New oratorio by Martin Bresnick to be premiered at International Festival of Arts & Ideas

Martin Bresnick. Photo by Nina Roberts

A new oratorio by School of Music faculty composer Martin Bresnick will be premiered at Yale on June 20 as part of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, which commissioned the piece. The oratorio, Whitman, Melville, Dickinson — Passions of Bloom, will be performed again on June 21 at the Yale Summer School of Music/Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. The oratorio, which celebrates the work of its namesakes — Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, and distinguished literary critic Harold Bloom, the Sterling Professor of the Humanities and English at Yale — will be performed by the Yale Choral Artists and members of the Yale Philharmonia. Vocal soloists include YSM faculty tenor James Taylor, who’ll sing Bloom’s words. The oratorio is modeled on Bach’s St. John Passion. Bresnick assembled the libretto using poems by Whitman, Melville, and Dickinson and excerpts from Bloom’s The Daemon Knows: Literary Greatness and the American Sublime.

Talking about the poetry of the 19th century writers he’s celebrating, Bresnick said, “These particular works have been part of my mental universe since I was a young student. Still others I only recently got more closely acquainted with.” He’s been familiar with Bloom’s work for many years. In the mid-1980s, Bresnick composed music for the PBS series Voices & Visions, which, through interviews with such experts as Bloom, explored the lives of American poets. At that moment, Bresnick said, he felt that Bloom, who earned his Ph.D. from Yale in 1956, had established himself as a kind of Marlon Brando of critics, inasmuch as the “degree of passion and devotion he brought to his explanations” was “almost poetic.” It was while working on For the Sexes: The Gates of Paradise, based on the William Blake poem, that Bresnick got to know Bloom and appreciate the shared “commonalities in our origins and points of departure.” In incorporating excerpts from The Daemon Knows into his oratorio, Bresnick had permission from Bloom to use “anything I wanted.”

Modeling the oratorio on Bach’s St. John Passion was a logical step considering that Bloom’s voice in the piece is not unlike that of the Evangelist — the narrator — in Bach’s passions. And Taylor, Bresnick pointed out, is a “well-known Evangelist in the world of the two Bach passions.” In addition to Taylor, Bresnick said, “I needed some very special singers.” Enter the Yale Choral Artists.

“Several of the soloists for this performance also happen to be YSM alumni, from both the Institute of Sacred Music’s voice program and from Yale Opera, including two former students of Jimmy’s — Paul Tipton and Sherezade Panthaki,” YCA founding director and YSM professor of choral conducting, Jeffrey Douma, said. School of Music alumni who’ll be performing include mezzo-soprano Katherine Maroney ’06MM, soprano Megan Chartrand ’13MM, soprano Sarah Yanovitch ’15MM, tenor Colin Britt ’10MM, tenor Gene Stenger ’15MM, and tenor Steven Soph ’12MM. Bass-baritone Tipton ’10MM will sing Melville’s words, while Maroney and soprano Panthaki ’11AD will sing text by Dickinson. Additional vocal soloists include tenor Brian Giebler, who’ll sing words by Whitman, bass Glenn Miller, who’ll sing the words of Captain Ahab, from Melville’s Moby-Dick, and baritone Thomas McCargar, who’ll sing the words of Melville’s Ishmael.

“During his composition process,” Douma said, “Martin often showed me excerpts of the solo writing he was developing, and would describe the kinds of voices he was hearing. This helped me choose singers from within the ranks of the Choral Artists best suited to each role.”

Bresnick’s oratorio, Douma said, “references not only Bach but also Brahms and other composers. People who know the St. John Passion will hear distinct echoes of its opening chorus (“Herr, unser Herrscher”) in Martin’s opening chorus (“Shine! Shine! Shine!”). For me as conductor, knowing that Bach was a starting point for Martin has influenced my thinking about the melodic writing in the piece and its relationship to the text. Martin may not be quoting Bach, but his careful attention to the natural rise and fall of the language and his singularly expressive way of emphasizing particular words reminds me very much of Bach’s use of melody, especially in the extended recitatives we hear in his passions. It has reinforced how important it will be for the audience to connect with the language in a very direct way.”

