New York Festival of Song
Steven Blier is the artistic director of the New York Festival of Song (NYFOS), which he co-founded in 1988 with Michael Barrett. Since the festival’s inception, he has programmed, performed, translated and annotated more than 140 vocal recitals with repertoire spanning the entire range of American song, art song from Schubert to Szymanowski, and popular song from early vaudeville to Lennon-McCartney. NYFOS has also made in-depth explorations of music from Spain, Latin America, Scandinavia and Russia. Opera News proclaimed Blier “the coolest dude in town.”
Mr. Blier enjoys an eminent career as an accompanist and vocal coach. His recital partners have included Renée Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli, Samuel Ramey, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Susan Graham, Jessye Norman, and José van Dam, in venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to La Scala. He is also on the faculty of the Juilliard School and has been active in encouraging young recitalists at summer programs, including the Wolf Trap Opera Company, Santa Fe Opera, and the San Francisco Opera Center. Many of his former students, including Stephanie Blythe, Joseph Kaiser, Sasha Cooke, Paul Appleby, Dina Kuznetsova, Corinne Winters, and Kate Lindsey, have gone on to be valued recital colleagues and sought-after stars on the opera and concert stage.
In keeping the traditions of American music alive, he has brought back to the stage many of the rarely heard songs of George Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Kurt Weill and Cole Porter. He has also played ragtime, blues and stride piano evenings with John Musto. A champion of American art song, he has premiered works of John Corigliano, Paul Moravec, Ned Rorem, William Bolcom, Mark Adamo, John Musto, Richard Danielpour, Tobias Picker, Robert Beaser, Lowell Liebermann, Harold Meltzer, and Lee Hoiby, many of which were commissioned by NYFOS.
His writings on opera have been featured in Opera News and the Yale Review. A native New Yorker, he received a bachelor’s degree with honors in English literature at Yale University, where he studied piano with Alexander Farkas. He completed his musical studies in New York with Martin Isepp and Paul Jacobs.
January 31 & February 1, 2015, Arizona Opera
An outstanding graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, Zach Borichevsky continues to impress all around the world, concluding an eventful season during which he made his critically acclaimed European operatic debut as Rodolfo in La bohème for Finnish National Opera under Michael Güttler, his role debut as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte with Boston Lyric Opera under David Angus and Alfredo in La traviata with Michigan Opera. In concert Zach joined the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional in Mexico under music director Carlos Miguel Prieto for Rachmaninov’s The Bells, and the Bilkent Symphony Orchestra for Das Lied von der Erde under Isin Metin.
Recent seasons have included Zach’s acclaimed debut at Santa Fe Opera as Matteo in Tim Albery’s production of Arabella under Sir Andrew Davis, Roméo with Teatro Municipal Santiago de Chile and Arizona Opera, Jonathan Dale in Silent Night with Opera Philadelphia and Ruggero in La rondine in Portland, Oregon. Past concert engagements have included John Adams’ The Gospel According to the Other Mary with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic under Markus Stenz, Britten’s Nocturne at the Aspen Music Festival under Nicholas McGegan and Britten’s War Requiem with the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra under Lan Shui. Zach also created the role of Nicholas Astor in Kirke Meachem’s The Rivals with Skylight Opera in Milwaukee, debuted Alfredo in La traviata with Knoxville Opera, and debuted Pelléas at the Academy of Vocal Arts.
Many organizations have honored Mr. Borichevsky with awards, including Operalia, the Loren L. Zachary Foundation, the George London Foundation, the Metropolitan Opera National Council, the Gerda Lissner Foundation, Opera Index, the Mario Lanza Foundation, Shreveport Opera, and the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation.
January 16 & 18, 2015, Tucson Symphony Orchestra
Rising mezzo-soprano Angela Brower was raised in Arizona and studied at Arizona State University and Indiana University. In addition to earning several awards and prizes during her studies, she performed at the Glimmerglass Opera as a part of the 2008 Young American Artists Program. From there she was invited into the Junges Ensemble of the Bavarian State Opera where she was a member from 2008 to 2010. Her portrayal of Dorabella (Così fan tutte) earned her particular attention on the main stage of the National Theater.
She is currently a member of the ensemble at the Bavarian State Opera and is the recipient of the prestigious 2009 Munich Festival Prize. In the 2011–12 season she made a triumphant role debut as Nicklausse in the company’s new production of Les Contes d’Hoffmann alongside Rolando Villazón and Diana Damrau. In recent seasons she has also sung at San Francisco Opera, Klagenfurt, the New National Theatre in Tokyo and the Baden-Baden Festspielhaus.
Angela made her first recording in 2013 appearing as Dorabella in Mozart’s Così fan tutte, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Seguin. The recording was released by Deutsche Grammophon in summer 2013 to much critical acclaim.
