Sanford Sylvan, baritone, displays a remarkable range of vocal expression and communicative power. On the concert stage and in recordings, his radiantly pure, lyric tone, clarity of diction, and profound understanding of both words and music speak directly and intimately to his audience. Deeply committed to the art of the vocal recital, Mr. Sylvan and his long-time collaborator, pianist David Breitman, have performed extensively throughout the United States and Europe, in major venues in London, New York, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. Their recitals and recordings have earned exceptional praise from critics and audiences, including three Grammy Award nominations for Best Classical Vocal Performance.

In the realm of opera, Mr. Sylvan is an acclaimed Mozartean. His portrayals of Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro and Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte have been seen internationally, including on PBS's "Great Performances." He has been much acclaimed for the role of Leporello in Don Giovanni, which he sang for his Glyndebourne Festival debut and with the New York City Opera, where he has since become a regular performer in such operas as The Magic Flute, Ariodante, The Rape of Lucretia, and most recently, Handel's Semele. Sanford Sylvan is closely associated with the productions of renowned directors: Peter Sellars in works of John Adams, Mozart, and Stravinsky; Robert Wilson in Virgil Thomson's Four Saints in Three Acts as well as Sir Peter Hall and Andrei Serban. He has developed longstanding relationships with major composers who have written for him: John Adams's Nixon In China (Chou En-Lai), the title role of The Death of Klinghoffer and the song cycle, The Wound Dresser; and numerous works of John Harbison. He was in the US premiere of The Lighthouse by Peter Maxwell Davies, the world premiere of Philip Glass's The Juniper Tree, and sang Sir Michael Tippett's The Ice Break at the BBC Proms, recorded for Virgin Classics. In the summer of 2005, he made an acclaimed Glimmerglass Opera debut as Don Alfonso in Mozart’s Così fan tutte.

Mr. Sylvan has performed with many of the leading orchestras of the world including the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke's, Royal Concertgebouworkest, the London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Tonhalle Orchestra of Zurich, Academy of Ancient Music, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and the NHK (Japanese Broadcasting Corporation) Symphony. He has collaborated with such conductors as Simon Rattle, James Levine, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Herbert Blomstedt, Christopher Hogwood, Ken Nagano, Helmuth Rilling, Bruno Weil, Roger Norrington, and Edo De Waart, among many others. The Los Angeles Philharmonic commissioned Steven Stucky's American Muse for him; Esa Pekka Salonen conducted the premiere.

Sanford Sylvan's recordings are known throughout the world and appear on the Nonesuch, Decca, Harmonia Mundi, Musicmasters, Bridge, Koch, Virgin Classics, New World, BMOP/sound, and CRI labels. A Grammy and Emmy Award winner for his role in John Adams's Nixon in China, he has received Grammy nominations for his recording with David Breitman, L’Horizon Chimerique which features chansons of Gabriel Faure; Beloved That Pilgrimage, a program of American songs with music by Barber, Copland, and Chanler; for John Adams's The Wound Dresser; and in 2009 for Charles Fussell's Wilde with Gil Rose and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. A recording of Bach with the Sarasa Ensemble was released in 2006. He can be seen in numerous productions on DVD including John Adams's Nixon in China and Klinghoffer and Peter Sellars's productions of Così fan tutte and Nozze di Figaro.

Mr. Sylvan is currently on the vocal faculty of McGill University in Montreal.


Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory | May 28, 2010
Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory | October 1, 2004
Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory | February 27, 2000

News and Press

[CD Review] Symphonic Music, American Style: 3 Must-Hear Albums

Martin Boykan may not be a household name, but judging from the nuanced orchestration and structural integrity of his Symphony for Orchestra, he should at least be better known. The 82-year-old Manhattan-born composer learned his craft under mid-century giants including Aaron Copland, Walter Piston and Paul Hindemith and later taught at Brandeis University. Boykan is fascinated with time. We listen to music sequentially, he says: "And since time passes slowly in music, we are immersed in a world that is richer and more eventful than ordinary life." And so goes this symphony.

NPR Music Full review
[CD Review] Another fascinating addition from the hyper-adventurous BMOP

Gil Rose and his Boston Modern Orchestra Project is, arguably, the source for new and lesser known modern music, especially that of American composers. Their catalogue includes Grammy-winning releases and a vast array of very interesting works that are, indeed, typically premieres or lesser known. This release of music by Martin Boykan is another great find!

