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Bard Conservatory Graduate Vocal Arts Program Hosts Inaugural Gala Honoring Maestro James Levine on December 1

Program Includes Performance by Dawn Upshaw and Graduate Vocal Arts Students

Mark Primoff

NEW YORK, N.Y.—The Bard College Conservatory of Music Graduate Vocal Arts Program presents an inaugural gala honoring Maestro James Levine featuring a program of songs. Works by Osvaldo Golijov, Stephen Foster, and Aaron Copland will be performed by Dawn Upshaw with graduate vocal arts students. The evening will be hosted by Leon Botstein, Bard College president; Dawn Upshaw, founder and artistic director of the Graduate Vocal Arts Program; and Kayo Iwama, head of the Graduate Vocal Arts Program. Cochaired by Susan B. Hirschhorn, Mimi Levitt, and Frayda B. Lindemann, the gala will be held at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City on Tuesday, December 1. The program and dinner begins at 7:30 p.m. with cocktails at 6:30 p.m. Attire is festive. Proceeds from this gala evening will benefit the Scholarship Fund of the Graduate Vocal Arts Program. For tickets and more information, please contact Ann Gabler at 845-758-7866 or

Twenty-five years ago this autumn, soprano Dawn Upshaw made her Metropolitan Opera debut as part of the Young Artists Program. In honoring Maestro James Levine, Ms. Upshaw and the students of the new Bard Vocal Arts Program pay tribute to him and the musical values he has imparted. Ms. Upshaw was privileged to be mentored by Maestro Levine for three seasons as part of the Young Artists Program, now the Lindemann Young Artists Program, during which time she gained stage experience and was encouraged to chart her own artistic path. Now, Ms. Upshaw takes a personal interest in the growth of each student at Bard, and acts as both teacher and mentor to help him or her realize his or her full artistic and professional potential.

About Maestro James Levine

Since his June 5, 1971, debut at the Metropolitan Opera with Tosca, Music Director James Levine has developed a relationship with that company that is unparalleled in its history and unique in the musical world today. He conducted the first-ever Met performances of Mozart’s Idomeneo and La Clemenza di Tito, Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex, Verdi’s I Vespri Siciliani, I Lombardi and Stiffelio, Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, Schoenberg’s Erwartung and Moses und Aron, Berg’s Lulu, Rossini’s La Cenerentola and Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini, as well as the world premieres of John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles and John Harbison’s The Great Gatsby; all told, he has led nearly 2500 performances of 85 different operas there. This season at the Met, he conducts 23 performances of five operas, including Opening Night’s new production of Tosca, the new production of Les Contes d’Hoffmann in December, and revivals of Der Rosenkavalier, Simon Boccanegra and Lulu.

Maestro Levine inaugurated the “Metropolitan Opera Presents” television series for PBS in 1977, founded the Met’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program (LYADP) in 1980, returned Wagner’s complete Der Ring des Nibelungen to the repertoire in 1989 (in the first integral cycles in 50 years there), and reinstated recitals and concerts with Met artists at the opera house -- a former Metropolitan tradition. Expanding on that tradition, he and the Met Orchestra began touring in concert in 1991, and since then have performed around the world including at Expo ’92 in Seville, in Japan, on tours across the United States and Europe, and each year during and after the opera season on its own subscription series at Carnegie Hall; this season his concerts there are in December and January and feature mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe and soprano Diana Damrau and music of Elgar, Mahler, Beethoven, Schubert and Richard Strauss. (Maestro Pierre Boulez makes his debut with the Met Orchestra and soprano Deborah Polaski to close the Orchestra’s season in May.) Since 1998, Maestro Levine and the Met Chamber Ensemble have performed annually at Carnegie’s Weill and Zankel halls; this season’s Chamber Ensemble performances also take place in December and January with sopranos Judith Bettina and Jo Ellen Miller, mezzo-soprano Kristin Hoff and bass-baritone Evan Hughes in works by Mozart, Strauss, Sessions, Boulez, Babbitt and Carter. He also gives a masterclass for the Marilyn Horne Foundation at Zankel Hall in January and debuts with the Staatskapelle Berlin with Mahler’s Third Symphony in March, as well as playing a special gala fundraising concert there for the imminent restoration of the historic Deutsche Staatsoper (with its Artistic Director, Daniel Barenboim, and Dorothea Röschmann, Waltraud Meier, Matthew Polenzani and René Pape in Brahms’ Liebeslieder-Walzer).

