Resonance Works Announces 2019-2020 Season
Resonance Works, Pittsburgh's artist-driven, multi-modal performing arts company, has announced that single tickets will go on sale September 15 for its 2019-20 season, Fresh Perspectives - New Traditions. Hailed for the "innovative streak in its musical programming" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette), Resonance Works' landmark seventh season draws a deep focus on the cultural reawakening and evolution that is reshaping not only the classical music universe but our global-political culture at large. Pursuant to its stated mission to explore "themes that resonate with the current climate" at least half of the works presented in this season's programs are composed by women (a tip of the hat to the ratification of the 19th amendment, which celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2020) and shall urgently explore themes of multiculturalism and the ongoing evolution of gender-based power dynamics.
The season will commence in November with the national anthems, featuring the titular work by Pulitzer Prize winning composer David Lang, ensconced within a multicultural tapestry of choral and chamber music. Each of the performances will be preceded by a musical prelude and tours of the Nationality Rooms in the University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning. With the Holiday Season, December will see the return of Amahl and the Night Visitors (last presented in Resonance Works' 2017-18 season) matched with works by Jennifer Higdon, Jessie Montgomery, Cécile Chaminade and Pittsburgh's own Nancy Galbraith. In March, the company will present ... of Dark and Bright featuring guest soloist Jeffrey Turner, former principal bassist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, in a new work by Missy Mazzoli. Mazzoli's work is inspired by the nearly five hundred year history of the modern double bass and will be paired with works similarly inspired by music and events of the past including Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw's To the Hands for choir and strings. The season comes to a finale in May with an intimate staging of Verdi's well-loved tragedy Rigoletto, updated to take place in the 1930s with its lens focused upon contemporary societal issues, particularly those illuminated by the recent #metoo movement. In addition to these diverse and forward thinking events, the popular Resonance Chamber Series returns to Bar Marco with four performances spread across the season from October through April.
the national anthems
On Saturday and Sunday, November 2 and 3, Resonance Works pays homage to our global community with a multicultural program inspired by Pulitzer Prize winning composer David Lang's work of the same name for choir and string quartet. As Lang explains:
"I had the idea that if I looked carefully at every national anthem I might be able to identify something that everyone in the world could agree on. If I could take just one hopeful sentence from the national anthem of every nation in the world, I might be able to make a kind of meta-anthem of the things that we all share... Hiding in every national anthem is the recognition that we are insecure about our freedoms, that freedom is fragile, and delicate, and easy to lose. Maybe an anthem is a memory informing a kind of prayer, a heartfelt plea: 'There was a time when we were forced to live in chains. Please don't make us live in chains again.'"
The two performances will be presented from within the University of Pittsburgh's non-denominational Heinz Chapel and Charity Randall Theatre respectively. Each will be preceded by a musical prelude and tour of the University's majestic Nationality Rooms. Designed to celebrate highly-creative periods in each country's history, The Nationality Rooms pay homage to the contributions of immigrants from around the world who settled in the Pittsburgh region.
In addition to Lang's work, the program features a carefully curated mosaic of choral, vocal-chamber and instrumental pieces reflecting upon various ethnicities, cultures and traditions. This multi-ethnic survey includes works by Arvo Pärt (Estonia), Gabriela Lena Frank (Peru), James MacMillan (Scotland), Chen Yi (China), Jorge Sosa (Bengal by way of Mexico), Caroline Shaw (USA), Mary Kouyoumdjian (Armenia), Enoch Sontonga (South Africa), Florence Price (African American), Vivian Fung (Indonesia), Kaija Saariaho (Finland) and Silvestre Revueltas (Mexico).
Amahl & the Night Visitors
On December 20 and 22, Resonance Works returns to form with a reprise of Gian Carlo Menotti's much loved opera, Amahl & the Night Visitors to ring in the Holiday Season. This year the production moves to the North Side's New Hazlett Theater under the direction of the Pittsburgh Opera's resident artist stage director Matthew Haney. Mezzo-soprano Olga Perez Flora makes her Resonance Works debut as the Mother, while Jonathan Stuckey (Macbeth, Amahl, On the Town) and Rob Chafin (Things Not Seen) return this year in the roles of King Balthazar and King Kaspar respectively.
As in Resonance Works' previous seasons, this year's performance will additionally feature non-operatic repertoire including Cécile Chaminade's Flute Concertino. Returning Resonance Works artist Lindsey Goodman, who wowed audiences this past May with the world premiere of Nancy Galbraith's flute concerto, will be featured as soloist. Chaminade, who composed her concertino well over a century ago, established herself as a well respected and decorated composer amongst predominantly male colleagues in late 19th and early 20th century France and England. Fittingly, this seminal work for flute will be paired with compositions by equally exceptional women of the present day, including sacred choral works by Nancy Galbraith and Jennifer Higdon and a short orchestral overture entitled Starburst by Jessie Montgomery.
