Praised by the New York Times for her “luminous voice” and “intensely expressive interpretations,” and named “remarkable, artistically mature” and “a singer to watch” by Opera News, soprano Sarah Shafer is quickly emerging as a sought-after artist on both the operatic and concert stage. The 2015 – 2016 season sees Ms. Shafer return to the San Francisco Opera for her role debut of Pamina in the Jun Kaneko production of Die Zauberflöte, which the Huffington Post called “a feisty, vocally powerful Pamina.” She will also return to Opera Philadelphia this season as Adina in L'elisir d'amore, directed by Stephen Lawless. Concert work includes Schubert’s Der Hirt auf dem Felsen with pianist Richard Goode and clarinetist Anthony McGill and the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Handel’s Israel in Egypt with the New York Choral Society, and Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony with the New York Youth Symphony at Carnegie Hall.
Highlights of previous seasons include the world premiere of Marco Tutino’s Two Women at San Francisco Opera in the role of Rosetta, opposite Anna Caterina Antonacci and conducted by Nicola Luisotti, as well as creating the role of Mary Lennox in the world premiere of Nolan Gasser’s The Secret Garden, also with San Francisco Opera. Other career highlights include Barbarina and the cover role of Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro at the Glyndebourne Festival and the BBC Proms in London’s Royal Albert Hall, and several roles for Opera Philadelphia including Nuria in Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar, Voce dal Cielo in Don Carlo, and Papagena in Die Zauberflöte.
A recent graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, Ms. Shafer’s credits for Curtis Opera Theatre include over 20 productions and a variety of roles such as Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Almirena in Rinaldo, Giulietta in I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Elizabeth Zimmer in Henze’s Elegy for Young Lovers, Ilia in Idomeneo, Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Sofia in Il Signor Bruschino, and Mélisande in Impressions of Pelléas. Most recently, she sang the role of Sister Constance in Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites.
On the concert stage, Ms. Shafer was recently heard in Carnegie Hall as soloist with the New York Choral Society in Mendelssohn's St. Paul. Other recently performed works include Bach's St. John Passion and Mass in B minor, Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Poulenc’s Gloria, Lutoslawski’s Chantefleurs et Chantefables, Fauré’s Requiem, Duet for Soprano and Tenor after Tchaikovsky’s Fantasy-Overture Romeo and Juliet, Strauss’ Suite from Der Rosenkavalier, Handel’s Messiah, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4. Ms. Shafer has appeared as soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the National Orchestra of Mexico, the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, Wroclaw Symphony Orchestra (Poland), the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, among others.
An avid recitalist and chamber musician, Ms. Shafer enjoys an active collaboration with legendary pianist Richard Goode, most recently performing Schumann and Brahms lieder at Carnegie Hall. She has also collaborated with musicians including guitarist Jason Vieaux, and clarinetist Richard Stoltzman. Ms. Shafer was a resident artist at the Marlboro Music Festival for five summers, where she worked with Richard Goode, Mitsuko Uchida, Benita Valente, Sir Thomas Allen, and Martin Isepp. She has also performed at the Mozart and Handel Académie européenne de musique in Aix-en-Provence, Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival France, the Bard Summer Music Festival, and was named a winner of the 2014 Astral Artists National Auditions.
A native of State College, PA, Ms. Shafer holds degrees in voice and opera from the Curtis Institute of Music, and is currently based in Philadelphia.
Kirstin Chávez is considered one of the most riveting and significant performing mezzo-sopranos today. The combination of her magnificent voice and expansive range, the dramatic intensity of her acting, and her natural physical beauty make her an arresting and unique presence on the operatic stage.
Ms. Chávez captures attention and acclaim in her signature roles and is recognized as one of the definitive interpreters of Carmen of our generation. She performs Bizet’s iconic heroine with great success throughout the world with leading opera companies and symphonies including New National Theatre Foundation in Tokyo, Staatsoper Hannover, Opera Australia, China National Center for the Performing Arts, Central City Opera, Arizona Opera, Columbus Symphony, Orlando Philharmonic, and Oper Graz, when Opera News reported that her Carmen was “the Carmen of a lifetime. With her dark, generous mezzo, earthy eroticism, volcanic spontaneity and smoldering charisma, Chávez has it all, including a superb command of French and a sense of humor.”
This season, Ms. Chávez will delight audiences as Amneris in Aïda with Opera Southwest and Baltimore Concert Opera, sing an Opera Gala at Las Cruces Symphony Orchestra, and perform her signature role of Carmen in concert with Venture Opera and University of Southern Mississippi. In future seasons, she returns to The Metropolitan Opera and San Diego Opera.
Ms. Chávez is collecting accolades for her fiery portrayals through Europe. Recent engagements have brought her to Australia as Carmen at Opera Queensland and to Italy for The Rape of Lucretia at Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. She also made her début with two major companies in the United Kingdom: The Royal Opera House-Covent Garden in London with the role of Marquise de Merteuil in the contemporary opera Quartett by Luca Francesconi, and Carmen with Welsh National Opera. She later reprised the role of Marquise de Merteuil in Quartett at Opera Malmö in Sweden. Recent U.S. engagements include Paula in Florencia en el Amazonas at Nashville Opera.
