Musica Viva NY to Present AN ELEGY FOR ALL HUMANITY at All Souls Church
Musica Viva NY, led by Artistic Director Dr. Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez, closes its 2016-2017 season on Sunday, May 7 at 5:00 p.m. at All Souls Church with An Elegy for All Humanity, featuring a performance of Brahms' German-language masterpiece, Ein deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem) in a rarely heard chamber ensemble arrangement by Joachim Linckelmann with the Musica Viva NY choir and soloists soprano Devony Smith and bass-baritone Joseph Beutel.
Also on the program is prolific pianist and composer Seymour Bernstein's cantata Song of Nature-inspired by Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay, Nature-in a new arrangement by Dr. Hernandez-Valdez, narrated by David Rockefeller, Jr.
Preceding the concert is a screening of Ethan Hawke's acclaimed documentary Seymour: An Introduction, a warm and witty tribute to Seymour Bernstein, as he shares stories from his life, together with insightful reflections on art, creativity, and the search for fulfillment. The screening takes place at 2:30 p.m. in Reidy Friendship Hall at All Souls Church, followed by a Q&A session with Bernstein.
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. With a broad repertoire that includes new compositions and classic masterworks, Musica Viva NY emphasizes artistic excellence and transformative interpretations to ennoble the human spirit; its imaginative programming offers joy, solace and renewal in a complex world.
Tickets, priced at $30, which include admission to the documentary screening, are available by visiting musicaviva.org/tickets or can be purchased at the door.
An Elegy for All Humanity
Sunday, May 7 at 5:00 p.m.
All Souls Church
1157 Lexington Avenue (at 80th Street)
New York, NY 10075
BRAHMS Ein deutsches Requiem (arranged for chamber ensemble by Joachim Linckelmann)
SEYMOUR BERNSTEIN Song of Nature (new arrangement by Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez)
ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
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 conductor and pianist.
Since August 2015, Dr. Hernandez-Valdez has served as the Artistic Director of Musica Viva NY. Musica Viva NY is a choral ensemble founded in 1977 with a long tradition of top-caliber performances, innovative programing, and a strong dedication to the commissioning of new works. Hernandez-Valdez 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.
As Artistic Director, Co-Founder, and Conductor of the New Orchestra of Washington (NOW), Hernandez-Valdez has collaborated with many International Artists and has premiered numerous new works.
In September 2016, he began his tenure as Artistic Director of the Victoria Bach Festival, replacing Grammy Award-winning conductor and composer Craig Hella Johnson who led the Festival as Artistic Director from 1992 to 2015.
Dr. Seymour Bernstein, internationally known writer, composer, teacher, and lecturer, studied with such notable musicians as Alexander Brailowsky, Sir Clifford Curzon, Jan Gorbaty, Nadia Boulanger, and Georges Enesco, both in the US and in Europe. His prizes and grants include the First Prize and Prix Jacques Durand from the international competition held at Fontainebleau, France, 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. His concert career has taken him to Asia, Europe, and throughout the Americas, where he has appeared in solo recitals and as guest artist with orchestras and chamber music groups.
Among his publications are: With Your Own Two Hands, Monsters and Angels-Surviving a Career in Music, 20 Lessons in Keyboard Choreography, Musi-Physi-Cality, the children's version, Chopin-Interpreting His Notational Indications, and innumerable solo piano and other instrumental works ranging from intermediate to artist level. All his works are published by Manduca Music Publications, Portland, Maine.
One of the most sought after teachers and lecturers in this country and abroad, Seymour Bernstein maintains a private studio in New York City, and is an Adjunct Associate Professor of Music and Music Education at New York University. In 2004, he received an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA.
David Rockefeller, Jr. has been actively using his voice as a performing instrument since he was ten years old, singing in choir as a boy, then in theatre and Glee Club at high school and College, and as a semi-professional chorister for more than forty years with Boston's Cantata Singers and - more briefly - the Boston Camerata.
More recently, David has focused on narration, often with musical accompaniment. In his former home city of Boston, he performed with the Boston Pops Orchestra (as John F. Kennedy), the Lexington Symphony, and the Handel & Haydn Society. At All Souls Church, he has performed with Musica Viva NY and for several years as a regular reader at Stories with Soul. Elsewhere, he has performed at the Bohemian Club in San Francisco and has twice presented the epic poem Enoch Arden (for piano and voice) by AlFred Lord Tennyson, at Ol' Miss in Oxford, Mississippi, and at The Century Association in NYC. David has also appeared as a narrator in three of the films directed by his wife, Susan Cohn Rockefeller, and he read for a five CD set for Audible.com in which he was the voice of Albert Einstein.
Bass-baritone Joseph Beutel is often praised for his "deep, well-rounded tone," and overall richness of voice and versatility on stage. He portrayed the roles of the Duke and Judge in Powder Her Face by Thomas Adès at Skylight Music Theatre in Milwaukee. Other recent engagements have included singing with LoftOpera, Santa Fe Opera, Fargo-Moorhead Opera, and the high priest of Baal in Nabucco with Opera Naples. He originated the role of the British Major in the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Silent Night by Kevin Puts, which premiered at Minnesota Opera. Beutel was the winner of a Sullivan Foundation Career Development Award in 2011.
Soprano Devony Smith, noted for her "strong" voice by The New York Times, recently debuted at Lincoln Center as the 2015 Grand Prize winner of the Metropolitan International Music Festival's art song competition. Passionate about working with living composers, she created the lead role in the world premiere of Shawn Jaeger's opera Payne Hollow and premiered Ben Moore's dramatic John and Abigail. Smith performed in concerts curated by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Joan Tower and Grammy Award-winning soprano Dawn Upshaw.