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Musica Viva to Open 39th Season with COLLA VOCE at All Souls Church

Soloists from Musica Viva, the Aeolus String Quartet and Musica Viva Artistic Director and pianist Dr. Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez are featured in Colla Voce, a program of vocal chamber music, on Sunday, September 25 at 5:00 p.m. at All Souls Church, opening Musica Viva's 39th season.

The concert includes John Tavener's Akhmatova Songs featuring soprano Shabnam Abedi, Arvo Pärt's Wallfahrtslied featuring bass-baritone Joseph Beutel, Samuel Barber's Dover Beach, Op. 3 featuring bass-baritone Michael Maliakel, Ralph Vaughan Williams' On Wenlock Edge featuring tenor Shawn Bartels, and Ernest Chausson's Chanson Perpétuelle, Op. 37 featuring soprano Devony Smith.

Founded in 1977, Musica Viva-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. With a broad repertoire that includes newly written works as well as beloved classics, Musica Viva emphasizes artistic excellence and meaningful interpretations in an effort to transform and ennoble the human spirit through imaginative programming that offers joy, solace, renewal and inspiration in a busy world.

Additional concerts in Musica Viva's 2016-17 season include Heroes and Dragons: J.S. Bach and the Epic Cantata (Sunday, December 4 at 5:00 p.m.), Voices in Motion: Exploring Sound and Space (Sunday, March 5 at 5:00 p.m.), and An Elegy for all Humanity: Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem (Sunday, May 7 at 5:00 p.m.) at All Souls Church. Additionally, two MUSICAnocturna concerts are held at new venue NY229-To Music: Great Lieder by Schubert and Schumann on Thursday, October 20 at 7:30 p.m., and Forever Young: Great American Songs on Thursday, April 6 at 7:30 p.m. An additional benefit concert, Take Five, is held at All Souls Church on Sunday, January 29 at 5:00 p.m.

Subscription tickets, priced at $100, and single tickets, priced at $30, for the four-concert series at All Souls Church are available by visiting Single tickets are also available at the door on the evening of the concert. MUSICAnocturna concert tickets, priced at $100, will be available online. The Take Five concert on January 29 is free and open to the public with a free-will donation to benefit Musica Viva's current season.

Program Information

Colla Voce: Soloists from Musica Viva and the Aeolus String Quartet
Sunday, September 25 at 5:00 p.m.

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

JOHN TAVENER Akhmatova Songs
Shabnam Abedi, soprano

ARVO PÄRT Wallfahrtslied (Pilgrim's Song)
Joseph Beutel, bass-baritone

Samuel Barber Dover Beach, Op. 3
Michael Maliakel, bass-baritone

Shawn Bartels, tenor

ERNEST CHAUSSON Chanson perpétuelle, Op. 37
Devony Smith, soprano

About the Artists

About Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez
Hailed by The Washington Post as a conductor "with the incisive clarity of someone born to the idiom," Dr. Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez is an acclaimed choral and orchestral conductor, solo and chamber pianist, composer, and arranger.

Since August 2015, Dr. Hernandez-Valdez has served as the Artistic Director of Musica Viva. He also serves as the Director of Music at the historic Unitarian Church of All Souls in Manhattan. Founded in 1819, the Unitarian Church of All Souls is the most influential Unitarian Universalist congregation in the United States. Previously, Dr. Hernandez-Valdez served as Director of Music at Westmoreland Congregational, UCC in Bethesda, Maryland, where he led a dynamic and widely respected music program. Additionally as of September 2016, Dr. Hernandez-Valdez is the Artistic Director of the Victoria Bach Festival.

As Artistic Director, Co-Founder, and Conductor of the New Orchestra of Washington, he has collaborated with International Artists such as J. Reilly Lewis, Arturo Márquez, Dana Lyn, Rahel Rilling, Sara Rilling, Duo Alturas, Akemi Takayama, Ryo Yanagitani, Linda Mabbs, Soichi Muraji, Izumi Kamata, Tim Park and others, and has premiered works by Andrés Levell, Javier Farias, Joel Friedman, Dana Lyn, John Mackey, and Julian Wachner. In 2011, Choral Cantigas honored Dr. Hernandez-Valdez, with the first-ever "Award for Talent" in celebration of the ensemble's twentieth anniversary. To mark this occasion, the Mayor of Washington, D.C. proclaimed April 28th as "Latinos in the Arts Day".