Ms. Chávez demonstrates her versatility in her portrayals of opera’s favorite pants roles including Orfeo in Gluck’s Orfeo at The Metropolitan Opera, Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier at Florentine Opera, and Hänsel in Hänsel and Gretel at Atlanta Opera. Chávez earns praise for her performances in modern American operas, as well, from engagements such as Jo in Adamo’s Little Women at Opera Pacific, Thérèse in Tobias Picker’s Thérèse Raquin at San Diego Opera, and Sondra Finchley in Picker’s An American Tragedyin her Metropolitan Opera principal début in 2005. She recently added two more modern roles to the list: Sister Helen Prejean in Heggie’s Dead Man Walking at Tulsa Opera, where Tulsa World reviewer referred to her performance as “searing and incandescent,” and Sharon Falconer in Aldridge’s Elmer Gantry, of which the Tulsa World reviewer spoke to the “otherworldy quality to her singing; a mix of the earthy and the ethereal.”
Chávez has also earned a reputation for bringing her dynamic performances to concert and recital stages. Recently, she appeared on a duo recital of music by Bach, Schubert, and others with organist Marc Baumann at Himmerod Abbey and then at St. Martin’s Cathedral in Germany. She also appeared as a soloist in “Bizet to Broadway” with Ocean City Pops, on a gala concert with Long Bay Symphony Orchestra, performed Des Knaben Wunderhorn with Florence Symphony, multiple concerts with Carolina Master Chorale, Bach’s B-minor Mass, Händel’s Messiah, and Orfeo with New Mexico State University, El Amor Brujo with the Orquesta Filarmónica Sonora in Mexico, and Rossini’s Stabat Mater with Musica Sacra di Monreale, among numerous others. After a series of successful recitals of Spanish art songs with pianist Paolo André Gualdi and guitarist Sara Gianfelici, Ms. Chávez released the album Pasión, which features the trio in a diverse sampling of Spanish song repertoire for mezzo-soprano, piano, and guitar.
Chávez earned a Bachelor of Music degree, with honors, from New Mexico State University, and a Master of Music degree in Voice Performance and Performance Certificate from the Eastman School of Music. After beginning an Artistic Residency with the Orlando Opera, Ms. Chávez won several major international competitions, including The Sullivan Foundation, The George London Foundation, the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation, the Opera Index Foundation, The Gerda Lissner Foundation, the Jensen Foundation, and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (National Finalist).
Gil Rose ( Conductor )
Gil Rose is a conductor helping to shape the future of classical music. His dynamic performances and many recordings have garnered international critical praise.
In 1996, Mr. Rose founded the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), the foremost professional orchestra dedicated exclusively to performing and recording symphonic music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Under his leadership, BMOP’s unique programming and high performance standards have attracted critical acclaim.
As a guest conductor on both the opera and symphonic platforms, he made his Tanglewood debut in 2002 and in 2003 debuted with the Netherlands Radio Symphony at the Holland Festival. He has led the American Composers Orchestra, Warsaw Philharmonic, National
Symphony Orchestra of the Ukraine, Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, and the National Orchestra of Porto and made his Japanese debut in 2015 substituting for Seiji Ozawa at the Matsumoto Festival conducting Berlioz’s Béatrice et Bénédict.
Over the past decade, Mr. Rose has also built a reputation as one of the country’s most inventive and versatile opera conductors. He recently announced the formation of Odyssey Opera, an inventive company dedicated to presenting eclectic operatic repertoire in a variety of formats. The company debuted in September 2013 to critical acclaim with a 6-hour concert production of Wagner’s Rienzi. Subsequent presentations have included concert performances of Korngold’s Die tote Stadt and Massenet’s Le Cid, along with two critically acclaimed Spring Festivals of staged opera. Prior to founding Odyssey Opera he led Opera Boston as its Music Director starting in 2003, and in 2010 was appointed the company’s first Artistic Director. Mr. Rose led Opera Boston in several American and New England premieres including Shostakovich’s The Nose, Donizetti’s Maria Padilla, Hindemith’s Cardillac, and Peter Eötvös’s Angels in America. In 2009, Mr. Rose led the world premiere of Zhou Long’s Madame White Snake, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2011.
Mr. Rose and BMOP recently partnered with the American Repertory Theater, Chicago Opera Theater, and the MIT Media Lab to create the world premiere of composer Tod Machover’s Death and the Powers (a runner-up for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Music). He conducted this seminal multimedia work at its world premiere at the Opera Garnier in Monte Carlo, Monaco, in September 2010, and also led its United States premiere in Boston and a subsequent performance at Chicago Opera Theater.
An active recording artist, Gil Rose serves as the executive producer of the BMOP/sound recording label. His extensive discography includes world premiere recordings of music by John Cage, Lukas Foss, Charles Fussell, Michael Gandolfi, Tod Machover, Steven Mackey, Evan Ziporyn, and many others on such labels as Albany, Arsis, Chandos, ECM, Naxos, New World, and BMOP/sound.
