Juilliard and New York Festival of Song Present “Harry, Hoagy, and Harold”

Mike Lawson • News • December 16, 2015

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teven Blier (photo by Dario Acosta)Juilliard and New York Festival of Song Present “Harry, Hoagy, and Harold” on Wednesday, January 13, 2016, at 7:30pm in Juilliard’s Peter Jay Sharp Theater. Featuring the Music of Harry Warren, Hoagy Carmichael, and Harold Arlen Performed by Singers from Juilliard’s Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts Wednesday, December 9, 2015

NEW YORK –– Juilliard and New York Festival of Song (NYFOS) present “Harry, Hoagy, and Harold” on Wednesday, January 13, 2016, at 7:30pm in Juilliard’s Peter Jay Sharp Theater. The program, Juilliard’s 11th presentation with NYFOS, is a tribute to three iconic American songwriters: Harry Warren, Hoagy Carmichael, and Harold Arlen. Pianist and arranger Steven Blier, a member of Juilliard’s faculty and artistic director of NYFOS, performs with the singers from Juilliard’s Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts. The evening features sopranos Mikaela Bennett and Christine Price; mezzo-sopranos Amanda Lynn Bottoms and Kelsey Lauritano; tenors Samuel Levine and Gerard Schneider; and baritone Dimitri Katotakis. Stage direction is by Mary Birnbaum, choreography is by Adam Cates, and Chris Reynolds is the assistant pianist. The singers have been coached by guest coach Mary Testa.

Tickets for $20 are available at events.juilliard.edu. Tickets for Juilliard students are free; non-Juilliard students with valid ID may purchase tickets at $10, only at the Juilliard Box Office.

“What a pleasure to introduce the songs of Harry Warren, Hoagy Carmichael, and Harold Arlen to the next generation, who have embraced them with a rare kind of fervor,” writes Steven Blier in his program note. “Right now, we are still in the preliminary stages of rehearsal. Yet I feel how Arlen, Carmichael, and Warren are already taking my cast [of singers] on a magic carpet ride, spurring them on to new flights of passion and imagination. That old black magic has us in its spell, the perfect antidote to the rigors of a New York winter.”

Meet the Artists

Mikaela Bennett, a soprano from Ottawa, Canada, is a third-year undergraduate student at Juilliard, studying with Edith Wiens. Ms. Bennett received the Cecilia Bern Operatic award and grant. She was also awarded the Senator Norman M. Paterson Scholarship from the Kiwanis Music Festival in 2015 and has collaborated and performed new music with the acclaimed Kronos Quartet. Ms. Bennett also participated in the Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival as part of its Rising Stars Gala, and was the festival’s 2012 scholarship recipient. She represented Ottawa at the Ontario Music Festival’s Provincial Competition and was awarded first place in 2011 and 2012, and second place in 2013. This season at Juilliard, she played L’écureuil in Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges. She receives the Arthur B. Barber Scholarship, the Pauline and Arthur Feibush Memorial Scholarship, with assistance from the Anna Schoen-René Fund.

Mary Birnbaum was nominated for best newcomer at the 2015 International Opera Awards in London.  New York credits include the premiere of Jeremy Denk and Steven Stucky’s The Classical Style at Carnegie Hall, The Rape of Lucretia and a chamber version of Eugene Onegin, co-led by conductor Matt Aucoin, both for Juilliard. Regionally and internationally, her work has taken her to Santa Fe, Seattle (associate director on Stephen Wadsworth’s Ring Cycle, 2013), Houston, Ojai, Berkeley, Miami, Costa Rica, Melbourne, and Tel Aviv. Ms. Birnbaum has also worked with playwrights to develop new work, most notably with New Georges and Soho Rep Writers/Directors Lab. She teaches and coaches acting for singers and is the associate director of the Artist Diploma in Opera Studies program at Juilliard. Ms. Birnbaum holds an AB in English Language and Literature with a minor in French from Harvard College and a certificate in movement and design from École Jacques Lecoq.

Steven Blier is the artistic director and co-founder of the New York Festival of Song (NYFOS), with whom he has programmed and annotated over 150 recitals in its 28-year history. He enjoys an eminent career as an accompanist and vocal coach, with partners who have included Renée Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, and Susan Graham. Many of his former students, including Paul Appleby, Sasha Cooke, and Julia Bullock, have gone on to be sought-after recitalists and valued colleagues. A faculty member at Juilliard since 1992, Mr. Blier also mentors young singers at summer programs including the Wolf Trap Opera Company, Santa Fe Opera, and the San Francisco Opera Center. His extensive discography includes the Grammy Award-winning premiere recording of Leonard Bernstein’s Arias and Barcarolles (Koch International). His latest release is Canción amorosa (GPR) with soprano Corinne Winters. Renowned for his imaginative and omnivorous recital programming, Mr. Blier received a 2014 Musical America Professionals of the Year award, as well as Classical Singer’s first coach of the year award in 2006.

