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JCC Manhattan to Present PREformances with Allison Charney, 4/13

JCC Manhattan presents PREformances with Allison Charney on Monday, April 13th at 7:30pm.

This is the final concert in Season Six of PREformances, a unique concert series offering audiences rare opportunities to hear celebrated classical musicians before they perform on the world's most prestigious stages, providing a coveted space for engagement and rehearsal whilst dissolving traditional barriers between performer and audience.

PREformances will feature an exciting evening of music from Beethoven to Bizet, as series founder and curator, soprano Allison Charney, welcomes fellow singers to a special PREformances collaboration. Mezzo-soprano Sara Murphy will sing selections from her upcoming recital at the prestigious Cincinnati May Festival. Tenor Alok Kumar who is preparing for his debut as Calaf in Turandot with Opera Company of Middlebury, as Don Jose? with OperaDelaware and a production at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, will also be performing. In addition, PREformances' official collaborative pianist, Craig Ketter, will play Beethoven's beloved Sonata Pathe?tique in anticipation of his solo recital tour.

Funds raised through patron support of the PREformances program will support both The Basser Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania and special programs at The JCC in Manhattan that promote early detection of cancer and care for those living with breast and ovarian cancer. Donations can be made here.

Located on 76th Street and Amsterdam, JCC Manhattan is a vibrant non-profit community center on the Upper West Side. The cornerstone of progressive programming in Manhattan, the JCC serves over 55,000 people annually through 1,200 programs each season that educate, inspire, and transform participants' minds, bodies, and spirits. Since its inception, the JCC has been committed to serving the community by offering programs and services that reach beyond neighborhood boundaries. Programs at the JCC reach people at all stages of their lives, and serve the entire family and community.

Jewish Community Center in Manhattan's Samuel Priest Rose Building is located at 334 Amsterdam Avenue at West 76th Street, NY. Call (646) 505-5708 for more information. Subway: 1/2/3 to 72nd St.; Bus: M7 or M11 to West 75th Street Admission: $15; $10 Members; $5 for Ages 62+. Go to www.jccmanhattan.org/preformances for more.

About PREformances with Allison Charney - Opera singer Allison Charney lost her cell phone in a cab. The JCC of Manhattan Executive Director Rabbi Joy Levitt found it. Upon their meeting, a brand new model for a concert series, PREformances with Allison Charney, was born.

PREformances with Allison Charney is truly unique in the vast landscape of NYC musical offerings, as it affords professional classical musicians of the highest caliber* an opportunity to try out something they are preparing to perform somewhere big, in front of an audience who understands that they are seeing a not-quite- finished product. The performers benefit from the slightly pumped up pressure that any public performance brings, without any worry of a possible review, along with an extra chance to hone their performances in this day of massive budget cuts in the arts which severely limits opportunities for ample rehearsal time. Simultaneously, the audience benefits from an up-close-and-personal, barrier-breaking opportunity to get inside the head of a top-notch performer...see what they think about, what their challenges may be, all while hearing the best classical concerts in New York City.

PREformances with Allison Charney maintains its highly accessible concerts with extremely low single ticket prices. However, about to enter its sixth season, PREformances with Allison Charney will also continue its vastly successful and profoundly impactful charitable relationship with the Basser Research Center through its fundraising arm: Friends of PREformances.

Inspired by the incredible philanthropy of Mindy and Jon Gray, whose 25 million dollar gift launched the Basser Center at the University of Pennsylvania, PREformances with Allison Charney will be able to help promote awareness and education at the JCC about breast and ovarian cancers, which coincidentally impact women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, thousands of whom walk through the doors of the JCC annually, at a rate of 1 in 44, or 10 times that of the normal population. All gifts starting at $100 include a season subscription for two to PREformances with Allison Charney with many more perks available at higher levels of patronage, including tickets to exclusive concerts in Manhattan's finest private homes.

Begun in the most ordinary circumstances, PREformances with Allison Charney is now blossoming into a most extraordinary program - one that not only creates beautiful music but could also save lives of countless women at risk.

ABOUT THE PERFORMERS:

