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Program Notes: Britten's War Requiem (Nov. 8-10)

Posted Thursday, November 01, 2012 in Program Notes

By Laurie Shulman

Buy tickets NOW to Britten's War Requiem >>

 

 

November 8 & 10, 2012 at 8:00pm

November 9, 2012 at 7:30pm

 

Jaap van Zweden, conductor

Olga Guryakova, soprano

Ian Bostridge, tenor

Dietrich Henschel, baritone

Dallas Symphony Chorus | Joshua Habermann, director

Children's Chorus of Greater Dallas | Cynthia Nott, director

 

 

Britten                                    War Requiem, Opus 66

(Approximate duration 1 hour 17 minutes)

Requiem aeternum

Dies Irae

Offertorium

Sanctus

Agnus Dei

Libera me

 

This concert will be performed without intermission

 

PROGRAM NOTES

 

 

PROGRAM NOTES BY LAURIE SHULMAN, ©2012

This information is provided solely as a service to and for the benefit of Dallas Symphony subscribers and patrons; other use without express written permission is expressly forbidden.

(Have a question or comment about these notes? Contact Laurie at: lucertola@prodigy.net)

 

 

The War Requiem is not only one of Benjamin Britten's greatest masterpieces, but also a twentieth-century classic. It takes its place proudly among the other great choral Requiems in the repertoire, with a particularly strong kinship to the 1868 Requiem of Johannes Brahms.

Two principal features distinguish the Brahms Requiem as a bellwether in sacred choral music. First, instead of the traditional Latin text, Brahms used the vernacular; in his case, German. Second, he directed his music as much toward the comfort of the bereaved as toward the soul-saving of the departed. In both respects, Brahms broke from tradition. Yet posterity has applauded him for doing so because his music speaks with such warmth and compassion to the human condition.

Benjamin Britten's War Requiem is cut from the same bolt of cloth in the sense that it combines boldness and reverence in its treatment of the Requiem. Britten retained much of the Latin Missa pro Defunctis [Mass for the Dead], expanding it with settings of text by the English poet Wilfred Owen, who was killed in combat during the First World War. In so doing, Britten set forth his own antiwar sentiments in the most explicit fashion.

Because his War Requiem was a commission to celebrate the reopening of Coventry Cathedral, which had been severely damaged during the Second World War at the time of the Battle of Britain, Britten's pacifism made a profound statement. His international cast of soloists -- the English tenor Peter Pears, the German baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, and the Russian soparno Galina Vishnevskaya -- underscored the message and increased the impact of this landmark composition. When at the last minute Vishnevskaya was unavailable, the English soprano Heather Harper learned the part and sang at the premiere.

This weekend's performances of War Requiem take place just months after the 50th anniversary of its premiere in 1962, and nearly coincide with Armistice Day on Sunday (known as Remembrance Day in the UK). Jaap van Zweden has assembled a stellar trio of soloists that mirrors the intended 1962 group. Our tenor, Ian Bostridge, is English. The baritone, Dietrich Henschel, is German, and the soprano, Olga Guryakova, is Russian. "Ian Bostridge is the premiere Britten interpreter of our time, and all three of them have made fabulous recordings," says van Zweden.

This work is very special to him. "It's such a spiritual experience to perform this piece, with its combination of classic liturgy and the Wilfred Owen poetry," he explains. "It adds up to more than the music and more than the poetry. Britten focused on the horrors of war in general, and World War I in particular. And his use of the children's chorus brings an element of innocence that is sheer genius."

 

War Requiem, Op. 66

Benjamin Britten

Born 22 November, 1913 in Lowestoft, Suffolk, England

Died 4 December, 1976 in Aldeburgh, England

 

My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity. Yet these elegies are to this generation in no sense consolatory. They may be to the next. All a poet can do today is warn. That is why the true Poets must be truthful.

- Wilfred Owen, Preface to his poems; quoted in part

by Britten at the head of his score to War Requiem

A sacred text for the ages: Requiems in modern music history

Something about the Requiem Mass has elicited unusual and outstanding music from composers throughout music history, even many whose preferred mode of expression was neither choral nor church music. The western classical tradition is peppered with examples extending back to Renaissance times. Since the late eighteenth century, several superb Requiems -- and a far greater quantity of lesser examples -- have joined the permanent symphonic repertoire.

First among them chronologically is Mozart's unfinished Requiem, K.626, which remains one of his most beloved compositions despite the controversy it has spawned regarding its authenticity. Beethoven, although he left us no such work of his own, greatly admired the two Requiems of Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842). The latter two-thirds of the nineteenth century are dominated by three titanic masses for the dead: Hector Berlioz's Grande Messe des Morts, Op.5 (1837); Johannes Brahms's Ein Deutsches Requiem, Op.45 (1868), and Giuseppe Verdi's Messa da Requiem (or "Manzoni Requiem," 1874). Two smaller lyric jewels belong to French composers: those of Gabriel Fauré (Requiem, Op. 48, 1877, orchestrated 1900) and Maurice Duruflé (Requiem, Op. 9, 1947). To this distinguished list must be added Benjamin Britten's War Requiem, one of the titanic musical achievements of our time and a watershed in Britten's own extraordinary compositional output.