Of the literary works that inspired the oratorio, Douma said, “I love all three of the writers who inhabit this piece, but I will admit that my understanding of each of them — especially Melville — has been enriched greatly by the process of preparing this music.”

Originally, Bresnick said, he conceived a piece that would celebrate Bloom’s writings on Whitman. “I found that that wasn’t congenial for me,” he said. “That wasn’t enough.” The piece “needed more contrast.”

Bloom, Bresnick said, is “very shy about the fact that this whole thing, in some ways, is about him.”

Whitman, Melville, Dickinson — Passions of Bloom will receive its world-premiere performance, as part of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, on Tuesday, June 20, at 8 pm, in Morse Recital Hall at the Yale School of Music. The oratorio will be performed again on Wednesday, June 21, at 7:30 pm, at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival.

INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF ARTS & IDEAS PERFORMANCE
NORFOLK PERFORMANCE

Published June 15, 2017
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[ concerts ]

Yale Philharmonia, Camerata, Glee Club perform Mahler’s Second Symphony Sep. 19

Shinik Hahm, conductor

Shinik Hahm, conductor

The Yale School of Music presents the Yale Philharmonia in its first concert of the 2014–2015 season on Friday, September 19, 2014 at 7:30 pm. The orchestra, joined by the Yale Camerata and Yale Glee Club, will perform Gustav Mahler’s monumental Symphony No. 2, “Resurrection.” The concert will also be live streamed; click here to listen. LIVE STREAM

Shinik Hahm will conduct. The vocal soloists are Emily Workman, soprano, and Leah Hawkins, mezzo-soprano, both students in the Yale Opera program at the Yale School of Music.

This symphony, which runs around 90 minutes, was one of the composer’s most popular pieces during his lifetime, and its appeal to audiences continues today. The piece is known as the “Resurrection” Symphony because its texts address themes of death and the afterlife. MORE

Published September 4, 2014
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[ Inauguration ]

Video: Inauguration Celebration Concert

In honor of University President Peter Salovey’s inauguration, a musical celebration of all that is Yale was held on Friday, October 11th in Woolsey Hall.

The event was hosted by Master of Ceremony Robert Blocker, Henry and Lucy Moses Dean of Music, and featured performances by the University’s major performing ensembles: Yale Concert Band, Yale Philharmonia, Yale Symphony Orchestra, Yale Camerata, and Yale Glee Club. Other performers included University Organist Thomas Murray; organist Paul Jacobs ’02MM, ’03AD; the Yale Cellos, directed by Aldo Parisot; and an ensemble of Yale guitarists, directed by Benjamin Verdery.

Watch the full video of the performance below. The concert starts approximately 10 minutes into the video.

Published October 14, 2013
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Renowned conductor Helmuth Rilling leads Dvorak’s Stabat Mater Apr. 19

Yale Philharmonia performs with Yale Camerata, Yale Glee Club

Helmuth Rilling. Photo: Jon Christopher Meyers

The Yale School of Music, Yale Institute of Sacred Music, and Yale Glee Club present a performance of Dvorák’s masterful Stabat Mater, led by the Grammy Award-winning conductor Helmuth Rilling on Friday, April 19, 2013. The Philharmonia Orchestra of Yale will perform alongside the Yale Camerata and Yale Glee Club. The concert takes place at 8 pm in Woolsey Hall (500 College Street, New Haven).

Composed in 1877 in Prague, Stabat Mater was Dvorák’s response to the death of his daughter, Josefa, followed by the deaths of two more of his children. The ten-part masterpiece was his first composition on a religious theme since his student days, and the work is noted for its depth of emotion.

The internationally renowned conductor Helmuth Rilling will lead the performance. Rilling has said: “Music should never be merely comfortable, never fossilized, never soothing. It should startle people and reach deep down inside them, forcing them to reflect.”

