Summertime Recital at the Michener Art Museum

On Wednesday evening, July 29 at 7pm the Michener Museum in Doylestown, Emily presents a recital of French and American song with Michele Scanlon. Come enjoy music by Debussy, Faure, Barber, and Charles Griffes amidst the wonderful collection of the Michener Museum. The galleries stay open late that evening, offering a double dose of culture!

Tickets are $20 general admission / $10 Michener members / $5 students and available for purchase ahead of time here.

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New recordings

The final product of a recording session last month at Lion Recording Studios in Radnor, PA is now available on the Media page. Emily is joined by Laurie Rogers on the piano in concert works by Bach, Handel, and Mozart.

Enjoy!

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Featured soloist with Vox Renaissance Consort

Emily will be a soloist and sing in the ensemble when the Vox Renaissance Consort presents their annual Renaissance NoĂ«l concerts on Friday, November 30 and Sunday, December 2. The program features music by Monteverdi, Buxtehude, Praetorius, des PrĂ©s, Byrd, and more, and also features period instruments, costumes, and choreography – a great way to begin the holiday concert-going season.

Friday, November 30 at 8:00pm
Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields
Chestnut Hill, PA

Sunday, December 2 at 4:00pm
Thomas Great Hall at Bryn Mawr College
Bryn Mawr, PA

Tickets may be purchased in advance here or at the door.

Learn more about the Vox Renaissance Consort here.

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Emily’s latest news – August 2012

As summer winds down, I am looking forward to a full fall schedule of performances that will take me to four cities in as many months.

For all the latest updates, subscribe to my RSS feed or follow me on Twitter.

RECENT NEWS

  • Gave a recital of American song with Laurie Rogers, piano, at the Woodmere Art Museum in Chestnut Hill, PA. The program included songs by Barber, Copland, Duke, and Griffes.
  • Sang Liesgen in Bach’s Coffee Cantata with the St. George Chamber Orchestra of Fredericksburg, Virginia.
  • Performed as the soprano soloist alongside fantastic colleagues at Vox Ama Deus’s Bach Birthday Gala concert in Gladwyne, PA.
  • Created an official page for Emily Eisen, soprano on Facebook. “Like” me here!

UPCOMING PERFORMANCES
In New York City, Philadelphia, and Virginia

Adina, L’elisir d’amore (Donizetti) |  New York Opera Forum
Thursday, August 30 at 7:00pm

The Williams Residence
95th Street and West End Avenue
New York, NY
www.nyoperaforum.com

Free admission – no advance tickets required

Nannetta (cover) and ensemble, Falstaff (Verdi) |  Poor Richard’s Opera
Preview performance Thursday, September 6 at 7:30pm
Saturday, September 8 at 7:30pm
Thursday, September 13 at 7:30pm
Saturday, September 15 at 7:30pm

As part of the Live Arts Philly Fringe Festival

Trinity Memorial Church
2212 Spruce Street, Philadelphia

poorrichardsopera.wordpress.com
www.livearts-fringe.org

General admission tickets: $20
Tickets available at http://livearts-fringe.ticketleap.com/falstaff/ or at the door
Preview performance tickets: $12 (available at the door only)

Soprano Soloist, Exsultate, jubilate (K. 165) (Mozart) |  St. George Chamber Orchestra
Sunday, October 21 at 3:00pm

905 Princess Anne St
Fredericksburg, Virginia 22401

http://www.stgeorgesepiscopal.net/worship_services/music/concerts2/concerts/

General admission tickets: $10 at the door.  Students and children free.

LOOKING AHEAD
Adele in Die Fledermaus (sung in English) in November with Center Stage Opera of Harrisburg, PA, and much more to come.  Please check back for updated information in the coming months.

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The Quintessential American Song: partial program notes

These notes are adapted from a faculty recital given September 14, 2011 at the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia. These three songs open the program on May 6 at the Woodmere Art Museum.

“Evening Song,” “Thy Dark Eyes to Mine,” “The Rose of The Night” (Charles Griffes)
I came across these songs while researching settings of Oscar Wilde poetry for another recital project.  I find Griffes’ songs remarkable for their rhythmic sophistication, winding chromatic melodies, and intense poetry.

