French Song and the Belle Époque
with the Alexander String Quartet
Robert Greenberg | Lecturer
Rhoslyn Jones | Soprano
Renée Rapier | Mezzo-Soprano and
Robert Mollicone | Piano
Saturday, April 7, 2018 | 3pm
Herbst TheatreVenue Information
Music of DEBUSSY and FAURÉ
About This Performance
Join us for an in-depth exploration of late 19th and early 20th century French song, featuring the poetry of Paul Verlaine, as set by Debussy and Faure, and performed by tenor Nicholas Phan, the Alexander String Quartet, soprano Rhoslyn Jones, mezzo-soprano Renée Rapier and pianist Robert Molicone. Music Historian Robert Greenberg will set the stage by discussing the social, political and cultural changes taking place during this artistically pivotal time in French history.
Named one of NPR’s “Favorite New Artists of 2011,” American tenor Nicholas Phan is increasingly recognized as an artist of distinction. Praised for his keen intelligence, captivating stage presence and natural musicianship, he performs regularly with the world’s leading orchestras and opera companies. Also an avid recitalist, in 2010 he co-founded the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago (CAIC) to promote art song and vocal chamber music.
In the summer of 2017, he returns to the San Francisco Symphony for Berlioz’ Roméo et Juliette with Michael Tilson Thomas, to the Oregon Bach Festival, to the Thüringer Bachwochen's Weimar Bach Academy, and to Wolf Trap for Carmina Burana with the National Symphony Orchestra and Gianandrea Noseda. Highlights of his upcoming 2017–18 season include his debuts with the Minnesota Orchestra for Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, and the Orquestra Sinfônica de São Paulo for Britten’s War Requiem with Marin Alsop; and returns to the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Philharmonia Baroque, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony for Schubert’s Mass in E-flat with Riccardo Muti, and the Toronto Symphony for performances as the title role in Bernstein’s Candide. He also serves as artistic director of two festivals next season: Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago’s sixth annual Collaborative Works Festival, and as the first singer to be guest Artistic Director of the Laguna Beach Music Festival.
Mr. Phan has appeared with many of the leading orchestras in the North America and Europe, including the Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, National Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Philharmonia Baroque, Boston Baroque, Les Violons du Roy, BBC Symphony, English Chamber Orchestra, Strasbourg Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, Philharmonia Orchestra of London, and the Lucerne Symphony. He has also toured extensively throughout the major concert halls of Europe with Il Complesso Barocco, and appeared with the Oregon Bach, Ravinia, Marlboro, Edinburgh, Rheingau, Saint-Denis, and Tanglewood festivals, as well as the BBC Proms. Among the conductors he has worked with are Marin Alsop, Harry Bicket, Pierre Boulez, James Conlon, Alan Curtis, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Charles Dutoit, Jane Glover, Manfred Honeck, Bernard Labadie, Louis Langrée, Nicholas McGegan, Zubin Mehta, John Nelson, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Helmuth Rilling, David Robertson, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Masaaki Suzuki, Michael Tilson Thomas and Franz Welser-Möst.
An avid proponent of vocal chamber music, he has collaborated with many chamber musicians, including pianists Mitsuko Uchida, Richard Goode, Jeremy Denk, Graham Johnson, Roger Vignoles, Myra Huang and Alessio Bax; violinist James Ehnes; guitarist Eliot Fisk; harpist Sivan Magen; and horn players Jennifer Montone, Radovan Vlatkovic and Gail Williams. In both recital and chamber concerts, he has been presented by Carnegie Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Atlanta’s Spivey Hall, Boston’s Celebrity Series, and the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. In 2010, he co-founded the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago, an organization that promotes the art song and vocal chamber music repertoire of which he is Artistic Director.
Mr. Phan's many opera credits include appearances with the Los Angeles Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Glimmerglass Festival, Chicago Opera Theater, Seattle Opera, Portland Opera, Glyndebourne Opera, Maggio Musicale in Florence, Deutsche Oper am Rhein, and Frankfurt Opera. His growing repertoire includes the title roles in Bernstein’s Candide, Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex and Handel’s Acis and Galatea, Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore, Fenton in Falstaff, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, and Lurcanio in Ariodante.
