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Program Song List [PDF]

Texts and Translations [PDF]

Additional notes on the program. [PDF]


Vocal Arts DC
PO Box 42423
Washington DC 20015





STEVEN BLIER and MICHAEL BARRETT, co-artistic directors and duo pianists



Sunday, January 22, 2017 at 3:00 pm
Theatre of the Arts at the University of DC


Single tickets will be available for purchase at the door on Sunday
Tickets are $50 each - checks should be payable to Vocal Arts DC.

Now in its 29th season, New York Festival of Song (NYFOS) is dedicated to creating intimate song concerts of great beauty and originality. Weaving music, poetry, history and humor into evenings of compelling theater, NYFOS fosters community among artists and audiences. Founded by pianists Michael Barrett and Steven Blier in 1988, NYFOS continues to produce NYFOS MAINSTAGE, its flagship series of thematic song programs, drawing together rarely heard songs of all kinds, overriding traditional distinctions between classical and popular performance genres, and exploring the character and language of other cultures. Since its founding NYFOS has particularly celebrated the wide spectrum of American music. Among many highlights is the double bill of one-act comic operas, Bastianello by John Musto and Lucrezia by William Bolcom, both with libretti by Mark Campbell, commissioned and premiered by NYFOS in 2008 and recorded on Bridge Records.

NYFOS has produced five recordings on the Koch label, including a Grammy Award-winning disc of Bernstein's Arias and Barcarolles, and the Grammy-nominated recording of Ned Rorem's Evidence of Things Not Seen (also a NYFOS commission) on New World Records. NYFOS's discography also includes Spanish Love Songs with Joseph Kaiser and the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson on Bridge Records. Its recently released CD on the GPR label, Canción amorosa, also focuses on Spanish song - Basque, Catalan, Castilian, and Sephardic - with soprano Corinne Winters accompanied by Steven Blier.

In 2010, NYFOS launched NYFOS NEXT, a series for new songs, hosted by guest composers in intimate venues. Starting in November 2016, the 3-concert series moves to Brooklyn in a new co-presenting partnership with National Sawdust, the recently opened and much buzzed about venue for new music.

NYFOS is passionate about nurturing the artistry and careers of young singers and through its NYFOS EMERGING ARTISTS program has developed professional training residencies around the country, including The Juilliard School's Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts (now in its 12th year); Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts (its 9th year in March 2017); San Francisco Opera Center (over 15 years as of March 2015); Glimmerglass Opera (2008-2010); and its newest project, NYFOS@North Fork in Orient, NY (4 years).

NYFOS's concert series, touring programs, 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.

Steven Blier (pianist) 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. New York Magazine gave NYFOS its award for Best Classical Programming, while 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, the Steans Institute at Ravinia, 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, Julia Bullock, 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.

Mr. Blier's extensive discography includes the premiere recording of Leonard Bernstein's Arias and Barcarolles (Koch International), which won a Grammy Award; Spanish Love Songs (Bridge Records), recorded live at the Caramoor International Music Festival with Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Joseph Kaiser, and Michael Barrett; the world premiere recording of Bastianello (John Musto) and Lucrezia (William Bolcom), a double bill of one-act comic operas set to librettos by Mark Campbell; and Quiet Please, an album of jazz standards with vocalist Darius de Haas. His latest release is Canción amorosa, a CD of Spanish songs with soprano Corinne Winters.

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.

NYFOS Associate Artistic Director Michael Barrett (pianist) started NYFOS in 1988 with his friend and colleague Steven Blier. In 1992, he co-founded the Moab Music Festival with his wife, violist Leslie Tomkins. From 1994 to 1997, he was the Director of the Tisch Center for the Arts at the 92nd Street Y in New York, and from 2003 to 2012, he was Chief Executive and General Director of the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts in Katonah, NY.

He has distinguished himself as a conductor with major orchestras here and abroad in the symphonic, operatic, and dance repertoire. A protégé of Leonard Bernstein, he began his long association with the renowned conductor and composer as a student in 1982. He served as Maestro Bernstein's assistant conductor from 1985-1990. He currently serves as music advisor to the Leonard Bernstein Estate.

