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NYFOS to Open New York Philharmonic's Tchaikovsky Fest with PYOTR THE GREAT

New York Festival of Song continues its NYFOS Mainstage series at Merkin Concert Hall on Tuesday, January 24, 2017 at 8:00 p.m. with a sumptuous recital entitled Pyotr the Great: The Songs of Tchaikovsky and His Circle. A preview performance of Pyotr the Great takes place with Vocal Arts DC in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, January 22, 2017 at 3:00 p.m. Visit for more information.

Following last year's Rachmaninoff: A Philharmonic Festival, NYFOS again partners with the New York Philharmonic to celebrate the life of a venerable Russian composer, this time as part of the Philharmonic's three-week festival Beloved Friend - Tchaikovsky and His World.

NYFOS's program is the only concert in the Philharmonic's Tchaikovsky festival to feature the rich repertoire of his vocal music, and it also includes a small selection of songs written by Tchaikovsky's students, Anton Arensky and Sergei Taneyev, and his teacher Anton Rubinstein. Steven Blier has ingeniously organized the program into five sections: Tchaikovsky's Russia; Men; Students/Teachers; Women; and Last Days. See below for the song list.

The songs of Peter Ilytch Tchaikovsky are among the most beautiful of the Romantic era. Many of them seem autobiographical, giving expression to the emotional upheavals of his life. In Blier's words: "He bestowed a boundless gift for melody and a subtle sensitivity to words on these songs, taking us deep into the mysteries of his psyche. In the process, he wrote some of the most beautiful, eloquent vocal works in the canon."

Making her NYFOS debut is Ukrainian-born soprano Antonina Chehovska, a recent recipient of several prestigious awards, including the First Prize winner of the Gerda Lissner International Competition and Grand Prize winner of the Leonie Rysanek Award with the George London Foundation. Alongside Chehovska is the mighty baritone Alexey Lavrov, who returns this season to the Metropolitan Opera as Schaunard in La Bohème, Silvio in Pagliacci and Malatesta in Don Pasquale. The recent graduate of the Met's Lindemann Young Artist program shone in NYFOS' 2015 concert Letters from Spain, after which he was hailed by The New York Times for his "riveting interpretation...dramatic fervor and characterful nuance."

The two pianists and hosts for the evening will be NYFOS's "irrepressible song impresarios" (The Boston Globe) and co-founders Steven Blier and Michael Barrett.

From NYFOS Artistic Director Steven Blier: "Tchaikovsky's songs have had a strange fate: they are beloved by singers and audiences, who have gravitated faithfully to the same handful of favorites for the last century. Yet they are given little importance by biographers, who tend to focus on the composer's symphonies and ballets. But the more I read about the life of this brilliant, tortured man, the more I find powerful relationships between his life and his 109 works for voice and piano.

"Tchaikovsky was a promiscuous, deeply closeted gay man living in a homophobic society. He nourished a deep fear of being outed-of the public shame and exile it would bring. His songs evoke both the ecstasies of love and his intense need to be silent about his passions. Were they autobiographical? Did he mean to use song as a way of sharing what he could not say in public? We can't know. But his songs evoke his life experience so movingly, especially for a modern audience who can understand their hidden messages, that they become a kind of retroactive autobiography."


(subject to change)

Passion Spent (Opus 46, #5)

We were sitting together (Opus 73, #1)
It's painful, it's sweet (Opus 6, #3)
At the Ball (Opus 38, #3)
None but the lonely heart (Opus 6 #6)
It was in early spring (Opus 38 #2)

Rubinstein: Zuleika (Opus 34 #1)
Arensky: All Is Quiet Tonight (Opus 45 #1)
Taneyev: Restless heart (Opus 17 #9)

Alexandra Andreyevna, his mother:
Lullaby (Opus 16, #1)
Desirée Artôt, a woman he considered marrying:
Les Larmes (Opus 65)
Antonina Miliukova, his wife:
Onegin's aria
Nadezhda von Meck, his patroness:
Does the day reign? (Opus 47 #6)

Forgive (Opus 60 #8)
A tear trembles (Opus 6 #4)
Fall Asleep (Opus 57 #4)
Again, as before, I am alone (Opus 73 #6)

Now in its 29th 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 National Sawdust in Brooklyn.

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 12th year); Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts (its 9th year in March 2017); San Francisco Opera Center (over 18 years as of February 2016); 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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