Phan’s most recent solo album, Gods and Monsters, was released on Avie Records in January. His first three solo albums, A Painted Tale, Still Fall the Rain and Winter Words, made many “best of” lists, including those of the New York Times, New Yorker, Chicago Tribune and Boston Globe. Phan’s growing discography also includes a Grammy-nominated recording of Stravinsky’s Pulcinella with Pierre Boulez and the Chicago Symphony, the opera L’Olimpiade with the Venice Baroque Orchestra, Scarlatti’s La gloria di Primavera with Philharmonia Baroque, Bach’s St. John Passion (in which he sings both the Evangelist as well as the tenor arias) with Apollo’s Fire, and the world premiere recordings of two orchestral song cycles: The Old Burying Ground by Evan Chambers and Elliott Carter’s A Sunbeam’s Architecture.
A graduate of the University of Michigan, Mr. Phan is the 2012 recipient of the Paul C. Boylan Distinguished Alumni Award. He also studied at the Manhattan School of Music and the Aspen Music Festival and School, and is an alumnus of the Houston Grand Opera Studio. He was the recipient of a 2006 Sullivan Foundation Award and 2004 Richard F. Gold Career Grant from the Shoshana Foundation.
Having celebrated its 30th Anniversary in 2011, the Alexander String Quartet has performed in the major music capitals of five continents, securing its standing among the world’s premiere ensembles. Widely admired for its interpretations of Beethoven, Mozart, and Shostakovich, the quartet's recordings of the Beethoven cycle (twice), and the Bartók and Shostakovich cycles have all won international critical acclaim. The quartet has also established itself as an important advocate of new music through over 25 commissions from such composers as Jake Heggie, Cindy Cox, Augusta Read Thomas, Robert Greenberg, Martin Bresnick, César Cano, and Pulitzer Prize-winner, Wayne Peterson. A new work by Tarik O'Reagan commissioned for the Alexander by the Boise Chamber Music Series, will have its premiere in 2016.
The Alexander String Quartet is a major artistic presence in its home base of San Francisco, serving since 1989 as Ensemble-in-Residence for San Francisco Performances and Directors of the the Morrison Chamber Music Center in the College of Liberal and Creative Arts at San Francisco State University.
The Alexander String Quartet’s annual calendar of concerts includes engagements at major halls throughout North America and Europe. The quartet has appeared at Lincoln Center, the 92nd Street Y, and the Metropolitan Museum in New York City; Jordan Hall in Boston; the Library of Congress and Dumbarton Oaks in Washington; and chamber music societies and universities across the North American continent. Recent overseas tours have brought them to the U.K., the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, France, Greece, the Republic of Georgia, Argentina, Panamá, and the Philippines. They returned to Poland for their debut performances at the Beethoven Easter Festival in 2015. Among the fine musicians with whom the Alexander String Quartet has collaborated are pianists Joyce Yang, Roger Woodward, Anne-Marie McDermott, Jon Nakamatsu, Menahem Pressler, and Jeremy Menuhin; clarinetists Joan Enric Lluna, David Shifrin, Richard Stolzman, and Eli Eban; soprano Elly Ameling; mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato; cellists Lynn Harrell, Sadao Harada, and David Requiro; violist Toby Appel; and jazz greats, Branford Marsalis, David Sánchez, and Andrew Speight. The quartet has worked with many composers including Aaron Copland, George Crumb, and Elliott Carter and has long enjoyed a close relationship with composer-lecturer Robert Greenberg, performing numerous lecture-concerts with him annually.
The Alexander String Quartet added considerably to its distinguished and wide-ranging discography over the past decade, now recording exclusively for the FoghornClassics label. There were three major releases in the 2013–2014 season: The combined string quartet cycles of Bartók and Kodály, recorded on the renowned Ellen M. Egger Quartet of matched instruments built by San Francisco luthier, Francis Kuttner (“If ever an album had ‘Grammy nominee’ written on its front cover, this is it.” —Audiophile Audition); The String Quintets & Sextets of Brahms with Toby Appel and David Requiro (“a uniquely detailed, transparent warmth” —Strings Magazine); and the Brahms & Schumann Piano Quintets with Joyce Yang (“passionate, soulful readings of two pinnacles of the chamber repertory” —The New York Times). Their recording of music of Gershwin and Kern was released in the summer of 2012, following the Spring 2012 recording of the clarinet quintet of Brahms and a new quintet from César Cano (in Friendship), in collaboration with Joan Enric Lluna, as well as a disc in collaboration with the San Francisco Choral Artists (with Strings Attached). Next to be released will be an album of works by Cindy Cox.
