MasterVoices Presents NAAMAH'S ARK As Part Of The River To River Festival, 6/17
MasterVoices - dedicated to the art of musical storytelling and the celebration of the human voice - presents a free performance of a new version of the dramatic oratorio Naamah's Ark by composer Marisa Michelson and librettist Royce Vavrek, on Sunday, June 17 at 7:00 p.m. at Rockefeller Park. The event is produced in collaboration with the River To River Festival, presented by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC), and Battery Park City Authority.
Naamah's Ark tells the story of the world after the Great Flood, as told from the perspective of Naamah, wife of Noah. The oratorio explores themes of diversity, the role of women in society, and the possible devastation of climate change. Musical theater singer and actress Victoria Clark performs the title role, alongside jazz vocalist Sachal Vasandani as the Merman in this newly re-conceived version of the piece.
The project is part of the organization's Bridges initiative, which commissions composers to connect with communities through shared music-making. The themes of Naamah's Ark were derived from the impact of Hurricane Sandy on affected communities, originally the Lawrence, Long Island community, and in this iteration, the Lower Manhattan community. Multiple New York musical ensembles, including the Stuyvesant High School Chorus, the Jerriese Johnson Gospel Choir of Middle Collegiate Church, and the Life Rhythms Percussion Ensemble, together with cantor Rebecca Garfein of Congregation Rodeph Sholom, will collaborate with the chorus, following a residency and rehearsal period with Michelson and the MasterVoices artistic staff.
In conjunction with the performance, Artolution, a community-based public art organization seeking to ignite positive social change through collaborative art making, co-founded by Max Frieder, will also facilitate the creation of large animal sculptures from found and recycled objects prior to the performance. All ages are encouraged to participate in this pre-concert activity, with exact timing to be announced.
Naamah's Ark was given its world premiere by MasterVoices in Lawrence, Long Island in 2016.
Music by Marisa Michelson
Libretto by Royce Vavrek
Victoria Clark, Naamah
Sachal Vasandani, Merman
Ted Sperling, Conductor
Stuyvesant High School Chorus (Liliya Shamazov, Director)
Jerriese Johnson Gospel Choir of Middle Collegiate Church (John Del Cueto, Director)
Life Rhythms Percussion Ensemble (Alan Katz, Leader)
Cantor Rebecca Garfein of Congregation Rodeph Sholom
Max Frieder, Co-Founder and Co-Director of Artolution
Sunday, June 17 at 7:00 p.m.
75 Battery Place | New York, NY 10280
The event is free and open to the public.
92nd Street Y, and has taught in numerous universities and conservatories world-wide including Yale University and Juilliard.
In 2014-2015, she was Artist-In-Residence for Pace University in New York, where she directed The Light in the Piazza. She is currently writing a solo autobiographical play with music which will debut this year. Her solo debut CD Fifteen Seconds of Grace is available through PS Classics. Ms. Clark serves on the Board of Trustees for the Kurt Weill Foundation and New York City Center.
About Sachal Vasandani
Sachal Vasandani is recognized for his singular voice, with a tone and unique phrasing that mark him as one of today's most compelling voices. Thoroughly rooted in jazz, Sachal has the swagger to front swinging big bands and the vulnerability to present definitive takes of classic ballads. His deeply creative approach to improvisation across changes and time signatures is truly unique, and he has come to be regarded as one of the eminent improvisers of his generation.
Sachal has been touring clubs (i.e., Blue Note, Ronnie Scott's), theaters (Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall) and festivals (North Sea, Nice Jazz) consistently since 2007. When he's not leading his own groups, he has performed alongside jazz's statesmen including Wynton Marsalis, Bobby McFerrin, Milton Nascimento, Bill Charlap, Michael Feinstein, and many others. He is also an in-demand lyricist and composer and has collaborated with numerous artists worldwide in a range of styles and genres; he has two compositions on Gerald Clayton's album Life Forum, which was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2013. Sachal's fifth album, Shadow Train, will be released late spring 2018 via the GSI label.
About Marisa Michelson
Composer and vocal artist Marisa Michelson is a multi-award winning writer of interdisciplinary music-theatre, choral work, and musicals, and is the founder of Constellation Chor, a vocal performance ensemble whose "sonic expressions, from ethereal sounds to primal screams, animalistic wails and simply breath" have been likened to "vocal innovators like Kate Bush, Bjork, Florence Welch and even Yoko Ono" (StageBiz). Marisa is also a sought-after voice teacher. Her music has been called "exquisite" (The New York Times), "other worldly" (Steven Suskin), and "gorgeous...adventurous" (Vox Magazine). Marisa's Desire|Divinity project uses the Song of Solomon and Sappho's poetry as material to investigate the liminal space between earthly and divine love. Her musical with Joshua H. Cohen, Tamar of the River (Prospect Theater; two Drama Desk Nominations) was highly praised as "one of the most extraordinary scores in years (New York Magazine). Upcoming: One Thousand Nights and One Day (Prospect Theater World Premiere 2018); oratorio for 200 singers Naamah's Ark (with Pulitzer Prize winner Royce Vavrek, starring Victoria Clark) premiering June 2018. Awards: 2018 NEA Grant; 2017 Creative Engagement Award (LMCC); Jonathan Larson Award. Residencies: MacDowell, Ucross, Blue Mountain Center, New Dramatists.
