Classical Music News of the Week, July 1, 2012

Paul Jacobs to Perform at Westminster Cathedral in London as part of the 2012 Grand Organ Festival on July 25


ELGAR: Sonata in G
, Op. 28              

OQUIN: Reverie                                        

BACH: Prelude and
Fugue in A minor
, BWV 543


DEMESSIEUX: Transcendental
, Op. 5  

After a successful season filled with American recital
dates, a tour with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, and
world premieres of works by Michael Daugherty and Mason Bates, organist Paul
Jacobs performs in London for the first time on July 25, at Westminster
Cathedral as part of the Grand Organ Festival 2012. For the concert, Jacobs is
delighted to play works by Elgar, Bach, Boulanger, Demessieux, and Wayne Oquin.

The evening begins with Edward Elgar's Sonata in G Major, Op. 28. Written in a
frenzy of inspiration in 1895, this substantial but little-known large-scale
work requires the organist to function almost as the conductor of a large
orchestra, commanding a vast tonal palette and wide range of expression from
the instrument's thousands of pipes. Jacobs will continue with Reverie by composer Wayne Oquin (b.
1977). Reverie was commissioned by
Jacobs in 2008 and has received several performances across the United States.
He will also play Nadia Boulanger's Trois
(1911). An extremely self-critical composer, Trois Pieces provide a rare glimpse into her creative output. The
night will conclude with several of the legendary organ virtuoso Jeanne
Demessieux's Transcendental Etudes,
Op. 5 (1944). Demessieux herself performed in Westminster Cathedral.

In addition to his work as an in-demand performer, Jacobs
is an advocate for the organ. As the head of Juilliard's Organ Department,
Jacobs is active in the training of the next generation's organ superstars, and
he has commissioned or given world premieres of works by Michael Daugherty,
Mason Bates, and Wayne Oquin. Next summer, Jacobs is proud to be a part of
Longwood Gardens' inaugural International Organ Competition as a judge. Along
with Thomas Murray, Professor of Music at Yale University; Oliver Condy, Editor
of BBC Music Magazine; Sophie-Veronique Cauchefer-Choplin, Titular of the Grand
Orgue of Saint Jean-Baptiste de la Salle in Paris; and Peter Richard Conte,
Grand Court Organist at Longwood Gardens, Jacobs will award the largest cash
prize of any organ competition in the world: a $40,000 first prize. The winner
will additionally receive a contract with Phillip Truckenbrod Concert Artists,
and a 2013-14 performance at Longwood Gardens. Second place receives the Firmin
Swinnen $15,000 prize and third place receives the Clarence Snyder $5,000
prize. Swinnen and Snyder were past resident organists at Longwood. The
competition hopes to inspire, recognize, and nurture young brilliant organists,
and will be held June 18-23, 2013.

The Grand Organ of Westminster Cathedral is considered by
many to be the greatest achievement and crowning glory of Henry Willis III, one
of England's finest organ builders. The first state of the organ was dedicated
by Marcel Dupré in 1922. In 1932, the organ was completed with specification
now 11 stops larger than had originally been intended. Since its inauguration,
the instrument has been heard in concerts played by many celebrated organists
from around the world including Louis Vierne, Fernando Germani, Jeanne
Demessieux, Pierre Cochereau, Jean Langlais, George Thalben-Ball, Ralph Downes,
Jean Guillou and others.

From April to December 2012, Westminster Cathedral
presents a series of eight concerts under the name Grand Organ Festival. The
unique and inspiring atmosphere of this sacred space creates a magnificent
setting for organ music, and the position of the great four manual instrument
high above the West Door provides the listener without he most direct and
comprehensive range of sound and color of any cathedral organ in the country.