Charles Griffes (American, 1884-1920) wrote primarily chamber music, solo piano works, and songs.  His piano music is often recorded, but his vocal music is harder to find. He studied composition in Berlin for four years with Engelbert Humperdink (best known for his opera Hansel and Gretel), and earned a living as a music teacher in Tarrytown, NY when he returned to the US.

His compositional style is considered the best American example of Impressionism, and he was greatly inspired by Debussy and Ravel’s textures and harmonies.  These songs have some of that French influence in them, but clearly contain a different sensibility, one that favors amorphous rhythms and strong, aggressive block chords.  In some of Griffes’ songs I can hear shades of Barber’s heavier, more romantic songs like his “Nocturne,” a song that draws on the Egyptian imagery like Griffes’ “Evening Song.”

Griffes was gay, and while that part of his identity was a major source of artistic and personal strength, he hid it from society as a whole. While biographical details cannot reveal the entirety of a composer’s intention, this detail is interesting in light of his choice of poetry.  Two of the songs (“Thy Dark Eyes to Mine” and “The Rose of The Night”) set poetry written by Fiona MacLeod.  MacLeod, a female poet, strongly refers to what seems to be a female love object.  In “Thy Dark Eyes to Mine,” that lover even has a female name: “Eilidh,” the Scottish Gaelic form of Helen.  Further complicating this relationship between author and subject, Fiona MacLeod was a pen name of the Scottish poet William Sharp (1855-1905), whose poetry would have been contemporary to Griffes.  Sharp pursued this dual literary identity for most of his career, even dictating his poetry to his sister when he needed it to appear in a woman’s handwriting.

A closeted gay composer was setting the text of a female poet, who was actually a man writing intense heterosexual imagery – but publishing it as a woman.  This complex web of relationships may be a source of the harmonic tension and friction in these songs, a way to interpret the music, or a conjecture and coincidence unrelated to their composition, but it is certainly food for thought when first digesting the richness and beauty of Griffes’ work.

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VoxAmaDeus Press Release – Bach Birthday Gala

J.S. Bach Birthday Gala Concert

Sunday, March 18 at 5:00 PM in Gladwyne Presbyterian Church

Maestro Valentin Radu & Friends

Annually, Maestro Valentin Radu, Artistic Director and Founder of VoxAmaDeus, leads an élite ensemble of musical colleagues in a tribute to one of humankind’s undisputed creators of timeless beauty—Johann Sebastian Bach. On Sunday, March 18 at 5:00 PM at the Gladwyne Presbyterian Church, 1321 Beaumont Drive in Gladwyne, PA, Johann Sebastian Bach will be celebrated in sparkling selections from his vast catalogue of universally celebrated music. Maestro Radu will be joined by three exceptional VoxAmaDeus artists.

Rainer Beckmann, one of the world’s leading performing artists of the recorder (an older cousin of the modern flute) will perform two Bach Trio Sonatas, catalogued as BWV 529 and 530, in arrangements for treble recorder and piano. Vox’s very popular mezzo-soprano soloist, Tatyana Rashkovsky, will be joined by soprano Emily Eisen, who will be making her debut as a VoxAmaDeus soloist. Ms. Eisen and Ms. Rashkovsky will sing arias and duets from Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, the B-Minor Mass and Cantata 78, “Jesu, der du meine Seele.” Maestro Valentin Radu will perform solos on both the piano and organ and accompany his colleagues from these keyboard instruments.  The concert is scheduled to last 75 minutes, with no intermission.

It is of interest to note that, from his birth in Eisenach, Germany, on March 21, 1685, Johann Sebastian Bach was destined to be a musician. However, this birthdate is reckoned according to the old and outmoded Julian calendar. If one counts by the new Gregorian dating system, Bach’s natal anniversary falls on March 31. But no matter which date you choose to celebrate, come to this concert and enjoy Bach in an intimate, bucolic setting with your friends and neighbors!

 Ticket prices are set at $25 for General Admission, $20 for Seniors and $10 for Students. VoxAmaDeus does not card its patrons; we prefer the honor system. If you look 63 to 65’ish, or appear to be a student, that’s good enough for us. Come and enjoy!!! Seating for all ticket price categories is unreserved. For additional information and group sales call VoxAmaDeus at 610-688-2800 or visit our website at www.VoxAmaDeus.org.

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Emily’s latest news – February 2012

I am excited to share my latest listing of upcoming performances with you: two in Philadelphia and one in Virginia!

For more frequent updates, subscribe to my RSS feed or follow me on Twitter.