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[Concert Review] Classical Music Review: Boston Modern Orchestra Project

The Jordan Hall stage was crammed full of seventy players for the season’s final concert by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) on May 28. Under its artistic director Gil Rose, we heard music by five composers, the earliest dating from 1989. For two works the distinguished baritone Sanford Sylvan (b. 1953) was the soloist.

The Arts Fuse Full review
[Concert Review] BMOP's feast of new music

After giving each orchestra section a spotlight concert this season, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and artistic director Gil Rose brought a full symphonic complement to Jordan Hall on Friday, with a program to match: five canvases of splashy instrumentation. The complement was in fine form indeed, zealous and bold. New-music advocacy doesn’t get more luxurious.

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[Concert Review] BMOP proves that new music can be moving

On Friday, May 28, in Jordan Hall, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, a.k.a. BMOP, presented its last concert of the season -— five works composed in the past 25 years, two of which featured the great baritone Sanford Sylvan. BMOP’s past season had featured concerts showcasing groups within the orchestra (strings in “Strings Attached,” percussion and keyboards in the “Big Bang” concert, winds in “Band in Boston”). For this concert, deploying the full orchestra, BMOP presented works by four living composers, all in attendance, and Orchestra Piece by Leon Kirchner, who died last fall.

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[Concert Review] Stylus reviews Full Score

The Boston Modern Orchestra Project commissions, performs, and records music of the twentieth and twenty first centuries exclusively, allowing listeners to hear full-sized orchestral performances of modern compositions, previously performed more typically by small groups like the Kronos Quartet and the Chameleon Arts Ensemble.

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[Press Release] BMOP presents Full Score

The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), the nation's leading orchestra dedicated exclusively to performing, commissioning, and recording new music, will present its final concert of the 2009-10 season, Full Score, at New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall (30 Gainsborough Street), on Friday, May 28 at 8:00pm. After three instrument-centric performances ("Big Bang" for percussion, "Band in Boston" for winds, and "Strings Attached" for strings), the BMOP season will culminate with a full orchestral program uniting over 70 musicians and guest baritone Sanford Sylvan.

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[CD Review] AllMusic reviews Charles Fussell: Wilde

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AllMusic Full review
[CD Review] La Folia reviews Charles Fussell: Wilde

Appearing in the outer movements, Slyvan’s charisma enables Fussell’s Wilde to soar. The work sets selections from Wilde’s letters to Lord Alfred Douglas that reflect on the joys of fatherhood and his despondency after his trial and incarceration. Fussell folds in an artful Victorianesque tune, its temperament bending to suit the mood. The curtain raiser, High Bridge Prelude (alternately called High Bridge, Portrait of Hart Crane) is taken from a larger work commemorating Hart Crane.

La Folia Full review
[CD Review] Grammy nods for local favorites

Though the Grammy Awards have never held quite the same cachet in classical music as they do in pop, they still carry a good deal of weight, especially for listeners seeking to navigate a bewildering array of new compositional voices and a thicket of recordings of standard repertoire. And this year’s nominations in classical categories, announced last week, include three with especially strong local connections.

The Boston Globe Full review
[Press Release] BMOP/sound earns a GRAMMY nomination

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[News Coverage] Sanford Sylvan of Charles Fussell: Wilde is nominated for GRAMMY Award

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GRAMMY Full review
[CD Review] ClassicalCDReview reviews Charles Fussell: Wilde

Nice. Charles Fussell has established his career in New England. He studied at Eastman with Thomas Canning and Bernard Rogers but has also worked with Boris Blacher and Virgil Thomson. His musical orientation is largely tonal (although structural elements of serialism hover at the edges), with no fear of dissonance.

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[News Coverage] Boston Modern Orchestra Project launches own label

The Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), an orchestra devoted exclusively to performing and commissioning new music, has announced it will launch an in-house record label, BMOP Sound, in January.

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[Concert Review] BMOP begins season in daring style

“The Boston Modern Orchestra Project filled Jordan Hall with song at its Friday-night season opener. The program, titled “Voices,” featured music for voice and orchestra delivered by a stage full of Boston’s finest musicians led by artistic director Gil Rose. . .

. . .Rose and company then dazzled with their go-for-the-gusto playing of the wall-shaking Sacred Song of Reconciliation by George Rochberg. Set to a Hebrew text, the music portrays the fearsome power of the Old Testament God. Bass-baritone David Kravitz conveyed that power in a performance of staggering impact.

The Boston Herald Full review