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'FROM RUSSIA TO RIVERSIDE DRIVE' to Launch NYFOS' 2015-16 Season This Nov

New York Festival of Song opens a new season of NYFOS Mainstage with "From Russia to Riverside Drive: Rachmaninoff & Friends," featuring Rachmaninoff's ravishing romanticism and his American contemporaries - songs by Rachmaninoff, Ellington, Gershwin, Schillinger.

Presented as part of the New York Philharmonic's "Rachmaninoff: A Philharmonic Festival", the concert is set for Tuesday, November 10, 2015 at 8:00 p.m at Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Music Center, 129 West 67th Street with a preview on Sunday, November 8, 2015 at 1:30 p.m. at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA.

SHEA OWENS, baritone

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From NYFOS Artistic Director Steven Blier: "Listening to Rachmaninoff's songs all summer has been like gorging on blini, caviar, and sour cream, without their unfortunate side-effects. We think of Rachmaninoff as a crowd-pleaser, with his huge melodic span and sensual harmonies. And it's true: his songs satisfy so deeply because he knew how to exploit both the voice and the piano to thrilling effect. But I also became aware of his depth of feeling, delicacy, and sensitivity to poetry. He was friends with both Stanislavsky and Chekhov; their theatrical ethos finds its way into Rachmaninoff's high-flown romanticism, side by side with the sounds of Russian liturgical music, the filigree of a piano concerto, and the full-throated cry of operatic voices.

After he left his homeland in 1917 Rachmaninoff kept his Russian musical flame alive by writing instrumental and choral works -- including one of his signature pieces, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. But he never returned to Moscow, and he never wrote another song. He became a Manhattan celebrity, attending some of the legendary concerts of his time, including the premiere of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and (alongside Toscanini) the first presentation of the theremin, an other-worldly electronic instrument invented by a fellow Russian. Rachmaninoff found himself enchanted by American dance music. Our concert will feature some of the American songs he loved, and give our audiences a rare chance to hear the theremin in music by Schillinger (one of its co-inventors and a teacher of Gershwin), Duke Ellington, and Rachmaninoff himself." Before leaving his homeland, Sergei Rachmaninoff wrote some of the most ravishing songs in the repertoire -- the last hurrah of the Romantic era. When he came to America he never again turned his hand to voice-and-piano music. But from his perch in the 1920's at 33 Riverside Drive and later 505 West End Avenue, he found himself surrounded by a new, modern spirit: the driving rhythms of the machine age and the irresistible appeal of jazz. NYFOS delves into the soulful cry of Rachmaninoff's Russian songs and also samples the music he heard during his years in the States.

Russian soprano and international star Dina Kuznetsova returns once again to NYFOS. Kuznetsova has appeared regularly with NYFOS since 2004, when she performed in a program alongside Stephanie Blythe. She is joined by the dynamic young baritone Shea Owens, who debuted last season in the NYFOS Next series and appeared as a Schwab Rising Vocal Star in NYFOS' collaboration with Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts. Thereminist Dalit Warshaw makes a special guest appearance. NYFOS co-founders and "irrepressible song impresarios" (The Boston Globe) Steven Blier and Michael Barrett are the pianists and hosts for the evening.


This concert is part of the New York Philharmonic's Rachmaninoff: A Philharmonic Festival, November 11-28, 2015, featuring 23-year-old Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov performing three of the composer's piano concertos and Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini over the course of three consecutive all-Rachmaninoff programs, each led by a different conductor: Cristian M?celaru (in his Philharmonic debut), Neeme Järvi, and Ludovic Morlot. In addition to NYFOS's co-presentation at Merkin Concert Hall, the festival also includes a chamber program featuring Mr. Trifonov, co-presented with 92nd Street Y.



No Prophet, I
As Fair as Day in Blaze of Noon
Harvest of Sorrow
In the Silence of the Night
Spring Waters
To Her
Were You Hiccupping, Natasha?


2 Vocalises (Schillinger)
On a Turquoise Cloud (Ellington)
Little Jazz Bird (Gershwin)
By the Waters of the Minnetonka (Thurlowe Lieurance, arr. Zez Confrey)


A dream (Op. 8)
Beloved, Let Us Fly
Dream (Op. 38)

DINA KUZNETSOVA, soprano - Noted for her exceptional musicianship and captivating stage presence, Russian-American soprano Dina Kuznetsova is an alumna of the Lyric Opera of Chicago's Young Artist Program and has gone on to sing at some of the world's most prestigious opera houses including the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Wiener Staatsoper, Bayerische Staatsoper and The Metropolitan Opera.

Roles such as Gilda, Violetta and Juliette featured strongly in Kuznetsova's earlier career, but in most recent years she has developed towards the Slavonic and Russian repertoire which has become central to her current schedule. Recent role debuts have included Katya Kabanová for Teatro Municipal de Santiago de Chile and Staatsoper Hamburg, Rusalka for the Glyndebourne Festival under Sir Andrew Davis and in Montpellier, Desdemona (Otello) with the Gulbenkian Orchestra under Lawrence Foster and Lisa (Pique Dame) with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra under Vladimir Ashkenazy.

Following her highly-acclaimed debut as Cio-Cio San in Anthony Minghella's production of Madama Butterfly at English National Opera under Gianluca Marciano, Kuznetsova reprises the role with Atlanta Opera this season. She also returns to Teatro Municipal de Santiago de Chile as Rusalka and to Opera Carolina as Liu (Turandot). Upcoming appearances include Rachmaninov's The Bells with Washington's National Symphony Orchestra under Vassily Sinaisky and Verdi's Messa da Requiem with the Gulbenkian Orchestra under Paul McCreesh.

