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ABOUT THE PROGRAM
In addition to Music Worcester’s 160th anniversary during the 2018-2019 season, we also celebrate Chris Shepard’s 10th anniversary as director of The Worcester Chorus. For this first Chorus concert of the season, Chris has selected a program that pairs audience favorites with works that have deep meaning for him, while also featuring the members of the Worcester Chamber Music Society:
Copland Appalachian Spring
Sedek Nature Has a Thousand Choirs, commissioned by The Worcester Chorus for Chris Shepard's 10th Anniversary
Handel Zadok the Priest
Beethoven Choral Fantasy
Beethoven Symphony No. 9 (mvt. 4) "Ode to Joy"
The piano soloist for the Choral Fantasy will be Simone Dinnerstein, who will serve as Music Worcester’s first educational Artist-In-Residence during the 2018-2019 Season.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS & COMPOSER
Hailed as a group with imagination, style and chops, the Worcester Chamber Music Society took the Worcester, Massachusetts scene by storm with its initial concert in 2006. It has become a recognized cultural presence within the Greater Worcester area by presenting sold-out concerts to captivated audiences, receiving consistent critical acclaim, building new young audiences, and training rising musicians through both its Neighborhood Strings and Summer Music Camp programs.
WCMS brings world-class chamber music to intimate Greater Worcester venues. WCMS nurtures the community through a unique combination of affordable concerts, education and community engagement.
“Through the years the Chamber Music Society has crafted thoughtful, innovative and interesting programs, and its playing has become so effortless, so technically virtuosic and so musically expressive…they have become one of the most loved and admired treasures in our musical community.”
– Worcester Telegram and Gazette
American pianist Simone Dinnerstein is known for her “majestic originality of vision” (The Independent) and her “lean, knowing and unpretentious elegance” (The New Yorker).
2017 saw three major projects for Dinnerstein. She released the album Mozart in Havana, recorded in Cuba with the Havana Lyceum Orchestra. She went on to bring the orchestra to the United States for their first ever American tour, playing eleven concerts from Miami to Boston. Philip Glass wrote a piano concerto for Dinnerstein, co-commissioned by a consortium of twelve orchestras. She premiered it in Boston with string orchestra A Far Cry in what the Wall Street Journal described as a “graceful, fluid reading.” At the New York premiere The New Yorker was “struck dumb with admiration” by this new addition to the piano concerto repertoire. During 2018 Dinnerstein will perform the concerto withtwelve orchestras across America and internationally with the London Symphony Orchestra, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra. She will release a recording of Glass’ piano concerto with A Far Cry in spring 2018. Finally, Dinnerstein continued her rich history with Bach’s Goldberg Variations. She collaborated with choreographer Pam Tanowitz on New Work for Goldberg Variations, which featured on the 2017 top ten lists of critics at The New York Times and The Boston Globe.
Dinnerstein first attracted attention in 2007 with her self-produced recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. It was a remarkable success, reaching No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Classical Chart in its first week of sales and was named to many "Best of 2007" lists including those of The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The New Yorker. The recording also received the prestigious Diapason D’Or in France and established Dinnerstein’s distinctive and original approach. The New York Times called her “a unique voice in the forest of Bach interpretation.” She has gone on to make a further eight albums since then with repertoire ranging from Beethoven to Ravel.
Since 2007 the New York-based pianist’s performance schedule has taken her around the world. She has performed at venues including the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Vienna Konzerthaus, Berlin Philharmonie, Sydney Opera House, Seoul Arts Center, and London's Wigmore Hall; festivals that include the Lincoln Center Mostly Mozart Festival, the Aspen, Verbier, and Ravinia festivals; and performances with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Dresden Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Berlin, RAI National Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Minnesota Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Orquestra Sinfonica Brasileira, and the Tokyo Symphony.
Dinnerstein has played concerts throughout the U.S. for the Piatigorsky Foundation, an organization dedicated to bringing classical music to non-traditional venues. She gave the first classical music performance in the Louisiana state prison system at the Avoyelles Correctional Center, and performed at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in a concert organized by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Dedicated to her community, in 2009 Dinnerstein founded Neighborhood Classics, a concert series open to the public hosted by New York public schools which raises funds for their music education programs. She has also created a program called Bachpacking for elementary schools. She takes a digital keyboard into individual classrooms, helping young children to get close to the music she loves. Dinnerstein, a winner of Astral Artists’ National Auditions, is a graduate of The Juilliard School where she was a student of Peter Serkin. She also studied with Solomon Mikowsky at the Manhattan School of Music and in London with Maria Curcio. She is on the faculty of the Mannes School of Music and lives in Brooklyn with her husband, son and Old English Sheepdog, Daisy.