While the origins of the musical Requiem stem from the Catholic mass for the dead, not all musical settings are intended for liturgical use. Britten's, for example, is inappropriate because he merges secular texts -- poetry by Wilfred Owen -- with the traditional Latin words of the mass. What he accomplishes musically and in terms of social statement, however, is even broader in its appeal to humankind.

Anyone familiar with Owen's work probably knows that he was considered the most promising of the British poets killed during the First World War (he died in 1918, seven days before the Armistice that ended the conflict, at age 25). The Norton Anthology of English Literature notes that "his powerful and concentrated poems transcend bitterness to evoke what he called `the pity of war' and to suggest the human waste and confusions involved in modern warfare."

 

Merging secular with sacred for a pacifist message

Britten zeroed in on Owen's message. He had lived through two wars, conscientiously objecting during the Second World War, and remained firmly antiwar in his sentiments. When he was asked in 1962 to write a major work on the occasion of the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral, replacing the ancient edifice destroyed by Luftwaffe bombs during the blitz, he turned to Owen's poetry as the vehicle for expressing his own pacifism. Britten selected individual poems with considerable thought, both for the way they would relate to the sacred texts, and for their metrical suitability. (There are, for example, four sonnets among the tenor and baritone texts.)

Even though he did not design his War Requiem to be part of the liturgy, he was respectful of liturgical function, and did not sacrifice it at the expense of making his own antiwar statement. Nor did he compromise the heritage of the Missa pro defunctis, the traditional mass for the dead. In the War Requiem, Britten composed a work of consolidation that epitomized his life work and mission. As Anthony Milner has written:

 

It gathers together elements from all his past experience of writing operas, choral works and songs into a wholly original synthesis which is not, as has been said, a combination of oratorio and song-cycle, but a setting of liturgical texts with poetical commentary.

 

Performing forces and physical placement: Britten's layers of complexity

The War Requiem is an astonishingly complex work. To begin with, it has three levels of performing forces, whose spatial placement in the hall is part of the work's overall architecture. Furthest away from the audience are the boys' choir and the organ. The choir's text is Latin, and their music tends to be calm and spiritual, representing the eternity and otherworldliness of the afterlife. Musically and spatially, Britten places them at the opposite extreme from the conflict of grown men fighting one another. At center are the soprano solo, mixed chorus and full orchestra. Here again, the text that the vocalists sing is from the Latin mass, but their music is in marked contrast to that of the boys. Britten focuses the mixed emotions of guilt, fear, uncertainty, supplication, apprehension, and God's wrath -- all of which are present or implied in the Latin text -- in the segments performed by this group.

Closest to the audience, in the musical and physical foreground, are the tenor and baritone soloists and the chamber orchestra The male soloists are the victims of war: the soldiers of Britain and Germany. They declaim Wilfred Owen's verse, bringing home with sometimes painful immediacy the poignancy of the poetry's message. For the first performance in 1962, Britten left no doubt as to whom was being represented. The tenor soloist was Peter Pears (Britten's companion from 1937 and the greatest interpreter of Britten's operatic tenor roles); the baritone was Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. For the duration of War Requiem, the horror of Britain and Germany at war was once again all too real.

Note: For these performances, Maestro van Zweden has chosen to place all three soloists at the front of the stage.

The power of quiet moments

This work is filled with gripping moments. Not all of them are loud. A surprising number occur during the more intimate, personal segments sung by the male soloists and accompanied by the chamber orchestra.  Assimilated together, they drive home with terrifying power the horror of war and its effect on individual men. Their effect is doubly incisive on an English-speaking audience, who require no translation. The settings of Owen's verse are also the passages where Britten's splendid senses of orchestration and text-painting come most vividly into play.

That is not to say that his War Requiem lacks its moments of blinding fury and rafter-shaking drama. The Dies Irae, of course, is a traditional place in a Requiem for reaching a climax of volume and dramatic intensity. Britten does not disappoint us, providing brilliant brass fanfares for a choral movement that expresses humankind's fear of the judgment day. Later, he leads into a reprise of the Dies Irae text with a gripping baritone solo ("Be slowly lifted up, thou long black arm") whose tension is heightened by ominous timpani, low brass and winds. Britten chillingly evokes an atmosphere of uncertainty by means of stumbling 7/4 meter.

