When Coloratura Soprano Angela Meade stepped on the stage of the Liberty Theater at last yearâ€™s AMF concert-staged opera, all in attendance were waiting with bated breath to hear what this Centralia, Washington native had to deliver. While safe to say that most in the audience were not so completely familiar with her, the buzz was on due to the festival marketing publicity touting her rising success. But then after all, one might think, if sheâ€™s really that good, would she be here?
Before the first aria was completed it was breathtakingly apparent that the artist on stage was undeniably gifted. To hear Ms. Meade was utter joy. A supple voice, yet with incredible power, as if she were drawing up the sweet dark roots of the earth and expelling the energy in fountains of delicious bel canto vocalization curling through the architecture of the Liberty Theater. You could feel the collective gasps throughout the audience and you could feel her music, sensual and liquid.
Since that time, Meade has been very busy debuting prestigious festivals, world class opera houses, and a recent â€œstupendous debut at the Deutsche Oper Berlinâ€ according to AMF Director Keith Clark.
This one of many similar opera critic comments; When the Metropolitan Operaâ€™s 2012 Beverly Sills Artist Angela Meade starred in the companyâ€™s recent production of Ernani, she gave â€œa true star-making Met performanceâ€ (WQXR) that â€œshowed what this uncommonly gifted rising artist is capable ofâ€ (Anthony Tommasini, New York Times).
Meade is also the winner of the 2011 Richard Tucker Award, as is her counterpart in the upcoming AMF production of Belliniâ€™s Norma, Soprana Ruth Ann Swenson. Swenson won it in 1993. In a solo AMF concert last year Swenson too, gave audiences a taste of world class vocal divinity.
Less than four years after her professional debut in 2008, Meade has quickly become recognized as one of the outstanding vocalists of her generation. The New York Times said of Ms. Meade, â€œNorma counsels peace in â€œCasta Divaâ€ (the opening aria in this Bellini opera said to be one that makes or breaks a star), and Ms. Meade sang it beautifully, filling the long-spun lines with rich, unforced sound, shaping the phrases with bittersweet poignancy, gracing the melody with tasteful embellishments and lifting her voice to majestic highs.â€ According to bio info, Angela Meade joined an elite group of historyâ€™s singers when she made her professional operatic debut on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera as Verdiâ€™s Elvira in Ernani substituting for an ill colleague in March 2008.
In 2011 Keith Clark was the winner of the prestigious American Prize for Opera Conducting, for the Astoria Music Festival production of Alban Bergâ€™s modern opera Wozzeck. Sometimes you have to blink, and say â€œReally, in Astoria?â€ Really.
Angela Meade, Ruth Ann Swenson, Met Baritone and beloved AMF returning artist Richard Zeller, and Cuban-born Met Opera Tenor Raul Melo making his AMF debut; four of Americaâ€™s finest operatic soloists take the Liberty stage on June 16. An excellent opportunity to test the waters of this ever-live art form.
10th Annual Astoria Music Festival Highlights
AMF in its tenth year! Astoria may be on fire this June, yes very hot, music lovers. Newly elected Board of Directors President Diane Tiedeman states, â€œWe are excited to present the biggest and most challenging festival in our short ten-year history. Our Artistic Director Keith Clark has assembled a remarkable roster of international artists and varied repertoire, and we invite music lovers to visit our historic town to experience our motto: Big City Music â€“ Small Town Prices â€“ Victorian Charm.â€
This year the festival spans three weekends including mid-week performances; over ninety performers and students will gather in Astoria, Oregon for twenty-two performances of symphonic and chamber music, educational events, and two operas, June 15 â€“ July 1. If you have not received a season brochure, pick one up at the AMF office on Commercial Street in Astoria.
Hold it your hands and visualize the joy of experiencing classical performance artistry and then get your tickets! While there have been some well-tempered price increases â€“ the prices, repeat the motto, are small-town-prices.
AMF cornerstones return. The brilliant chamber pianist CARY LEWIS and Director of Chamber Music leads returning festival favorite, cellist SERGEY ANTONOV and debut AMF artist MARTIN CHALIFOUR, Concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic in an opening Saturday recital matinee, June 16, performing Czech composer, Smetanaâ€™s Trio in G minor. On Friday June 22, Lewis and Festival Chamber Players present a concert of Shubert, Poulenc and Mendelssohn. The following night Keith Clark conducts the AMF Orchestra in full Brahms.
