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Susanna Phillips premieres Weiss commission at 2013 Twickenham Fest (Aug 31)

For her final festival appearances of the summer, Beverly Sills Prize Winner Susanna Phillips returns to her hometown of Huntsville, Alabama, for the fourth season of Twickenham Fest, the chamber music festival that she herself co-founded. This year’s festival will showcase the world premiere of Fragments from an Explanation, a new commission from 2013 composer-in-residence Christopher Weiss (Aug 31), bookended by programs of Schubert (Aug 30) and Messiaen (Sep 1). The soprano and her fellow co-founder, bassoonist Matthew McDonald, will be joined by a first-rate roster of guest artists, including violinist Itamar Zorman, cellist Matthew Zalkind, and pianist Roman Rabinovich, respective winners of the Tchaikovsky, Washington, and Rubinstein International Competitions. As the Birmingham News recognized in a five-star review last season, “Twickenham Fest is well on its way to becoming a driving force in classical music in Alabama.”
The recipient of a Theodore Presser Foundation Career Grant, Christopher Weiss’s music has been hailed by the New York Times as “wonderfully fluid [with a] cinematic grasp of mood and lighting.” His new work Fragments from an Explanation, scored for soprano, bassoon, string quartet, and double bass, was commissioned by Twickenham Fest for Phillips, whose world premiere performance will form the centerpiece of a program of Bach, Brahms, and Prokofiev. This continues an exciting new tradition that was launched last season, when – marking the festival’s first world premiere – Phillips sang William Harvey’s Speaking for the Afghan Woman, a song cycle written for her and set to verses by female Afghan poets. The Birmingham News found the poetry “poignant, often gut-wrenching,” and reported that “Phillips’ emotive powers” were such that she “penetrated directly to the hearts of these poets.”
Additional highlights of this year’s Twickenham Fest include the soprano’s rendition of Schubert’s “Auf dem Strom” with Rebekah Daley, Principal French horn of the North Carolina Symphony, and Gilmore Young Artist Orion Weiss on piano. The festival draws to a close with Messiaen’s transcendent Quartet for the End of Time, featuring Canadian violinist Nikki Chooi, winner of the 2013 Michael Hill International Violin Competition. The festival’s three concerts will be held in Huntsville’s Church of the Nativity, and enriched by guest artists’ educational outreach visits to schools, music programs, and other local institutions.
Phillips, who also looks forward to celebrating the Britten centennial at the Aspen Music Festival, where she will make her role debut as Ellen Orford in a concert performance of Peter Grimes (July 27), recently returned to Santa Fe Opera for The Marriage of Figaro. Reminding audiences why she is already a “Santa Fe Opera favorite in Mozart’s great operas” (Opera Warhorses), the soprano gave a “firm, full-throated performance (Santa Fe New Mexican) as the Countess.
Details of Twickenham Fest are provided below, and more information is available at For more about Susanna Phillips’s upcoming engagements, please visit the artist’s web site at
Susanna Phillips and Twickenham Fest 2013
Huntsville, AL
Church of the Nativity
Aug 30–Sep 1
Aug 30 at 7:30pm
Friday: A Night of Schubert
Schubert: “Auf dem Strom”
(with Susanna Phillips, soprano, Rebekah Daley, French horn; Orion Weiss, piano)
Schubert: song set
(with Corey McKern, baritone; Roman Rabinovich, piano)
Schubert: Piano Quintet “The Trout”
(with Nikki Chooi, violin; Jennifer Stumm, viola; Matthew Zalkind, cello; Tony Flynt, double bass; TBD, piano)
Aug 31 at 7:30pm
Saturday: A World Premiere from Christopher Weiss
J.S. Bach: Sonata for viola da gamba and harpsichord No. 3 in G minor
(with Matthew McDonald, bassoon; Roman Rabinovich, piano)
Song set TBD
(with Corey McKern, baritone; Orion Weiss, piano)
Prokofiev: Overture on Hebrew Themes
(with Andrew Lowy, clarinet; Nikki Chooi, violin; Itamar Zorman, violin; Jennifer Stumm, viola; Matthew Zalkind, cello; Orion Weiss, piano)
Christopher Weiss: Fragments from an Explanation (world premiere of festival commission)
(with Susanna Phillips, soprano; Matthew McDonald, bassoon; Nikki Chooi, violin; Itamar Zorman, violin; Jennifer Stumm, viola; Matthew Zalkind, cello; Tony Flynt, double bass)
Brahms: Horn Trio in E-flat
(with Itamar Zorman, violin; Rebekah Daley, French horn; Roman Rabinovich, piano)
Sep 1 at 3pm
Sunday: the Quartet for the End of Time
Turina: Piano Quartet in A minor, Op 67 
(with Itamar Zorman, violin; Jennifer Stumm, viola; Matthew Zalkind, cello; Orion Weiss, piano)
Messiaen: Quartet for the End of Time
(with Nikki Chooi, violin; Andrew Lowy, clarinet; Matthew Zalkind, cello; Roman Rabinovich, piano)
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© 21C Media Group, July 2013 


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