James Levine’s sixth season as Music Director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra opened on September 23, two days after Opening Night at the Metropolitan, and includes Chopin with Evgeny Kissin and the world premiere of John Williams’ “On Willows and Birches” (written for the longtime harpist of the BSO, Ann Hobson Pilot, who is retiring); this program also opens Carnegie Hall’s new season on October 1. He conducts 26 performances of fourteen programs in Boston in 2009-10 (four of which travel to Carnegie); three commission premieres from Peter Lieberson (“Farewell Songs”), Elliott Carter (Flute Concerto) and John Harbison (Double Concerto); Mendelssohn’s Elijah; a Pension Fund Concert featuring all four Strausses (both Johanns, Josef, and Richard!); and music of Berlioz, Debussy, Ravel, Schubert, Berg, Brahms and Mahler.

In addition to his responsibilities at the Met and the BSO, Mr. Levine is a distinguished pianist and an active and avid recital collaborator, especially in Lieder and song repertoire.  He began accompanying such artists as Jennie Tourel, Hans Hotter and Eleanor Steber more than 40 years ago, and since that time has given recitals with most of the great singers of our time. From 1973 to 1993, Levine was Music Director of the Ravinia Festival, summer home to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, where in a dozen programs each season he led an immense repertoire of symphonic masterpieces, operas, major works for chorus and orchestra, works for unusual combinations of instruments, one-composer marathons, oratorios, concerti, and performed as piano soloist in concerti, chamber music and song recitals. Outside the United States, his activities have been characterized by his intensive and enduring relationships with Europe’s most distinguished musical organizations: the Salzburg (1975-1993) and Bayreuth (1982-1998) festivals, the Vienna Philharmonic, and the Berlin Philharmonic.  He was Chief Conductor from 1999-2004 of the Munich Philharmonic and has conducted every major orchestra in America and Europe.

James Levine was the first recipient, in 1980, of the annual Manhattan Cultural Award and was presented with the Smetana Medal by the Czechoslovak government in 1986, following performances of the Czech composer’s Má vlast in Vienna. He was the subject of a Time cover story in 1983, was named “Musician of the Year” by Musical America in 1984, and has been featured in a documentary in PBS’ “American Masters” series. Maestro Levine holds honorary doctorates from the University of Cincinnati, the New England Conservatory of Music, Northwestern University, the State University of New York and the Juilliard School, and is the recipient in recent years of the Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Arts from New York’s Third Street Music School Settlement; the Gold Medal for Service to Humanity from the National Institute of Social Sciences; the Lotus Award (“for inspiration to young musicians”) from Young Concert Artists; the Anton Seidl Award from the Wagner Society of New York; the Goldenes Ehrenzeichen from the cities of Vienna and Salzburg; the Crystal Award from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland; the Centennial Medal from The Juilliard School; the 2005 Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; the 2006 Opera News Award; the first-ever Opera Award from the National Endowment for the Arts (2008); and the National Medal of Arts (1997) and Kennedy Center Honors (2003).


About Dawn Upshaw

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 acclaimed performances on the opera stage comprise the great Mozart roles (Pamina, Ilia, Susanna, Despina) 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, Upshaw has also championed many new works created for her, including The Great Gatsby by John Harbison; L’amour de loin and 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.

In 2007, Upshaw was named a Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation, the first vocal artist to be awarded the five-year “genius” grant, and in 2008 she was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A four-time Grammy Award winner, she is featured on more than 50 recordings, including the million-selling Symphony No. 3 by Henryk Górecki. She holds honorary doctorate degrees from Yale University, the Manhattan School of Music, Illinois Wesleyan University, and Allegheny College.