SHEA OWENS, baritone - Baritone Shea Owens, from Scottsdale, Arizona, was recently an Apprentice Artist at the Santa Fe Opera. He performed the role of Pianist/2nd Japanese Envoy in the double bill production of The Impresario & Le Rossignol, as well as the role of Webster in Santa Fe Opera's original production of Written in the Stars. Mr. Owens was also a resident artist with Utah Opera, performing the roles of 2nd Nazarene in Salome, Baron Douphol in La traviata, and The Mandarin in Turandot. He was also the baritone soloist for the Utah Symphony's performances of Carl Nielsen's 3rd Symphony and Handel's Messiah.

Mr. Owens has made past appearances at The Tanglewood Music Center, Wolf Trap Opera, Utah Festival Opera, Utah Lyric Opera, Phoenix Opera and Central City Opera. Last year, he performed as Fiorello in Il barbiere di Siviglia at Central City. He enjoys performing on a regular basis with his wife, soprano Amy Owens.

Mr. Owens earned his Bachelor of Music degree from Brigham Young University and his Master of Music degree from Rice University. Awards received include career grants from the Schuyler Foundation for Career Bridges and the Oscarson Discovery Grant Endowment, and a Second Prize Award in the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition.

DALIT HADASS WARSHAW, theramin - An internationally acclaimed composer, pianist and thereminist, Warshaw's works have been performed by over twenty-six orchestral ensembles, including the New York and Israel Philharmonic Orchestras (Zubin Mehta conducting), the Boston Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Houston Symphony, the Y Chamber Orchestra, the Colorado Symphony, the Albany Symphony and the Grand Rapids Symphony.

Having studied theremin with the renowned Clara Rockmore from an early age, Warshaw has appeared as thereminist with such ensembles as the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the American Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, performing in spaces such as Carnegie Hall, Disney Hall and Alice Tully Hall. In June 2013, her ensemble works for theremin were recently featured on the San Francisco Symphony Chamber Music Series, for which she performed as guest soloist.

Her CD, Invocations, was released in January 2011 and is available on Albany Records. Along with providing a diverse representation of her compositional language, this disc integrates the theremin with acoustic ensembles in ways that exhibit the more lyrical, vocal and expressive capacities of this unusual instrument, and that reveal its limitless ways of blending and interacting with different timbral combinations. On it, she performs on a unique and profoundly historical instrument: Clara Rockmore's theremin, which was built and customized to her specifications by its inventor, Lev Termen, in the early 1930's, and on which she last performed in 1993.

Warshaw is also a frequent champion of her colleagues' music, debuting theremin parts of composers such as Derek Bermel and David Del Tredici, also performing the American premiere of Andrew Norman's "Air" for theremin and orchestra with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project in January 2012.

A full-time composition faculty member at the Boston Conservatory from 2004 to 2014, Warshaw now serves on the composition faculty at CUNY Brooklyn College. She is a graduate of Columbia University and the Juilliard School, obtaining her doctorate in 2003. She has held residencies at the Yaddo and MacDowell Artist Colonies, as well as at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

ABOUT NYFOS ( - Now in its 28th season, New York Festival of Song (NYFOS) is dedicated to creating intimate song concerts of great beauty and originality. Weaving music, poetry, history and humor into evenings of compelling theater, NYFOS fosters community among artists and audiences. Each program entertains and educates in equal measure.

Founded by pianists Michael Barrett and Steven Blier in 1988, NYFOS continues to produce its series of thematic song programs, drawing together rarely-heard songs of all kinds, overriding traditional distinctions between musical genres, exploring the character and language of other cultures, and the personal voices of song composers and lyricists.

Since its founding, NYFOS has particularly celebrated American song. Among the many highlights is the double bill of one-act comic operas, Bastianello and Lucrezia, by John Musto and William Bolcom, both with libretti by Mark Campbell, commissioned and premiered by NYFOS in 2008 and recorded on Bridge Records. In addition to Bastianello and Lucrezia and the 2008 Bridge Records release of Spanish Love Songs with Joseph Kaiser and the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, NYFOS has produced five recordings on the Koch label, including a Grammy Award-winning disc of Bernstein's Arias and Barcarolles, and the Grammy-nominated recording of Ned Rorem's Evidence of Things Not Seen (also a NYFOS commission) on New World Records. This past season saw the release of Canción Amorosa, a CD of Spanish song -- Basque, Catalan, Castilian, and Sephardic -- on the GPR label, with soprano Corinne Winters accompanied by Steven Blier.

In November 2010, NYFOS debuted NYFOS Next, a mini-series for new songs, hosted by guest composers in intimate venues. The series is currently held at Opera America's National Opera Center in the month of February.

NYFOS is passionate about nurturing the artistry and careers of young singers, and has developed training residencies around the country, including with The Juilliard School's Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts (now in its 11th year); Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts (its 8th year in March 2016); San Francisco Opera Center (over 15 years as of April 2013); Glimmerglass Opera (2008-2010); and its newest project, NYFOS@North Fork in Orient, NY.

NYFOS's concert series, touring programs, radio broadcasts, recordings, and educational activities continue to spark new interest in the creative possibilities of the song program, and have inspired the creation of thematic vocal series around the world.

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