A champion of new music, Mr. Barrett has conducted and played premieres by Bernstein, Blitzstein, Bolcom, Danielpour, Kernis, Sellars, Harrison, Takemitsu, Del Tredici, John Corigliano, Lowell Liebermann, and John Musto. He has collaborated with the directors Jerome Robbins, John Houseman, Sir Peter Hall, David Alden, Christopher Alden, and Gregory Mosher.

Mr. Barrett has recorded for Koch, TER, CRI, and Deutsche Grammophon. He has released two compact discs with the Brooklyn Philharmonic; one as soloist playing Blitzstein's Piano Concerto with Lukas Foss conducting, the other as conductor of works of Wilder and Corigliano with oboist Humbert Lucarelli. The DG recording, The Joys of Bernstein, features Mr. Barrett playing solo piano with Maestro Bernstein conducting. Other discs include Spanish Love Songs, recorded live at Caramoor with Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Steven Blier, and Joseph Kaiser, Live from the Moab Music Festival, the Grammy-nominated Evidence of Things Not Seen (New World Records), Aaron Kernis: 100 Greatest Dance Hits (New Albion), On the Town (Deutsche Grammophon), Kaballah (Koch Classics) by Stewart Wallace and Michael Korie, Schumann Lieder with Lorraine Hunt and Kurt Ollmann (Koch), and Arias and Barcarolles (Koch) by Leonard Bernstein (Grammy Award).

Dedicated to music education, Mr. Barrett oversees the innovative education programs of the Moab Music Festival. He is also active in the creation of new educational programs for symphony orchestras in collaboration with Jamie Bernstein. Their programs have been performed throughout the U.S., Asia, Cuba and Europe.

Born in Guam and raised in California, Mr. Barrett attended the University of California at Berkeley and is a graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he studied piano with Paul Hersh, and earned his master's degrees in conducting and piano performance.

Antonina Chehovska.Ukrainian born Antonina Chehovska (soprano) is a 2016 prize-winner of the prestigious George London Foundation Competition. Of her performance, The New York Times declared that her "heartfelt 'Letter Scene' from Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin made her an audience favorite and mine." She is also the recipient of multiple awards in 2016, including first prize from the Gerda Lissner Foundation, a grant award from the Giulio Gari Foundation, and the Frances MacEachron Award from The Lyndon Woodside Oratorio-Solo Competition. Ms. Chehovska is also prizewinner of the Cooper-Bing Competition, the Schuyler Foundation Career Bridges Grant, Bel Canto Vocal Scholarship, and twice the winner of the Michigan District Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, which advanced her to the Great Lakes Regional finals in 2014 and 2015.

Ms. Chehovska's 2016-17 engagements include her debut with New York Festival of Song in two concerts: in the New York Philharmonic's Tchaikovsky Festival and under the auspices of Vocal Arts DC; Micaëla in Carmen with Opera Columbus; Mimì in Puccini's La bohème for the Giulio Gari Foundation; soloist in Journey Through Eastern Europe with Bulgarian Concert Evenings in New York; and outreach performances with Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra as Mimì. In the summer of 2016, she sang Mimì in Leoncavallo's La bohème with the International Vocal Arts Institute. In the 2015-16 season, Ms. Chehovska made her New York City recital debut at Opera America's National Opera Center. In concert, she performed Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and Ravel's Shéhérazade with the Dexter (MI) Community Orchestra, and Mahler's Symphony No. 2 "Resurrection" with the Modesto (CA) Symphony Orchestra.

Recent engagements included Messiah with the Great Lakes Chamber Orchestra, Verdi's Requiem with the University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra in historic Hill Auditorium, and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the Kent Philharmonic Orchestra. In recital, she performed on the stage at Orchestra Hall, the home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra as part of their pre-concert recital series during the Tchaikovsky Festival, and was a featured soloist in Shostakovich's Seven Verses for Soprano, Violin, Cello, and Piano with members of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra at the Toledo Museum of Art. In 2013, Ms. Chehovska made her professional debut on the concert stage singing Mozart's Requiem with the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra, sang Dvořàk's Stabat Mater with the Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra, and was specially invited to present a recital at the U.S. Embassy in Bratislava. Ms. Chehovska was the Grand Prize winner of the Czech and Slovak International Voice Competition (2013) in Montreal, the University of Michigan's Friends of Opera Competition (2013), and the University of Michigan Concerto Competition (2014), which granted her a performance of Strauss's Vier letzte Lieder with the University Symphony Orchestra.