An extraordinarily expressive performer and an intensely
intelligent musician, Grammy Award-winning organist Paul Jacobs is helping the
King of Instruments retake its rightful place in classical music. He is known
for his marathon performances, which sometimes last up to 18 hours, of the
complete works of Bach, Messiaen, and other composers, as well as his
presentations of new works and core repertoire. Jacobs was invited to join the
faculty of the Juilliard School in 2003, and was named chairman of the organ
department in 2004, one of the youngest faculty appointees in the school’s
history. He received Juilliard’s prestigious William Schuman Scholar’s Chair in
2007. More information on Paul Jacobs can be found on his Web site:

--Amanda Ameer, First Chair Promotion

Merola Opera Program Presents Dominick Argento’s Postcard from Morocco July 19 and 21

The Merola Opera Program presents Dominick Argento’s
rarely performed Postcard from Morocco
on Thursday, July 19 at 8 PM and Saturday, July 21 at 2 PM at the Cowell
Theatre at Fort Mason Center. The cast features Canadian soprano Aviva
Fortunata, tenor AJ Glueckert, baritone Joseph Lattanzi, Canadian soprano
Suzanne Ridgen, who will be returning to Merola this summer having participated
in the program in 2011, bass-baritone Matthew Scollin, Canadian mezzo-soprano
Carolyn Sproule and tenor Andrew Stenson. Merola alumnus Mark Morash will
conduct the production and renowned stage director Peter Kazaras will direct.

Focusing on a group of passengers and their luggage in a
train station, the production is dreamlike and surreal and unfolding a bit like
a mystery. “The opera is really about bullying,” says Director Peter Kazaras.
“As the story unfolds we see characters who are jealous and insecure, bullying
someone who is steadfast in pursuit of his dream. Although he is beaten at
first, he [the Man with a Paint Box] eventually ‘triumphs’ by virtue of having
the most gloriously beautiful and lyrical music in the score. The opera asks us
to examine how much we can ever really hope to know about other people's hopes
and aspirations.”

Mark Morash currently serves as the Director of Musical
Studies for San Francisco Opera Center and Merola audiences saw him most
recently conducting the 2011 production of Il barbiere di Siviglia. Peter
Kazaras staged the 2011 Schwabacher Summer Concert as well as Merola’s popular
production of Albert Herring in 2008. He has received worldwide acclaim as an
operatic tenor and currently serves as Seattle Opera’s Artistic Advisor and
Principal Artistic Instructor of the Young Artist Development Program. Kazaras
was recently appointed Director of Opera and Music Theater at UCLA.

The Merola Opera Program is dedicated to the continuing
education and training of the finest young operatic talent and the development
of this talent into professional opera singers, coaches and stage directors of
the highest artistic caliber. Merola operates in close artistic collaboration
with San Francisco Opera but is an independent nonprofit organization. Governed
by a separate board of directors, Merola is responsible for its own long-term
financial stability and fundraising, and is grateful to the hundreds of loyal
members, donors and foundations who support the Program.

Led artistically by San Francisco Opera Center Director
and internationally acclaimed soprano Sheri Greenawald, the Merola Opera
Program is an independent nonprofit organization which operates in
collaboration with the San Francisco Opera. Founded in 1957 and named for San
Francisco Opera’s founder, Gaetano Merola, the Program is recognized as one of
the most prestigious operatic training programs in the world. The Merola Opera
Program typically receives more than 800 applications for approximately 30
positions. Throughout the summer, the Merola artists participate in master
classes and private coachings with opera luminaries. Participants – who include
singers, apprentice coaches and an apprentice stage director – also receive
training in operatic repertory, foreign languages, diction, acting and stage

About Postcard from

Postcard from
is a contemporary opera in one act featuring an eclectic mix of
ragtime, cabaret and operetta. Dominick Argento’s opera is recognized as a
musical masterpiece and considered by many to be one of the most important
operas of the 20th century. The opera follows characters at a train station –
and their luggage. Although there is not a clearly discernible plot, the Man
with a Coronet Case, who appears to live in the train station, tries to
manipulate the passengers. The passengers rebel against the Man and cause him
to lose control over the other characters, except for the Lady with the Hat Box
whom he eerily controls at the close of the opera. Running time is about 90
minutes with no intermission.


Tickets for Postcard from Morocco are $40 and $60, in
addition to a student price of $25.* Call San Francisco Opera Box Office at
(415) 864-3330 to purchase tickets Monday 10 AM – 5 PM or Tuesday – Friday 10
AM – 6 PM. The Cowell Theater is located in the Fort Mason Center on Marina
Boulevard at Buchanan Street, along the northern waterfront between Aquatic
Park and the Marina Green.

