delaware, Utah Festival Opera, Connecticut Grand Opera, Sacramento Opera, the Istanbul International Opera Festival, Utah Festival Opera, Festival Opera and others. She has appeared on concert and recital stages including the Liederkranz Society, the Wagner Society of Washington D.C., L'Opera de Montreal gala, Boston's Chorus Pro Musica, the Westfield Symphony Orchestra,the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and others.
Ms. Graham was the first-place winner of the 2010 Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition in the Wagner Division; the first-place winner of the 2005 Joyce Dutka Competition; a recipient of the prestigious Sullivan Foundation Grant for 2005; and the first-place winner in the Wagner Division of the 2009 Liederkranz Competition. In Canada, her many awards and honors include the coveted Jean Chalmers prize in the Canadian Music Competition, winner of the Edward Johnson Competition, and first place in the Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques Competition. She is a graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts.
A recent recipient of the Heinz Award for Arts & Humanities, Mason Bates writes music that fuses innovative orchestral writing, imaginative narrative forms, the harmonies of jazz and the rhythms of techno. Frequently performed by orchestras large and small, his symphonic music has been the first to receive widespread acceptance for its expanded palette of electronic sounds, and it is championed by conductors such as Michael Morgan, Riccardo Muti, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Leonard Slatkin. Bates has become a visible advocate for bringing new music to new spaces, whether through institutional partnerships such as his residency with the Chicago Symphony, or through his classical/DJ project Mercury Soul, which has transformed spaces ranging from commercial clubs to Frank Gehry-designed concert halls into exciting, hybrid musical events drawing over a thousand people. In presenting Bates with the Heinz Award, Teresa Heinz remarked that, "his music has moved the orchestra into the digital age and dissolved the boundaries of classical music."
Continuing performances of works such as Rusty Air in Carolina, an electro-acoustic tone poem about the ambience of the South, and Mothership, which premiered at the Sydney Opera House by the YouTube Symphony to an online audience of 1.8 million, have demonstrated that electronic sounds can be a welcome addition to the orchestral palette with minimal logistics. While Bates often performs the electronica onstage with orchestras, dozens of repeat performances of his symphonic music happen without him. Many purely acoustic works complement his diverse catalogue, such as Sirens, an a cappella work recently recorded by the superstar chorus Chanticleer, and Desert Transport, which conjures a helicopter trip over the Arizona landscape.
Bringing classical music to new audiences is a central part of Bates' activities as a curator. With composer Anna Clyne, he has transformed the Chicago Symphony's MusicNOW series into an imaginative concert experience drawing huge crowds, with cinematic program notes and immersive stagecraft. Another new take on new music isMercury Soul, which embeds sets of classical music into a fluid evening of DJing and immersive stagecraft.
Bates describes Mothership as an energetic work that imagines the orchestra as a mothership that is "docked" by several visiting soloists, who offer brief but virtuosic riffs on the work's thematic material over action-packed electro-acoustic orchestral figuration. Instrumentation includes a laptop linked via the internet to "live" downloadable sounds triggered by an orchestra member.
Oakland East Bay Symphony at 25
A unique and dynamic blend of high-caliber performances and innovative programing, a following as diverse as its home base, promotion and partnership with young musicians and composers and a roster of guest artists ranging from top classical soloists to Carlos Santana and Joan Baez set Oakland East Bay Symphony apart as it celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2013-2014. The Symphony is a nationally recognized orchestra that serves the diverse population of the East Bay and greater San Francisco Bay Area. Together with the Oakland Youth Orchestra and Oakland Symphony Chorus it operates as a unified organizational entity providing performances and music education to youth and adults.
Oakland East Bay Symphony has gained wide recognition for its compelling convergence of artistic excellence and community engagement as exemplified by Music Director Michael Morgan's expansive and inclusive programming philosophy that is regarded as a national model for re-defining symphony orchestras' artistic profiles and, especially, their relevance to the communities they serve. On any given Oakland East Bay Symphony season, masterworks of the standard repertory are presented in masterfully crafted programs that also include new and less well-known works by composers of non-Western traditions and exceptional works from the musical theater world, all delivered with humor and a casual sophistication that draws audiences from all age groups and backgrounds.
Under the artistic leadership of Maestro Morgan, Symphony activities reach over 50,000 people annually, with more than one-third of the operating budget dedicated to education and outreach programs. These programs include several acclaimed engagement programs under the umbrella of the MUSE (Music for Excellence) Program: In-School Mentor and Instrumental Instruction, Young People's Concerts, Ensembles in the Schools, Young Artist Competition, Free Ticket Distribution and regular school visits by Michael Morgan and other musicians. These programs serve over 20,000 young people each year.
Oakland East Bay Symphony was incorporated in July 1988 through the efforts of the Oakland Symphony Musicians Association and the Oakland Symphony League. Michael Morgan was appointed Music Director in 1990. Concerts were performed at the Calvin Simmons Theatre until moving to the Paramount Theatre in the 1994-95 season. The Symphony's growth has resulted in such landmarks as the addition of the American Masterworks Series including concert performances of Bernstein's Mass, Gershwin's Porgy and Bess, and Sondheim's Follies; the "Notes from" series of programs featuring music from non-Western traditions; the annual "Let Us Break Bread Together" that expands the definition of holiday concert; and numerous awards including ASCAP's Award for Adventurous Programming in 2006.
Oakland East Bay Symphony has fostered collaborations with local arts organizations from children's choruses to jazz ensembles to dance and opera companies and museums. The Symphony showcases new American works in performance and encourages young artists. In its efforts to support new music, the Symphony formed a multi-year partnership with The James Irvine Foundation in 1998 to initiate various commissioning projects including the newly established New Visions/New Vistas initiative. For five years, the Symphony has presented a free Independence Day concert and celebration at Richmond's Craneway Pavilion with more than 5,000 attendees annually.
Subscriptions and Tickets
Season subscription tickets are priced from $51 to $310. To order OEBS series tickets, call Oakland East Bay Symphony at 510-444-0801 or visit www.oebs.org. Single tickets for individual subscription concerts are priced from $20 to $75 and go on sale October 1. For complete information about Oakland East Bay Symphony, please visitwww.oebs.org.