Soprano Allison Charney's operatic career began in earnest following the national finals of the Metropolitan Opera Competition with her debut at the New York City Opera as Musetta in LA BOHE?ME. She went on to sing most of Puccini's leading soprano roles in opera companies throughout the country, including the title roles in MADAMA BUTTERFLY, TOSCA and SUOR ANGELICA, Mimi in LA BOHE?ME and Liu? in TURANDOT, earning a reputation for her "vocal agility, lush sound and dramatic portrayals" of the lirico-spinto roles in her wide ranging repertoire. Ms. Charney has experienced enormous success with her Mozart interpretations as well, including both Susanna and the Countess in LE NOZZE DI FIGARO, both Donna Anna and Donna Elvira in DON GIOVANNI, Pamina in DIE ZAUBERFLO?TE and Sandrina in the rarely-heard LA FINTA GIARDINIERA. She wowed both audience and critics all over the United States with her tour-de-force portrayals of all three heroines in Offenbach's TALES OF HOFFMANN. Her versatility has also led her to sing roles as varied as Rosalinde in DIE FLEDERMAUS, Micae?la in CARMEN, Nedda in PAGLIACCI, Santuzza in CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA and the title roles in MARTHA, LA TRAVIATA, JENUFA and THE MERRY WIDOW. Ms. Charney's career has brought her to opera companies across the United States, including the New York City Opera, Atlanta Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Utah Opera, Nashville Opera, Opera Memphis, Annapolis Opera, Opera Theater of Connecticut, New Rochelle Opera, Opera Illinois, OperaDelaware, Utah Festival Opera, DiCapo OperaTheater, Tampa Opera, Opera Idaho, Syracuse Opera, Washington Summer Opera Festival, Colorado Opera Festival and Mississippi Opera. Concert highlights have included performances at Alice Tully Hall, Avery Fisher Hall and as a featured soloist with the esteemed Philadelphia Orchestra. Ms. Charney sang her first performance of Samuel Barber's KNOXVILLE: SUMMER OF 1915 along with the world premiere of Kim D. Sherman's newly-orchestrated, INVOCATION, under the baton of JoAnn Falletta, and returns to the Riverdale Sinfonietta in December of 2014, after her successful turn in Kurt Weill's MAHAGONNY to sing in a concert of Bach cantatas. Continuing her commitment to performing music of our times, Ms. Charney premiered Moshe Knoll's PSALM 133 with the San Jose Chamber Orchestra, in a concert that also featured Kim D. Sherman's oratorio (composed for Ms. Charney) SONGBIRD AND THE EAGLE in the spring of 2014, after which she performed in the Rite of Summer Music Festival on Governors Island and made her debut with the Boston Pops under the baton of Alan Gilbert, Music Director of the New York Philharmonic. Ms. Charney is featured in the newly-released, first recording of the Pulitzer Prize nominated oratorio CHOOSE LIFE, by composer Mona Lyn Reese and can be heard in a CD of American songs with pianist, Benjamin Loeb, on the DSC Label. Ms. Charney is an active recitalist and master teacher and is the founder and curator of the concert series, PREformances with Allison Charney housed at the JCC Manhattan. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude with highest honors, in Special Concentrations from Harvard University, she went on to earn two graduate degrees in music from the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University. Ms. Charney now lives in New York City with her husband, Adam Epstein and their two sons, Evan and Oliver.

Sara Murphy, "a gorgeous, deep, dark mezzo-soprano" (The New York Times), has been called "absolutely unforgettable for her versatility and ability to conquer any sensitive soul" (El Nacional, Dominican Republic). Highlights of the current season include her debut at the Cincinnati May Festival in Mahler's Symphony No. 8, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 and Tchaikovsky's Ode to Joy with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra under the direction of James Conlon, the Verdi Requiem at Bard College with conductor Leon Botstein and Elgar's Dream of Gerontius at Berkshire Choral Festival with conductor Kent Tritle. She returns in a solo recital to the May Festival this summer.

Sara debuted at the Ravinia Festival in 2013 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by James Conlon, earning critical acclaim for Britten's Phaedra, Barber's Dover Beach and High Priestess in Verdi's Aida from the Chicago Tribune: "Sara Murphy brought a rich, voluminous mezzo voice, excellent diction and an acute feeling for words and music." The 2013 season also included numerous performances of the Verdi Requiem as well as two concerts with the MidAtlantic Opera Orchestra and conductor Jason Tramm with arias and scenes from Il Trovatore (Azucena), Aida (Amneris) and Un Ballo in Maschera (Ulrica). Additionally, she joined the Ensemble for the Romantic Century for the theatrical concert Frankenstein singing music of Bach and Schubert, and was alto soloist in Handel's Messiah and the Rachmaninoff Vespers. Sara was the first-prize winner in the 2013 Oratorio Society of New York Solo Vocal Competition and received an Inter-Cities Performing Arts grant in the same year.

Since 2012 Sara has appeared in concert and semi-staged productions of Wagner's Die Walku?re (Fricka), Verdi's Il Trovatore (Azucena) and Aida (Amneris). She has also performed abridged versions or scenes from Verdi's Don Carlo (Eboli), Un Ballo in Maschera (Ulrica) and Nabucco (Fenena); Wagner's Lohengrin (Ortrud) and Die Walku?re (Sieglinde); Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana (Santuzza); Mozart's Don Giovanni (Donna Elvira), Bellini's Norma (Adalgisa) and Puccini's Madama Butterfly (Suzuki).

Sara is a frequent soloist on the Sacred Music in a Sacred Space concert series in New York City, performing such works as Mozart's Requiem and Solemn Vespers, Bach's Magnificat, Szymanowski's Stabat Mater, Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, Durufle?'s Requiem and the Rachmaninoff Vespers. In addition to these works, her oratorio repertoire includes Verdi's Requiem, Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle, Dvorak's Stabat Mater, Handel's Messiah and Beethoven's Mass in C.