The elegant, passionate American violinist ELIZABETH PITCAIRN in her fourth AMF appearance, performs Bernsteinâ€™s Candide Overture, Beethoven, and Laloâ€™s Spanish Symphony on Sunday 17. Her only performance.
Donâ€™t miss another opportunity to hear RUTH ANN SWENSON, uber-glorious Met star, in a Sunday Viennese matinee on June 24. Pianist Alexandre Dossin plays Mozart, and the North Coast Chorale joins the Festival Orchestra in music from Die Fledermaus.
Very New: MONICA HUGGETT and the Portland Baroque Orchestra (PBO). Hugget is one of the most significant Baroque artists today, a life-long dedication to the proliferation of Baroque-era music. Hugget and PBO perform J. S. Bachâ€™s Goldberg Variations. The Goldberg Variations, originally written for harpsichord, will be performed at 2pm, Saturday June 30 by Portland-born, International artist Andrew Brownell on piano. That evening, the same work, in an arrangement for strings by renowned contemporary conductor-arranger Dmitir Sitkovesky will then be performed for strings by PBO.
This yearâ€™s multi-media artist is J Walt. Walt is an Academy Award-winning video artist who creates real-time animated 3-D film to live music. The computer is his palette. J Walt and the Los Angeles Virtuosi perform: SPONTANEOUS FANTASIA. One would say â€œa very modern version of Disney.â€ Wednesday June 20 at the PAC.
More enhancing Baroque. Grace Episcopal Church, a beautiful 1886 sanctuary by Candlelight. Lute player Hideki Yamaya, The Astoria Festival Baroque Band and Voices perform 17th century Italian music in an intimate totally candle-lit evening. Tuesday, June 19.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
PAC: Clatsop Community College Performing Arts Center
GEC: Grace Episcopal Church
FPC: First Presbyterian Church
FBC: First Baptist Church
FRIDAY JUNE 15
7:00 pm FESTIVAL PRELUDE: BELLINI, STRAIGHT UP – Private Home Music lovers will sip Bellinis, Italyâ€™s favorite cocktail, as Portland Opera historian Robert Kingston discusses 19th Century Bel Canto style and its greatest masterpiece, Belliniâ€™s Norma. Pianist Cary Lewis and Festival. Artists perform Bel Canto-influenced music of Chopin and Paganini.
SATURDAY JUNE 16
4:00 pm CELEBRITY MATINEE RECITAL – Liberty Theater Los Angeles Philharmonic Principal Concertmaster Martin Chalifour and cellist Sergey Antonov, both prizewinners in Moscowâ€™s prestigious Tchaikovsky Competition, join pianist Cary Lewis for a very special opening matinee.
7:30 pm OPERA IN CONCERT BELLINIâ€™S NORMA – Liberty Theater Angela Meade, Norma; Ruth Ann Swenson, Adalgisa; Raul Melo, Pollione; Richard Zeller, Oroveso; Festival Orchestra and Chorus, Keith Clark Conductor. Sung in Italian with English Super Text
SUNDAY, JUNE 17
Noon CANTATAS, COFFEE AND CROISSANTS #1 – FPC Young Artist Vocal and Instrumental Recital (Free Admission)
4:00 PM FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA with ELIZABETH PITCAIRN – Liberty Theater Elizabeth Pitcairn, Violin Keith Clark, Conductor
PROGRAM: Bernstein Candide Overture; Lalo Symphonie Espagnole, Op. 21; Beethoven Symphony No 5 in C minor, Op. 67
TUESDAY, JUNE 19
7:30 PM BAROQUE BONANZA by Candlelight GEC Seventeenth Century Italian music for voices and original; instruments in Astoriaâ€™s historic Grace Episcopal Church of 1886, featuring Portlandâ€™s Baroque lutenist Hideki Yamaya, San Francisco violinist Noah Strick and others.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20
7:30 pm J-WALTâ€™S SPONTANEOUS FANTASIA PAC with THE LOS ANGELES VIRTUOSI – A Fantasia for our time: Live real-time 3-D video to chamber music by Saint-Saens and Satie, including The Four Seasons of Vivaldi and Piazzola. Perfect entertainment for all ages, especially grandparents who can still remember Pink Floyd laser light shows! THE LOS ANGELES VIRTUOSI: Olivia Tsui, Violin (Shanghai); Sebastian Toettcher, Cello (Berlin); Mark Robson, Piano (Los Angeles)
THURSDAY JUNE 21
7:30 pm MUSIC IN THE MAKING: RUTH ANN SWENSON MASTER CLASS PAC An inside look at the making of an opera singer. Soprano Ruth Ann Swenson and opera coach David Burnakus lead a rare public master class with outstanding young Vocal Apprentice Artists. Watch them put finishing touches on Mozartâ€™s The Magic Flute and other operas. One of the worldâ€™s finest Mozart singers, Miss Swenson will impart a lifetime of insight to a new generation on the brink of professional careers.