Among the magnificent, spine-tingling choral climaxes are the Hosanna in the Sanctus, which calls forth the full power of the large orchestra and chorus, led by a thrilling brass fanfare. The pristine sound of soprano solo follows in the Benedictus, accompanied by the pure sonorities of parallel open fifths. Britten underscores the dramatic contrast with the resplendent Sanctus by a reprise of the grand Hosanna. This is one of the few truly ecstatic moments in the War Requiem, an isolated island of joy in this sobering work.  It is exceptional in that it is free of grief and suffering. Britten avails himself of the sole moment when the sun can come out, so to speak, at least for a moment.

 

Musical connections to the liturgy

Much of the music for chorus and soloists takes place in conjunct [step-wise] motion, rather than large leaps from one pitch to another. This approach is quite effective in evoking the chant origins of Britten's Latin text for the boys' and mixed chorus sections. At the same time, his unmistakably twentieth-century harmonies anchor the music in our time, and serve to enhance the impact of Owen's juxtaposed poetry. In the Libera me, for example, Britten has written a funeral march that gathers momentum and becomes an almost infernal chase with death. The music reaches its peak of frenzy with a reprise of the Dies irae text.

 

Diabolus in musica

Throughout the War Requiem, the interval of a tritone recurs with marked regularity. Both a diminished fifth and an augmented fourth, this ambiguous interval is the most dissonant in tonal music. In the Middle Ages, it was known as diabolus in musica [the devil in music] and early music theorists prohibited its use.

Bells outline the tritone in Britten's opening Introit. His score specifies that both bells and antique cymbals be tuned to C and F#, and the entire opening movement implants this highly dissonant sonority into our consciousness, throwing into lurid relief its instability and uncertainty, themes that characterize much of the chorus' music. Later, in the Agnus Dei, the tritone is even more in the forefront, with chromatic scale segments mirroring one another in both the instrumental and vocal parts.

 

BRITTEN'S WAR REQUIEM: A FIRST PERSON ACCOUNT

Britain's Nicholas Edwards was the principal acoustical designer of the Eugene McDermott Concert Hall in the 1980s, while he was on staff at Artec Consultants. A native of Coventry, he has a very special and personal connection to Benjamin Britten's War Requiem, which the DSO performs this weekend.

Edwards was eight years old in May 1962, when War Requiem was premiered at the consecration of the new Coventry Cathedral. Four months later, he joined the Cathedral Choir as a boy chorister. The timing was propitious, for Britten's new masterpiece was scheduled for its first performance in West Germany, conducted by the composer. The German premiere, in Ottobeuren Basilica, took place on New Year's Day 1964.

"We learned the piece over the course of a year," Edwards recalls. "We sang from proper printed scores and could see other singers' parts in context, so we did not experience any of the difficulties that the choirs had at the premiere. Coventry Cathedral Choir was accustomed to learning music such as Tippett's Magnificat, which was considerably more difficult to sing. And we were familiar with earlier Britten works such as the Missa Brevis."

He recalls Sir Benjamin as being gracious in rehearsal. "We were, after all, only the boys choir, but he kindly signed my program and it remains one of my most treasured possessions."

Edwards is proud that Coventry Cathedral was the heart of post-war reconciliation. The world premiere in the UK and subsequent German premiere of War Requiem were artistic symbols of the rapprochement embodied in exchange visits with young people from Dresden and the founding of a highly successful International Centre for youth visitors. This was initially established in the ruins; it quickly expanded and, in 1963 moved to a new building, named the John F. Kennedy Centre in the American president's honor. The experience of singing War Requiem under the composer's direction was a key early event in Edwards's life.

"At the time, I had little idea of the work's historical importance. We had been introduced to the World War I poets at school. But even in my small world, I understood Britten's depth of conviction in this work. It seemed to me that this piece was the musical equivalent of Coventry Cathedral's modern architecture."

Edwards had been christened in old Coventry Cathedral, and attended services there with his parents twice weekly until he joined the choir. He recalls services in the 1950s taking place in the medieval Crypt Chapel, which had survived the German bombs. From 1959, services were held in a temporary new sanctuary one floor beneath the nave of the new Cathedral.

"My parents only insisted that I stay for the first half of services," says Edwards. "Then the children would be let out to play unsupervised in the ruins of Coventry Cathedral. We used to dig in the flower beds and find medieval nails to make into Crosses of Nails. We would find - and I still have - fragments from the original stained glass windows. Sometimes we would dig the glass out from places where it was buried in molten lead.

"I watched the rebuilding of the Cathedral and the city very closely. Many bomb sites and buildings painted in camouflage were still visible in the city centre, but there were also many fine new 1960s buildings. Prime among them was Coventry Cathedral, rising from the ashes."

