Nicholas Phan Launches Trinity Wall Street's CELEBRATING BRITTEN FESTIVAL and More in 2013-14
Tenor Nicholas Phan will kick off his 2013-14 season as one of the prime voices heard in celebrations of the composer's centenary as they culminate this fall. Today, September 5, Phan helps launch Trinity Wall Street's four-month Celebrating Britten Festival with the orchestral song cycle Nocturne. The tenor also curates the 2013 Collaborative Works Festival as the Artistic Director of Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago, performing Britten's Canticle II: Abraham and Isaac and The Heart of the Matter, plus folk-song arrangements by Beethoven (Sept 11-15). Phan and pianist Myra Huang then embark on a U.S. recital tour - starting at Trinity Wall Street on September 21 - with a program juxtaposing Britten and Schubert.
The two performers also take the program to Istanbul (Oct 23), in addition to more U.S. tour dates in the spring. Late fall brings Britten's Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Peter Oundjian (Oct 31-Nov 2), as well as Phan's first appearances in the War Requiem, with Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony (Nov 15-17). There's more than Britten, though, in store for the tenor this season. In the New Year, Phan stars in the title role of Johann Christian Bach's Endimione in a very rare staging by New York City Opera (Feb 8-16). He also sings the Evangelist in performances of J.S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion in Chicago with John Nelson (April 11) and at Carnegie Hall with the Oratorio Society of New York (May 20).
Recognized as one of today's most compelling Britten interpreters, Phan has released two hit all-Britten albums on Avie Records, both featuring Myra Huang on piano. Winter Words - issued in 2011 and including the titular song cycle, as well as the Michelangelo Sonnets - was given a five-star review by BBC Music magazine. Still Falls the Rain - which includes the title canticle presented in the context of Britten's larger piece, The Heart of the Matter, as well as the complete works for tenor and harp - was named one of the "Best of 2012" by the New York Times. After the success of these projects, the recital tour with Huang adds Schubert to the mix because he was one of the English composer's favorite predecessors. Following the first date as part of Trinity Wall Street's Britten festival in New York (Sept 21), the tour goes to Chicago (Oct 18), Kalamazoo, MI (Oct 19), Istanbul, Turkey (Oct 23), Atlanta (Nov 9), Rochester, NY (March 18) and Boston (April 17).
From the poetic intimacy of the canticles and song cycles to the stirring grandeur of the War Requiem, Phan is covering a wide spectrum of Britten this season. As the tenor says: "It's a unique opportunity in this Britten centenary year to have so many venues to perform these pieces that I have loved so dearly but are so rarely performed in the United States. Britten's music is the perfect blend of head and heart, of technical mastery and visceral emotion - for me, these pieces are some of the most heart-wrenching masterworks of the last century, and it's exciting to be able to put them front and center."
Phan further discusses the composer, and other matters, in a recent interview with the New York Times that can be read here.
Along with all the Britten in the season's first half, Phan solos in multiple holiday performances of Handel's Messiah, including with Boston Baroque(Dec 13-14), the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa (Dec 17-18), and the Philadelphia Orchestra (Dec 22). He is also a soloist on a four-city tour of Haydn's Die Schöpfung (The Creation) with the Music of the Baroque ensemble under Jane Glover that includes stops in Chicago (March 31) and San Diego (April 4).
J.C. Bach and J.S. Bach in New Year
Phan starts 2014 on a high note, taking on the title role in New York City Opera's Feb 8-16 production of Johann Christian Bach's rarely heard 1772 work Endimione at El Museo del Barrio, an ideal venue for early opera. The role of Endimione marks Phan's return to City Opera, where he previously appeared as Damon in a 2006 production of Handel's Acis and Galatea. The story of Endimione centers on the characters of Diana and Nice. Through the mischief of Amore (Cupid), both fall madly in love with Endimione, a local shepherd, and pastoral mayhem ensues. J.C. Bach, known as "the London Bach," befriended Mozart when the 8-year-old and his family visited England, and the score to Endimione shows a style that exerted a major influence on the young prodigy. New York City Opera bills their Endimione as perhaps the very first staging of a J.C. Bach opera in the United States.
Works by J.C. Bach's father, Johann Sebastian, are highlights of Phan's spring. On April 13, he sings arias from the St. John Passion at Washington National Cathedral. The tenor also performs the key role of the Evangelist in the St. Matthew Passion in two high-profile performances: on April 11 at St. Vincent De Paul Church, with the Chicago Bach Project conducted by John Nelson; and on May 20 at Carnegie Hall, with the Oratorio Society of New York under Kent Tritle.
Phan was recently featured as the subject of an Opera News "Take Five" interview. A video clip of his responses to the five questions posed by the magazine is available here. The Connecticut-born, Michigan-raised tenor documents his journey as a musician in his blog, grecchinois.blogspot.com. As Phan explains, "I sing. I travel. I am half Greek and half Chinese - thus, the blog's name, a combination of the two nationalities in French." Additional information about the tenor, including a complete biography, is available at his website: www.nicholas-phan.com.