The performers include the Yale Philharmonia, the Yale Camerata (a vocal ensemble sponsored by the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and directed by Marguerite L. Brooks), and the Yale Glee Club (Yale’s premier undergraduate mixed chorus and the oldest musical organization on campus, directed by Jeffrey Douma).

Admission to the concert is free, and no tickets are required. For more information, call the Yale School of Music concert office at 203 432-4158 or visit music.yale.edu. MORE

Published March 18, 2013
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[ events ]

Yale hosts international festival of choirs

Manado State University Choir

Renowned choirs from four continents will come together on the Yale campus June 19–23 for the first Yale International Choral Festival: five days of singing, learning, and celebrating the transcendent power of choral music to connect and inspire people from all cultures and all walks of life. Participating ensembles include the Central Conservatory of Music Chorus, Beijing; the Cambridge University Consort of Voices, UK; Manado State University Choir, Indonesia; the Imilonji Kantu Choral Society, South Africa; and two Yale choral groups: the renowned Yale Alumni Chorus and the newly formed professional ensemble Yale Choral Artists.

Each evening will feature a formal concert in Morse Recital Hall (located in Sprague Hall at 470 College St.) by individual choirs, and each day will be filled with lectures, workshops, and master classes led by visiting conductors, guests, and Yale faculty.

Imilonji Kantu Choral Society

Sponsored by the Yale Glee Club (Jeffrey Douma, director), the Yale School of Music, and the Yale Alumni Chorus, the event is part of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, which takes place in New Haven June 16–30. MORE

Published May 25, 2012
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Yale Philharmonia opens its season with Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

Sep. 23 concert features soloists from Yale Opera plus Yale Camerata and Yale Glee Club

The Yale School of Music presents the Philharmonia Orchestra of Yale in a concert featuring Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D minor on Friday, September 23, 2011 at 8 pm in historic Woolsey Hall.

Shinik Hahm will conduct the concert, which opens with a fanfare by Richard Strauss and continues with Beethoven’s Leonore Overture No. 3. The fanfare, written for the Vienna Philharmonic, has been played at the orchestra’s annual balls ever since its composition in 1924. Beethoven’s dramatic overture is one of four written for his only opera – which itself went through numerous revisions and was eventually named Fidelio.

For Beethoven’s monumental Ninth Symphony, the Yale Philharmonia will be joined by the Yale Glee Club (Jeffrey Douma, director) and Yale Camerata (Marguerite L. Brooks, director). The vocal soloists, who are current or former students in the prestigious Yale Opera program, are soprano Amanda Hall, mezzo-soprano Kelly Hill, tenor Sam Levine, and bass-baritone Andrew Brown.

Admission to the concert is free, and no tickets are required. MORE

Published September 7, 2011
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Help Can’t Wait: Pakistan Relief Benefit Concert this Saturday, Sept. 25 at 7pm

Performers include South Asian musicians, dancers, and singers, plus Yale Symphony Orchestra, Yale Concert Band, Yale Glee Club

Devastating floods in Pakistan have left millions of people hurt or homeless. In response to the crisis, the Yale community will present “Help Can’t Wait: Pakistan,” a benefit concert for flood relief, on Saturday, Sept. 25 at 7 pm.

The concert will be held in Woolsey Hall, corner of College and Grove streets. The program will include performances by the Yale Symphony Orchestra, Yale Concert Band and Yale Glee Club, and student and professional South Asian musicians, dancers, and singers.

The suggested donation for concert tickets is $20/$10 students. All contributions will go to the Pakistan Flood Relief effort — specifically Karachi Relief, UNICEF and the International Federation of the Red Cross. These organizations already have a presence in Pakistan and have begun the work of delivering humanitarian aid, services, and supplies.

