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Met Star Angela Meade and Grammy Award-Winner Jason Vieaux are Caramoor’s 2017 Artists-in-Residence

This summer, Caramoor welcomes back Angela Meade and Jason Vieaux as its 2017 Artists-in-Residence. Having first catapulted to prominence at Caramoor, Meade – hailed as “the most talked-about soprano of her generation” (Opera News) – was the natural first choice to headline this season’s 20th anniversary celebrations of the “Bel Canto at Caramoor” series. She returns to star both in this year’s operatic centerpiece – a semi-staged production of Bellini’s Il pirata (July 8), in which she makes her eagerly anticipated role debut – and its festive opening-night gala concert, “A Night of Italian Opera” (June 17). Also an established festival favorite, genre-straddling Grammy Award-winner Vieaux – “perhaps the most precise and soulful classical guitarist of his generation” (NPR) – returns for a trio of appearances, giving a solo recital in Caramoor’s popular Guitar in the Garden series (July 27), reuniting with the Escher String Quartet for a chamber program of Haydn, Shostakovich, Boccherini, and Ginastera (June 30), and joining the resident Orchestra of St. Luke’s for an irresistible summertime mix of Baroque and tango in “The Four Seasons of Vivaldi and Piazzolla” (July 16).

These two residencies underscore Caramoor’s ongoing commitment to forging and nurturing connections with artists of the highest caliber. 2014 saw the inauguration of its Artist-in-Residence program, with MacArthur Award-winning cellist and Evnin Rising Stars alum Alisa Weilerstein as the first incumbent, followed in 2015 by Hélène Grimaud, a pianist known for her “fearless originality” (Los Angeles Times), and in 2016 by Jonathan Biss, another Evnin Rising Stars alum, who is both “a truly world-class pianist” (The Guardian) and “an authority on Beethoven” (New York Times). Indeed, with 90 acres of picturesque Italianate architecture and gardens just one hour’s drive from Manhattan, Caramoor represents something of a cultural oasis for performers and audiences alike; as the New York Times puts it, “Bucolic, picnic-friendly settings and a programming philosophy that balances hedonism and exploration have made this festival a must for music lovers.

Angela Meade, in opera and opening night concert

This summer marks the 20th anniversary season of the “Bel Canto at Caramoor” series. To celebrate this milestone, Caramoor is thrilled to welcome back Angela Meade. One of today’s outstanding vocalists, the American soprano has headlined productions at the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Teatro Real Madrid, Washington National Opera, Los Angeles Opera, and other leading international houses, besides appearing as soloist with orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, and BBC Scottish Symphony. The laureate of no fewer than 57 vocal competitions, her honors include both the Metropolitan Opera’s Beverly Sills Artist Award and the Richard Tucker Award. As Opera Today declares: “When we listen to Meade, we begin to know the sound of golden age singing,”

It was at Caramoor that Meade first came to international attention when, after making her festival debut in the title role of Rossini’s Semiramide in 2009, her “stunning Norma was the big news” (New York Times) of the 2010 festival. The New Yorker marveled:

“Meade is astounding. … She has exceptional dynamic control, able to move from floating pianissimos to sudden dramatic swells. The coloratura effects – rapid runs, trills, delicate turns, and so on – are handled with uncommon ease. She is a very musical singer, naturally and intelligently riding the phrase.”

Thus established as a firm Caramoor favorite, she went on to win further accolades in Bel Canto presentations when she starred as Hélène in Verdi’s Les vêpres siciliennes in 2013, and in the title role of Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia the following summer. Building on her knockout debut in the formidable role at Caramoor, she also reigns undisputed as one of today’s foremost exponents of Vincenzo Bellini’s Norma. Click here to see Lincoln Center’s Spotlight On…Angela Meade video, made after her acclaimed 2014 house title role debut in Norma at the Metropolitan Opera.

Now Meade returns, not only to Caramoor but to Bellini. Set among the warring factions of medieval Sicily, his 1827 breakthrough opera, Il pirata (“The Pirate”) is the story of Imogene, whose forced marriage to Duke Ernesto is suddenly disrupted by the reappearance of her true love Gualtiero, a dispossessed nobleman who has taken to the seas as a pirate. The fatal love triangle leads inexorably to death for both men and madness for Imogene. Indeed, Imogene’s mad scene – “a musically strong and psychologically acute example of the genre” (New York Times) – is widely acknowledged as the inspiration for Donizetti’s better-known example in Lucia di Lammermoor.