The Alexander's 2009 release of the complete Beethoven Cycle was described by Music Web International as performances “uncompromising in power, intensity and spiritual depth,” while Strings Magazine described the set as “a landmark journey through the greatest of all quartet cycles.” The FoghornClassics label released a three-CD set (Homage) of the Mozart quartets dedicated to Haydn in 2004. FoghornClassics released a six-CD album (Fragments Volume 1 & Volume 2) of the complete Shostakovich quartets in 2006 and 2007, and a recording of the complete quartets of Pulitzer prize-winning San Francisco composer, Wayne Peterson (Retrospections), was released in the Spring of 2008. BMG Classics released the quartet’s first recording of Beethoven cycle on its Arte Nova label to tremendous critical acclaim in 1999.
The Alexander String Quartet was formed in New York City in 1981 and captured international attention as the first American quartet to win the London International String Quartet Competition in 1985. The quartet has received honorary degrees from Allegheny College and St. Lawrence University, and presidential medals from Baruch College (CUNY).
Robert Greenberg was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1954, and has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1978. Greenberg received a BA in music, magna cum laude, from Princeton University in 1976. His principal teachers at Princeton were Edward Cone, Daniel Werts, and Carlton Gamer in composition, Claudio Spies and Paul Lansky in analysis, and Jerry Kuderna in piano. In 1984, Greenberg received a Ph.D. in music composition, With Distinction, from the University of California, Berkeley, where his principal teachers were Andrew Imbrie and Olly Wilson in composition and Richard Felciano in analysis.
Greenberg has composed over fifty works for a wide variety of instrumental and vocal ensembles. Recent performances of his works have taken place in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, England, Ireland, Greece, Italy and The Netherlands, where his Child’s Play for String Quartet was performed at the Concertgebouw of Amsterdam.
Greenberg has received numerous honors, including being designated an official “Steinway Artist,” three Nicola de Lorenzo Composition Prizes and three Meet-The-Composer Grants. Notable commissions have been received from the Koussevitzky Foundation in the Library of Congress, the Alexander String Quartet, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, San Francisco Performances, and the XTET ensemble. Greenberg is a board member and an artistic director of COMPOSERS, INC., a composers’ collective/production organization based in San Francisco. His music has been published by Fallen Leaf Press and CPP/Belwin, and recorded on the Innova label.
Greenberg has performed, taught and lectured extensively across North America and Europe. He is currently music historian-in-residence with San Francisco Performances, where he has lectured and performed since 1994. He has served on the faculties of the University of California at Berkeley, California State University East Bay, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he chaired the Department of Music History and Literature from 1989–2001 and served as the Director of the Adult Extension Division from 1991–1996. Greenberg has lectured for some of the most prestigious musical and arts organizations in the United States, including the San Francisco Symphony (where for ten years he was host and lecturer for the Symphony’s nationally acclaimed “Discovery Series”), the Chautauqua Institute (where he was the Everett Scholar-in-Residence during the 2006 season), the Ravinia Festival, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Van Cliburn Foundation, the Nasher Sculpture Center, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, Villa Montalvo, Music @ Menlo, and the University of British Columbia (where he was the Dal Grauer Lecturer in September of 2006). In addition, Greenberg is a sought after lecturer for businesses and business schools. For many years a member of the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania/Wharton School’s Advanced Management Program, he has spoken for such diverse organizations as S.C. Johnson, Canadian Pacific, Deutsches Bank, the University of California/Haas School of Business Executive Seminar, the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, Harvard Business School Publishing, Kaiser-Permanente, the Strategos Institute, Quintiles Transnational, the Young Presidents’ Organization, the World Presidents’ Organization, and the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco. Greenberg has been profiled in the Wall Street Journal, INC. Magazine, the Times of London, the Los Angeles Times, the Christian Science Monitor, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury News, the University of California Alumni Magazine, Princeton Alumni Weekly, and Diablo Magazine. For fifteen years Greenberg was the resident composer and music historian to National Public Radio’s Weekend All Things Considered and Weekend Edition, Sunday with Liane Hansen.