RECENT NEWS

    • Performed Gretel in Hansel and Gretel with the Philadelphia outreach company Children’s Opera Box for wonderfully energetic young audiences.
    • Debuted the role of Musetta in New York Opera Forum’s Christmastime performances of La bohème.
    • Reprised Zerlina with Delaware Valley Opera Company in an October performance of Don Giovanni at the Woodmere Art Museum in Philadelphia.

UPCOMING PERFORMANCES
In Virginia and Philadelphia
More information at www.emilyeisen.net/news/engagements

Liesgen, Schweigt still, plaudert nicht (BWV 211, the “Coffee Canata”)
St. George Chamber Orchestra
Sunday, February 19 at 3:00pm

905 Princess Anne St
Fredericksburg, Virginia 22401
http://www.stgeorgesepiscopal.net/worship_services/music/concerts2/concerts/februarys_concert/

General admission tickets: $10 at the door.  Students and children free.

Soprano soloist, Bach Birthday Gala
Vox Ama Deus
Sunday, March 18 at 5:00pm

Gladwyne Presbyterian Church
1321 Beaumont Drive
Gladwyne, PA 19035

General admission: $25, $20 (senior), $10 (student)
In advance here or at the door.

A program of favorite Bach arias and duets with Tatyana Rashkovsky (mezzo-soprano), Rainer Beckmann (recorders), and Valentin Radu (organ and piano).

Recital of American song with Laurie Rogers, piano
Sunday, May 6 at 3:00pm

Woodmere Art Museum
9201 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia
http://www.woodmereartmuseum.org/music.html

General admission tickets: $20, or $15 for Museum members
In advance here or at the door.

Program:
Selected songs, Charles Griffes
Mélodies passagères and Four songs, Op 13, Samuel Barber
Six Poems by Emily Dickinson, John Duke
Selections from Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson, Aaron Copland

LOOKING AHEAD
Taking a brief pause for some personal celebrations in June, then on to Adina (L’elisir d’amore) with New York Opera Forum, and much more to come.  Please check back here for updated information in the coming months.

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Schedule additions for 2012

Emily Eisen is pleased to announce the following additions to her 2012 concert schedule:

  • On Sunday, February 19, Emily will sing Liesgen in Bach’s Coffee Cantata (BWV 211) with the St. George Chamber Orchestra of Fredericksburg, Virginia. The performance will also feature baritone Mark Moliterno as Schlendrian.
  • The Philadelphia ensemble Vox Ama Deus will feature Emily as the soprano soloist in their annual Bach Birthday Gala, taking place this year on Sunday, March 18 at 5:00pm at Gladywne Presbyterian Church, in Gladwyne, PA.  She joins Valentin Radu, organ and piano, Tatyana Rashkovsky, mezzo-soprano, and Rainer Beckman, recorders. More information about repertoire will be posted here as it becomes available.
  • The Woodmere Art Museum will present Emily and Feifei Zhang, piano, in a recital of American song on Sunday, May 6 at 3:00pm.  Performances in the Music at Woodmere series take place in the main gallery, surrounded by pieces from the museum’s collection.

Be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed of these posts to receive continued updates!

 

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Program Notes – September 14

Trying out a new idea: digital program notes ahead of the September 14 recital at Settlement Music School.  Please leave a comment at the end with feedback, impressions, arguments, etc.

“O wär’ ich schon mit dir vereint” from Fidelio (Beethoven)
Fidelio (op. 72) is Beethoven’s only opera, and went through several revisions.  The third version, premiered in Vienna in 1814, is the one commonly performed today.

This aria is sung by Marzelline, the daughter of the jail guard Rocco, who has fallen in love with Fidelio, a servant in her house.  Little does she know that Fidelio is a disguised Leonore, the wife of the political prisoner Florestan, hoping to gain access to her husband through Rocco.  The opera opens with Rocco’s assistant Jacquino proposing marriage to Marzelline, but she refuses him, and when he leaves, she sings of her love for Fidelio.

The aria moves between two moods and modes of thought: she cautiously and coyly describes her future life with Fidelio in C minor music, only to burst out into joyful C major expressions of love, hope, and optimism that her dreams will come true.  This aria has elements of Beethoven’s signature vocal writing: straightforward intervals and arpeggios with clear text setting that requires full and open singing.  Compared with other German-language ingénue characters like Annchen or Blonde, Marzelline has a more straightforward character with clearer, sweeter motives and wishes. Marzelline is a sweet dreamer with a straightforward view of married life and a genuine desire to be happy.

