Christine Brewer Sings Wagner, Strauss, & Beethoven with Orchestras in San Francisco, St. Louis, & Boston

By: Dec. 09, 2011
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Dominant as ever in the concert hall this winter, Christine Brewer – styled "the ideal modern Wagnerian soprano" by the Los Angeles Times – joins the San Francisco Symphony and guest conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen for three concert performances of excerpts from Götterdämmerung, the closing chapter of Wagner's monumental Ring cycle (Dec 8-10). Following her recent account of the German composer's Wesendonck Lieder with Michael Tilson Thomas and the New World Symphony, "a performance that was a model of vocal allure and musical intelligence" (South Florida Classical Review), Brewer reprises the work – coupled with Beethoven's "Ah! perfido" – with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Ward Stare (Jan 20 & 21). She returns to Beethoven for four performances of the Missa solemnis with the Boston Symphony led by Kurt Masur, first at the orchestra's Boston home (Feb 23-25) and then at New York's Carnegie Hall (March 6). Early in the new year, the "superlative Strauss singer" (New York Times) assays the great late Romantic's Four Last Songs with the St. Louis Symphony under David Robertson (Jan 13 & 14). 

It was with the Missa solemnis that the Grammy Award-winning soprano helped the New York Philharmonic close out the 2009-10 season, prompting the New York Times's Anthony Tommasini to report: "Brewer sang splendidly, floating the soaring solo lines yet bringing some Wagnerian intensity even to hushed pianissimos." With the Boston Symphony – at both Symphony Hall and Carnegie Hall – Brewer will be joined by mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung, New Zealand tenor Simon O'Neill, and bass-baritone Eric Owens

A week after her Carnegie Hall appearance, the soprano will make her much-anticipated Los Angeles Opera debut (March 14 & 17), starring in the hit Santa Fe Opera production of Albert Herring, which she headlined last season. In Santa Fe Opera's new staging, Benjamin Britten's comic opera proved to be "the hit of the season," and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch praised the production's "first-rate cast," naming Brewer the standout star who "gave a terrific performance in every particular." The Santa Fe New Mexicanconfirmed that although "Santa Fe Opera fills the leading roles with a cast that spills into the realm of the starry … the show is stolen by the soprano Christine Brewer." At LA Opera, Brewer will be joined, as in Santa Fe, by tenor Alek Shrader in the title role, under Paul Curran's direction. James Conlon, the company's Music Director, will conduct.

On Mother's Day, the versatile soprano presents a recital of music by Samuel Barber, Alan Smith, Charles Ives, Virgil Thomson with her regular collaborator, pianist Craig Rutenberg, at New York's Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center (May 13). The recital also includes a premiere of a song setting by Alan Smith of a poem that Brewer's daughter Elisabeth wrote called "For the Color of My Mother."

Mother's Day is not the only American custom Brewer honors each year: another is the backyard Hootenanny that she and her family, natives of Lebanon, Illinois, have hosted around Labor Day for the past quarter-century. As Brewer explains, what has since grown into a time-honored tradition began quite spontaneously: 

"My husband plays guitar and dulcimer, I play guitar, harmonica, sometime mandolin; my cousin's a very good guitarist, and we had a good friend who played banjo. We got some bales of hay and put them in our back yard and invited a few friends and neighbors – we had maybe 20 or 30 folks that first time.

In the past five years, we've become more 'high-tech' and now have microphones and amps, extra harmonicas for the kids, gutbuckets, washboards, an electric keyboard, and lights strung up in the back yard to enhance those bales of hay! We usually have several guitarists and fiddle players, a banjo player, and a couple mandolins, along with the keyboard that our pianist friends take turns playing. We also have an accordion if someone wants to play it. And then we encourage everyone to sing along with us!"

In recent years, Brewer used the Hootenanny as an opportunity to raise funds for a favorite local charity. But this year, after seeing the plight of tornado victims at nearby Joplin, MO, she chose instead to support the American Red Cross tornado relief fund, raising over $1,300.

Further details are available at the artist's web site (, and a list of her upcoming engagements follows below.

Christine Brewer, 2011-12 engagements

Dec 8–10

San Francisco Symphony / Salonen

Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen (excerpts)


Dec 13

International Women's Brass Conference, St. Louis, MO

Adam: "O Holy Night"; Schubert: "Ave Maria"


Jan 13 & 14, 2012

St. Louis Symphony / Robertson

Strauss: Four Last Songs


Jan 20 & 21

Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra / Stare

Wagner: Wesendonck Lieder; Beethoven: "Ah! perfido"


Jan 26

Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich

Verdi: Requiem


Feb 4

London Philharmonic / Nézet-Séguin

Bruckner: Te Deum


Feb 19

Norwegian Opera

Recital with pianist Craig Rutenberg


Feb 23-25

Boston Symphony / Masur

Beethoven: Missa solemnis


March 6

Carnegie Hall, New York City

Boston Symphony / Masur

Beethoven: Missa solemnis


March 14 & 17

Britten: Albert Herring


March 24

Kean University, Union, NJ



March 27

Trinity University, San Antonio, TX



March 28

Trinity University, San Antonio, TX

Master class


April 19 & 21

London Symphony / Davis

Weber: Der Freischütz


April 28

Pasadena Symphony / DePriest

Strauss: Four Last Songs


May 13

Lincoln Center, Alice Tully Hall, New York City

Mother's Day recital with pianist Craig Rutenberg


May 31

Cleveland Orchestra

Verdi: Requiem


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