In February 2003, The Bangor Daily News (Maine) referred to Greenberg as the “Elvis of music history and appreciation”, an appraisal that has given more pleasure than any other.
In May 1993, Greenberg recorded a forty-eight lecture course entitled “How to Listen to and Understand Great Music” for the Teaching Company/Great Courses Program of Chantilly, Virginia. (This course was named in the January, 1996 edition of Inc. Magazine as one of “The Nine Leadership Classics You’ve Never Read”.) The Great Courses is the preeminent producer of college level courses-on-media in the United States. Twenty-Five further courses, including “Concert Masterworks”, “Bach and the High Baroque”, “The Symphonies of Beethoven”, “How to Listen to and Understand Opera”, “Great Masters”, “The Operas of Mozart”, “The Life and Operas of Verdi”, “The Symphony”, “The Chamber Music of Mozart”, “The Piano Sonatas of Beethoven”, “The Concerto”, “The Fundamentals of Music”, “The String Quartets of Beethoven”, “The Music of Richard Wagner”, and “The Thirty Greatest Orchestral Works” have been recorded since, totaling over 550 lectures. The courses are available on both CD and DVD formats and in book form.
Dr. Greenberg’s book, How to Listen to Great Music, was published by Plume, a division of Penguin Books, in April, 2011.
Greenberg lives with his children Lillian and Daniel, wife Nanci, and a very cool Maine coon (cat) named Teddy in the hills of Oakland, California.
Robert Greenberg is an official Steinway Artist.
American Mezzo-Soprano Renée Rapier brings her “dark, velvety mezzo and smoothly controlled, unfailingly eloquent phrasing to match” (Opera News) as well as a “razor-sharp focus” (Bay Area Reporter) to the operatic stage.
In her 2016–17 season, Renée Rapier returns to the innovative San Francisco based Opera Parallèle as the Minskwoman in Jonathan Dove’s Flight. She then makes her LA Philharmonic debut in John Adams’ Nixon in China conducted by the composer himself. Her summer will feature her role debut as Suzuki in Puccini’s Madame Butterfly at both Opera Theatre of St. Louis and Seattle Opera followed by returns to her home company of San Francisco Opera.
Ms. Rapier’s 2015–16 season included a critically-acclaimed debut as Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with Opera San Jose as well as debuts with Seattle Opera in Maria Stuarda, Emerald City Opera in Florencia en el Amazonas. She also made return appearances with the San Francisco Symphony in scenes from Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel and with the San Francisco Opera as Mercédès in Calixto Bieito’s provocative production of Carmen.
In 2015, Ms. Rapier returned to LA Opera singing Cherubino in both Le Nozze di Figaro and John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles, the latter of which producing a two-time Grammy winning recording. She also sang the title role in Jake Heggie’s Great Scott during its Cincinnati workshop, covering Joyce DiDonato at the piece’s Dallas premier.
Other recent engagements include a debut at Chicago’s Ravinia Festival as both the Page in Salome and Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro, her international debut as Olga in Eugene Onegin with the Seoul Philharmonic, Cornelia in Giulio Cesare with Wolf Trap Opera, and a debut with Opera San Antonio as Mrs. Fox in Tobias Picker’s Fantastic Mr. Fox.
After receiving degrees in both voice and viola from the University of Northern Iowa, Ms. Rapier participated in several prominent training programs including Chautauqua Opera and the Merola Opera Program. In 2011, she was chosen to join LA Opera’s Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program where she made her professional debut as Stephano in Roméo et Juliette under the baton of Plácido Domingo. Soon after, she joined the prestigious Adler Fellowship at the San Francisco Opera where she covered and sang a number of roles including Giovanna in Rigoletto and Meg Page in Falstaff.
Renée has received recognition from several notable competitions including the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (national semi-finalist), Palm Springs Opera Guild Competition (first place), the Seoul International Music Competition (finalist), Plácido Domingo’s Operalia (semi-finalist) and the Brava! Opera Theater and James M. Collier Young Artist Program Vocal Competition (first place).