Polish-American composer and conductor Martin Sedek (b. 1985) was born in Germany and raised in Poland and the United States. He is an award-winning voice in the world of choral and orchestral music, educated at Berklee College of Music in Boston (BM), Montclair State University (MM), and Rutgers University (PhD). Martin has studied composition with Tarik O'Regan, Robert Aldridge, and Matthew Harris, with additional studies with Steven Stucky, Chen Yi, and Steven Sametz; conducting with David Callahan and Julius Williams, with additional studies with William Weinert, Craig Hella Johnson, and Heather J. Buchanan. Martin is Composer-in-Residence at Harmonium Choral Society & The Baldwin Festival Chorus of NYC and is currently the Music Director and Conductor of Choral Art Society of NJ and Associate Conductor for The Masterwork Chorus. As a member of the choral and theory faculties at Montclair State University’s Cali School of Music, Martin is Assistant Conductor for the MSU Chorale and Visiting Professor of Music Theory. Composition awards include Yale Glee Club Emerging Composer Competition, NoteNova Publishing Choral Composition Contest, Boston’s Kalistos Ensemble, Ithaca College School of Music Choral Composition Contest, and Society of Composers International.
ABOUT THE SOLOISTS
Karen Driscoll, soprano, has attracted considerable interest from her appearances throughout North America during past numerous seasons, including the title role in Massenet's Manon for Florida Grand Opera and Florentine Opera, Mimi in La Bohème for L'Opéra de Montréal, Virginia Opera, and Baltimore Opera, Tatyana in Eugene Onegin for the Seattle Opera and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, the title role in Susannah for L'Opéra de Montréal, Juliette for Vancouver Opera and Opera Saskatchewan, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte for the Baltimore Opera, L'Opéra de Montréal, and Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Musetta in La Bohème for Florida Grand Opera, Michigan Opera Theatre, Opera Columbus, Toledo Opera and Opera Carolina. Additional performances have included Nedda in I Pagliacci for Hawaii Opera Theater, Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro for Michigan Opera Theater, L'Opéra de Montréal and Fresno Grand Opera, Despina in Cosi fan tutte for L'Opéra de Montréal, Micaëla in Carmen for Hawaii Opera Theater and the New Jersey State Opera, and Antonia in Les Contes d'Hoffman for Palm Beach Opera.
Her most recent engagements include singing the title role in Handel’s Agrippina with Operamission in New York City, a return to Seattle as Musetta and her debut with Long Beach Opera as Sieglinde and Gutrune in Jonathan Dove's Ring Saga. She also debuted with Worcester Chorus singing Micaëla in Carmen the Musical and National Lyric Opera and Dicapo Opera Theatre performing the title role in Susannah as well as singing as a Soprano soloist in Puccini Passions!
Notable reviews have come from Opera News in regard to her performance as Musetta with The Seattle Opera, stating, “Driscoll's Musetta, cleverly costumed by Martin Pakledinaz to invoke the image of Toulouse-Lautrec's Jane Avril, was a whirlwind of high spirits in Acts II and III, her voice radiating joie de vivre. A quieter figure in Act IV, Driscoll remained a moving presence, her voice full of tears.” Also, the Los Angeles Times declared that, “Gary Lehman as Siegmund, and Karen Driscoll, as Sieglinde, performed impressively in ‘The Valkyrie.’” The Seattle Times noted, with her debut as Tatyana in Eugene Onegin, that she "proved an intense, big-voiced Tatyana with a fetching stage presence" and finally The Washington Post praised her Pamina by saying "Karen Driscoll's substantial lyric soprano and thoughtful vocal characterization added depth to the role of Pamina.”
Ms. Driscoll has also been a winner of many prestigious awards including winning the Grand Prize in the Lee Schaenen Foundation competition and receiving the Gilbert Artist of the Year Award from the Florida Grand Opera. In addition, she was a competition winner with Opera Columbus, Connecticut Opera, Young Patronesses of the Opera in Miami, Florida, and a regional runner-up in the National Society of Arts and Letters competition. Ms. Driscoll is a graduate of The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music where she earned her Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education and Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance. She currently is an Adjunct Professor teaching voice at Montclair State University as well as an active concert and recital artist.
Elizabeth Russo, mezzo-soprano, is well known for her powerful voice and strong stage presence, and is excited to be back with Worcester Chorus to celebrate Chris Shepard. She most recently had the great pleasure of performing Gustav Mahler’s masterpiece Das Lied von der Erda with the Chatham Camarata Orchestra and conductor Tom Bo in Chatham NY. Ms. Russo made her UK debut in London with Fulham Opera as Fricka in Das Rheingold; returned for the same role in Die Walkure and for Wagner’s complete Ring Cycle. “Major contributions from Elizabeth Russo, a dramatic mezzo-soprano of vocal substance created a personable Fricka well able to deal with a recalcitrant husband.” Margaret Davies - Opera Magazine London. This production was given a five star rating by the press. “....has brought us a Ring of eyewatering clarity, raw beauty and visceral power...” “Elizabeth Russo was a deliciously petulant, wifely and stroppy Fricka” Bachtrak, London.
Immediately on her return to the states she appeared with Worcester Chorus in Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle after being featured in their Handel’s Messiah the previous season. “Of the four, (soloists) Ms. Russo and Mr. Lauterbach were the standouts, displaying rich tone and evenness throughout their range.” TELEGRAM & GAZETTE. Elizabeth debuted as soloist with The Dessoff Choirs of New York City in Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle while under Chris Shepard's direction, and in Mozart’s Requiem and Beethoven‘s Mass in C, both with Greenwich High School Super Choir and professional orchestra. With Garden State Philharmonic she was featured in Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass.