January 29, 2015, UApresents
Internationally acclaimed Susan Graham—dubbed “America’s favorite mezzo” by Gramophone Magazine—rose to the top league of international artists within just a few years of her professional debut, and along the way has mastered an astonishing range of repertoire and formats. Her operatic roles have stretched from Monteverdi’s 17th-century Poppea to a contemporary American operatic portrait of Sister Helen Prejean in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, written specifically for her, as well as leading roles in new works by John Harbison and Tobias Picker. She won a Grammy for a collection of Ives songs, and her recital repertoire is so broad that 14 composers from Purcell to Sondheim are represented on her most recent disc, Virgins, Vixens, and Viragos (with pianist Malcolm Martineau on Onyx). But throughout her extraordinary career, this distinctly American artist has always been considered one of the great interpreters of French vocal music of her time, so much so that the Texas native was awarded the French government’s prestigious Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur, not just for her profile as a favorite performer on France’s stages but also in honor of her commitment to French music.
Her tall, slim good looks made the operatic stage the natural first stop of a distinguished career, with early successes in “trouser” roles such as Cherubino in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. Her technical brilliance brought mastery of Mozart’s more virtuosic roles such as Sesto in La clemenza di Tito, Idamante in Idomeneo, and Cecilio in Lucio Silla, as well as the title roles of Handel’s Ariodante and Xerxes. Inevitably she triumphed in the iconic Richard Strauss mezzo roles—Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier (often opposite the Marschallin of Renée Fleming) and the Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos. These roles brought her to prominence in every major opera house in the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, Chicago, San Francisco, Covent Garden, Paris, Munich, La Scala, Salzburg, Vienna, and many others, and she has returned to them regularly for appearances ranging from the title roles of Handel’s Ariodante and Xerxes to leading ladies in the world premieres of John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby and Tobias Picker’s An American Tragedy, both at the Metropolitan Opera.
But an early production of Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict in Lyon earned particular raves from the international press for her pristine French diction and innate style, and a triumph as Massenet’s Cherubin at Covent Garden sealed her operatic stardom. New productions of Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride, Berlioz’ La Damnation de Faust, and Massenet’s Werther were mounted for her in New York, London, Paris, Chicago, San Francisco and elsewhere.
This affinity for the French repertoire has not been limited to the operatic stage, and indeed it serves as the foundation of an extensive concert and recital career. The great oratorios and symphonic song cycles such as Berlioz’s La mort de Cléopâtre and his Les nuits d’été, Ravel’s Shéhérazade and Chausson’s Poème de l’amour et de la mer have been among works taking her to the world’s leading orchestras, including regular appearances with the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the Paris Orchestra, and the London Symphony. A distinguished discography includes not only all the above works, but also treasurable solo albums such as the program of mélodies Un frisson Français with pianist Malcolm Martineau (Onyx), an album of 20th-century operetta rarities called C’est ça la vie, c’est ça l’amour! for Erato, and La Belle Époque, an award-winning collection of songs by Reynaldo Hahn with pianist Roger Vignoles, for Sony.
Griffey, Anthony Dean
January 31 & February 1, 2015, Tucson Symphony Orchestra
American tenor Anthony Dean Griffey has captured critical and popular acclaim on opera, concert and recital stages around the world. The combination of his beautiful and powerful lyric tenor voice, gift of dramatic interpretation and superb musicianship have earned him the highest praise from critics and audiences alike.
Recent engagements have led Mr. Griffey’s to the Houston Grand Opera for Alfred in Die Fledermaus, the St. Louis Symphony for Peter Grimes (in St. Louis and Carnegie Hall), the LA Opera as Mitch in A Streetcar Named Desire, and the Atlanta Symphony for Britten’s War Requiem (in Atlanta and Carnegie Hall). He also recently performed at Opera Carolina as Erik in Die Fliegende Holländer, and with the Orquestra Simfònica del Gran Teatre del Liceu in performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, and he has sung Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with the Oregon and Louisiana symphony orchestras.
Mr. Griffey has appeared in the world’s most prestigious opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Los Angeles Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Paris Opera, Teatro Comunale di Firenze, Teatro dell’Opera in Rome, and the Saito Kinen Festival in Japan. He is particularly noted for his portrayal of the title role in Peter Grimes, which has won him international acclaim. He debuted the role at the Tanglewood Festival under the baton of Seiji Ozawa, and has since performed it all over the world, most recently in a new production at the Metropolitan Opera that was broadcast live in the company’s Live in HD series and subsequently released on DVD (EMI Classics). The Glyndebourne Festival also released a commercial recording of his performance with Mark Wigglesworth conducting.