... of Dark and Bright
On March 21 and 22, 2020, Resonance Works brings one of the first US performances of Missy Mazzoli's concerto for double bass, Dark with Excessive Bright, to Rodef Shalom Congregation's Levy Hall in Shadyside. Premiered on tour on February 1, 2018, Mazzoli's piece was commissioned by the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Aurora Orchestra. The work is inspired by bassist Maxime Bibeau's instrument, which was constructed in 1580. As Mazzoli explains, "...I imagined the instrument as a sort of historian, that could accumulate melodies and history, and that this piece would be [the instrument] sort of telling its story." The title of the work, Dark with Excessive Bright, is taken from Milton's Paradise Lost, and is a phrase that according to the composer seems to describe the double bass itself, which produces a very dark sound that is enchanted by a kind of luminosity.
To helm this remarkable new composition, Resonance Works will be joined by guest soloist Jeffrey Turner. Turner is former principal bassist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra who retired last year after 31 years with the ensemble and now serves as professor of music in double bass at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music.
In addition to Mazzoli's exciting new composition, this reflective program includes a number of other works that draw inspiration from music and events of the past which illuminate certain causes in the present.
Pulitzer Prize winning composer Caroline Shaw's To the Hands is written for voices and strings and draws its inspiration from the Ad Manus movement of Deitrich Buxtehude's 17th century masterpiece Membra Jesu Nostri. The work was commissioned in 2016 by Philadelphia's dedicated new music choir The Crossing as part of artistic director Donald Nally's Seven Responses series. Built upon plainchant and fragments of Latin texts from Buxtehude's seminal work, Shaw incorporates modern texts including elements of Emma Lazarus' 1883 sonnet The New Colossus, whose famous lines adorn the base of the Statue of Liberty, as well as figures of displaced persons by country, sourced from the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). According to Shaw, these additions emphasize the piece's core considerations, which include "the suffering of those around the world seeking refuge, and of our role and responsibility in these global and local crises."
The balance of the program will include Chen Yi's Shuo, Ottorino Respighi's Ancient Airs & Dances, Suite 3, Jennifer Higdon's To the Point, Gabriela Lena Frank's Leyendas: An Andean Walkabout, Kaija Saariaho's Changing Light, Lili Boulanger's Hymn au Soleil and Ruth Crawford Seeger's Andante for Strings.
On May 15 and 17, Resonance Works returns to the Charity Randall Theatre with an ambitious reimagining of one of opera's most beloved and heartbreaking tales, Giuseppe Verdi's masterpiece, Rigoletto. Based upon Victor Hugo's play Le roi s'amuse, Verdi's opera warns of the cost of seeking revenge. In a world where money and titles prevail, women have no voice and the lower classes have no power, the deformed court jester Rigoletto attempts to protect his beloved daughter Gilda by taking matters into his own hands and suffers much more dire consequences than he could have anticipated.
This ambitious reimagining updates the setting of Verdi's tale to the 1930s, bringing the strong relevance of Gilda's tale into nearer focus by moving it into the 20th century and within the last hundred years. The intimacy of the Charity Randall will draw the audience into the story in a way that has never before been experienced by the opera-going public in Pittsburgh, allowing near-direct participation in the visceral emotions and suspense of this tragic story.
Additionally, Resonance Works is proudly partnering with PAAR (Pittsburgh Action Against Rape) to create discussion and increase awareness about the many relevant current issues portrayed in the opera. PAAR is one of the oldest rape crisis centers in the country, providing services to Allegheny County for more than 47 years, and is dedicated to assisting victims of sexual abuse and ending sexual violence in our community.
To bring this potent vision to life, a stellar cast has been assembled including the return of Resonance Works artists Benjamin Bloomfield (Falstaff), Laurel Semerdjian (Rusalka), stage director Valerie Rachelle (On the Town) and soprano Joanna Latini as Gilda. Latini started as a member of the chorus in Resonance Works' first two opera productions, while she was still a student at Carnegie Mellon University, and in 2018 she returned as the Kitchen Boy in that season's production of Rusalka. Now one of the most exciting rising stars in opera, Latini has made appearances at the Glimmerglass Festival, Atlanta Opera, Calgary Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City and others. Resonance Works is honored to present Latini her role debut as Gilda!
Resonance Chamber Series
Opening in October with our Season Kickoff Sampler, the popular chamber music series will return to The Union Hall at Bar Marco in the Strip District on select weeknights at 7:00 pm. January 14, 2020, will host a release party for Lindsey Goodman's forthcoming album Etereo on PARMA Recordings, which will be followed by the Kassia Ensemble in February and in April a celebration of the 19th Amendment featuring a program of songs by women composers.
The Resonance Chamber Series is a great way to get up close and personal with the artists of Resonance Works as they present these self-curated evenings of chamber music and cabaret! Tickets are $15, and each and every dollar goes to the artists performing that evening.
Single tickets will go on sale September 15, 2019 at www.resworks.org/tickets. Subscriptions and memberships for the season are currently available for purchase. Special rates are available on single tickets for senior citizens, students, and children. For more information, see www.resworks.org/subscribe.