New York Choral Society Commemorates Anniversary Of End Of WWI & Kristallnacht
Monday evening, November 12, 2018, 8 p.m., The New York Choral Society and Orchestra (NYCHORAL) will present its first program of the season, MY SHADOW AND MY LIGHT, under the baton of Music Director David Hayes at the Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall. In honor of Veterans Day and in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War and the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, Maestro Hayes has chosen a program that explores how three early 20th-century composers, two British and one American, created works expressing their deeply personal reactions to these profound moments in human history.
The program will begin with Samuel Barber's Agnus Dei, the 1967 choral transcription of Barber's Adagio for Strings with all the fragile simplicity and fierce emotional power of its orchestral counterpart. The Adagio was premiered by renowned conductor Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony Orchestra following his then-recent escape from Mussolini's Italy, serves as both as lamentation and musical commentary on a world at war. Baritone Nathaniel Sullivan appears as soloist in Gerald Finzi's Requiem da Camera, dedicated to the memory of Finzi's teacher, composer Ernest Farrar, who was killed in action in 1918. The program will conclude with Michael Tippett's A Child of Our Time-featuring soprano Gabriella Reyes, mezzo-soprano Zoie Reams, tenor David Portillo, and baritone Luthando Qave-which the composer began writing on September 3, 1939, the same day that Britain declared war on Germany. Perhaps one of the most significant large-scale choral works of the 20th century, this piece is a reminder of the horrors of racial prejudice, bigotry, and xenophobia that existed in the past, and an urging to do better.
This program is part of the music director David Hayes' 2018-19 season, crafted around the themes of oppression and optimism on historically significant events and biblical stories that have profound contemporary relevance. Mr. Hayes hopes this season will encourage listeners to consider the power of music to reflect on the profound and painful failures of history in the process of creating a newfound sense of hope.
Nicaraguan-American soprano Gabriella Reyes is in her second year of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. This season Ms. Reyes will make her Metropolitan Opera stage debut as the High Priestess in the fall 2018 production of Aida. Last season, she made her Met company debut in the Met's Summer Recital Series, sang the First Lady in excerpts from Die Zauberflöte with the Los Angeles Philharmonic led by Gustavo Dudamel, at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, and also debuted as a soloist in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra.
Ms. Reyes has previously appeared in the New York Choral Society's Roads Less Traveled program in November 2017 at St. Francis Xavier Church as soloist in Schubert's Mirjams Siegesgesand, D. 942. Of this performance, Vishnu Bachani of New York Classical Review wrote: "The work requires a strong soprano to sing over a full chorus, rising to a high C. [Gabriella Reyes] delivered an impressive performance...She shone especially in the softer sections of the music" (November 19, 2017).
Before entering the Lindemann program, she completed a year's training at Boston University's Opera Institute. Ms. Reyes received her bachelor's degree from Boston Conservatory. She made her debut with the Opera Institute as the soprano in Philip Glass's Hydrogen Jukebox, followed by the title role in Tobias Picker's Emmeline. In the spring of 2017, she sang the Countess in the Institute's production of Le Nozze di Figaro, directed by David Paul. She has also sang Minskwoman in Jonathan Dove's Flight, and a Greek Woman and Priestess in Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride. In the summer of 2016, she debuted in OperaHub's production of Montsalvatge's El Gato con Botas as La Princesa and was selected by the Houston Grand Opera to participate in its Young Artists Vocal Academy. Ms. Reyes reached the finals of the 2017 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Zoie Reams, a "velvety mezzo," known for elegance and her nimbly "articulated coloratura," according to Opera News, is currently in her second year with the Houston Grand Opera studio program this season, where she sings Flora in La traviata, Dritte Magd in Elektra, and Rosalia in West Side Story. In the 2017-2018 season, Ms. Reams sang Maddalena in Rigoletto at Wolf Trap Opera, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the National Symphony Orchestra, and Handel's Messiah with the Las Vegas Philharmonic. Earlier highlights at the Houston Grand Opera include the Third Secretary in John Adams's Nixon in China, the Alto Winged Angel in the world premiere of Jake Heggie's It's A Wonderful Life, and the world premiere of Kaminsky's Some Light Emerges. Ms. Reams has also sung Clarice in La pietra del paragone with Wolf Trap Opera, Tituba in Ward's The Crucible with the Glimmerglass Festival, the Sandmännchen in Hänsel und Gretel with Opera Louisiane, and, on the concert stage, Bruckner's Te Deum with the Houston Symphony Orchestra. Her awards include second place at Houston Grand Opera's Eleanor McCollum Competition (2016), first place winner of the Emerging Artist division of the Classical Singer Competition (2015), and second place winner of the Gulf Coast Region of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (2016). She holds a Master of Music degree from Louisiana State University, where she sang Isabella in L'italiana in Algeri, Dido in Dido and Aeneas, Katisha in The Mikado, and Béatrice in Béatrice et Bénédict. She earned her Bachelor of Music at Lawrence University.