He has led the longstanding Monadnock Music Festival in historic Peterborough, NH, since his appointment as Artistic Director in 2012, conducting several premieres and making his opera stage directing debut in two revivals of operas by Dominick Argento, as well as conducting, directing and producing the world premier recording of Ned Rorem’s opera Our Town.
He has curated the Fromm Concerts at Harvard three times and served as the first curator of the Ditson Festival of Music at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art. As an educator Mr. Rose served five years as director of Orchestral Activities at Tufts University and in 2012 he joined the faculty of Northeastern University as Artist-in- Residence and Professor of Practice.
In 2007, Mr. Rose was awarded Columbia University’s prestigious Ditson Award as well as an ASCAP Concert Music Award for his exemplary commitment to new American music. He is a three-time Grammy Award nominee.
David Hertzberg ( Composer )
An innovative young composer, the “opulently gifted” David Hertzberg has a busy season (Opera News). He was commissioned to create a work for voice and chamber ensemble, which will be premiered by New York City Opera in March 2016, and two additional new works will be premiered - by pianist Steven Lin at Zankel Hall, commissioned by Concert Artists Guild, and by violinist In Mo Yang at Weill Hall, commissioned by the BMI Foundation, Inc./Carlos Surinach Fund for Concert Artists Guild. Other upcoming projects include a one-act opera for Opera Philadelphia's Double Exposure program this spring, and a new work for the American Composers Orchestra, to be premiered at Carnegie Hall on their 2016-2017 season. Noteworthy in his rapidly growing career is his new position as 2015-2018 Composer-in- Residence with Opera Philadelphia and Music Theatre Group. Among his numerous prizes are the Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the 2015 and 2012 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Awards, and the 2012 Aaron Copland Award from Copland House.
Other recent commissions were premiered by the Colorado All State Orchestra, pianist Steven Lin, the Curtis Orchestra, and the PRISM Saxophone Quartet, in a commission from the American Composers Forum with funds from the Jerome Foundation. Mr. Hertzberg’s piece, Spectre of the Spheres, will be performed by the New England Philharmonic in 2016 and was chosen by Mason Bates as one of four new works to be read by the Pittsburgh Symphony last season at the orchestra’s 11 th Annual Reading Session; the piece was also selected to be read at the American Composers Orchestra’s annual Underwood New Music Reading Session last season. Mr. Hertzberg went on to win the ACO’s 2015 Underwood Emerging Composer Commission for a work to be performed by the orchestra at Zankel Hall during the 2016-2017 season.
As the 2012-2015 YCA Composer-in- Residence, Mr. Hertzberg’s Ablutions of Oblivion was premiered by soprano Julia Bullock in 2013 at Merkin Concert Hall and the Kennedy Center. His second YCA commission, Orgie Céleste, a trio for clarinet, violin, and piano, was premiered last season on the Young Concert Artists Composers Concert at Merkin Concert Hall by Narek Arutyunian, Paul Huang, and Ursula Oppens; the New York Times wrote: “In this riveting work, Mr. Hertzberg demonstrates that a gifted young composer can be inspired by masters and still speak with a vibrantly personal style.”
Mr. Hertzberg has had multiple compositions premiered by Juilliard ensembles at Alice Tully Hall. In April 2013 his commission for the New Juilliard Ensemble, femminina, oscura, was premiered to a rave review from The New York Times. In 2011, Mr. Hertzberg’s Nympharum for high soprano and orchestra was premiered as the winner of the Juilliard Orchestra’s composer competition. It received further distinction with the William Schuman Prize at the 2011 BMI Student Composer Awards and the Arthur Friedman Prize for the score judged most outstanding in the competition.
In 2015, his work was performed at the Intimacy of Creativity Festival in Hong Kong, and he holds a residency at the Visby International Center for Composers in Sweden this fall. In addition to his residency at Copland House, in 2013 Mr. Hertzberg completed a residency at the artist colony Yaddo, where he returns for a residency in 2015, and participated in the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival’s Young Composers Program, where his commission Méditation Boréale was premiered by the Flux Quartet. The work was subsequently performed by the Dover Quartet at the Curtis Institute and the Fromm Quartet at the Tanglewood Music Center. In May 2012, Mr. Hertzberg participated in the Master Class Programme with the Stenhammar Quartet at the Swedish Collegium in Uppsala, Sweden. While there, he worked with composers Steven Stucky and Anders Hillborg. Mr. Hertzberg was a 2014 Leonard Bernstein Composition Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center and attended the 2012 Aspen Music Festival, working with George Tsontakis. He has studied composition at the Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik in Darmstadt in 2008, the Freie Universität in Berlin in 2009, and he was a Fellow at the European American Musical Alliance at La Schola Cantorum in Paris in 2010.
Born in 1990 in Los Angeles, California, Mr. Hertzberg started studying composition, violin, cello, and piano at the age of eight at the Colburn School in Los Angeles. Mr. Hertzberg completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees with Scholastic Distinction from The Juilliard School, where he worked with Samuel Adler. While there, he held a teaching fellowship and was awarded the John Erskine Prize for outstanding artistic and academic achievement. He holds an Artist Diploma from The Curtis Institute of Music, where he worked with Richard Danielpour.