January 22, 2015, Tucson Guitar Society
David Leisner is an extraordinarily versatile musician with a multifaceted career as an electrifying performing artist, a distinguished composer, and a master teacher—”Aamong the finest guitarists of all time,” according to American Record Guide. David Leisner’s career began auspiciously with top prizes in both the 1975 Toronto and 1981 Geneva International Guitar Competitions. His recent seasons have taken him around the US, including his solo debut with the Atlanta Symphony, a major tour of Australia and New Zealand, and debuts and reappearances in Japan, the Philippines, much of Europe, Puerto Rico and Mexico. An innovative three-concert series at Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall included the first all-Bach guitar recital in New York’s history. Currently he is the artistic director of Guitar Plus, a New York series devoted to chamber music with the guitar.
Celebrated for expanding the guitar repertoire, David Leisner has premiered works by many important composers, including David Del Tredici, Virgil Thomson, Ned Rorem, Philip Glass, Richard Rodney Bennett, Peter Sculthorpe and Osvaldo Golijov, while championing the works of neglected 19th-century guitar composers J.K. Mertz and Wenzeslaus Matiegka.
A featured recording artist for Azica Records, Leisner has released seven highly acclaimed solo CDs. Naxos produced his recording of the Hovhaness Concerto with Gerard Schwarz and the Berlin Radio Orchestra. Other CDs include the Koch recording of a Haydn quartet with the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and Hovhaness’s Spirit of Trees for Telarc with harpist Yolanda Kondonassis. Mel Bay Co. released a solo concert DVD called Classics and Discoveries.
Mr. Leisner is also a highly respected composer noted for the emotional and dramatic power of his music. Fanfare magazine described it as “rich in invention and melody, emotionally direct, and beautiful.” Recordings of his works are available on the Sony Classical, ABC, Dorian, Azica, Cedille, Centaur, Town Hall, Signum, Acoustic Music, Athena and Barking Dog labels. The Cavatina Duo’s recording of his complete works for flute and guitar, Acrobats (Cedille), was released to exceptionally strong reviews.
David Leisner is the co-chair of the guitar department at the Manhattan School of Music. Primarily self-taught as both guitarist and composer, he briefly studied guitar with John Duarte, David Starobin and Angelo Gilardino and composition with Richard Winslow, Virgil Thomson, Charles Turner and David Del Tredici.
January 22, 2015, Tucson Guitar Society
The English-German tenor Rufus Müller was acclaimed by the New York Times following a performance in Carnegie Hall as “easily the best tenor I have heard in a live Messiah.” He is a leading Evangelist in Bach’s Passions and his unique dramatic interpretation of this role has confirmed his status as one of the world’s most sought-after performers. He gave the world premiere of Jonathan Miller’s acclaimed production of the St. Matthew Passion, which he also recorded for Unitel and broadcast on BBC TV; he has repeated his performance in three revivals of the production at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York.
In demand for oratorio and opera, Rufus Müller has worked with many leading conductors in the period-instrument and modern-instrument fields. He has given solo recitals in Wigmore Hall and the Barbican Concert Hall in London as well as for BBC Radio, and in Munich, Tokyo, Barcelona, Madrid, Utrecht, Paris, Salzburg and New York. He has a regular partnership with the pianist Maria João Pires, with whom he has performed notably in a three-concert Schubertiade in Spain and London’s Wigmore Hall.
Recordings include Bach’s St. John Passion and Bach cantatas with John Elliot Gardiner for DG Archiv, Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and Beethoven’s Choral Fantasia with Roger Norrington for EMI, Dowland’s First Book of Airs with lutenist Christopher Wilson for ASV, Haydn’s O Tuneful Voice and songs by Benda with soprano Emma Kirkby and three recordings of 19th-century songs with Invocation, all for Hyperion, Telemann’s Admiralitätsmusik on CPO, Telemann solo cantatas on Capriccio, Ned Rorem’s Evidence of Things Not Seen with the New York Festival of Song on New World Records, songs by Franz Lachner with Christoph Hammer on Oehms Classics, Haydn’s Creation with Oxford Philomusica with Edward HIgginbottom, and Messiah with the National Cathedral, Washington D.C. and Michael McCarthy.
Recent recital engagements include Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin with Matan Porat in Portugal, Winterreise with Maria Jõao Pires in Lisbon and on tour in Spain, and Schumann’s Dichterliebe and Liederkreis with fortepianist Christoph Hammer in Germany.
Rufus Müller was born in Kent, England and was a choral scholar at New College, Oxford. He is at present studying in New York with Thomas LoMonaco. In 1985 he won first prize in the English Song Award in Brighton, and in 1999 was a prize winner in the Oratorio Society of New York Singing Competition. He is an assistant professor of music at Bard College, New York.
January 31 & February 1, 2015, Tucson Symphony Orchestra
This past season, mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford returned to the Metropolitan Opera for A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Wozzeck, and appeared in concert with the New York Philharmonic, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, and the Kansas City Symphony.