Canadian soprano Rhoslyn Jones has quickly becoming an important presence on both the Concert and Operatic stages of the world. Described as a “superb singer and artistic presence,” Ms. Jones’ voice is “luscious, and her soul opens forthrightly and generously to the audience.”
Hailed as “The delicious diva” by the 24 Hours New Vancouver, Ms. Jones captivated the audience with her “unforgettably powerful voice” in her very first production of Le Nozze di Figaro. As the Countess, Rhoslyn Jones imparted “a grace and dignity that prevent[ed] her from descending into the mould of the stereotypical wronged woman, and [allowed] her to become a relatable individual for a modern audience. Jones is a joy to watch and reason alone to see the show.”
Ms. Jones began the 2010–11 season covering the role of Roxane opposite Placido Domingo’s Cyrano de Bergerac at the San Francisco Opera. Also this season, she will debut the role of Mimi in a new production of La Boheme at the Pacific Opera Victoria.
The 2009–10 season found Ms. Jones making her role debut as the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro with Vancouver Opera and a return to Arizona Opera as Musetta in La Boheme. A busy concert singer as well, Rhoslyn sang Rachmaninoff’s The Bells with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, was the soprano soloist in a concert of arias and duets with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and sang Morgen: A ballet set to a collection of Richard Strauss songs for soprano and orchestra with the New York City Ballet.
In recent seasons, Ms. Jones has appeared as the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro with Opera Santa Barbara, Musetta in La Boheme with Pittsburgh Opera, Tatyana in Eugene Onegin with Vancouver Opera, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with the Chicago Opera Theater and the title role of Susannah with Arizona Opera. Ms. Jones also created the starring role of Julia Dent Grant in Phillip Glass’s world premiere of Appomattox with the San Francisco Opera opposite Dwayne Croft and Andrew Shore. She has also recently appeared with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Silicon Valley Symphony, Sonoma State University Orchestra, and Anchorage Symphony.
She is the Director of the University of British Columbia Summer Vocal Workshop; a young artist training program that she has run for 5 years. Students come from all over the world to take lessons, coach, and perform in the program that has quickly grown into a major training prgram under her direction. She is also on the Vocal Faculty at Sonoma State University, as well as an Artist in Residence at the San Francisco School of the Arts. Her students have been accepted into the best schools in the country, and have won various major competitions under her tutelage.
Originally from Aldergrove, B.C., Ms. Jones completed her Undergraduate and Master’s degrees at the University of British Columbia and her Diploma in Opera Performance at the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. She also attended the distinguished Summer Festival at Ravinia in 2008 and was a 2004 and 2005 participant in Merola, which led to her selection as an Adler Fellow at the San Francisco Opera from 2006–07.
Robert Mollicone is a member of the music staff of San Francisco Opera, where he was recently named assistant to Music Director Nicola Luisotti beginning Fall 2017; he is also a frequent guest at such companies as Washington National Opera, Seattle Opera, Utah Opera, The Dallas Opera, and Opera San Jose. He has also prepared productions with and assisted many of today’s leading conductors, including Jesús López-Cobos, Donald Runnicles, Stephen Lord, and Patrick Summers. These nearly 50 productions since 2010 span the breadth of the repertoire, including Ariadne auf Naxos, Turandot, La Cenerentola, Les Troyens, Der Ring des Nibelungen, La Finta Giardiniera, and Show Boat.
A commitment to the future of American opera led Mollicone to work on the 25th anniversary production of Nixon in China as well as original productions Moby-Dick, Dolores Claiborne and The Secret Garden. He also conducted performances of the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Silent Night and of the world premiere of Weiser’s Where Angels Fear to Tread at Opera San Jose. Mollicone served as head coach/accompanist for the premiere of Jake Heggie and Terrence McNally's Great Scott at The Dallas Opera.
Equally at home on the concert stage, Mr. Mollicone collaborates frequently with both rising stars and veteran singers including Denyce Graves, Andrew Stenson, Joyce El-Khoury, Brian Jagde, Simon Estes, Ailyn Pérez, Nicholas Phan, and Jamie Barton. He made his Carnegie Hall debut alongside soprano Melody Moore in May 2016.
He is a graduate of San Francisco Opera's Adler Fellowship, as well as of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program at Washington National Opera. He holds a M. Mus. from Boston University, where he studied with Shiela Kibbe.