Although Caramoor’s semi-staged production of Il pirata (July 8) represents Meade’s role debut as Imogene, when she previewed excerpts from the opera in concert at Washington Concert Opera last fall, her performance was pronounced “incendiary” (Voix des Arts). Anticipating their forthcoming collaboration on the opera, Will Crutchfield, Caramoor’s Director of Opera, explains:

“I always look forward to working with Angela, but especially so in this case, because apart from her history-making Norma, we have always done Rossini, Verdi, or Donizetti. So it is great to return to Bellini with her. She has exactly what Bellini needs: a big, exciting voice, but essentially lyrical. Powerful but not heavy, not blunt. It’s a voice for melody, and the genius of Bellini is mostly in the melodic line. She’s able to go forever in a single breath, so his long long lines never have to be compromised.”

Anchored by Crutchfield’s leadership of the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Il pirata will also feature the Gualtiero of tenor Santiago Ballerini, whose “lovely mezza voce in expressions of tenderness” (New York Times) graced Donizetti’s La favorite at Caramoor two seasons ago, and the Ernesto of bass Harold Wilson, who boasts a “voice of impressive size and smoothness” (Associated Press).

Meade and Ballerini also take center stage together with bass Harold Wilson at the festival’s season-opening concert, “Celebrating 20 years of Bel Canto at Caramoor with A Night of Italian Opera” (June 17). A festive program of favorite arias, duets, and ensembles from Rigoletto, Aida, Nabucco, and other high watermarks of Italian opera, this will be bookended by the iconic overture and finale from Rossini’s William Tell, an opera in which Meade has proven herself “a model of bel canto singing at its finest” (Chicago Tribune). The evening will be complemented by the opening-night gala, which honors ArtsWestchester and includes a celebratory pre-concert cocktail reception and dinner, premium concert seating in the Venetian Theater, and an “After Dark” party for post-concert drinks, dancing, and desserts.

Jason Vieaux, as solo recitalist, chamber musician, and orchestral soloist

Having scored the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Classical Instrumental Solo and appeared as soloist with more than 100 orchestras, Jason Vieaux stands “among the elite of today’s classical guitarists” (Gramophone). The first classical artist to be featured in NPR’s “Tiny Desk” series, he is one of the foremost ambassadors of his instrument, expanding its reach through innovative collaborations with harpist Yolanda Kondonassis, accordionist/bandoneonist Julien Labro, the Al-Bustan Takht Ensemble, and others, and premiering new works by such composers as Avner Dorman, Vivian Fung, José Luis Merlin, and Dan Visconti. As one of today’s most influential guitar teachers, he inspires the next generation through his own popular online guitar course at ArtistWorks, besides heading the guitar department at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and serving on the faculty at Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music, where he co-founded the guitar department six years ago.

An omnivorous musician, Vieaux’s wide-ranging tastes – embracing the spectrum from Bach and Tárrega to ’80s hitmakers Tears for Fears – are as inclusive as Caramoor’s own. As he told Classical Guitar magazine, in a 2015 cover story:

“If you’re a good musician, you have to use those elements of composition and arrangement to create new things. For 500 years, composers have been readapting and recasting other people’s music or folk tunes, and creating new compositions with them. … Today, the lines are becoming a little more blurred in terms of genre and style, and that’s exciting to me.”

Click here to see Jason Vieaux play Bach and Louis Armstrong.

For the upcoming residency, Caramoor is thrilled to present Vieaux in a trio of appearances that celebrate his superlative artistry as a recitalist, chamber musician, and orchestral soloist. In “The Four Seasons of Vivaldi and Piazzolla” (July 16), he leads the resident Orchestra of St. Luke’s from the guitar in Vivaldi’s Guitar Concerto in D before partnering with his regular collaborator, bandoneon virtuoso Julien Labro, in the latter’s own orchestral arrangement of Piazzolla’s Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas. Written in response to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, the Argentinean composer’s work was featured on the first of the two recordings Vieaux and Labro made together, which was welcomed by the Cleveland Plain Dealer as a “don’t-miss disc.” To round out the program, OSL concertmaster Krista Bennion Feeney plays the violin solo in Vivaldi’s beloved original.

In the Guitar in the Garden series (July 27), Vieaux takes listeners on a journey from early 19th-century Italy’s Mauro Giuliani to the present day, by way of Mexico’s Ponce, J.S. Bach, the Brazilian bossa nova of Morel and Jobim, and his own arrangement of Duke Ellington’s In a Sentimental Mood. Held in the magical outdoor setting of Caramoor’s Sunken Garden, the recital marks Vieaux’s third in the popular series, following previous appearances in 2011, 2012 and 2014. Other major guitarists who have given Guitar in the Garden recitals include Łukasz Kuropaczewski, Artistic Director of the Polish Guitar Academy Festival; Meng Su, gold medalist at the Parkening International Guitar Competition; and Ana Vidović, whose honors include first prize at England’s Albert Augustine International Competition.