Winner of the 2016 SAI Vocal Competition and the 2013 Fredonia Concerto Competition, Amanda Lynn Bottoms is a mezzo-soprano under the tutelage of Marlena Malas. As a Toulmin Foundation Scholar at Juilliard, she performed the role of Bianca in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia. She most recently performed the title role in Handel’s Ariodante at the Chautauqua Institution. With the Hillman Opera Company of Western New York, she performed the roles of Cenerentola (La Cenerentola), Frau Reich (Die Lustigen Weiber von Windsor), and La Principessa (Suor Angelica). She will join the Western New York Chamber orchestra Opera in February as Dinah in Trouble in Tahiti and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in June 2016 for Strauss’s Salome with Maestro Leonard Slatkin. She has performed in master classes taught by Patricia Racette, Susanne Mentzer, Dawn Upshaw, and Jay Lesenger.

Adam Cates is pleased to be staging his second NYFOS concert. At Juilliard Opera, he choreographed Mary Birnbaum’s Eugene Onegin, The Rape of Lucretia, and this season, Die Zauberflöte. Recent New York credits include Cinderella and the Prince (Avery Fisher/co-choreographer), A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Broadway and Tour/associate choreographer), Hansel and Gretel (Avery Fisher/associate director) and PBS Live from Lincoln Center: Richard Tucker at 100 (with Susan Graham).  Regional theater: Maria de Buenos Aires (Anchorage Opera), The Little Mermaid (Arkansas Rep), Gypsy (New London Barn), Kiss Me, Kate (Hartford Stage/The Old Globe, associate choreographer).  Mr. Cates has also been a guest artist for several universities, conservatories, and studios across the United States, Canada, and Spain. For more, visit www.adamcates.com.

Dimitri Katotakis is a baritone from Toronto who is completing a graduate diploma at Juilliard, studying with Sanford Sylvan. He completed his bachelor’s in voice performance at University of Toronto where he performed the roles of Belcore (L’elisir d’Amore) and Guglielmo (Così fan tutte), and he completed his master’s in opera at McGill University, with performances as Il Conte (Le nozze di Figaro), Demetrius (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and Gianni Schicchi (Gianni Schicchi). At summer programs and festivals, he has performed Harlekin (Ariadne auf Naxos, Opera NUOVA), Escamillo (Carmen, Opera NUOVA), and Masetto (Don Giovanni, Center for Opera Studies in Italy). Recently at Juilliard, he performed Der Kaiser (Der Kaiser von Atlantis). In 2014, he won second prize in the Canadian Opera Company’s “Centre Stage” competition. Mr. Katotakis was a 2015 Tanglewood fellow, performing as a soloist and ensemble member in the Boston Pops’ Simply Sondheim, staged in Boston and at Tanglewood.

Mezzo-soprano Kelsey Lauritano, hailing from San Francisco, is a fourth-year undergraduate, studying with Edith Wiens. She recently played the title role in Juilliard’s production of Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges. This season, she can also been seen as the Third Boy in Die Zauberflöte, as well as covering the role of Satirino in Cavalli’s La Calisto. This past summer, Ms. Lauritano made her professional debut as a Gerdine Young Artist with the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, where she also covered Oronte in Handel’s Richard the Lionheart. She then joined the Franz Schubert Institut in Austria to intensively train and perform German Lied. There she worked in master classes with legendary artists such as Elly Ameling, Julius Drake, Helmut Deutsch, Andreas Schmidt and Rudolf Jansen. In 2012, she was named a Presidential Scholar in the Arts by President Barack Obama. She was also a first-place winner in the 2013 Hal Leonard Competition’s Musical Theater University Division. She holds the Philo Higley Scholarship, the Samuel and Sabina Taranow Scholarship in Voice, and the Morris and Gertrude Grunin Scholarship.

Samuel Levine is a first-year artist diploma student from Boston, studying with Robert C. White Jr. Recent highlights include Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni) with Boston Lyric Opera, Don José (Carmen) with Savannah Voice Festival, Narraboth (Salome) with Virginia Opera, Fenton (Sir John in Love) with Odyssey Opera, Handel’s Messiah at Chicago’s Symphony Center, and the roles of Testo (Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda) and Noah (I Have No Stories to Tell You) with Gotham Chamber Opera. Other credits include Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Arizona Opera, Chicago Opera Theater, Wexford Festival Opera, and Houston Grand Opera East + West. He is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory, Yale University School of Music, and the young artist training programs of Tanglewood Music Festival, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, and The Santa Fe Opera. Upcoming engagements include a return to Boston Lyric Opera and a debut with Opera Philadelphia. Mr. Levine holds the Risë Stevens Scholarship, the Dr. and Mrs. Gottfried Karl Duschak Scholarship, and is also supported by the Hardesty and Beverley Peck Johnson Fund.