*Student tickets must be purchased in person at the Box
Office window, located inside the War Memorial Opera House at 301 Van Ness Ave.
Valid student ID is required.

2012 Season Sponsors include the Bernard Osher Foundation,
the Frances K. and Charles D. Field Foundation, the National Endowment for the
Arts and Rusty Rolland & the Schick Foundation.

For more information about Merola, please visit or phone (415) 551-6299.

--Karen Ames Communications

Ukrainian pianist
Valentina Lisitsa Makes Royal Albert Hall Debut Following Impressive YouTube

The live Royal Albert Hall concert will be her first
release for Decca, available digitally June 26 and everywhere July 24.

With more than 44 million views and over 53,000
subscribers on her YouTube channel, Ukrainian pianist Valentina Lisitsa is
breaking viral records in the classical music genre, and becoming a fast rising
star on the international concert scene. 
Lisitsa has successfully used social media to kick-start an entirely
self-made career, posting electrifying video performances and communicating
directly with her fans. She will be making her buzzed about London debut at the
Royal Albert Hall on June 19th, and releasing the audio of the performance as
her first recording for the Decca label. 
The music will be available digitally on June 26th, followed by a wide
physical release on July 24th.

Where many classical artists merely use social media to
help promote their existing touring and recording schedules, Valentina Lisitsa
has turned the traditional business model upside-down by using the platform to
help launch her career all on her own, without first aligning herself with a
tour promoter or record company.

Valentina Lisitsa has already performed at such
prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall in New York and the
Vienna Musikverein, and in countries as far apart as the Netherlands and
Brazil, while this season includes her orchestral debuts with the Helsinki
Philharmonic and the Colorado Symphony and recital appearances at Ravinia, the
Festival of the Arts BOCA, the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires and the Casals
Festival in Puerto Rico, as well as further collaborations with the violinist
Hilary Hahn (with whom she has recorded the four violin and piano sonatas by
Charles Ives).

Yet, when Valentina Lisitsa played her only previous solo
concert in the UK, it wasn’t in a proper concert hall, but in a small church
outside London. To her surprise, it was overflowing with eager fans she had
made through her performances online. So she took the next brave step and
approached the UK’s largest and most famous concert hall to see if it would
agree to host her London debut. Suitably impressed by her YouTube success, the
Royal Albert Hall duly agreed – in an unprecedented step – to open its doors
for the young musician’s London debut on June 19th.

Jasper Hope, Chief Operating Officer of the Royal Albert
Hall, says: “Valentina is a force of nature and an extraordinary talent. I
don’t know anybody else who has done this before and we simply had to open our
doors to her.”

As the first classical artist ever to make their London
debut in a solo recital at the 5,000-seat Royal Albert Hall, Valentina Lisitsa
has decided to turn the concert into a massive thank-you to her many loyal fans
and regular YouTube viewers by inviting them to vote online and choose for
themselves the exact pieces that she will perform. By visiting her website at, fans chose from a range of repertoire including works
by Beethoven, Chopin, Liszt and Rachmaninoff.

Valentina Lisitsa says: “I could not have done this
without all my fans online around the world. Their reactions tell me every day
that I am doing the right thing and that’s the best reward for my hard work.
Now I want to say thank you and give them a great concert live and online.
Basically it’s a gathering for friends old and new. It’s a concert, but it’s
also a celebration. There’s a lady from Barbados coming, people from New

Valentina Lisitsa will also be streaming her June 19th
concert live on the internet, so becoming the first classical solo artist ever
to do that from the Royal Albert Hall.

Born in Kiev, Ukraine, but now resident in the USA,
Valentina Lisitsa began playing the piano at the age of three and performed her
first solo recital just one year later. She has won several awards for her
playing internationally, has recorded three independently-released DVDs
(including a best-selling set of Chopin’s 24 Études), and has recently recorded all of Rachmaninoff’s piano
concerti, plus his Rhapsody on a Theme of
, with the London Symphony Orchestra under conductor Michael

Makrias, Decca & Deutsche Grammophon U.S.

No comments:

Post a Comment