An alumna of the University of Michigan's School of Music, Theatre and Dance, Ms. Chehovska sang the title role in Strauss' Ariadne auf Naxos, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, and La Contessa in Le nozze di Figaro. She holds two masters degrees from the University of Michigan, one in performance (voice) and one in conducting. She is an alumna of summer programs such as International Vocal Arts Institute in New York City; Songfest in Los Angeles, where she was the Marc and Eva Stern Fellow; Oberlin in Italy, where she starred in the title role of Puccini's Suor Angelica; the Moravian Master Class in Czech Republic; and Si parla, Si canta in Italy.

This program marks Ms. Chehovska's NYFOS debut.

Alexey Lavrov.This season, baritone Alexey Lavrov returns to the Metropolitan Opera for Schaunard in La bohème, makes his debuts at the Opernhaus Zürich as Silvio in I Pagliacci, Teatro Real in Madrid in a new production of The Golden Cockerel, and the Atlanta Opera as Malatesta in Don Pasquale. He also appears in concert in New York as part of the New York Philharmonic's Tchaikovsky Festival presented by Kaufman Music Center and New York Festival of Song and in a concert performance of I Pagliacci at the Arizona Musicfest in Phoenix.

A recent graduate of the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Mr. Lavrov made his Met company debut in the 2012-13 season as the Herald in Otello and the Flemish Deputy in Don Carlo and has since appeared there as Silvio in I Pagliacci, Malatesta in Don Pasquale, Schaunard in La bohème, Count Dominik in Arabella, the Huntsman in Rusalka, and Yamadori in Madama Butterfly.

Other recent career highlights have included the title role in Aleko at Opera Carolina, Malatesta at the Cincinnati Opera, Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette at the Festival Internacional de Ópera Alejandro Granda in Peru, his debuts at the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theatre in Moscow as Demetrius in A Midsummer Night's Dream and at the Mikhailovsky eatre as Silvio in I Pagliacci and Robert in Iolanta, the title role of Eugene Onegin at Germany's Kammeroper Schloss Rheinsberg Festival and on tour with the Mikhailovsky Theatre in Japan, Donald in Billy Budd at the Teatro Municipal de Santiago, a Flemish Deputy in Don Carlo at the Théâtre du Capitole Toulouse, and a recital with the Friends of Chamber Music Society of Miami with Ken Noda. Mr. Lavrov was also a member of the Young Artist Program at the Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre where he sang Moralès in Carmen, Shchelkalov in Boris Godunov, and Robert in Iolanta.

A native of the Komi Republic, Russia, Mr. Lavrov studied voice at the Republican Art College, Syktyvkar and the St. Petersburg State Conservatory. He was recently a semi-finalist at the 2014 Operalia International Voice Competition, and his many other awards and distinctions include 1st Prize at the 2014 Gerda Lissner Foundation International Vocal Competition, second prize at the 2014 Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation International Voice Competition, third prize at the 2014 Loren L. Zachary National Vocal Competition, the 2014 Musique et Vin Festival Prize, the 2014 Hildegard Behrens Foundation Award, winner of the 2010 Hariclea Darclée International Voice Competition, second prize from the Byulbyul International Vocal Competition, fourth-prize winner of the Concurso Internacional de Canto competition in Buenos Aires's Teatro Colón, and a diploma from the International Rachmanino Competition.

Mr. Lavrov's previous appearance with NYFOS was in Letters From Spain (April 2015).

"Everything that a song recital can achieve, in terms of musical revelation, vocal excellence and audience engagement."

Tim Page, The Washington Post

Photos of Steven Blier, Michael Barrett and Alexey Lavrov by Dario Acosta.
Photo of Antonina Chehovska by Igor Shypitsyn.


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