Returning to the topic of the War Requiem, Edwards adds, "Even as a nine year old, I could clearly understand that this German premiere, and my tiny part in it, as an act of reconciliation. I remember being deeply moved by Britten's setting of Owen's words, "…I am the enemy you killed, my friend" During the rehearsals in Ottobeuren, I learned this poem by heart. Owens's words convey the complete futility of war: the impersonal 'justified killing' of an enemy who turns out in the afterlife to be a friend. The music that follows, 'Let us sleep now,' is enormously moving and perhaps the only way to process such deep revelations."

 

War Requiem in context: historical and musical impact

No listener hearing the War Requiem for the first time will grasp everything that it has to offer. That is part of its lasting value, that Britten's music continues to reward with greater acquaintance. The ideas that come through most clearly are the message of ultimate forgiveness that begins to emerge where Britten has set the Dona nobis pacem (Give us peace) that is more generally associated with the mass for the living; and the fundamental concept of reconciliation implicit in "Strange Meeting," (the duo for tenor and baritone incorporated into the Libera me). Britten's biographer Peter Evans assesses the historical and musical impact of this work:

 

It represented not only an effort to mark worthily a triumphant recovery from the ashes of war, but also a conscious resolve on the composer's part to put the experience of his entire creative activity to that date at the service of a passionate denunciation of the bestial wickedness by which man is made to take up arms against his fellow.

 

Britten's elaborate score delineates three separate groups. The first is boys' choir and organ.

The second is soprano soloist and mixed chorus plus large orchestra, comprising three flutes (third doubling piccolo), two oboes, English horn, three clarinets (third doubling bass clarinet), two bassoons, double bassoon, six horns, four trumpets, three trombones, tuba, piano, organ or harmonium, timpani, a large battery of percussion requiring four players (two side drums, tenor drum, bass drum, tambourine, triangle, cymbals, castanets, whip, Chinese blocks, gong, bells, vibraphone, glockenspiel, and antique cymbals) and strings.

The third group is the male soloists and chamber orchestra, consisting of flute (doubling piccolo), oboe (doubling English horn), clarinet, bassoon, horn, percussion (timpani, side drum, bass drum, cymbal, and gong), harp, two violins, viola, violoncello, and double bass.

SOMETHING MORE . . .

Suggestions for further exploring the music of this concert's composer:

BRITTEN

The classic recording of this work, conducted by the composer, features soloists Galina Vishnevskaya, Peter Pears, and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Britten conducts the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus (London).

Mr. Bostridge is the tenor soloist on a War Requiem recording with soprano Sabina Cvilak and baritone Simon Keenlyside; the conductor is Gianandrea Noseda with the London Symphony Orchestra and the Eltham College Choir (LSO Live).

Helmuth Rilling's recording of War Requiem on Hänssler Classic is available in the Symphony Store. The CD features Annette Dasch, James Taylor, and Christian Gerhaher, soloists, with the Aurelius Boys Choir of Calw and the Stuttgart Festival Ensemble.

Also in the Symphony Store: Kurt Masur with the New York Philharmonic and Westminster Symphonic Choir and American Boys Choir, and soloists Carol Vaness, Jerry Hadley, and Thomas Hampson (Teldec).

Robert Shaw's recording with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus features soloists Lorna Haywood, Anthony Rolfe Johnson, and Benjamin Luxon (Telarc). Simon Rattle leads the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Chorus on a recording featuring soloists Elisabeth Söderström, Robert Tear, and Thomas Allen and the Christ Church [Oxford] Boys Choir (Angel). Also: Richard Hickox with soloists Heather Harper, Philip Langridge, and John Shirley-Quirk, along with organist Roderick Elms, and the London Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Chorus, and the St. Paul's Cathedral Choristers (Chandos).

 

Further Reading:

On Britten:

Imogen Holst, Britten (Cambridge, England, 1966 & 1980)

Eric Walter White, Benjamin Britten: His Life and Operas (London and Boston, 1983)

Humphrey Carpenter, Benjamin Britten: A Biography (New York, 1992)

Peter Evans, The Music of Benjamin Britten (Oxford, England, 1996)

Michael Oliver, Benjamin Britten (London, 1996)

 

On the War Requiem:

Michael Foster, The Idea Was Good: The Story of Britten's War Requiem (Bewdley, UK: Worcestershire Press, 2012)

Dennis Schrock, Choral Repertoire (Oxford and New York, 2009)

Michael Steinberg, Choral Masterworks: A Listener's Guide (Oxford and New York, 2005)

Kurt Pahlen, The World of the Oratorio (Portland OR, 1985)

 

JAAP van ZWEDEN

CONDUCTOR

Amsterdam-born Jaap van Zweden has risen rapidly in little more than a decade to become one of today's most sought-after conductors. He has been Music Director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra since 2008, and in September 2012 he took up the position of Music Director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, for an initial contract of four years.

