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Musica Viva NY to Present REINTRODUCING SEYMOUR Benefit Concert

Musica Viva NY to Present REINTRODUCING SEYMOUR Benefit Concert

Musica Viva NY presents legendary pianist, teacher, and composer Seymour Bernstein in a special benefit concert, Reintroducing Seymour, on Sunday, January 21 at 2:00 p.m at All Souls Church on the Upper East Side (Lexington Avenue at 80th Street).

The program begins with Bernstein in solo piano works by Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, Liszt and Grieg. Following this, Musica Viva NY Artistic Director Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez is featured in solo piano works by Chopin, Schumann, and Schubert, and members of the Musica Viva NY Choir, soprano Devony Smith and baritone Brian Mextorf, perform lieder by Schubert and Schumann, accompanied by Seymour Bernstein. The program concludes with Schubert's Fantasy in F Minor, D. 940, featuring both Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez and Seymour Bernstein.

The concert is free, with a suggested donation at the door.

Founded in 1977, Musica Viva NY, a chamber choir of thirty professionals and highly skilled volunteers, is driven by a desire to share the transcendent power of choral and instrumental music with audiences in New York City and beyond, through its annual four-concert series at All Souls Church on the Upper East Side. The choir's broad repertoire includes new compositions and classic masterworks, emphasizing artistic excellence and transformative interpretations.

Additional concerts in Musica Viva NY's 2017-18 season at All Souls Church include Voices in Motion: Exploring Sound and Space on February 25, 2018 featuring guest organist, conductor and Musica Viva NY founder Walter Klauss; Infinite Hope: Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of MLK's Assassination on April 8, 2018 featuring the music of conductor, composer, and writer Alice Parker; and Sunrise in the City: Musica Viva NY Celebrates 40 Years on May 20, 2018 featuring a new commission by Elena Ruehr.

Program Information:


Sunday, January 21, 2018 at 2:00 p.m.

All Souls Church, 1157 Lexington Avenue (at 80th Street), New York, NY 10075

Seymour Bernstein, piano
Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez, piano
Devony Smith, soprano
Brian Mextorf, baritone

Johann Sebastian Bach: Prelude to Gottes Zeit ist die allerbeste Zeit
JOHANNES BRAHMS: Intermezzo in A Major, Op. 118 No. 2
Ludwig van Beethoven: "Moonlight" Sonata (first movement)
Franz Liszt: Consolation in D-flat
Edvard Grieg: Ich liebe Dich

Seymour Bernstein, piano

FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN: Nocturne in C sharp Minor
Robert Schumann: Romanze Op. 28, No. 2
Franz Schubert: Impromptu in G flat Major, Op. 90, No 3

Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez, piano

Franz Schubert: Nacht und Träume, An die Musik, & Die Sterne
Robert Schumann: Mondnacht & Dichterliebe (1-7)

Devony Smith, soprano
Brian Mextorf, baritone
Seymour Bernstein, piano

Franz Schubert: Fantasy in F Minor, D. 940

Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez, piano
Seymour Bernstein, piano


Esteemed conductor, pianist, and composer Dr. Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez was named Artistic Director of Musica Viva NY and Director of Music of the historic Unitarian Church of All Souls in Manhattan in 2015. He is also Co-Founder of the New Orchestra of Washington and Artistic Director of the Victoria Bach Festival. He has earned accolades from The Washington Post as a conductor "with the incisive clarity of someone born to the idiom," as well as praise from The New York Times for leading "a stirring performance" of Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem. He is featured in El mundo en las manos/Creadores mexicanos en el extranjero (The World in Their Hands/Creative Mexicans Abroad), a book by the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs honoring Mexican nationals who are leading figures in diverse artistic fields. He is the recipient of a 2016 Shenandoah Conservatory Alumni of Excellence Award for his exemplary contribution to his profession, national level of prominence, and exceptional integrity. He resides in New York City and Washington, D.C.

Dr. Seymour Bernstein is an American pianist, composer, and teacher who was the subject of Ethan Hawke's documentary Seymour: An Introduction. He achieved local fame early as a performer, winning the Griffith Artist Award at the age of seventeen. Inducted into the army during the Korean War, he gave concerts on the front lines and for top military leaders. During this experience, he came to understand that he possessed a missionary zeal, a desire to bring music's message to a wider audience. A concert career that took him to Asia, Europe, and throughout the Americas brought this goal to fruition, as have his books With Your Own Two Hands and 20 Lessons in Keyboard Choreography, which have been published in German, Japanese, Korean, and Russian. In 1969, he made his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, playing the world premiere of Concerto No. 2 by Villa-Lobos. His many awards include First Prize and Prix Jacques Durand at Fontainebleau, the National Federation of Music Clubs Award for Furthering American Music Abroad, a Beebe Foundation grant, two Martha Baird Rockefeller grants, and four State Department grants. One of the most sought-after clinicians in this country and abroad, Bernstein is also a prolific composer, maintains a private studio in New York City, and is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Music and Music Education at New York University. On December 18, 2004, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Shenandoah University.

Devony Smith is a versatile soprano excelling in both contemporary and traditional repertoire with her "sensuous" and "strong" voice (The New York Times). Smith makes her mark on New York City as a regular soloist with Musica Viva NY, where she has performed Ernest Chausson's "Chanson Perpétuelle," and the soprano solos for Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem, and Carmina Burana. Smith recently made her Lincoln Center recital debut as the Grand Prize Winner of the Metropolitan International Music Festival Art Song competition. In January, she will participate in Marilyn Horne's prestigious The Song Continues Workshop at Carnegie Hall and make her National Sawdust debut in Kate Soper's opera, Here be Sirens. Smith relishes the opportunity to perform new works. As a fellow at Ravinia Steans Music Institute, she collaborated with composer William Bolcom on a concert of his music. As a Marc and Eva Stern Fellow at Songfest, she performed the world premiere of Ben Moore's "John and Abigail" and the West Coast premiere of John Musto's "Six Scottish Songs." At the Bard College Conservatory of Music, she created the lead role in Shawn Jaeger's opera, Payne Hollow, collaborated on concerts of contemporary music with Pulitzer Prize winning composer Joan Tower, and performed the world premiere of Daniela DeMatos' "Encounter."

Recently seen as John Styx in Virginia Opera's Orpheus in the Underworld, Brian Mextorf was given "comic honors" (Richmond Times-Dispatch) and garnered praise for his "standout" performance (DC Metro Theater Arts). Recent seasons have also seen Brian perform Aeneas in Opera Saratoga's innovative outdoor production of Dido and Aeneas, Marcello in an exciting abridged production of La bohème with Virginia Opera, and the title role in a production of Handel's Saul in Russell, Kansas. Other recent highlights include two New York City recitals and being named a winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, North Carolina District and the 2nd place winner of the Southeast Region. A graduate of the Opera Theatre of St. Louis and Virginia Opera young artist programs, Brian has sung performances of Captain Corcoran and Bill Bobstay in HMS Pinafore, Anthony Hope (cover) in Sweeney Todd, Paris in Roméo et Juliette, and three roles in the North American Premiere of Unsuk Chin's Alice in Wonderland, in which he "excelled" (Opera News). On the concert stage, Brian has recently been featured as bass or baritone soloist in Handel's Messiah, Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass, Bach's B Minor Mass and Magnificat, and the Requiems of Fauré, Mozart, and Brahms.

A native of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Brian is an alumnus of The Oberlin Conservatory of Music (B.M. 2012), Westminster Choir College (M.M. 2014), and The CoOPERAtive Program (Fellow 2012/13).

Photo Credit: Jiyang Chen

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