Robert GreenbergHost · Lecturer
Words & Music
Saturday, February 8, 2020 | 10am
Herbst TheatreVenue Information
Beethoven’s Vocal Music
About This Performance
Praised for his “nobility and rich tone,” (The New York Times) and his “enormous, thrilling voice seemingly capable… [of] raising the dead;” (all Street Journal), bass-baritone Dashon Burton has established a worldwide career in opera, recital and in many works with orchestra.
While known for the abundance of compositions for instruments and ensembles, Beethoven’s output for songs was fairly limited. In a combination of musical insights and anecdotes about the composer’s life, along with performances of the works being discussed, Burton and music historian Robert Greenberg will explore the depth and beauty of these not often performed works in a unique lecture/recital format well known to audiences who enjoy our Saturday Morning Series.
Praised for his “nobility and rich tone,” (The New York Times) and his enormous, thrilling voice seemingly capable…[of] raising the dead;” (Wall Street Journal), bass-baritone Dashon Burton has appeared in the Brahms Requiem and Beethoven 9 with Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra in the last two seasons; also the Mozart Requiem in the summer season at Severance Hall. He joins forces with Cleveland and Welser-Möst again in 2017–18 for reprise performances of their groundbreaking production of Janacek’s Cunning Little Vixen and for performances of Beethoven 9 in their Prometheus Project, at home and abroad in Vienna and Japan.
This season, Burton also sings Beethoven Symphony No. 9 with the Handel & Haydn Society in Boston, in Sweden with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, and with the Orlando Philharmonic. He appears twice at Carnegie Hall with the Oratorio Society of NY for Handel’s Messiah and in the world premiere of Paul Moravec’s Sanctuary Road, and performs in David Lang’s The Little Match Girl Passion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Dashon revisits the role of Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte on tour with Opera de Dijon in Limoges and Caen and sings recitals with Lindsay Garritson, and with Craig Hella Johnson for Conspirare in Austin. Throughout the season he continues to tour with the Grammy-winning contemporary vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth, and ends the season at Grant Park Music Festival singing Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast.
In key elements of his repertoire—Bach’s St. John and St. Matthew Passions and the B minor Mass, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Beethoven 9, the Brahms Requiem, Handel’s Messiah and Mozart’s Requiem—Dashon is a frequent guest with ensembles such as Philharmonia Baroque, the Handel and Haydn Society and Boston Baroque; the Carmel and Bethlehem Bach Choir Festivals, and the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Kansas City, New Jersey, Oregon, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Forays into more varied repertoire in the last seasons have included his performances of Michael Tippet’s A Child of Our Time at Harvard, Barber’s Dover Beach and Hans Eisler’s Ernste Gesaenge with A Far Cry chamber orchestra in Boston, Copland’s Old American Songs with the Kansas City Symphony, Schubert’s Die Winterreise with string quartet, and performances and the recording of Craig Hella Johnson’s Considering Matthew Shepard with the vocal group Conspirare.
Burton’s opera engagements include singing Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte in Dijon and Paris, and the role of Jupiter in Rameau’s Castor and Pollux with Christoph Rousset and Les Talens Lyriques. He has toured Europe in the St. John Passion with Christoph Prégardien’s Le Concert Lorraine, and in Italy with Maaski Suzuki and the Yale Schola Cantorum in the St. Matthew Passion, a work he also sang on tour in the Netherlands with the NNSO.
Dashon Burton’s Ravinia recital, based on his recent recording, Songs of Struggle and Redemption: We Shall Overcome, led off his 2016–17 season, followed by his performance of works by Aperghis and Stockhausen—as well as his own composition, Light Year—in the 2016 Resonant Bodies Festival at National Sawdust in Brooklyn. With Ensemble ACJW, he appeared in Arvo Pärt’s Passion in Carnegie’s Zankel Hall.
In 2012 Burton brought home prizes from the ARD International Music Competition in Munich and the 49th International Vocal Competition in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. These awards followed his First Place wins in both the 2012 Oratorio Society of New York’s Competition and the Bach Choir of Bethlehem’s Competition for Young American Singers.
He began his professional studies at Case Western Reserve University and graduated from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music. Upon graduation, he was invited to join Cantus, a professional men’s classical vocal ensemble based in Minneapolis, and toured with them for five years. In 2009, Burton entered Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music, where he studied vocal literature including Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, and Mendelssohn’s Elijah under tenor James Taylor. He received his Master of Music degree in 2011.
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.