As a pianist, harpsichordist, and organist, Dr. Hernandez-Valdez has played under the baton of conductors David Zinman, Sir Neville Mariner, John Williams, Valery Gergiev, Christoph Eschenbach, Helmuth Rilling, the late Rafael Frübeck de Burgos, Robert Spano, James Conlon, the late Julius Rudel, the late James DePriest, Jeffery Kahane, Michael Stern, Murray Sidlin, James Ross, Robert Shafer, J. Reilly Lewis, Simon Halsey, and the late Norman Scribner.

Dr. Hernandez-Valdez's profile has recently been included in a book by the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs entitled El mundo en las manos/Creadores mexicanos en el extranjero (The World in Their Hands/Creative Mexicans Abroad), which features successful Mexican nationals residing in diverse parts of the world who are leading figures in diverse artistic fields, including music. In April, Dr. Hernandez-Valdez was presented with the Shenandoah Conservatory Alumni of Excellence Award for 2016, which is bestowed to alumni who have made exceptional contributions to their profession, attained a national level of prominence within their fields, and demonstrated exceptional integrity.

About the Aeolus Quartet
Praised by the Baltimore Sun for combining "smoothly meshed technique with a sense of spontaneity and discovery," the Aeolus Quartet is committed to presenting time-seasoned masterworks and new cutting-edge works to widely diverse audiences with freshness, dedication, and fervor. Violinists Nicholas Tavani and Rachel Shapiro, violist Gregory Luce, and cellist Alan Richardson formed the Aeolus Quartet in 2008 at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Aeolus was the Graduate Resident String Quartet at the Juilliard School from 2013 to 2015, and the group currently makes their home in New York City.

The Aeolus Quartet are Grand Prizewinners of the 2011 Plowman Chamber Music Competition and 2011 Chamber Music Yellow Springs Competition, and were awarded First Prize at the 2009 Coleman International Chamber Ensemble Competition, a Silver Medal at the 2011 Fischoff International Chamber Music Competition, and a Bronze Medal at the 2010 International Chamber Music Ensemble Competition in New England. The 16th Annual Austin Critics' Table named the Aeolus Quartet their 2010-2011 "Best Ensemble."

Aeolus has released two critically acclaimed albums of classical and contemporary works through the Longhorn/Naxos label which are available on iTunes, Amazon, and major retailers worldwide, and has performed across North America, Europe, and Asia in venues such as Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Reinberger Recital Hall at Severance Hall, Merkin Hall, The Library of Congress, Renwick Gallery, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and the Shanghai Oriental Arts Center.

Dedicated to bringing music into the community, the Aeolus Quartet has been widely recognized for their highly innovative and engaging outreach programs. Aeolus is the recipient of the 2015-2016 CMA Residency Partnership Grant for residency work with George Washington University, the Duke Ellington School, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and their project was named the Guarneri Quartet Residency in recognition of its artistic excellence.

The Fischoff National Chamber Music Association awarded Aeolus their 2013 Educator Award in acknowledgment of the positive impact their educational efforts have had in diverse communities. Additionally, the quartet was awarded the 2012 Lad Prize which culminated in large-scale community engagement work, performing in the Stanford area, and a masterclass residency at Stanford University.

The Aeolus Quartet has served as teaching faculty at Stanford University's Education Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY), the Austin Chamber Music Workshop, and Da Camera of Houston's Music Encounters Program. Working in collaboration with the University of Texas through the Rural Chamber Music Outreach Initiative, the Quartet has presented educational programs and performances in communities throughout the state of Texas. Aeolus has previously been the graduate quartet in residence at the University of Maryland, and the University of Texas.

The group has studied extensively with the Juilliard, Guarneri, St. Lawrence, and Miró Quartets. Members of the Quartet hold degrees from the Juilliard School, Peabody Conservatory, the Cleveland Institute of Music, the University of Maryland, and the University of Texas at Austin.

Named for the Greek god Aeolus, who governed the four winds, the idea of a single spirit uniting four individual forces serves as an inspiration to the members of the Aeolus Quartet as they pursue their art.

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