Appointed at nineteen as the youngest concertmaster ever of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, he began his conducting career in 1995 and held the positions of Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra (1996-2000), Chief Conductor of the Residentie Orchestra of The Hague (2000-2005), Chief Conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic Orchestra (2008-2011), and Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Radio Chamber Orchestras from 2005-2011. (He remains Honorary Chief Conductor of the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra and Conductor Emeritus of the Netherlands Radio Chamber Orchestra.)

In November 2011 van Zweden was named as the recipient of Musical America's Conductor of the Year Award 2012 in recognition of his critically acclaimed work as Music Director of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and as a guest conductor with the most prestigious US orchestras.

Jaap van Zweden has appeared as guest conductor with many prestigious orchestras across the globe, including the Chicago Symphony, Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras, the Munich Philharmonic, WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, Orchestre National de France, Oslo Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and London Philharmonic Orchestra. Aside from an extensive symphonic repertoire, opera also plays an important part in Maestro van Zweden's career, and he has conducted La Traviata and Fidelio with the National Reisopera, Madama Butterfly at the Netherlands Opera, and concert performances of Verdi's Otello, Barber's Vanessa and Wagner's Die Meistersinger, Parsifal and Lohengrin at the Concertgebouw with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic.

Recent highlights have included highly acclaimed debuts with the New York Philharmonic, Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich and the Boston Symphony (at the Tanglewood Festival) and his BBC Proms debut conducting the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic in Bruckner's Eighth symphony. Highlights of the 2012-13 season and beyond will include subscription debuts with the Orchestre de Paris, San Francisco Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra Washington and Chamber Orchestra of Europe, and return visits to the Orchestre National de France, Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago and St. Louis Symphony Orchestras, the Cleveland Orchestra and the Rotterdam and London Philharmonic Orchestras.

Jaap van Zweden has made numerous acclaimed recordings which include Stravinsky's Rite of Spring and Petrushka, and the complete Beethoven and Brahms symphonies. He is currently recording the cycle of Bruckner symphonies with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, with symphonies 2, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9 already released to great critical acclaim. He has recorded Mahler's Symphony No. 5 with the London Philharmonic (LPO Live), and Mozart Piano Concertos with the Philharmonia Orchestra and David Fray (Virgin) and his highly acclaimed performances of Lohengrin, Die Meistersinger and Parsifal are also available on CD/DVD. For the Dallas Symphony's own record label he has released the symphonies of Tchaikovsky (Nos. 4 and 5) and Beethoven (5 and 7).

 

Paul Phillips

conductor, chamber orchestra

Paul Phillips was appointed to the faculty of the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University in 1996 where he now serves as Professor of Music and Music Director of the Meadows Symphony Orchestra. Before joining the faculty of the Meadows School, Dr. Phillips served for twelve years as music director of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra in New London, and was only the third conductor to hold that position in the orchestra's 50-year history. In his position with the Eastern Connecticut Symphony, Phillips transformed the repertoire of the orchestra, recorded new works for compact disc release, raised the performance standards and brought exciting concerts to the region. Recognized by critics as "one the most influential musicians in Connecticut", Dr. Phillips concurrently served as Professor of Music at the University of Connecticut, where he held the position of Chair of the Music Department and Music Director of the University of Connecticut Symphony Orchestra.

A native of Dallas, Dr. Phillips completed undergraduate studies at Southern Methodist University, where he studied with James Rives Jones. He also studied privately with Richard Burgin, former concertmaster and associate conductor of the Boston Symphony. While earning his Master of Arts and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, Dr. Phillips studied with noted conducting teachers David Effron and Gustav Meier. In 1980 Dr. Phillips was appointed assistant conductor of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at the time Robert Shaw was music director. He was selected for that position after winning an invitation-only competition sponsored by the orchestra.

Dr. Phillips has made many recordings of music of living composers. For Centaur he recorded the world premiere compact disc of works of composer Sydney Hodkinson performed by the Eastern Connecticut Symphony and featuring soprano Renee Fleming, star of the Metropolitan Opera. His recent recording of composer Thomas Sleeper's Symphony No. 1 was released in 2010. Dr. Phillips is also an active composer himself. His own recent composition, Midday, was enthusiastically received by audience and critics at its premiere performance in Florida in 2009. Dr. Phillips has also produced many of the recent recordings issued by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra on the DSO Live label, including the world premiere recording of Steven Stucky's "August 4, 1964", conducted by Jaap van Zweden.

Dr. Phillips has taught master classes in conducting at leading conservatories in Europe. In Dallas, his performances with the Meadows Symphony Orchestra and his guest conducting appearances with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra have received consistent and enthusiastic critical acclaim. As a teacher he continues to work with gifted young orchestral musicians and conductors at the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU and at music festivals in the United States and abroad.