“Frühlingsglaube,” “Die Forelle,” “Lachen und Weinen,” “An die Nachtigall” (Schubert)
Schubert was an incredibly prolific composer, and contributed over 600 Lieder to the vocal repertoire.  These are some of his best-known and most beloved songs. While the texts are by different poets, they share quintessential qualities of Romantic poetry, intertwining nature imagery with intense feelings of love and loss. The texts are filled with the expressive energy of youth, and the narrators react sensitively and effusively to life’s twists and turns.

The nuanced piano accompaniments add a second level of character and complexity to each song.  Rather than serving as an echo or a supporting figure to the singer, the piano acts as a full and complimentary partner with the voice.  Sometimes this interaction is fairly literal: the piano is the trout leaping in “Die Forelle” or the nightingale singing in “An die Nachtigall.”  Other times, the piano plays a less directly narrative role.  The melodies that round out “Frühlingsglaube” and “Lachen und Weinen” give us a sense of what the character might be thinking or feeling even when she is not singing.  Part of the challenge and joy in interpreting these classic Lieder is unearthing the full emotional potential of the song first introduced in those lines while staying true to their simple and elegant beauty.

“La Fuite de la Lune,” “Thy Dark Eyes to Mine,” “The Rose of The Night,” “Evening Song” (Charles Griffes)
I came across these songs while researching settings of Oscar Wilde poetry for another recital project.  Discovering “La Fuite de la Lune” led me to explore Griffes’ songs, which are remarkable for their rhythmic sophistication, winding chromatic melodies, and intense poetry.

Charles Griffes (American, 1884-1920) wrote primarily chamber music, solo piano works, and songs.  His piano music is often recorded, but his vocal music is harder to find. He studied composition in Berlin for four years with Engelbert Humperdink (best known for his opera Hansel and Gretel), and earned a living as a music teacher in Tarrytown, NY when he returned to the US.

His compositional style is considered the best American example of Impressionism, and he was greatly inspired by Debussy and Ravel’s textures and harmonies.  These songs have some of that French influence in them, but clearly contain a different sensibility, one that favors amorphous rhythms and strong, aggressive block chords.  In some of Griffes’ songs I can hear shades of Barber’s heavier, more romantic songs like his “Nocturne,” a song that draws on the Egyptian imagery like Griffes’ “Evening Song.”

Griffes was gay, and while that part of his identity was a major source of artistic and personal strength, he hid it from society as a whole. While biographical details cannot reveal the entirety of a composer’s intention, this detail is interesting in light of his choice of poetry.  Two of the songs (“Thy Dark Eyes to Mine” and “The Rose of The Night”) set poetry written by Fiona MacLeod.  MacLeod, a female poet, strongly refers to what seems to be a female love object.  In “Thy Dark Eyes to Mine,” that lover even has a female name: “Eilidh,” the Scottish Gaelic form of Helen.  Further complicating this relationship between author and subject, Fiona MacLeod was a pen name of the Scottish poet William Sharp (1855-1905), whose poetry would have been contemporary to Griffes.  Sharp pursued this dual literary identity for most of his career, even dictating his poetry to his sister when he needed it to appear in a woman’s handwriting.

A closeted gay composer was setting the text of a female poet, who was actually a man writing intense heterosexual imagery – but publishing it as a woman.  This complex web of relationships may be a source of the harmonic tension and friction in these songs, a way to interpret the music, or a conjecture and coincidence unrelated to their composition, but it is certainly food for thought when first digesting the richness and beauty of Griffes’ work.

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UPDATED: Advance press for Dido and Aeneas

WHYY is now highlighting Poor Richard Opera’s “An Opera a Day” series on the main page of their online Arts Calendar.  As the greater Philadelphia region’s public radio and television stations, WHYY is a major resource for news and arts information, and their notice adds momentum to Poor Richard’s Opera publicity campaign.

The Philadelphia City Paper has featured “An Opera a Day” among their “May we suggest…” picks for the Philly Fringe Festival, citing the company’s commitment to “grassroots opera.”  Read the full article.

Advance ticket sales for Dido and Aeneas have been strong.  Tickets may be purchased online here.

 

 

 

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