Operatic performances include the Countess in The Queen of Spades, Mama Lucia in Cavalleria Rusticana, Herodias in Salome and Amneris in Aida with One World Symphony of New York City. With the Garden State Philharmonic, she was featured in Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass and in Mozart’s Requiem with Greenwich High School super choirs and professional orchestra. Ms. Russo performed with OPERAMICI as Lucretia in The Rape of Lucretia, The Witch in Hansel & Gretel and The Old Prioress in Dialogue of the Carmelites. She was also seen as Mama Lucia in Cavalleria Rusticiana with Chelsea Opera and Waltraute in Die Walkure with Opera Dramatica all of NYC.
Other companies include The Danbury Symphony and The Society of the Classical Arts of West Palm Beach Florida, and in New York City, The Doctor’s Orchestral Symphony (Town Hall) and New York Opera Productions, (Weill, Merkin and Cami Halls).
Elizabeth is Cantor and soloist at Saint Paul Roman Catholic Church in Greenwich CT, and section leader and soloist at The First Congregational Church of Darien CT. She has an active voice studio in Danbury and Greenwich CT, and New York City and enjoys working with students of all ages and levels. Elizab_russo@yahoo.com
Tenor Kirk Bobkowski is a recent graduate from the University of Massachusett Amherst where he received his Masters in Vocal Performance. He has performed and been a soloist with many local ensembles including The Worcester Chorus, Worcester State Chorale, Keene Chorale, Masterwork Chorus, Gardner Singers, Odyssey Opera of Boston, National Symphony Chorus of Mexico, and Cantus. His recent opera roles include Tamino (The Magic Flute), Nemorino (L’elisir d’amore), Ferrando (Così fan tutte), and Frederic (The Pirates of Penzance). In addition, Kirk cantors for various parishes in the Worcester diocese, and is on roster with CONCORA, Novi Cantori, and Diamonds from the Dust. He is currently the Chorus Director at Chocksett Middle School and leads an afternoon vocal studio at Wachusett High School.
Award-winning artist Chai-lun Yueh, an exciting and dramatic baritone with a rich and powerful voice, a music director and voice educator, first Chinese born classical musician received the preliminary nomination of the Grammy Awards with the CD single of "Letter from Italy, 1944", by American composer Sarah Meneely-Kyder. Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, New England Region, finalist in the Luciano Pavarotti International Vocal Competition and The American Prize in Vocal Performance, and a Grant recipient of The New York Women Composers.
Recent released CD album of “24 Italian Songs and Arias”, has won The Prestige Music Award of Gold in 2012 and The Global Music Awards (Award of Excellence, Male vocal, classical) in 2013. CD album of “Infinite Time”, a collection of the best well-known Chinese art songs from the early-mid 20th centuries, also received Gold Award from The Prestige Music Awards in 2013.
After graduating from the Central Conservatory of Music of China with the highest honor, Mr. Yueh received his Artist Diploma and Master of Music degrees from The Hartt School, University of Hartford. He continued his advanced studies with Mrs. Marlena Malas, one of the greatest voice professors in the nation, at The Julliard School and Manhattan School of Music in New York City.
Over the last two decades, Mr. Yueh worked closely with many distinguished artists, directors and conductors such as Sir. Yehudi Menuhin, Gino Bechi, Sherrill Milnes, Nancy Milnes, Anton Guadagno, Benton Hess and Yves Abel. He has successfully portrayed in leading operatic roles such as Tonio, Rigoletto, Giorgio Germont, Escamillo, Figaro, Marcello, Sharpless, Valentine, Scarpia, and Count Almaviva. His voice has been heard at The National Opera of China, Beijing, Austin Lyric Opera, Baltimore Opera, Connecticut Opera, Hawaii Opera, Opera Theater of Connecticut and among many others.
Singing great classical repertoire such as Verdi, Brahms, Mozart, Faure, and Duruflé Requiems, many Bach cantatas, Beethoven's 9th Symphony, and numerous performances of Handel's Messiah, Mr. Yueh has often performed at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, Chicago Symphony Hall, Boston Symphony Hall, The Strathmore Music Hall in Washington DC, Jordan Hall in Boston, Woolsey Hall at Yale University. Mr. Yueh has also performed in Europe including Vienna, Salzburg, Paris and Prague.
Mr. Yueh is a full member of NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) and The National Music Honor Society, Pi Kappa Lambda, and he has been teaching voice at Wesleyan University and Trinity College; Serving as Chairman of the Concert Committee and Board of Director with CONCORA, Connecticut’s premier professional choir; Music Director of Connecticut Women’s Chorale; Artistic Director of Kang Hua Singers of Greater Hartford. He has been actively giving Vocal Recitals, Master Classes and Vocal Workshops in the United States and China including Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Kansas City, Boston, Seattle, Phoenix, Houston, Ningbo, Shanghai and Beijing.
As the Senior Advisor, particularly for recruiting international candidates from China, and the newest faculty, Chai-lun Yueh is coming back to his Alma Mater to teach voice in the fall, 2017.