Soprano Christine Price, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, is a second-year master of music candidate at Juilliard, studying with Edith Wiens. In the 2014-2015 season, Ms. Price’s performances included Juilliard Songfest at Alice Tully Hall with Brian Zeger, the role of Lucia in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia at Juilliard, and Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the New York Philharmonic.  She participated in a master class featuring Renata Scotto with the Met Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and was a studio artist at Wolf Trap Opera where she performed Lucien in Corgliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles and covered Susanna in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. She received her bachelor’s in vocal performance from the Manhattan School of Music. In 2013-2014, she received a district Encouragement Award from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

American pianist Chris Reynolds has performed across the country as a soloist and as a collaborator. He is pursuing his undergraduate degree at Juilliard as a student of Julian Martin and JJ Penna.  Recent performances include those at Carnegie Hall and Tanglewood, as well as a performance with the Schenectady Symphony Orchestra that the Daily Gazette described as “spectacular.” In addition, he is a staff accompanist at Juilliard.  Last March, he was a Schwab Vocal Rising Star at Caramoor in partnership with the New York Festival of Song; Opera News described his performance as “exquisite.” This past summer, he was the Margo Garrett piano fellow at SongFest, as well as a vocal piano fellow at the Aspen Music Festival. Mr. Reynolds holds the Rudolf Friml Scholarship, Jack Romann Scholarship, and is also supported by the Joseph Ascher Fund.

Austrian-Australian tenor Gerard Schneider is a member of the Artist Diploma of Opera Studies program at Juilliard, under the tutelage of Edith Wiens. Mr. Schneider’s past engagements include repertoire at the Welsh National Opera, Scottish Opera, London Symphony Orchestra, Teatro Comunale Firenze, Nürnberger Symphoniker, State Opera of South Australia, and the West Australian Opera in operatic roles including Rodolfo in La bohème, the title roles in La Clemenza di Tito and L’enfant Prodigue, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, and Luigi in Il Tabarro. In 2014, Mr. Schneider was a member of the Young Artist Program at the Salzburger Festspiele and appeared as Ruiz in Il Trovatore. Mr. Schneider graduated with an M.Mus (Opera) from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and was sponsored by the Royal Opera House to attend the National Opera Studio. At Juilliard, he holds the Alice Tully Scholarship, the Tamara and Richard Patrick Calvert Memorial Scholarship, and is supported by the Hardesty and Beverley Peck Johnson Fund.

Mary Testa is the recipient of two Tony nominations, two Obies, one Lucille Lortel nomination, four Drama Desk nominations, two Drama League nominations, has 10 original cast albums, two Drama Desk awards, one celebrating ‘three decades of outstanding work.’  Broadway: Wicked, Guys and Dolls, Xanadu, Chicago, 42nd St, Marie Christine, On the Town, Forum, The Rink, Marilyn, Barnum. Opera: Anna Nicole/BAM. Off-Broadway includes First Daughter Suite, Caucasian Chalk Circle, Queen of the Mist, Love Loss and What I Wore, Regrets Only, See What I Wanna See, First Lady Suite, String of Pearls, A New Brain, Tartuffe, On the Town, In Trousers, and others. Films: Eat Pray Love, The Bounty Hunter, The Out-of-Towners, Sleepers, and others. Television: “Difficult People,” “Two Broke Girls,” “White Collar,” “Nurse Jackie,” and a recurring role on “Whoopi.”

About the Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts at Juilliard

Brian Zeger, Artistic Director

One of America’s most prestigious programs for educating singers, Juilliard’s Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts offers young artists programs tailored to their talents and needs. From bachelor and master of music degrees to an advanced artist diploma program in opera studies, Juilliard provides frequent performance opportunities, featuring singers in its own recital halls, on Lincoln Center’s stages, and around New York City. Juilliard Opera has presented numerous premieres of new operas, as well as works from the standard repertoire.

Juilliard graduates may be heard on recordings and in opera houses and concert halls throughout the world; diverse alumni include well-known performers, such as Leontyne Price, Renée Fleming, Simon Estes, Tatiana Troyanos, Shirley Verrett, and Risë Stevens. Recent alumni include Isabel Leonard, Susanna Phillips, Paul Appleby, and Sasha Cooke.

Pianist Brian Zeger has built a distinguished international performance career in addition to serving as artistic administrator, educator, and radio broadcaster. In a career spanning three decades, Mr. Zeger has enjoyed collaborations with many of the world’s top artists and enjoys an active career as a chamber musician. Currently he is artistic director of the Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts at The Juilliard School and the executive director of the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artists Development Program.

About New York Festival of Song

Founded by pianists Michael Barrett and Steven Blier in 1988, New York Festival of Song (NYFOS) weaves music, poetry, history, and humor together into evenings of compelling theater. Its mainstage series of thematic programs brings together rarely-heard songs of all kinds, overriding traditional distinctions between high and low genres, while exploring the character and language of other cultures and the personal voices of composers and lyricists. NYFOS also produces two other series, NYFOS Next, its series for new songs that are hosted by guest composers, and NYFOS Emerging Artists, its professional training residencies that take place locally and around the country. NYFOS’s series, tours, radio broadcasts, recordings, and educational activities continue to spark new interest in the creative possibilities of the song program, and have inspired the creation of thematic vocal series around the world. More at www.nyfos.org

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