 

Olga Guryakova

Soprano

Olga Guryakova was born in Novokuznetsk, and graduated from the Moscow Conservatory. In 1994, she was admitted to the company of the Musical Theatre by Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko (Moscow). She has performed, among others, the parts of Tatyana (Eugène Oneguine), Mimi (La Bohème), Desdemona (Otello); Thais (Thais), Micaela (Carmen), Elvira (Ernani), Gorislava (Russlan et Ludmilla) and Militrisa (The tale of Tsar Saltan, Rimsky-Korsakov).

Olga Guryakova appears regularly at the Ludwigsburg Festival and the Schleswig-Holstein Festival, both in Germany. She has often performed Britten's War Requiem under the direction of Rostropovitch throughout Europe.

She made her debut in the United-States in 1998 at the Metropolitan Opera singing the part of Maria (Mazeppa, Tchaikovsky) under the direction of Gergiev. She performed at Carnegie Hall the part of Iolanta and Desdemona again under the direction of Gergiev in Frankfurt and in Rimini. At La Scala, she sang Maria in Mazeppa (Tchaikovsky) under the baton of Maestro Rostropovitch and in 2005 at the Salzburg Festival with Gergiev.

In subsequent seasons, Miss Guryakova made her debut at the Vienna Staatsoper (Ernani and Pagliacci) and the Mariinsky Theatre in St-Petersburg. She returns regularly to the Opéra Bastille (War and Peace, Rusalka, Eugene Onegin) and the Opéra de Lyon (Otello, Pique Dame). She has also sang at the Grand Théâtre de Genève and the Opéra de Monte-Carlo (Don Carlo) as well as the theatre de la Monnaie (La Bohème), the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence (Eugene Onegin), the San Francisco Opera (La Bohème), the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich (Rusalka, Pique-Dame, Eugene Onegin and Madama Butterfly), the Teatro alla Scala (Eugene Onegin) and the Houston Grand Opera (Simone Boccanegra), the Metropolitan Opera (The Gambler) and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden (Slippers of the Tsarina).

In upcoming seasons, Miss Guryakova will return to the Munich Opera (Rusalka), the Vienna Staatsoper (Madama Butterfly and Manon Lescaut) and the Paris Opera (Pique-Dame and The Invisible City of Kitège).

She will make her debut at Zurich Opera this season (Prince Igor).

Ian Bostridge

tenor

Ian Bostridge's international recital career has taken him to the Salzburg, Edinburgh, Munich, Vienna, Aldeburgh and Schwarzenberg Schubertiade Festivals and to the main stages of Carnegie Hall and La Scala, Milan. He has held artistic residencies at the Vienna Konzerthaus and Schwarzenberg Schubertiade (2003/2004), a Carte-Blanche series with Thomas Quasthoff at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw (2004/2005), a Perspectives series at Carnegie Hall (2005/2006), the Barbican, London (2008), the Luxembourg Philharmonie (2010/2011), the Wigmore Hall (2011/12) and Hamburg Laeiszhalle (2012/2013).

His operatic appearances have included Lysander ('A Midsummer Night's Dream') for Opera Australia at the Edinburgh Festival, Tamino and Jupiter ('Semele') for English National Opera and Quint ('The Turn of the Screw'), Don Ottavio and Caliban (Adès's 'The Tempest') for the Royal Opera. For the Bavarian State Opera he has sung Nerone ('L'Incoronazione di Poppea'), Tom Rakewell ('The Rake's Progress') and Male Chorus ('The Rape of Lucretia') and Don Ottavio for the Vienna State Opera. He sang Aschenbach ('Death in Venice') for English National Opera, also seen at the Monnaie, Brussels and in Luxembourg.

His recordings have won all the major international record prizes and been nominated for 12 Grammys. They include Schubert's 'Die schöne Müllerin' with Graham Johnson (Gramophone Award 1996); Tom Rakewell with Sir John Eliot Gardiner (Grammy Award, 1999); and Belmonte with William Christie. Under his exclusive contract with EMI Classics, recordings have included Schubert Lieder and Schumann Lieder (Gramophone Award 1998), English song and Henze Lieder with Julius Drake, Britten's 'Our Hunting Fathers' with Daniel Harding, 'Idomeneo' with Sir Charles Mackerras, Janacek with Thomas Adès, Schubert with Leif Ove Andsnes, Mitsuko Uchida and Antonio Pappano, Noel Coward with Jeffrey Tate, Britten Orchestral cycles with the Berlin Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle, Wolf with Pappano, Bach cantatas with Fabio Biondi, Handel Arias with Harry Bicket, Britten's Canticles and both Britten's 'The Turn of the Screw' (Gramophone Award, 2003) and 'Billy Budd' (Grammy Award, 2010), Adés's 'The Tempest' (Gramophone Award 2010) and Monteverdi's "Orfeo". His most recent recording is 'Three Baroque Tenors' with the English Concert and Bernard Labadie.

