Thursday, October 26, 2017 | 7:30pm
Herbst TheatreVenue Information
BRYCE DESSNER: Music for Wood and Strings
SHAW: Narrow Sea (Bay Area Premiere)
CRUMB: Winds of Destiny (American Songbook IV)
About This Performance
Dawn Upshaw, Gilbert Kalish and Sō Percussion perform a program focusing on the expansive limits of song, including the Bay Area premiere of a new work by young American Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw and George Crumb’s Winds of Destiny, based on Civil War folk songs. Both ground-breaking composers expanded vocal techniques and forms to create a dynamic space between traditional European classical vocal music, and the worlds of avant-garde or pop music.
Joining a rare natural warmth with a fierce commitment to the transforming communicative power of music, Dawn Upshaw has achieved worldwide celebrity as a singer of opera and concert repertoire ranging from the sacred works of Bach to the freshest sounds of today. Her ability to reach to the heart of music and text has earned her both the devotion of an exceptionally diverse audience, and the awards and distinctions accorded to only the most distinguished of artists. In 2007, she was named a Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation, the first vocal artist to be awarded the five-year “genius” prize, and in 2008 she was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
Her acclaimed performances on the opera stage comprise the great Mozart roles (Susanna, Ilia, Pamina, Despina, and Zerlina) as well as modern works by Stravinsky, Poulenc, and Messiaen. From Salzburg, Paris and Glyndebourne to the Metropolitan Opera, where she began her career in 1984 and has since made nearly 300 appearances, Dawn Upshaw has also championed numerous new works created for her including The Great Gatsby by John Harbison; the Grawemeyer Award-winning opera, L’Amour de Loin and oratorio La Passion de Simone by Kaija Saariaho; John Adams’s Nativity oratorio El Niño; and Osvaldo Golijov’s chamber opera Ainadamar and song cycle Ayre.
It says much about Dawn Upshaw’s sensibilities as an artist and colleague that she is a favored partner of many leading musicians, including Gilbert Kalish, the Kronos Quartet, James Levine, and Esa-Pekka Salonen. In her work as a recitalist, and particularly in her work with composers, Dawn Upshaw has become a generative force in concert music, having premiered more than 25 works in the past decade. From Carnegie Hall to large and small venues throughout the world she regularly presents specially designed programs composed of lieder, contemporary works in many languages, and folk and popular music. She furthers this work in master classes and workshops with young singers at major music festivals, conservatories, and liberal arts colleges. She is Artistic Director of the Vocal Arts Program at the Bard College Conservatory of Music, and the Head of the Vocal Arts Program at the Tanglewood Music Center.
A five-time Grammy Award winner, Dawn Upshaw, most recently received the 2014 Best Classical Vocal Solo Grammy for Maria Schneider's Winter Morning Walks on the ArtistShare Label. She is featured on more than 50 recordings, including the million-selling Symphony No. 3 by Henryk Gorecki for Nonesuch Records. Her discography also includes full-length opera recordings of Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro; Messiaen’s St. Francois d’Assise; Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress; John Adams’s El Niño; two volumes of Canteloube’s Songs of the Auvergne, a dozen recital recordings, and an acclaimed three-disc series of Osvaldo Golijov’s music for Deutsche Grammophon.
Dawn Upshaw holds honorary doctorate degrees from Yale, the Manhattan School of Music, the Juilliard School, Allegheny College, and Illinois Wesleyan University. She began her career as a 1984 winner of the Young Concert Artists Auditions and the 1985 Walter W. Naumburg Competition, and was a member of the Metropolitan Opera Young Artists Development Program.
Ms. Upshaw has recorded extensively for the Nonesuch label. She may also be heard on Angel/EMI, BMG, Deutsche Grammophon, London, Sony Classical, Telarc, and on Erato and Teldec in the Warner Classics Family of labels.
Equally at home in classroom and concert hall, pianist Gilbert Kalish has introduced audiences to a range of modern works that are now considered standards of the repertory. A solo artist who has released over 100 recordings, he is likewise noted for his roles in chamber music ensembles and for his collaborations as accompanist with soprano Dawn Upshaw, cellist Joel Krosnick, and above all, mezzo soprano Jan de Gaetani. Born in New York City, Kalish attended Columbia University. His BA from Columbia in 1956 was augmented by studies at the Berkshire Music Center and the Marlboro Festival, and by an honorary doctorate from Swarthmore College in 1987. Kalish has been nominated for three Grammy Awards and has received a host of other awards, including the Paul Fromm Award, bestowed by the University of Chicago in recognition of his advocacy of the music of our time.
