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Cantata Singers to Perform the Music of Lazar Weiner and Kurt Weill

Cantata Singers Chamber Series continues on January 20, 2017 at 7:30pm with a program of music by Lazar Weiner and Kurt Weill at the Academy of Arts and Sciences in Cambridge.

Born just three years apart, Weiner and Weill both immigrated to the United States, where they made distinctively different marks on twentieth-century music, Weiner primarily in the synagogue, and Weill on the stage. Soloists for this evening will be sopranos Angelynne Hinson and Bonnie Gleason, mezzo-sopranos Jennifer Webb and Lynn Torgove, tenor Michael Bennett, and baritone Brian Church.

Lazar Weiner (1897-1982) emigrated from modern day Ukraine to America in 1914, due to the rise of anti-Semitism at that time in the Russian Empire. Settling in New York City, Weiner was first employed as a piano player in a New York silent cinema house. He eventually became the music director of the Central Synagogue, one of the oldest and largest synagogues in New York City, and served on the faculty of the School of Sacred Music at Hebrew Union College. Weiner became involved in New York's literary circles, and became familiar with the world of modern Yiddish literature and poetry, as well as the tradition of Yiddish folksong. Inspired by these traditions, Weiner wrote his own Yiddish art songs, which are featured on the evening's program. Yehudi Wyner, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, and son of Lazar Weiner, will give the pre-concert talk at 6:30pm.

Kurt Weill (1900-1950) lived in Germany until 1933, and is considered one of the leading composers of his generation. The rise of the Nazi Regime, however, forced Weill to flee the country, after his work was designated as entartete musik (degenerate music) due to his Jewish heritage and the avant-garde musical vocabulary he employed. He settled in America in 1935, composing for Broadway and Hollywood, and was recognized as a new, original voice in American musical theater. Weill's music featured on this program showcases his diverse sound, including his Abendlied and Four Walt Whitman Songs, amongst others. This program is supported in part by the Kurt Weill Foundation (www.kwf.org).

The Chamber Series, led by director Allison Voth, gives listeners the opportunity to deeply explore chamber repertoire that complements Cantata Singers' mainstage series. The Weiner and Weill program complements Cantata Singers' final Concert Series program of music by Arthur Honegger, Lazar Weiner, and Yehudi Wyner. Paired with Honegger's King David, Cantata Singers will present Yiddish art songs and choruses by Lazar Weiner, and Yehudi Wyner's Torah Service, works rarely heard on the concert stage. The program will take place on Friday, May 12, 2017 at 8pm in Jordan Hall. A pre-concert Kabbalat Shabbat service and Shabbat dinner begins at 6:30pm, supported in part by Combined Jewish Philanthropies.

Ms. Voth is an associate professor of music at Boston University's School of Music, and principal coach at Boston University's Opera Institute. A well-known diction coach in Boston and New York, she has concertized widely with Lucine Amara of the Metropolitan Opera. She has worked as diction coach and répétiteur with such companies as Opera Boston, Boston Lyric Opera, Emmanuel Music, Chautauqua Opera, Providence Opera, Granite State Opera, the Verismo Opera of New Jersey, and Opera North. A champion of new music, Voth has performed and assisted in the premieres of many new works with ALEA III, Collage New Music, The New Music Consort, The Group for Contemporary Players and the National Orchestra Association New Music Project. She is a specialist in the music of Paul Bowles and was on the cutting edge of the Paul Bowles revival movement in the 1990s.

The Chamber Series concludes on Friday, March 31, 2017, with music by "Les Six," a collection of early 20th century French avant-garde composers. The group, assembled by writer Jean Cocteau and comprised of composers Arthur Honegger, Georges Auric, Louis Durey, Darius Milhaud, Francis Poulenc, and Germaine Tailleferre, were labelled "Les Six" by music critic Henri Collet. While the six composers have been grouped together since the start of their careers, their musical languages vary, as demonstrated on this program featuring Milhaud's Trois Poèmes de Jean Cocteau and Auric's Huit poèmes de Jean Cocteau, Poulenc's Quatre Poèmes de Guillaume Apollinaire and Honegger's Six Poèmes d'Apollinaire, and Milhaud's Suite for violin, clarinet, and piano, op. 157b. Anna Winestein, executive director of the Ballets Russes Arts Initiative, will give the pre-concert talk at 6:30pm.

Single tickets $25, discounts for students, seniors, and groups. For more information, contact Cantata Singers at 617.868.5885, or visit our website, www.cantatasingers.org.

A singular desire to bring to Boston's listeners music that isn't being heard anywhere else has inspired Cantata Singers' programming for 53 years.

In 1964, that music included the cantatas of J.S. Bach. Today, it may be hard for us to believe, but when Cantata Singers was founded in 1964, live performances of Bach cantatas were quite a rarity. In fact, Cantata Singers' early concerts featured the first Boston performances of many of the cantatas.

Bach's music, from the cantatas to the B-minor Mass to the Passions, remains an essential part of Cantata Singers' repertoire. However, the ensemble's repertoire has expanded to include music from the 17th century to today. Cantata Singers has commissioned 14 works for choir and orchestra-including one that was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music-and has presented more than fifty Boston premieres of music both old and new.

Many of Boston's most talented musicians perform regularly with Cantata Singers. The chorus is made up of singers who have careers as musicians, educators, doctors, and architects. Many of these members appear as soloists with Cantata Singers, as well as with other highly respected organizations; some conduct other choruses and orchestras in the area. Although many of our musicians perform actively as solo singers, they choose to sing with Cantata Singers because of the reward they find in performing music of the choral canon at the highest possible level.

Cantata Singers has always focused on the music-be it by Bach, Verdi, Harbison, or Pärt-and its audiences do, too. Our audiences return year after year to hear fresh visions of iconic music, or an intriguing unfamiliar work that is-in fact-quite approachable. Each Cantata Singers concert is often surprising, sometimes challenging, always beautiful, and ultimately inspiring.

Pictured: Cantata Singers Chamber Series, American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Photo by Martha Stewart.



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