Praised by Opera News for "high notes with ease, singing with a luxuriant warm glow that seduced the ear as he bounded about the stage with abandon," American tenor David Portillo has established himself as a leading classical singer of his generation. An exciting 2018-2019 season includes a return to the Metropolitan Opera for a role debut as the Chevalier de la Force in Dialogues des Carmélites, a debut at the Bolshoi as Count Libenskof in Il viaggio a Reims, a return to the Lyric Opera of Chicago for Arbace in Idomeneo with Sir Andrew Davis, an opera he will perform for his debut with the Teatro Real in Madrid, but as Idamante, and finally Oper Frankfurt and the Glyndebourne Festival as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte. On two separate occasions in the season, Mr. Portillo will return to his hometown of San Antonio, Texas for a role debut as Alfredo in La traviata with Opera San Antonio, as well as a solo orchestral program of Italian repertoire with the San Antonio Symphony and Sebastian Lang-Lessing. Orchestral engagements include a return to the Los Angeles Philharmonic for Beethoven's Mass in C Major and Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass with Gustavo Dudamel, an appearance with Grant Gershon and the Los Angeles Master Chorale for Mozart's Requiem, and Carmina Burana with DePaul University as part of the opening celebrations of the Holtschneider Performance Center.
In the 2017-2018 season, David Portillo made a splash in two role debuts at the Metropolitan Opera, first as Eduardo in Thomas Adès' North American premiere of The Exterminating Angel, then as Camille de Rosillon in The Merry Widow. He performed Count Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia with Houston Grand Opera, and Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni for his debut with Dallas Opera. In the summer of 2018, Mr. Portillo made two important house debuts, at the Deutsche Oper Berlin as Count Libenskof, and the Bayerische Staatsoper as Pasquale in Orlando Paladino. Orchestral highlights of the season included Mozart's Requiem with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl.
South African baritone Luthando Qave is a graduate of the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. His upcoming engagements include Conte in Le nozze di Figaro, Fermer in Jen?fa, Marcello in La bohème, all at Stockholm Royal Opera. In 2018-19, he will sing Barbiere and Silvio as a guest at the Göteborg Opera.
In 2015-16, he sang Indian Queen at the Bolshoi and with English National Opera, L'Amant Anonyme (Ophemon), Mandarin in Turandot at Dalhalla Opera Festival, Don Cairo (Carmen), Conte (Le nozze di Figaro), and Guglielmo (Cosí fan tutte) in Royal Opera Stockholm.
Recent seasons have included Purcell's The Indian Queen in Perm, Russia, and at Teatro Real in Madrid, directed by Peter Sellars, as well as Leporello in Don Giovanni at the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm. Guglielmo in Così fan tutte with Drottningholm Court Theatre and Marcello in La Bohème with the International Vocal Arts Institute in Tel-Aviv Israel. May 2014 includes Mahler's Symphony No. 8 with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. During the spring of 2013 he sang Silvio in I pagliacci at the Finnish National Opera, followed by Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro in Stockholm during the summer.