He has worked with the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Boston Symphony, London Symphony, London Philharmonic, BBC Symphony, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw, New York Philharmonic and Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestras under Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Colin Davis, Sir Andrew Davis, Seiji Ozawa, Antonio Pappano, Riccardo Muti, the late Mstislav Rostropovich, Daniel Barenboim, Daniel Harding and Donald Runnicles. In January 2010 he sang the world premiere of Henze's "Opfergang" with the Accademia Santa Cecilia in Rome under Antonio Pappano.

Future plans include the first performance in Moscow of "Death in Venice", Stravinsky's "Oedipus Rex" with Angelika Kirchschlager and H.K. Gruber in Vienna and a recording of Britten songs with Antonio Pappano for EMI.

Ian Bostridge was a fellow in history at Corpus Christi College, Oxford 1992 - 5 and in 2001 was elected an honorary fellow of that college. In 2003 he was made an Honorary Doctor of Music by the University of St Andrew's and in 2010 he was made an honorary fellow of St John's College Oxford.  He was made a CBE in the 2004 New Year's Honours. His book "A Singer's Notebook" was published by Faber and Faber in 2011. He is married to the author and literary critic, Lucasta Miller. They live in London with their two children.

 

Dietrich Henschel

Baritone

Baritone Dietrich Henschel's repertoire extends from the beginning of baroque opera to modern day avant-garde. He debuted at the Biennale für modernes Musiktheater in Munich with the title role in Michaels Reverdy´s opera Le Precepteur. In his first and only permanent engagement, at the opera in Kiel, he performed classics such as Papageno, the Count in Nozze de Figaro, Pelleas in Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande, Monteverdi´s Orfeo and Henze´s Prinz von Homburg. Mr. Henschel´s international career began with Busoni´s Doktor Faust in Lyon and Henze´s Prinz von Homburg at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Invitations followed from most of the important opera houses in Europe to sing in (amongst others) Rossini´s Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Wagner´s Tannhäuser (Wolfram), Monteverdi´s Il ritorno d´Ulisse in Patria, Krenek´s Karl der V, Mozart´s Don Giovanni, Wagner´s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (Beckmesser), Berg´s Wozzeck, in Debussy's Pelleas et Melisande (Golaud), and in Stawinsky´s The Rake's Progress (Nick Shadow). His most recent engagements were the title roles in Enescu's Oedipe (La Monnaie) and Manfred Trojahn's Orest (De Nationale Opera).

In addition to opera, a wide range of acclaimed recordings testifies to Dietrich Henschel's success as a lied interpreter and an oratorio singer (with a special focus on the music of Bach). Mr. Henschel has sung with the world's most famous orchestras, and his collaboration with great conductors such as Gardiner, Harnoncourt and Herreweghe is documented on many CD's and DVD's.

Mr. Henschel is currently extending his artistic profile beyond his original vocal calling. Being a trained pianist and conductor, Dietrich Henschel has led several ensembles and orchestras this last decade, collaborating in particular with the Sinfonietta Leipzig. In a daring attempt to visualize the literary and emotional content of the lieder he sings, Mr. Henschel has also been exploring the intersection between art music, theatre, and the visual media. In 2010 he performed a staged version of Schubert's Schwanengesang, which was featured in major European theatres such as La Monnaie, Theater an der Wien, and the Komische Oper. In his most ambitious project up to now, Mr. Henschel will be starring in Irrsal-Forbidden Prayers, a movie (directed by Clara Pons) which envisages the ramifications of love, guilt and sacrifice in the symphonic songs Hugo Wolf set to the haunting poems by Eduard Mörike. The Irrsal project - in which the movie is combined with a live performance of the songs - will be premiered in Düsseldorf and Rotterdam in September 2013.

Dietrich Henschel has recently been signed to the Belgian record label Evil Penguin Classics, with whom he is scheduled to record the integral Wunderhorn songs by Gustav Mahler, and Schumann's Eichendorff songs.

 

Dallas Symphony Chorus

The Dallas Symphony Chorus, founded in 1977, is the official vocal ensemble of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. The chorus has toured throughout South America, Europe, and Israel, and has appeared on several occasions at Carnegie Hall with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Opera Orchestra of New York, and the New York Pops. Members of the chorus also frequently perform with the Dallas Symphony as part of the orchestra's summer residency at the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival.

The Dallas Symphony Chorus grew to new artistic heights under the direction of the late David R. Davidson from 1994-2009, and last season welcomed Joshua Habermann as its new chorus director. In addition to the beloved annual Christmas concerts at the Meyerson, the DSC will perform Britten's War Requiem under the direction of Jaap van Zweden in November, and again in March 2013 under the direction of Craig Jessop for the national convention of American Choral Directors Association. The season closes with Orff's Carmina Burana in May.