A graduate of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Ms. Mumford made her debut there as Laura in Luisa Miller, and has since appeared in the new production of Anna Bolena, and in productions of Rigoletto, Ariadne auf Naxos, Il Trittico, Parsifal, Idomeneo, Cavalleria Rusticana, Nixon in China, The Queen of Spades, the complete Ring Cycle, and The Magic Flute. Other recent opera engagements have included the title role in the American premiere of Henze’s Phaedra and the title role in The Rape of Lucretia at the Opera Company of Philadelphia.
Also an active concert performer and recitalist, Ms. Mumford recently appeared with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra in the U.S. and European tour of the world premiere of John Adam’s The Gospel According to the Other Mary. She also made debuts with the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, and Milwaukee Symphony orchestras, and at the Hollywood Bowl and the Ravinia, Tanglewood, Grand Teton, and La Jolla summer music festivals.
Ms. Mumford has appeared in the Metropolitan Opera’s Met: Live in HD series broadcasts of Anna Bolena, Das Rheingold, Gotterdämmerung, The Magic Flute, Nixon in China, Manon Lescaut, and Il Trittico, In 2005 she was one of 16 singers invited to work with Naxos Records and Yale University in a collaborative project to record the complete songs of Charles Ives.
A native of Sandy, Utah, Ms. Mumford holds a bachelor’s of music from Utah State University. Her many awards include the Arthur E. Walters Memorial Award in the 2005 Opera Index Competition, second place in the advanced division in the 2005 Palm Beach Opera Competition, and awards in the 2005 Sullivan Foundation Competition, the 2005 Connecticut Opera Guild Competition and the 2004 Joyce Dutka Foundation Competition. She was also a Mathias Winner and PBS Concert Soloist for the MacAllister Awards.
Murphy, Heidi Grant
January 16 & 18, 2015, Tucson Symphony Orchestra
A shimmering soprano with enchanting stage presence, Heidi Grant Murphy is one of the outstanding vocal talents of her generation. She has appeared with many of the world’s finest opera companies and symphony orchestras, notably the Metropolitan Opera, Salzburg Festival, Frankfurt Opera, Netherlands Opera, Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, Opera National de Paris and Santa Fe Opera. She has been engaged as soloist with the Vienna, New York and Los Angeles Philharmonics; Cleveland, Philadelphia and Minnesota Orchestras; and Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Atlanta, Saint Louis, Cincinnati, Houston, Montreal, National and Dallas Symphonies.
Ms. Murphy’s nearly 25-year-long career with the Metropolitan Opera has seen her play such signature roles as Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Sister Constance in Dialogues of the Carmelites, Servilia in Clemenza di Tito and Nanetta in Falstaff. European highlights have included the roles of Anne Truelove in the Netherlands Opera production of The Rake’s Progress and Celia in Lucio Silla at both the Salzburg Festival and Frankfurt Opera; and Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Adina in L’Elisir d’Amor and Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier at the Paris National Opera. Today, Ms. Murphy has established a reputation not only for her musicianship, impeccable vocal technique and youthful sound, but also for her warm personality and generosity of spirit.
Heidi Grant Murphy has recorded for Koch International, New World, the New York Philharmonic’s private label, Naxos, Arabesque, PS Classics, Delos and Deutsche Grammophon. In August 2011, she was appointed to the faculty of Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music as an adjunct professor of practice, teaching private voice lessons, diction and other courses and leading the opera scene programming. She has been a featured guest on NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered, A&E’s Breakfast with the Arts and BBC Radio 3. In October 2012, Ms. Murphy received an honorary doctorate from Western Washington University, where she pursued a bachelor’s degree in music performance. Ms. Murphy resides in Bloomington, Indiana with her husband, Kevin Murphy, and their four children.
Van Kooten, Katie
January 16 & 18, 2015, Tucson Symphony Orchestra
American soprano Katie Van Kooten’s operatic and concert appearances continue to thrill audiences and earn her praise for using her “powerful, gleaming soprano” to bring vibrancy and life to all of her performances.
Ms. Van Kooten began the 2013–14 season with a return to Frankfurt Opera for her first Elettra in Mozart’s Idomeneo. She then made her debut with the Florida Orchestra performing in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. During the holidays, Ms. Van Kooten returned to the San Francisco Symphony for Handel’s Messiah. After a highly acclaimed performance as the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro, she returned to the Lyric Opera of Kansas City and took the stage as Mimi in Puccini’s La Bohème. She ended her season with performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Louisville Symphony under the baton of Jorge Mester.
A graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, Ms. Van Kooten studies voice with Rudolf Piernay. She received her bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from Biola University, where she studied with Dr. Jeanne Robison, and is a graduate and perpetual member of the Torrey Honors Institute.