His roles at the Metropolitan Opera have included the Herald in Otello, Fiorello in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and the Flemish Deputy in Don Carlo and Yamadori in Madama Butterfly. He has sung Guglielmo in Così fan tutte and Ubalde in Gluck's Armide in joint productions of the Metropolitan Opera and the Juilliard School. Mr. Qave completed his musical studies at University College of Opera in Stockholm, Sweden, and was a member of the Cape Town Opera Vocal Ensemble, where he made his debut as Marco in Gianni Schicchi, and performed Melchior in Amahl and the Night Visitors at Artscape Theater. In 2006, he made his European debut as Jake in Gershwin's Porgy & Bess at NorrlandsOperan and Malmö Opera in Sweden, at the Norwegian Opera, and in 2008, he made his debut with the same role at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. In 2009, he was part of the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence Academy, where he worked with Louis Langrée for the preparation of a concert with the Camerata Salzburg Orchestra.
Mr. Qave was a semi-finalist in the Neue Stimmen International Singing Competition and was a finalist in the Hans Gabor Belvedere Competition in Vienna, where he won the Washington National Opera and the Houston Grand Opera prizes. While in Sweden, Mr. Qave won the Joel Berglund Scholarship & Anders Wall Scholarship. He made his debut as Odoardo in Ariodante at Drottningholm Court Theatre, and performed Nardo in Mozart's La finta giardiniera. He has participated at the Marlboro Music Festival, where he worked with the pianist Mitsuko Uchida.
As an avid performer of vocal music and theatre, baritone Nathaniel Sullivan infuses his work with "impressive strength and precision" (Schmopera) as well as "allegiance to both music and words" (ConcertoNet). Having sung roles in both the classical and contemporary operatic repertoire, Sullivan's performances have ranged from Papageno (Die Zauberflöte), the Count (Le nozze di Figaro), and Sid (Albert Herring), to the roles of the baritone in Philip Glass's Hydrogen Jukebox and Elias/Bionic Leg in the world premiere of PATH New Music Theater's inaugural opera Simulacrum. In 2016, Sullivan joined Beth Morrison Projects to cover the roles of the Young Monk and Gilgamesh in Scott Wheeler's Naga and Paola Prestini's Gilgamesh, as part of the world premiere of the Ouroboros Trilogy in Boston. He has participated in the opera studio program at the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria (2013), and will join the Tanglewood Music Center as a baritone vocal fellow in 2018.
In addition to opera, Mr. Sullivan frequently collaborates as soloist in oratorio and other concert performances around the country. In 2014, he joined Maestro Edward Polochick and the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra in a concert featuring scenes from Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, performing the role of the Count. He has joined Maestro James Bagwell and the Bard Conservatory Orchestra and Chorus as the bass soloist in Mozart's Coronation Mass (2015) and in the Winter portion of Haydn's The Seasons (2016). For his October 2017 performance as the chansonnier in HK Gruber's orchestral pandemonium Frankenstein!!, Mr. Sullivan was lauded for being "ebullient" and "a marvelous actor" (ConcertoNet). Later that month, he performed as the bass soloist in J. S. Bach's Mass in B Minor with the Blanche Moyse Chorale & Memorial Orchestra, bringing "natural expressiveness and warmth" to the "Et in Spiritum Sanctum" (Rutland Herald).
Mr. Sullivan also takes great interest in the art song and chamber repertoires, with a particular focus on recently composed works. In 2016, he premiered five new pieces by students of composer Aaron Jay Kernis with a nine-part chamber ensemble made up of members of the Albany Symphony conducted by Maestro David Alan Miller. Mr. Sullivan's first foray into chamber music was a performance of Milton Babbitt's Two Sonnets for baritone, clarinet, viola, and cello, performed at Bard College in 2016. The following year, Sullivan premiered the piece "Where I Lived, and What I Lived For" by composer Gregory Spears, as part of a recital of premieres at the Morgan Library & Museum in New York City.
Mr. Sullivan has been the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships, and earned his master of music degree in 2017 from the Bard College Conservatory of Music's Graduate Vocal Arts Program. He is currently based in New York City, where he participates in various performance opportunities, sings in the professional choir at The Brick Presbyterian Church, and acts as Director of Operations for Resonant Bodies Festival.