In addition to its many concert performances, the Dallas Symphony Chorus has made over a dozen commercial recordings on the RCA, ProArte, Dorian, Delos and Hyperion labels. Auditions for new members are held regularly; for information about singing with the chorus call (214) 871-4084 or visit www.dschorus.com.

 

Joshua Habermann

Chorus Director

The 2012-2013 season marks Joshua Habermann's second year as Chorus Director of the Dallas Symphony Chorus, the official vocal ensemble of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Habermann is also Music Director of The Desert Chorale, a professional chamber choir based in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Prior to his DSO appointment, Habermann was assistant conductor of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, where he prepared the chorus for performances with conductors Michael Tilson Thomas and Charles Dutoit. Recordings as a singer with the SFSC include Christmas by the Bay and Mahler's Symphony No. 2, a Grammy nominee for Best Choral/Orchestra Recording.

Habermann has appeared in numerous conferences and festivals, including international engagements in Brazil, Cuba, Germany, Czech Republic, France, China, and Singapore. As a singer (tenor), he has performed with the Oregon Bach Festival Chorus under Helmuth Rilling, and made three recordings with Austin-based Conspirare: Through the Green Fuse, Threshold of Night, and Requiem, a Grammy nominee and Edison Music Award winner for Best Choral Recording.

Recent conducting projects include Mendelssohn's Elijah, Haydn's The Creation, Mozart's Requiem, Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610, J.S. Bach's B Minor Mass, and a collaboration with mezzo-soprano Susan Graham in Aaron Copland's rarely-performed masterwork, In the Beginning. Highlights of the 2012-2013 season include performances of Rachmaninoff's All-Night Vigil with the Desert Chorale as well as the annual Christmas Celebration concerts at the DSO.

A passionate advocate for music education, Habermann has served on the faculties at San Francisco State University and the University of Miami, and worked with young singers and conductors in master classes and workshops throughout the United States and abroad. He is currently an adjunct faculty member at the University of North Texas.

A native of California, Habermann is a graduate of Georgetown University and the University of Texas at Austin, where he completed doctoral studies in conducting with Craig Hella Johnson. Habermann lives in Dallas with his wife Joanna and daughter Kira.

 

Children's Chorus of Greater Dallas

Since 1996, the mission of Children's Chorus of Greater Dallas (CCGD) has been to give Dallas-area children the experience of musical artistry and excellence through choral singing in a group that reflects the area's diversity. CCGD provides young singers with one of the richest choral and cultural experiences in the United States. Its singing members include 500 fourth-through-twelfth-grade boys and girls in nine choruses. Choristers are from throughout Dallas and 43 neighboring cities. They are of diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

CCGD's programs aim to inspire young people through the creation of beauty. They cultivate confidence and poise while instilling lifelong values of discipline, teamwork, and achievement. The programs are split into two major areas: downtown performing choruses and community engagement initiatives.

CCGD's six downtown performing choruses are an essential piece of Dallas' cultural landscape. The choruses are led by professional conductors who are outstanding musicians as well as master teachers. They perform extensively throughout the Dallas area, with three concerts given annually in the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. CCGD has also been a frequent guest of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and has performed with Orpheus Chamber Singers, Dallas Bach Society, Dallas Wind Symphony, Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra, Dallas Asian American Youth Orchestra, Arts District Chorale, and for the National Public Radio broadcast From the Top.

The second major program, CCGD's community engagement initiative, is specifically designed to engage young people from underserved communities and provide a bridge to enter the downtown performing choruses. They include Summer Singing Camp, which is open to the public and free to qualifying students; the Neighborhood Chorus Program, which partners with local schools; and The Outreach Chorus tour, which provides in-school concerts to eight Dallas Independent School District campuses.

CCGD's goals are to spread a love for song and an appreciation for choral artistry while making the creation of exceptional music accessible to all. For more information about concerts, auditions, or programs, visit www.thechildrenschorus.org.

 

Cynthia Nott

Artistic Director,

Children's Chorus of Greater Dallas

Cynthia Nott has been artistic director of the Children's Chorus of Greater Dallas since 1997. Under her leadership, the Chorus has grown dramatically, earned the respect of the Dallas area music community, and impressed audiences by its artistic excellence. In addition to its own concert schedule, Ms. Nott has prepared the Chorus to perform with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Opera, Mesquite Civic Chorus, Orpheus Chamber Singers, and Voices of Change. Prior to becoming full-time artistic director of the CCGD, Ms. Nott taught public middle school choral music for 23 years.

Ms. Nott has been actively involved in a wide range of professional choral activities. She has served as clinician and consultant for music teachers, conductors, and singers throughout the United States. She has appeared as guest conductor for All-Region and All-State choirs.

Ms. Nott earned a bachelor's degree in music education from Florida State University and a master of music degree in choral conducting from Southern Methodist University. She holds affiliations with the American Choral Directors Association and the Texas Music Educators Association.

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