Vieaux also reunites with the Escher String Quartet (June 30), with whom he has shown “an unusual affinity for fitting together, picture perfect” (Connecticut Post). Alongside his account of Ginastera’s sole composition for guitar and the Escher’s performances of quartets by Haydn and Shostakovich, the five musicians join forces for a reprise of Boccherini’s “Fandango” Quintet, which they recorded together for the Music@Menlo: Bridging the Ages album series. One of the few chamber ensembles to have been awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant, the Escher String Quartet – “clearly one of the finest quartets of their generation” (The Guardian) – is an alum of Caramoor’s celebrated Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-in-Residence program.

About Caramoor

Caramoor is a performing arts center located on a unique 90-acre setting of Italianate architecture and gardens in Westchester County, NY. It enriches the lives of its audiences through innovative and diverse musical performances of the highest quality. Its mission also includes mentoring young professional musicians and providing educational programs for young children centered around music. Audiences are invited to come early to explore the beautiful grounds, tour the historic Rosen House, and on special Sundays enjoy a delicious Afternoon Tea or unwind with a pre-concert picnic, and discover beautiful music in the relaxed settings of the Venetian Theater, Spanish Courtyard, and the magnificent gardens. Summer concerts take place in two outdoor theaters: the acoustically superb Venetian Theater, which seats approximately 1,500, and the more intimate, romantic Spanish Courtyard, which seats around 470. In the fall and winter, concerts are presented in the magnificent Music Room in the Rosen House. Caramoor’s gardens, also used for concerts and the sound exhibition Sonic Innovations, are well worth the visit and include nine unique perennial gardens. Among them are a Sense Circle for the visually impaired, the Sunken Garden, a Butterfly Garden, the Tapestry Hedge, and the Iris and Peony Garden.

Getting to Caramoor

Getting to Caramoor is simple by car, train or public transportation. All parking is free and close to the performance areas. Handicapped parking is also free and readily available.

By car from New York City, take the Henry Hudson Parkway north to the Saw Mill River Parkway north to I-684 north to Exit 6. Go east on Route 35 to the traffic light (0.3 miles). Turn right onto Route 22 south, and travel 1.9 miles to the junction of Girdle Ridge Road where there is a green Caramoor sign. At the junction, veer left and make a quick right onto Girdle Ridge Road. Continue on Girdle Ridge Road 0.5 miles to the Caramoor gates on the right. Approximate drive time is one hour.

By train from Grand Central Station, take the Harlem Division Line of the Metro-North Railroad heading to Southeast, and exit at Katonah. Caramoor is a 3.5-mile drive from the Katonah station, where taxi service is always available and free shuttle service is available for select performances. For current information, check the Metro-North schedule.

For the performances of Il pirata and Petite Messe Solennelle, Caramoor offers ticketed, round-trip transportation from NYC on the Caramoor Coach, a luxury air-conditioned coach traveling from Grand Central/Lexington Ave to Caramoor’s front door and back. To learn more, contact the Box Office.

Artists-in-Residence Angela Meade and Jason Vieaux in Caramoor’s 2017 summer season

June 17
Opening Night Concert & Gala:
Celebrating 20 years of Bel Canto at Caramoor with A Night of Italian Opera
Venetian Theater
Gala: 5:30pm
Concert: 8:30pm
Artist-in-Residence Angela Meade, soprano
Santiago Ballerini, tenor
Harold Wilson, bass
Bel Canto Young Artists
Orchestra of St. Luke’s / Will Crutchfield

June 30
Artist-in-Residence Jason Vieaux with Escher String Quartet
Spanish Courtyard
Haydn: Quartet Op. 76, No. 6
Shostakovich: Quartet No. 9
Ginastera: Sonata, Op. 47 (guitar solo)
Boccherini: Quintet G. 448, “Fandango”

July 8
Bel Canto at Caramoor Presents Il Pirata by Bellini
Venetian Theater
Artist-in-Residence Angela Meade, soprano (Imogene)
Santiago Ballerini, tenor (Gualtiero)
Harold Wilson, bass (Ernesto)
Will Crutchfield, conductor
Orchestra of St. Luke’s
Bel Canto Young Artists

July 16
Artist-in-Residence Jason Vieaux, guitar with Orchestra of St. Luke’s
Venetian Theater
Vivaldi: Guitar Concerto in D Major, RV 93
Piazzolla: Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas (with Julian Labro, bandoneon)
Vivaldi: Cello Concerto in A minor, RV 420
Vivaldi: The Four Seasons

July 27
Guitar in the Garden
Artist-in-Residence Jason Vieaux
Sunken Garden
Giuliani: Variations on a Theme by Handel
Bach: Prelude, Fugue and Allegro, BWV 998
Ponce: Sonatina meridional
Morel: Choro; Danza in E minor; Danza Brasilera
Ellington (arr. Jason Vieaux): In a Sentimental Mood
Jobim (arr. Roland Dyens): A Felicidade

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© 21C Media Group, April 2017

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