FRIDAY, JUNE 22
7:30 pm ASTORIA MUSIC FESTIVAL ALL-STARS – Liberty Theater Festival Chamber Players, Cary Lewis, Piano and Director.
PROGRAM: Schubert Fantasy in F minor for Piano, Four Hands, D. 490; Poulenc Sextet for Winds and Piano; Mendelssohn Octet in E-flat Major for Strings, Op. 20
SATURDAY, JUNE 23
11:00 am CLASSICS 4 KIDS #1 PAC Concert for Families and Children (Free Admission)
4:00 pm SERGEYâ€™S HAPPY HOUR MATINEE – Liberty Theater Chamber Music and Chat with cellist Sergey Antonov, San Francisco Ballet Orchestra Concertmaster Roy Malan and pianist Cary Lewis.
7:30 pm FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA plays ALL-BRAHMS – Liberty Theater Anthea Kreston, Violin; Jason Duckles, Cello; Keith Clark, Conductor
PROGRAM: Brahms Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80; Brahms Double Concerto for Violin and Cello, Op. 102; Brahms Symphony No. 2 in D Major, Op. 73
SUNDAY, JUNE 24
Noon CANTATAS, COFFEE AND CROISSANTS #2 FBC Young Artist Vocal and Instrumental Recital (Free Admission)
4:00 PM FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA in a VIENNESE MATINEE – Liberty Theater Ruth Ann Swenson, Soprano; Sergey Antonov, Cello; Alexandre Dossin, Piano; Astoria Music Festival Vocal Apprentice Artists; The North Coast Chorale, Denise Reed Hines, Director; Keith Clark, Conductor
PROGRAM: Strauss Jr. Die Fledermaus Overture; Haydn Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Major, Hob. VIIb; Mozart Piano Concerto No 21 in C Major, K. 468; Mozart Concert Aria with Piano Obbligato, â€œChâ€™io mi scordi di te?â€; Strauss Jr, Die Fledermaus: Act II Finale
TUESDAY, JUNE 26 â€“ THURSDAY, JUNE 28
YOUNG ARTISTS WEEK: FREE CLASSICAL JAMS ALL AROUND TOWN! Venues Include Fort George Brewery, The Bistro, Clementeâ€™s, and More
FRIDAY JUNE 29
7:30 pm VOCAL APPRENTICE OPERA: MOZARTâ€™S DIE ZAUBERFLiTE PAC Young artists from around the country in a fully staged production of W.A. Mozartâ€™s final opera The Magic Flute.. Sung in German with English Dialogue and Super Titles. With The Festival Instrumental Apprentice Chamber Orchestra Maddox Dance Studio Little Ballet Theater
SATURDAY, JUNE 30
11:00 am CLASSICS 4 KIDS #2 PAC Concert for Families and Children (Free Admission) KMUN Troll Radio Review Presents Mozartâ€™s Magic Flute for Children
TWO WAYS OF HEARING BACH
2:00 pm ANDREW BROWNWELL, PIANO – Liberty Theater TWO WAYS OF HEARING BACHâ€™S GOLDBERG VARIATIONS Original Version for Keyboard
7:30 pm PORTLAND BAROQUE ORCHESTRA, MONICA HUGGETT, CONDUCTOR – Liberty Theater TWO WAYS OF HEARING BACHâ€™S GOLDBERG VARIATIONS. Arranged for String Orchestra by Dmitry Sitkovetsky. Presented in cooperation with The Oregon Bach Festival
SUNDAY, JULY 1
4:00 pm VOCAL APPRENTICE OPERA: MOZARTâ€™S DIE ZAUBERFLiTE PAC See June 29 for Performance Details