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Nicholas Phan Curates Whitman-Inspired Song Festival in Chicago, Undertakes Residency at NYC’s Kaufman Music Center, & Returns to San Francisco Symphony, NY Phil & Baltimore Symphony in 2023-24

(September 2023) — Over the coming season, Grammy-nominated tenor Nicholas Phan – “one of the world’s most remarkable singers” (Boston Globe) – balances opera, concert and recital performances with curatorial and educational activities. On the curatorial front, he launches his season with the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago (CAIC)’s 12th annual Collaborative Works Festival, which draws inspiration from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (Sep 6 & 8). Phan’s other 2023-24 highlights include Don Giovanni with Boston Baroque; returns to the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, Berkeley Symphony and Orchestra of St. Luke’s; and a season-long residency at New York’s Kaufman Music Center.

Founded by Phan in 2010, in collaboration with Chicago-based pianists Shannon McGinnis and Nicholas Hutchinson, CAIChas emerged as one of the classiest vocal performance options in the city” (Opera News). Taking inspiration from Walt Whitman’s opening inscription to his seminal work Leaves of Grass, this year’s festival centers around the question: what does it mean to sing of “One’s-self” in today’s America? In probing this question, the festival’s programs examine the art of song as an expression of identity, and explore the complexity, multiplicity, and intersectionality of selfhood (Sep 6 & 8).

Following the festival performances, Phan heads to Cambridge, MA, where he joins Portland-based string ensemble Palaver Strings for “A Change is Gonna Come,” a program he has curated in partnership with the group to explore song as a form of protest. In addition to songs by iconic social activist singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Malvina Reynolds and Pete Seeger, the program features two song cycles composed expressly for Phan: Nico Muhly’s Stranger (in a new orchestration) and Errollyn Wallen’s Protest Songs (Sep 29), a new work, of which he gave the world premiere performance in August.

Phan’s spring schedule features two other song cycles that were written for him. He gives the West Coast premiere of Joel Puckett’s orchestral song cycle There Was A Child Went Forth with the Berkeley Symphony (March 23) and the world premiere of Songs for the Next Generation, a new song cycle about climate change by Vivian Fung, in a recital at New York’s Kaufman Music Center (May 30), where he will be artist-in-residence for the entire 2023-24 season.

In addition to his May recital, Phan’s Kaufman Music Center residency will include extensive work with the Center’s vocal students, including workshops, coaching and a public masterclass. Elsewhere on the educational front, Phan continues to serve on the faculty of the San Francisco Opera Center and will also preside over masterclasses at Emmanuel Music’s Bach Institute in Boston, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Bard College’s Longy School of Music, and Carnegie Hall’s SongStudio.

Phan will also take iterations of his ongoing web series, BACH 52, into live performance situations. The series, which addresses the question, “Is the music of Bach for everyone?”, examines the relevance of Bach’s music to today’s increasingly secular and diverse society. In addition to his teaching work at Emmanuel Music’s Bach Institute, Phan will conduct a round-table discussion exploring these questions (Jan 5–8). Also, in collaboration with the Cleveland-based Baroque ensemble Les Délices, he will perform arias from the series at the Baldwin Wallace Bach Festival (Jan 27).

Other highlights of Phan’s season include two returns to the San Francisco Symphony, for Handel’s Messiah with Jonathan Cohen (Dec 8 & 9) and Stravinsky’s Pulcinella with Michael Tilson Thomas (Feb 23–25); performances of Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Baltimore Symphony under Jonathon Heyward (March 15–17) and Orchestra of St. Luke’s with Tito Muñoz at New York’s Carnegie Hall (Feb 27); Mozart’s Requiem with Jaap Van Zweden leading the New York Philharmonic (May 23–28); and a fully-staged production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni, with Phan singing the role of Don Ottavio, with Boston Baroque (April 25–28).

High-resolution photos can be downloaded here.

Nicholas Phan: 2023-24 engagements
Sep 6 & 8
Chicago, IL
Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago
2023 Collaborative Works Festival: “Song of Myself”
Sep 6: Concert 1 – “I Am”
Songs by Leonard BERNSTEIN, Jake HEGGIE, Charles IVES, Jocelyn MORLOCK, Robert OWENS, Henry
(with Zoie Reams, mezzo-soprano; Reginald Mobley, countertenor; Shannon McGinnis, piano)

Sep 8: Concert 2: “We Are:
Jake HEGGIE: These Strangers
Songs by Leonard BERNSTEIN & Ned ROREM
(with Zoie Reams, mezzo-soprano; Laureano Quant, baritone; Brent Funderburk, piano)

Sep 29
Cambridge, MA
Longy School of Music of Bard College
Palaver Strings
“A Change Is Gonna Come”
Nico MUHLY: Stranger (orchestral version)
Errollyn WALLEN: Protest Songs
Songs by Harry BURLEIGH, Alfred HAYES, Joni MITCHELL, Phil OCHS, Malvina REYNOLDS, Pete SEEGER, and Roberta SLAVITT

Oct 23
Long Beach, CA
CSU Long Beach
Bob Cole Conservatory of Music

Dec 8 & 9
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco Symphony / Jonathan Cohen
HANDEL: Messiah

Dec 11
New York, NY
Kaufman Music Center
Rob Kapilow: “What Makes It Great?” Series
“Nadia and Lili Boulanger & the Boulangerie”

Jan 5–8
Boston, MA
Emmanuel Music – The Bach Institute

Jan 5
Round Table discussion
With Pamela Dellal and Ryan Turner

Jan 7
Emmanuel Music / Ryan Turner
Christ unser Herr zum Jordan kam, BWV 7

Jan 8

Jan 23
New York, NY
Carnegie Hall: “SongStudio”

Jan 27
Berea, OH
Baldwin Wallace Bach Festival
Les Délices
BACH 52 in concert

Feb 23–25
San Francisco, CA
San Francisco Symphony / Michael Tilson Thomas
STRAVINSKY: Pulcinella

Feb 27
New York, NY
Carnegie Hall
Orchestra of St. Luke’s / Tito Muñoz
ORFF: Carmina Burana

March 11
New York, NY
Kaufman Music Center

March 15–17: concerts with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra / Jonathon Heyward

March 15: College Park, MD (The Clarice)

March 16: Baltimore, MD

March 17: Bethesda, MD (Music Center at Strathmore)
ORFF: Carmina Burana

March 23
Berkeley, CA
Berkeley Symphony / Joseph Young
Joel PUCKETT: There was a Child Went Forth (West Coast premiere)

April 25, 26, & 28
Boston, MA
Boston Baroque / Martin Pearlman
MOZART: Don Giovanni (Don Ottavio)

May 23, 24, 25 & 28
New York, NY
David Geffen Hall
New York Philharmonic / Jaap Van Zweden
MOZART: Requiem

May 30
New York, NY
Kaufman Music Center
Recital with Jasper String Quartet & Myra Huang, piano
Vivian FUNG: Songs for the Next Generation (world premiere)

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© 21C Media Group, September 2023


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