About Royce Vavrek
Royce Vavrek is a Brooklyn-based librettist and lyricist known for his standing as "a favorite collaborator of the postclassical set" (Time Out New York), his name "virtually synonymous with contemporary opera in New York" (I Care If You Listen). His work has been called "sharp, crisp, witty" (See Magazine), "taut" (The New Yorker), "meticulous" (Operavore, WQXR Radio), "full-throated" (CulturePOP), "dramatically wild" and "exhilarating" (The New York Times).
Royce is co-Artistic Director of The Coterie, an opera-theater company founded with soprano Lauren Worsham. He holds a BFA in Filmmaking and Creative Writing from Concordia University in Montreal and an MFA in Musical Theater Writing from NYU. He is an alum of ALT's Composer Librettist Development Program.
About Max Frieder
Max Levi Frieder is an artist and educator from Denver, Colorado who is based out of New York City. He graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with honors and a degree in Painting with a focus in "Community Based Public Arts" and received his Education Masters in Community Arts in Art and Art Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. He has worked with communities in different contexts across the globe. His work ranges from community building in refugee crisis, hospital workshops, abuse and addiction counseling through art, trauma relief, reconciliation and conflict resolution. He leads collaborative mural programs as well as creating the Foundstrument Soundstrument Project, building interactive percussive sculptures out of Trash and recycled materials. His projects have taken him from Israel and Palestine to the Jordanian-Syrian border, Turkey, India, New Zealand, Australia, Costa Rica, Colombia, Cuba, Peru, Mexico, Canada and throughout the United States. His work focuses on cultivating public engagement through creative facilitation and inspired participation.
MasterVoices was founded in 1941 as The Collegiate Chorale by conductor Robert Shaw, who believed in the voice as the world's most powerful instrument. Today the human voice remains at the heart of MasterVoices' concerts, from its acclaimed 100+ member chorus to the dazzling array of world-class soloists that perform with the group each year. MasterVoices is now led by Tony Award-winning Artistic Director Ted Sperling.
MasterVoices' productions are known for their vitality and scale, and the group's repertoire spans multiple genres, including choral classics, operas in concert, musical theater pieces, and newly commissioned works at venues ranging from Carnegie Hall and New York City Center to site-specific concerts at synagogues, airplane hangers, museums, and bandshells. MasterVoices also tours internationally, most recently appearing with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland, and performs for hire at venues ranging from Barclay's Center to Madison Square Garden.
The organization's concerts serve a deeper purpose as well: to nurture the artists of tomorrow. The Faith Geier Initiative gives debuts to promising young soloists, and each concert includes high school students from their Side-By-Side program, which invites aspiring young singers to join MasterVoices in concerts and tours, guided by experienced chorus members as mentors.
MasterVoices' vision continues to expand under the baton of Tony Award-winning Artistic Director Ted Sperling. Its musical theater offerings have become richer, as a result of the establishment of The Rees Fund for Musical Theater, and its new Bridges program has started to introduce composers to specific New York City communities to create new choral works inspired by their stories. For more details, please visit mastervoices.org.
About Ted Sperling
One of today's leading musical artists, Ted Sperling is a director, music director, arranger, orchestrator, conductor, singer, pianist and violinist. Mr. Sperling became the Artistic Director of MasterVoices in October 2013. He has conducted concerts with many major orchestras around the world, including the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, and the Iceland Symphony. He also has conceived many songbook evenings for the Lyrics and Lyricists series at the 92nd Street Y and American Songbook at Lincoln Center. He is currently conducting My Fair Lady on Broadway.
Mr. Sperling won the 2005 Tony and Drama Desk Awards for his orchestrations of The Light in the Piazza, for which he was also music director. Other Broadway credits include the rapturously received revivals of Fiddler on the Roof, The King and I, and South Pacific; Guys and Dolls, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Full Monty, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, My Favorite Year, and Sunday in the Park with George. Off- Broadway credits include A Man of No Importance, A New Brain, Saturn Returns and Floyd Collins. Opera work includes two New York City premieres by composer Ricky Ian Gordon: 27 starring Stephanie Blythe, and The Grapes of Wrath, starring Nathan Gunn; Dido and Aeneas starring Kelli O'Hara and Victoria Clark; and La Voix Humaine starring Audra McDonald. Mr. Sperling's work as a stage director includes the world premieres of The Other Josh Cohen, See What I Wanna See, Striking 12, and Charlotte: Life? Or Theater?, as well as a revival of Lady in the Dark. Mr. Sperling received the 2006 Ted Shen Family Foundation Award for leadership in the musical theater, created the Music Theater Initiative at The Public Theater, and is Creative Director of the 24-Hour Musicals.