In recital, Sara has frequently presented Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder, and her collaborators have included pianist Dalton Baldwin and duo pianists Pascal and Ami Rogé.

Sara earned a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College and a Master's degree from Catholic University. In 2010 she was awarded an honorable mention in the George London Foundation Competition and was a finalist in the Joy in Singing Competition, as well as a recipient of a Wagner Society of New York grant.

Tenor Alok Kumar begins the 2014-2015 Season at Canada's Le Domaine Forget International Music Festival as Don Jose? in the Bizet/Brook La Trage?die de Carmen. He then returns to New York City to portray the role of the Duke of Mantua in Verdi's Rigoletto which he follows as Alfredo in Verdi's La Traviata in Baltimore. March 2015 finds Mr. Kumar debuting at the Sanibel Music Festival in Florida in excerpts from Puccini's La Bohe?me, Tosca, Madama Butterfly and Turandot. Thereafter, he reprises the role of Don José in Opera Delaware's production of the Bizet/Brook La Trage?die de Carmen. In May and June, Mr. Kumar makes a role and company debut as Cala?f in Puccini's Turandot under the baton of Emmanuel Plasson. In June he concludes the season with his debut at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

Highlights from the 2013-2014 Season included a role debut of the Duke of Mantua in Verdi's Rigoletto followed by his portrayal of Pinkerton in the excerpted love duet from Puccini's Madama Butterfly with the Cincinnati Pops led by Maestro John Morris Russell in collaboration with the Cincinnati Opera. Later in the season, Mr. Kumar enjoyed a role and company debut as Don Jose? the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre in its production of Bizet's Carmen. He concluded the season in concerts, first as the tenor soloist in Rossini's Stabat Mater with the Fairfield County Chorale and then as the tenor soloist in the New York premier of Stephen Paulus' To Be Certain of the Dawn at Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium.

An avid collaborator of new musical works, Mr. Kumar premiered the tenor solo in the Thomas Cabaniss Cantata My Song is a Fire and collaborated with director Scott Schwarz and librettist Marc Aceto in Jeffrey Stock's musical adaptation of E. M. Forster's A Room with a View. Most recently, Mr. Kumar recorded the role of Jesus of Nazareth in Marcos Galvany's operatic tableaux Oh My Son with members of the Washington National Symphony and Washington National Opera Orchestra, members of the Washington National Opera Chorus and the Washington National Cathedral Children's Choir under the baton of Michael Rossi. Mr. Kumar performed the role of Jesus in the work's European premier in Spain in 2014 and will reprise the role at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2015.

Mr. Kumar has appeared with the Santa Fe Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, Asheville Lyric Opera, Opera Delaware, Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre and Portland Opera Repertory Theater amongst others and has most frequently portrayed leading roles in the operas of Bizet, Puccini and Verdi.

As a solo concert artist, he has appeared with symphonies and orchestras in Spain, California, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Texas and Massachusetts, including in Symphony Hall with the Boston Pops for the Richard Rodgers Centennial and in Sanders Theater with the Greater Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Federico Cortese. Mr. Kumar's festival appearances include the Spoleto Festival in Italy, Le Domaine Forget International Music Festival in Canada, the Sanibel Music Festival in Florida and the Crested Butte Music Festival in Colorado.

Mr. Kumar is a member of the state bars of Massachusetts and New York. Born in India and raised in upstate New York, he resides in New York City with his wife.

Critically acclaimed for "transporting the listeners to extraordinary heights," American Craig Ketter has distinguished himself as a leading pianist of his generation. Mr. Ketter has performed as soloist to Mexico, Argentina, France, Germany, Japan, and across the United States and Canada. Complementing his solo performances with collaborative ventures, Mr. Ketter can be heard in venues including NPR's Performance Today series, CBS Sunday Morning, Sirius Satellite Radio, Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, La Huaca, Atlapa in Panama City, the Savannah Music Festival, Bay Chamber Concerts in Rockport, Maine, "Music in the Mountains" in Colorado, and The Marilyn Horne Foundation. He has collaborated with flutist Eugenia Zukerman, clarinetists Stephen Williamson, Ricardo Morales and Jon Manasse, cellists Robert deMaine and Eric Bartlett, violinists Kelly Hall-Tompkins and Roy Malan, and singers Deborah Voigt, Margaret Jane Wray, Cynthia Lawrence, Samuel Ramey, Paul Plishka, and Ben Heppner, to name a few. He has also performed with the esteemed actress Claire Bloom. Mr. Ketter has been a faculty member of the Rocky Ridge Music Festival in Colorado and has served as Chair of the Piano Faculty at the American Festival for the Arts in Houston, Texas. He is a regular guest artist at the Raleigh Conservatory of Music and recently joined the faculty of New Jersey City University and is the official collaborative pianist for PREformances with Allison Charney. Mr. Ketter currently resides in the New York area with his wife, Canadian soprano Valerie Gonzalez, and his two sons, Isaac and Daniel.

Photo Credit: Mark Rosenberg

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