Tickets can be purchased at the Yale School of Music box office at Sprague Memorial Hall, 470 College St. Monday through Friday, between  9 am and 5 pm. Tickets also are available at music.yale.edu/concerts. In addition, tickets will be sold in the lobby of Woolsey Hall beginning at 6 p.m. on the evening of the event. MORE

Published September 22, 2010
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East Coast premiere of new Aaron Jay Kernis symphony

Yale presents the East Coast premiere of Aaron Jay Kernis’s major new work, the “profoundly spiritual” Symphony of Meditations

Kernis, Aaron JayThe Yale School of Music, Institute of Sacred Music, and Glee Club will present the East Coast premiere of Aaron Jay Kernis’s Symphony of Meditations, a major new work in the repertoire for orchestra and chorus, on Friday, November 6 at 8 pm in Woolsey Hall. Kernis himself will conduct the performance, which will feature the Yale Philharmonia (Shinik Hahm, conductor), the Yale Camerata (Marguerite L. Brooks, conductor), the Yale Schola Cantorum (Masaaki Suzuki, director), and the Yale Glee Club (Jeffrey Douma, director). The vocal soloists, all emerging artists in the Yale Opera program, are Amanda Hall, soprano, Joseph Mikolaj, tenor and David Pershall, baritone. The performance will take place during the 2009 convention of the American Collegiate Choral Organization, hosted by Yale University.

The hour-long, three-movement Symphony of Meditations was commissioned by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. After its first performance in June under the baton of Gerard Schwartz, the piece was warmly received by the audience and hailed by the press. The Examiner called it “a complex, ambitious and, overall, brilliant undertaking… there is much to praise about this multi-textured, profoundly spiritual composition.” Gathering Note said, “Kernis has constructed a major new symphony that gives notice to everyone that the form is not dead …nothing less than a serious and worthy composition.” MORE

Published October 21, 2009
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Nicholas McGegan: “Celebration of Four Masters”

mcgegan_sp

Nicholas McGegan, acclaimed by The New Yorker as “an expert in eighteenth-century style,” will conduct choral and orchestral works of Joseph Haydn, Felix Mendelssohn, and George Frideric Handel on Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 4 pm in Woolsey Hall. The concert is a “Celebration of Four Masters”— a reference to McGegan and the three featured composers — and coincides with the 250th anniversary of Handel’s death and the 200th anniversary of both Mendelssohn’s birth and Haydn’s death. McGegan will conduct the Yale Philharmonia (Shinik Hahm, director) and Yale Collegium Players (Robert Mealy, director) in Haydn’s Symphony No. 103 “Drum Roll,” and a selection of works for chorus and orchestra: Haydn’s Te Deum in C and Der Sturm with the Yale Camerata (Marguerite Brooks, conductor); Mendelssohn’s Verleih uns Frieden and Hear My Prayer with the Yale Glee Club (Jeffrey Douma, director); Haydn’s Salve Regina with the Yale Voxtet (James Taylor, director); and Handel’s As Pants the Hart and Te Deum in A with the Yale Schola Cantorum (Simon Carrington, director). The program concludes with the combined choruses and instrumentalists in Handel’s “Hallelujah” Chorus from Messiah.

The concert is a presentation of the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, Yale School of Music, and the Yale Glee Club. Admission is free. For more information, visit music.yale.edu, www.yale.edu/ism, or call 203-432-4158.

Acclaimed by the Glasgow Herald as “a wizard who can make music soar in apparent defiance of gravity,” Nicholas McGegan has been the Music Director of San Francisco’s Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra (PBO) for more than twenty years and since 1991 the Artistic Director of Germany’s International Handel-Festival at Gottingen. Mr. McGegan is an active recording artist, with an extensive discography with the PBO and other performing groups, including the Gottingen Festival Opera and Orchestra and the Arcadian Academy. Mr. McGegan’s world-premiere recording of Handel’s Susanna earned a Gramophone Award. His most recent recordings include music by Handel and Mendelssohn for Carus, Romanza, featuring works of Hummel, Lachner and Weber, and Handel’s Atalanta and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, both with PBO.  Born in England and educated at Cambridge and Oxford Universities, Mr. McGegan has an honorary degree from London’s Royal College of Music and was elected an Honorary Professor of Philosophy at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen in 2006.

Published February 2, 2009
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