            Ms. Upshaw’s 2009-10 season opened with concerts in Edinburgh, Montreux, Zurich and the BBC Proms featuring the music of Mahler, Berio, and Golijov performed with David Zinman and the Tonhalle Orchestra. This season she also sings the world premieres of three new works written for her, including a chamber piece by David Bruce to open the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center season in New York; an orchestral work by Alberto Iglesias with the  St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, where Ms. Upshaw is an Artistic Partner; and a song cycle by Osvaldo Golijov for Ms. Upshaw and Emanuel Ax, with concerts in Amsterdam, London, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and at Carnegie Hall. Ms. Upshaw appears twice  again at Carnegie this season, reprising her celebrated role in John Adams’s El Niño and taking part in a festival celebrating the music of Louis Andriessen. She joins Gustavo

Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic for his inaugural season at Disney Hall and makes her debut with Peter Oundjian and the Toronto Symphony, among other highlights.


About Kayo Iwama

Pianist Kayo Iwama is the head of the innovative Graduate Vocal Arts Program at The Bard College Conservatory of Music, working in tandem with the artistic director, soprano Dawn Upshaw. She has concertized extensively with singers throughout North America, Europe, and Japan, and has performed at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Boston’s Jordan Hall, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Seiji Ozawa Hall at Tanglewood, the Kennedy Center, Tokyo’s Yamaha Hall, and the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. The Washington Post has called her a pianist “with unusual skill and sensitivity to the music and the singer,” and the Boston Globe has praised her “virtuoso accompaniment . . . super-saturated with gorgeous colors.” Since 1995 she has taught at the Tanglewood Music Center, where she coordinates the Vocal Studies Program and has worked with some of today’s most exciting young singers and collaborative pianists, and assisted Maestros James Levine, Seiji Ozawa, and Robert Spano in major operatic and concert productions. As music director of the critically acclaimed Cantata Singers Chamber Series, she created programs devoted to rarely heard works of art song and vocal chamber music. She was formerly on the faculties of the Hartt School of Music, the New England Conservatory of Music, and Boston Conservatory. Iwama earned a bachelor of music degree at Oberlin Conservatory of Music and a master’s degree at SUNY Stony Brook, where she studied with Gilbert Kalish. She also attended the Salzburg Music Festival, Banff Music Center, Music Academy of the West, and Tanglewood Music Center, where she worked with such artists as Margo Garrett, Martin Isepp, Graham Johnson, Martin Katz, and Erik Werba. She can be heard on CD on the Well-Tempered label, with baritone Christópheren Nomura in Schubert’s Die Schöne Müllerin, and on two ISMM discs devoted to French melodies and the songs of Schumann with tenor Ingul Ivan Oak.

About the Graduate Vocal Arts Program

The Graduate Vocal Arts Program at The Bard College Conservatory of Music is a two-year master of music degree conceived and directed by soprano Dawn Upshaw. The course work is designed to support a broad-based approach to a singing career that extends from standard repertory to new music. Alongside weekly voice lessons and diction and repertory courses is training in acting, as well as core seminars that introduce and tie together the historical/cultural perspective, analytical tools, and performance skills that distinguish vocal and operatic performance at the highest level. In addition to artistic director Dawn Upshaw, the program includes head of program Kayo Iwama; voice teachers Edith Bers, Patricia Misslin, and Lorraine Nubar; diction coaches Sharon Bjorndal and Jennifer Ringo; Alexander Technique teachers Gwen Ellison and Judith Grodowitz; and career workshop coordinator Carol Yaple. Master classes have been held with conductor James Conlon; pianists and vocal coaches Ken Noda and Pierre Vallet; vocalists Phyllis Curtin, Timothy Hill, and Lucy Shelton; and directors Marc Verzatt, Eve Shapiro, and Peter Sellars.

About The Bard College Conservatory of Music

Building on its distinguished history in the arts and education, Bard College launched The Bard College Conservatory of Music, which welcomed its first class in August 2005. Now in its fourth year, the Conservatory’s undergraduate program is guided by the principle that musicians should be broadly educated in the liberal arts and sciences to achieve their greatest potential. While training and studying for the bachelor of music degree with world-class musicians and teachers and performing in state-of-the-art facilities, such as the Frank Gehry–designed Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, Conservatory students also pursue a bachelor of arts degree at Bard, one of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges. Robert Martin serves as director of the Conservatory, Melvin Chen as associate director.



November 3,2009

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This event was last updated on 11-03-2009