Kalish’s commitment to new music led him to become a founding member of the Contemporary Chamber Ensemble in 1962, and his musical partnership with de Gaetani began not long after that. In 1969 Kalish joined the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, and he has performed with many of the world’s top string quartets over the years. His solo career flourished; he has performed recitals in most of the major musical capitals, and he is a familiar face at such recurring events as New York’s Mostly Mozart festival. Especially noted for his performances of Ives’ piano music (the Concord Sonata, in particular), Kalish has given world premieres of works by Ives and also of pieces by many of the other big names in American music of the 20th century: Elliott Carter, Copland, George Crumb, and David Diamond, to name a few.
Professor (since 1970) and chair of the performance faculty at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Kalish straddles the academic and public realms in his teaching and has become immensely influential as an educator. He gives several master classes a year around the U.S. and Canada, often accepts guest faculty appointments, and from 1968 to 1997 he was on the faculty at the Tanglewood Music Center. Kalish has recorded for the Nonesuch, Arabesque, Desto, and New World labels, among others, traversing mainstream classics, well-known modern works, and world premieres with equal enthusiasm. His recording of Stephen Foster’s songs with de Gaetani on Nonesuch is a perennial bestseller.
With innovative multi-genre original productions, sensational interpretations of modern classics, and an “exhilarating blend of precision and anarchy, rigor and bedlam,” (The New Yorker), Sō Percussion (Eric Cha-Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski, and Jason Treuting) has redefined the scope and role of the modern percussion ensemble.
Their repertoire ranges from “classics” of the 20th century, by John Cage, Steve Reich, and Iannis Xenakis, et al, to commissioning and advocating works by contemporary composers such as David Lang, Steve Mackey, and Paul Lansky, to distinctively modern collaborations with artists who work outside the classical concert hall, including vocalist Shara Nova, electronic duo Matmos, the groundbreaking Dan Deacon, legendary drummer Bobby Previte, jam band kings Medeski, Martin, and Wood, Wilco’s Glenn Kotche, choreographer Shen Wei, and composer and leader of The National, Bryce Dessner, among many others.
Sō Percussion also composes and performs their own works, ranging from standard concert pieces to immersive multi-genre programs—including Imaginary City, Where (we) Live, and their newest endeavor, A Gun Show, which will be performed throughout the current season, most notably in a multi-performance presentation as part of BAM’s 2016 Next Wave Festival. In these concert-length programs, Sō Percussion employs a distinctively 21st century synthesis of original music, artistic collaboration, theatrical production values and visual art, into a powerful exploration of their own unique and personal creative experiences.
Sō Percussion began the 2016–17 season with critically acclaimed performances at the Lincoln Center Festival, including a complete performance of Steve Reich’s Drumming, and a sold-out Trilogy of Sō commissions and masterworks of the percussion repertoire. Other highlights of the season include an original work, From Out a Darker Sea in England’s East Durham, supported by Forma Arts; an appearance at Carnegie Hall for a celebration of Steve Reich’s 80th birthday; an appearance at the Eaux Claires Festival with Shara Nova and Buke & Gase; a return to London’s the Barbican for Sound Unbound 2017; performances throughout the US, and much more.
Recent highlights include a featured performance at Carnegie Hall with Glenn Kotche and Shara Nova; a collaboration with Dawn Upshaw and Gil Kalish for the season opener of Da Camera of Houston; international tours to Poland and Ireland; performances of David Lang’s percussion concerto man made with Gustavo Dudamel with the LA Phil; Bryce Dessner’s Music for Wood and Strings at the Barbican in London, and at Bonnaroo Music and Art Festival; and an original score for a live performance and broadcast of WNYC’s Radiolab with Jud Abumrad and Robert Krulwich at BAM.
Rooted in the belief that music is an essential facet of human life, a social bond, and an effective tool in creating agency and citizenship, Sō Percussion enthusiastically pursues a growing range of social and community outreach. Examples include their Brooklyn Bound presentations of younger composers; commitments to purchasing offsets to compensate for carbon-heavy activities such as touring travel; and leading their SōSI students in an annual food-packing drive, yielding up to 25,000 meals, for the Crisis Center of Mercer County through the organization EndHungerNE.
Sō Percussion is the Edward T. Cone Ensemble-in-Residence at Princeton University, where they offer educational work and present an annual series of concerts. They are also Co-Directors of the percussion department at the Bard College-Conservatory of Music, and run the annual Sō Percussion Summer Institute (SōSI), providing college-age composers and percussionists an immersive exposure to collaboration and project development.