An essential force in the New York choral scene since its founding in 1959, The New York Choral Society (NYCHORAL) is widely known for the outstanding artistic quality of its performances of choral music. NYCHORAL's mission is guided by its commitment to present a diverse repertoire, including well-known choral masterworks, great compositions that are rarely heard in concert halls, and newer, culturally significant choral works in New York. In addition to its regular season appearances at Carnegie Hall, the 180-voice strong New York Choral Society has appeared at every major venue in the New York City area, including Avery Fisher Hall, the Metropolitan Opera House, Madison Square Garden, NJPAC, and St. Patrick's Cathedral.
The next program this season will be a presentation of Arthur Honneger's Le Roi David at Central Synagogue on February 28, 2019, with soprano Hannah Spierman, mezzo-soprano Heather Johnson, and tenor Benjamin Warschawski. NYCHORAL concludes its season with the East Coast premiere of Randall Thompson's forgotten masterpiece, Requiem, on May 19, 2019, at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church. Thompson's Requiem, scored for double chorus and double string ensemble, represents humanity's everlasting capacity for hope in the face of adversity; this distinctively American work offers a meditation on the power of the human belief in immortality beyond the darkness of death.
Under the visionary artistic leadership of Music Director David Hayes since the 2012-2013 season, the New York Choral Society has expanded its artistic mission to present a wide variety of choral repertory as well as masterworks of the 20th and 21st century, such as John Adams's On The Transmigration of Souls, Hindemith's When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd, and the New York premiere of Jennifer Higdon's The Singing Rooms. Dedicated to carrying its tradition of musical excellence and community engagement beyond Manhattan, the New York Choral Society launched Christmas Around New York in December 2014, bringing family-friendly Christmas concerts to new audiences in all the boroughs of New York City. Each summer since 1960 NYCHORAL has produced a popular series of NYCHORAL Sings, participatory performances of choral music that are open to the public and feature emerging soloists from the New York area. NYCHORAL regularly participates in the annual Richard Tucker Gala at Carnegie Hall and Andrea Bocelli's Madison Square Garden concerts.
Last year NYCHORAL presented a program of Sir Charles Stanford's Songs of the Fleet, Op. 117 and the East Coast premiere of American composer Frank Ticheli's Symphony #3 "The Shore." The season closed in May 2018 with a performance of J.S Bach's choral masterwork Mass in B Minor at Carnegie Hall. Highlights of previous seasons include performances of James MacMillan's St. Luke Passion at the St. Bartholomew's Church, Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass, and Maurice Duruflé's Requiem at Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium. The choir took part in the American Premiere of Joseph Vella's The Hyland Mass: A Prayer for Unity in Diversity at St. Patrick's Cathedral in a performance presented by the Order of Malta, American Association. Other highlights include Estonian composer Arvo Pärt's 1985 Te Deum, Beethoven's Mass in C Op. 86, Handel's oratorio Israel in Egypt, Mendelssohn's St. Paul, Berlioz' L'Enfance du Christ, Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony, Holst's rarely-performed Hymn of Jesus, and Beethoven's Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, all at Carnegie Hall conducted by Music Director David Hayes.
A sought-after guest artist in New York City for many decades, the New York Choral Society has collaborated with the Lincoln Center Festival, Cirque de Soleil, New York Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, New York Youth Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, American Symphony Orchestra, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Juilliard Symphony, and the Opera Orchestra of New York and has performed with conductors such as Leonard Bernstein, Sergiu Comissiona, Dennis Russell Davies, Plácido Domingo, Fabio Luisi, Zubin Mehta, Yehudi Menuhin, Julius Rudel, Robert Shaw, Leonard Slatkin, Patrick Summers, Robert Spano, and Michael Tilson Thomas. International tours have included the Chinese premiere of Mahler's Eighth Symphony in Beijing in 2002; Mahler's Symphonies Nos. 2 and 8 in Mexico City with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería conducted by Carlos Miguel Prieto in 2010 and 2011; a return to Beijing for performances at the Olympic Cultural Festival in 2008; and several European tours with appearances in France, Austria, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Romania, Greece, the Czech Republic, and Israel.