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November 14, 2010, 2:00 PM

From Muse to Music: Exploring the Craft of the American Art Song

Music Performance & Discussion
Participants: Stephanie Chase, Tom Cipullo, Hope Hudson, Lori Laitman, Richard Pearson Thomas

From its probable origins in the songs of Francis Hopkinson (1737-1791)—a signer of the Declaration of Independence—through Stephen Foster's "songs for the hearth and home," and into the 21st century, the American art song reveals the nuances of text sources and, often, the highly personal viewpoints of both composer and performer. Soprano Hope Hudson is a specialist in the art songs of contemporary American composers and has commissioned numerous works by today's leading song composers, including Tom Cipullo, Lori Laitman, and Richard Pearson Thomas. These composers will join Hudson and violinist Stephanie Chase for performances of these works, along with discussion of their creative processes.

Stephanie Chase is a violinist who has performed as soloist with many of the world's leading orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, and Hong Kong Philharmonic. She is also Artistic Director and co-founder of the Music of the Spheres Society, which is dedicated to exploring the links between music, philosophy, and the sciences. She teaches violin at New York University's Steinhardt School. In her spare time, she writes music arrangements and studies Stradivari violins. In late May 2008 she performed one of her signature works, Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto, in Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall.

Tom Cipullo's music can be heard at major concert halls on four continents, and he has received commissions by major American artists and ensembles. Among his awards are the Aaron Copland Award from Copland House, the Phyllis Wattis Prize for song composition from the San Francisco Song Festival, and the National Association of Teachers of Singing Art Song Award for "Of a Certain Age," a song cycle commissioned by soprano Hope Hudson. Tom Cipullo's music has been recorded on the Albany, CRI, PGM, and Capstone labels.

Hope Hudson, soprano, is a frequent guest artist at the Aldeburgh Festival in England. A specialist in art song, she has been featured on BBC radio performing the songs of Benjamin Britten. In June of 2008, Hudson performed Tom Cipullo's song cycle, "Of A Certain Age," at the National Association of Teachers of Singing National Convention. Commissioned by Hudson, the cycle won the 2008 Composition Competition sponsored by NATS. She is active in both oratorio and concert work, and her 2009-2010 appearances include performances of music by Tom Cipullo and Richard Pearson Thomas with the Music of the Spheres Society.

Lori Laitman works with many of today's important poets, in addition to setting to music such classic poets as Emily Dickinson and William Carlos Williams. Recent U.S. performances of her music have taken place at Weill Recital Hall, Merkin Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Shriver Hall, Benaroya Hall, The Cleveland Institute of Art, The Skylight Opera Theatre, The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, The Corcoran Gallery, and The Kennedy Center. In June 2004, Cleveland Opera premiered Laitman's one-act opera, Come to Me in Dreams. Laitman's first full-length opera, The Scarlet Letter, with a new libretto by poet David Mason, was commissioned by The University of Central Arkansas and premiered there in 2008 to critical acclaim. Laitman's songs have been recorded on Albany Records, Channel Classics, Gasparo, Capstone and Naxos.

Richard Pearson Thomas, composer and pianist, has had works performed by the Boston Pops, Covent Garden Festival, Houston Grand Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, Banff Centre, Skylight Opera Theatre, and Riverside Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir. His songs are sung in Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Wigmore Hall, Joe's Pub, and before the U.S. Congress, by artists such as Audra McDonald, Sanford Sylvan, Lauren Flanagan, and Kurt Ollmann. He is a recipient of an American Composers Forum Continental Harmony commission for the Alabama Tri-State Orchestra. His work "Race for the Sky," which was commissioned as a commemoration of the events of 9/11, has been performed by the Westchester Philharmonic Orchestra, and in recitals nationwide. Thomas has composed original music for In Thinking of America: Songs of the Civil War, which has been heard in more than 140 cities.

This program is made possible, in part, with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts, celebrating 50 years of building strong, creative communities in New York State's 62 counties.


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