Classical Voice of New England
August 21, 2009

Presented by the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) in partnership with the Florestan Recital Project and Tufts University Department of Music, the Voice of America Festival will showcase a series of American vocal works, both new and unknown to Boston audiences, and bring an unprecedented diversity of American vocal music to Tufts University. Highlighted by special guests Sarah Pelletier (soprano), Shiela Kibbe (pianist), Thomas Meglioranza (baritone) and Lucy Shelton (soprano), to name a few, both BMOP and the Florestan Recital Project offer an unparalleled exploration of the impact that American composers have had on the vocal repertoire. The glittering program includes a broad range of works for voice and ensemble by Milton Babbitt, Aaron Copland, Jacob Druckman, John McDonald, Virgil Thomson, among others, as well as the complete songs, including several unpublished works, of Samuel Barber (1910-1981).

Following the success of last year’s Ditson Festival of Contemporary Music, BMOP’s Artistic Director/Conductor Gil Rose is thrilled to be curating yet another highly anticipated, vital program of both contemporary and classical music. “The feedback and overall enthusiasm we received from last year’s Ditson Festival propelled us to explore other opportunities to bring new music to Boston,” explains Rose. “I’m thrilled collaborate with many singers that I know and admire on this festival of important, yet sometimes overlooked, vocal music.” Rose is no stranger to Tufts University; he serves as the conductor of Tufts Symphony Orchestra and Lecturer, Department of Music.

Hailed by The Boston Globe as “incisive and stylish” (BMOP) and “intrepid and enterprising” (Florestan Recital Project), two of Boston’s leaders in dynamic artistic programming join hands to salute the vivacity, wit and eloquence of vocal music. The Florestan Recital Project presents “BarberFest” to celebrate the 100th birthday of Samuel Barber, one of America’s most honored song composers. In addition to Barber’s well-known published songs, Florestan will reintroduce 16 of Barber’s unpublished works obtained by special permission from the US Library of Congress and Barber’s estate. Some highlights include Au Clair de la Lune (folk song), Fantasy in Purple (Langston Hughes), Two Songs of the Wind (Fiona Macleod), and Nursery Songs, performed alongside Barber’s more popular works such as the beloved Hermit Songs, set to sacred and profane texts translated from medieval Irish monks’ manuscripts, and his first printed song The Daisies (dedicated to his mother, whose name was Daisy).

Meanwhile, BMOP focuses on two of Barber’s orchestral works – Dover Beach and Knoxville: Summer of 1915 - that are hailed as “Barber at his best.” In addition, BMOP’s programming features significant, yet unduly overlooked, works by other American composers including: Aaron Copland’s orchestration of Emily Dickinson’s poems in Eight Poems of Emily Dickinson; Feast of Love and Collected Poems by Virgil Thomson; and Scott Wheeler’s The Gold Standard. Interestingly, Wheeler’s work was greatly influenced by Thomson as a result of the auspicious time they spent together during the 1970’s. “A couple of my songs are modeled after Thomson songs in their vocal line, in their accompaniment, or in certain aspects of the texts I selected,” explains Wheeler. “Virgil’s settings of Kenneth Koch inspired my interest in that wonderful poet, who provided the libretti for The Gold Standard.

The Voice of America Festival will take place in the Distler Performance Hall of the Granoff Music Center of Tufts on 25, 26, and 27 September, with two different performances each day. Reduced price combo tickets are available for listeners who wish to attend both in the same day.