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Angel Heart goes live: star-studded premieres in Berkeley (Oct 6) and Carnegie Hall (Oct 21)

Angel Heart – the groundbreaking music storybook hailed as “a fairy tale for the digital age” (Wall Street Journal) – takes to the stage this month with two star-studded multimedia family concerts: the world premiere at UC Berkeley’s Cal Performances (Oct 6) and the New York premiere at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall (Oct 21). These live presentations, like Angel Heart’s newly-released deluxe CD package and forthcoming app, will combine original music by award-winning composer Luna Pearl Woolf with original text by bestselling children’s fantasy writer Cornelia Funke and original visuals by award-winning creative studio Mirada. Angel Heart’s guest narrators are Malcolm McDowell, of A Clockwork Orange fame, in Berkeley, and Chris Noth, best known as Sex and the City’s “Mr. Big,” in New York. Musical performances are courtesy of cellist Matt Haimovitz, his all-cello ensemble Uccello, and vocalists Frederica von Stade, Lisa Delan, Daniel Taylor, and Bruce Rameker, with guest appearances by mandolin players Dana Rath and Avi Avital and local children’s choirs from West Oakland’s St. Martin de Porres School and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. As San Francisco Classical Voice observes, Angel Heart is “a national story with lots of local initiative and involvement.”
Haunting, heady, evocative – and synthesizing the work of pioneering A-list artists from multiple disciplines – Angel Heart represents an innovative, music-centered approach to children’s storytelling. The project was born when composer Luna Pearl Woolf and soprano Lisa Delan discovered a shared “dream of lullabies.” Together, they compiled a selection of songs reflecting their musical loves – some by composers ranging from Engelbert Humperdinck to Lennon and McCartney, others traditional folk songs and lullabies. Arranged for the intimate and sumptuous sounds of an all-cello ensemble, these songs were interwoven with original music of a more virtuosic nature that Woolf – best known for Après Moi, le Déluge, her “unsentimental but moving tribute” (New York Times) to the victims of Hurricane Katrina – composed herself.
Seeking a story to help draw these musical strands together, Woolf and Delan turned to German-born children’s author Cornelia Funke, whose books have already sold more than 20 million copies, prompting the Los Angeles Times to marvel, “Funke builds wild, wondrous worlds with her words.” The collaboration proved a natural fit; as Publishers Weekly noted in a recent Angel Heart feature, “The three women effortlessly made a strong creative connection.” In Funke’s resulting narrative, a young girl whose heart has broken into a thousand pieces meets a guardian angel, who enlists the help of four spirits to mend it. The story is geared for preschool through primary school children; the music is for audiences of all ages.
To communicate the tale effectively, the team needed a narrator of the first rank. For the Berkeley premiere, they secured the services of Malcolm McDowell, who catapulted to stardom in Lindsay Anderson’s If…, before creating a gallery of iconic characters that includes his Golden Globe-nominated signature role in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange. Children know him best as the voice of Dr. Calico in Walt Disney’s Academy Award-nominated animation feature Bolt, as well as characters in such animated TV series as Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness from DreamWorks and Disney’s Phineas and Ferb. Similarly, for Angel Heart’s New York premiere in Carnegie Hall, the team turned to Chris Noth, who scored multiple Golden Globe nods for his key roles in three hit television series – Law & Order, Sex and the City, and The Good Wife – and who may soon be seen opposite Amanda Seyfried and Peter Sarsgaard in the feature film Lovelace. His family-oriented work includes the lead role in the comedy short Tooth Fairy.
Both Woolf and Delan independently conceived of collaborating with Trailblazer Award-winning cellist Matt Haimovitz, Woolf’s husband, and his Grammy-nominated ensemble, Uccello. The cellists will perform the songs and musical interludes with a starry lineup of singers headed by legendary mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, a recent inductee to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; with Delan herself, whose voice Opera online calls “spellbinding”; countertenor Daniel Taylor, winner of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal; and baritone Bruce Rameker, of the Grammy-nominated Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble.
Angel Heart’s distinctive visual component is provided by creative studio Mirada, which specializes in integrating classic storytelling with new technologies. Founded by director Guillermo del Toro and cinematographer Guillermo Navarro, of Pan’s Labyrinth and Pacific Rim fame, along with Grammy Award-winning director and producer Matthew Cullen and Javier Jimenez, Mirada recently won a Cannes Silver Lion Award for MirrorWorld, a previous Funke collaboration. The studio’s striking visuals will be projected live at both upcoming Angel Heart premieres.
Following the two live presentations – and last week’s Oxingale Records release, which features Jeremy Irons’s narration – Angel Heart will also be issued as an iPad app. Created in close collaboration with Mirada, this will offer a new, music-centered approach to tablet-based storytelling.
Further details of Angel Heart’s multimedia family concerts are provided below.

Angel Heart: multimedia family concerts
Story by Cornelia Funke
Music by Luna Pearl Woolf
Visuals by Mirada
Additional music:
“All Through the Night”: trad, arr. Gordon Getty & Luna Pearl Woolf
“Mother Nature’s Son”: Lennon-McCartney, arr. David Sanford
“O Waly Waly”: trad, arr. Luna Pearl Woolf
“Je porte ma lanterne jolie”: trad, arr. Lewis Spratlan
“Danny Boy”: trad, arr. Jake Heggie, orch. Luna Pearl Woolf
“The Adventurer”: Gordon Getty, arr. Luna Pearl Woolf
“Fourteen Angels”: Engelbert Humperdinck, orch. Lewis Spratlan
“O Absalom”: trad, arr. Luna Pearl Woolf
“Unter Beymer”: Alexander Olshanetsky, arr. Lewis Spratlan
“Russian Lullaby”: Irving Berlin, arr. Lewis Spratlan
“Ho Ho Watanay”: trad, arr. Luna Pearl Woolf
“Sleep, Baby Sleep”: trad, arr. Luna Pearl Woolf
“Tiefer und tiefer”: Gordon Getty, orch. Luna Pearl Woolf
Oct 6
Berkeley, CA
Cal Performances’ Hertz Hall
World premiere
Malcolm McDowell, narrator
Matt Haimovitz and Uccello
Lisa Delan, soprano; Frederica von Stade, mezzo-soprano; Daniel Taylor, countertenor; and Bruce Rameker, baritone
Dana Rath, mandolin
Children’s Choir of St. Martin de Porres School, West Oakland, CA
Brian Staufenbiel, stage director
Oct 21
New York, NY
Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall
Presented by the Angel Heart Music Foundation in partnership with Carnegie Hall.
New York premiere
Chris Noth, narrator
Matt Haimovitz and Uccello
Lisa Delan, soprano; Frederica von Stade, mezzo-soprano; Daniel Taylor, countertenor; and Bruce Rameker, baritone
Avi Avital, mandolin
Brooklyn Youth Chorus / Dianne Berkun-Menaker, Artistic Director
Brian Staufenbiel, stage director
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© 21C Media Group, October 2013















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