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“The Vienna Rite”
A Chamber Opera by Judith Berkson
featuring Yarn/Wire with guests Brian Chase and Angela Glass
and vocalists Ian Greenlaw, Bo Chang, Judith Berkson, Allyssa Lamb, Lana Cencic, Gavriel Savit and Aram Tchobanian
Also See November 2nd
“The Vienna Rite” is the story of a new service composed in 1828 by Viennese cantor Salomon Sulzer in collaboration with Franz Schubert and other Viennese composers which sought to merge European music with synagogue chant. Sulzer, a young gifted cantor and trained composer was recruited to become Vienna’s chief cantor at the newly built Stadttempel and had a growing reputation for interpreting Schubert lieder in as meaningful a way as the cantorial arts. Sulzer was part of a reform movement that was developing and wanted to create a service that kept traditional melodies but embraced the harmonic principles of the music of his time found throughout the city’s opera houses, concert halls and churches. He wrote a new service and commissioned pieces of the Hebrew liturgy from friends Franz Schubert, Ignaz von Seyfriend and Joseph Drechsler to coincide with the dedication of the new temple in an ecumenical collaboration that’s now largely unknown. The service drew admirers to the Stadttempel throughout much of the 19th century including Edward Hanslick, Franz Liszt and the Emperor Franz Joseph.
The piece is written for 3 drummers 3 organists and 7 singers and features the chamber ensemble Yarn/Wire along with guests Brian Chase (Yeah Yeah Yeah’s) and Chi Chi Glass (Fulbright piano scholar). Ian Greenlaw plays Salomon Sulzer along with an ensemble that includes Judith Berkson (Kronos Quartet, City Opera Vox Festival), Bo Chang (Talea Ensemble, Argento Ensemble), Allyssa Lamb (Las Rubias del Norte),Lana Cencic (Flip Phillip) Gavriel Savit (Voca People) and Aram Tchobanian (New York Metro Vocal Arts Ensemble).
Support for this project was provided by the Six Points Fellowship, a Jerome Commission, the Foundation for Jewish Culture and made possible with major funding from the UJA Federation of New York. Funded also in part through New Music USA’s Metlife Creative Connections program.
Composer, mezzo-soprano and pianist Judith Berkson has performed at The Picasso Museum Malaga, Philadelphia’s Thirdbird Seen & Heard Festival, Darmstadt New Music Festival, City Opera Vox Festival, Roulette and San Francisco’s Freight and Salvage Theater. She has recently been collaborating with Kronos Quartet on a project of Schubert arrangements for string quartet, wurlitzer keyboard and voice, a project which premiered at Le Poisson Rouge in New York in 2010. In addition she has premiered pieces by Aleksandra Vrebalov, Ohad Talmor, Chaya Czernowin and Joe Maneri and has performed at the BrucknerTage, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Kaufhaus Joske Gallery in Leipzig and The American Festival of Microtonal Music. “Oylam”, a record of her solo pieces released on ECM in 2010 was called “standards and Schubert and liturgical music, swing and chilly silences, a beautiful Satie-like piece in two different versions. I can’t get enough of it” by the New York Times. “More remarkable than the range of genres is Ms. Berkson’s mastery of them and her ability to weave them into a seamless program” wrote the Wall Street Journal. Judith is a 2011 Six Points Fellowship recipient and received a Jerome Commission in 2012.
Since its founding in 2005, Yarn/Wire has supported both emerging and established living composers through commissions and dedicated performances of their work in order to foster dialogue surrounding new music and its place in contemporary society. The ensemble’s commitment to innovative programming highlights the contributions of new composers while retaining an historical perspective, and the quartet has already added close to 40 new works to the repertoire by leading young American composers including Alex Mincek, Tristan Perich, Aaron Einbond, David Bithell, and Kate Soper. Many of these commissioned pieces appear on Yarn/Wire’s debut album, Tone Builders, which was released by the NYC-based label Carrier Records in October 2010 following a 10-day recording residency at EMPAC (Troy, NY). This drive to work with emerging artists forms the centerpiece of Yarn/Wire’s artistic vision, and these collaborations are among its most rewarding experiences. Embracing changes in the technological and musical communities, Yarn/Wire strives to be a force that shapes the present and future of groundbreaking contemporary music through high-caliber performances and educational activities.
The 2011-2012 season included new chamber operas by Brendan Connelly, and Rick Burkhardt (to celebrate LaMama Theatre’s 50th anniversary season), as well as new pieces by Tristan Perich, Nathan Davis, Pete Swanson, and Edwin Dugger. With over 22 performances during the 2011-12 season, Yarn/Wire is an increasingly prominent voice in contemporary music from the United States. Indeed, the group has been labeled â€œintrepid, [and] engrossingâ€ (The New York Times) and â€œrestlessly curiousâ€ (TimeOut New York). In past seasons, Yarn/Wire has also presented the United States premieres of works by international artists such as Stefano Gervasoni, Georg Friedrich Haas, and Simon Steen-Andersen.
In addition to regular performances in Manhattan, the group is dedicated to spreading music to outer boros as well, including educational activities at Queens College and a performance series at its headquarters in Ridgewood, Queens. Yarn/Wire also maintains a commitment to performances and educational opportunities outside of New York City, and will appear at â€˜April in Santa Cruzâ€™, Goucher College, Princeton University, and Stanford University. The ensemble has also appeared at the Walden Summer Courses, Unruly Music Festival (Milwaukee, WI), Northern Illinois University, Vanderbilt University, and Dartmouth College among others.
The members of Yarn/Wire are Laura Barger and Ning Yu, pianists; Ian Antonio and Russell Greenberg, percussionists. They have performed internationally at the Lucerne Festival, the Banff Centre for the Arts, Yellow Barn Chamber Music Festival, Tanglewood Music Center, Centre Acanthes, Klangspuren, and Darmstadt festivals.
American baritone IAN GREENLAW’s prodigious gifts have brought him to center stage of opera companies and orchestras from coast to coast. The Chicago Sun-Times characterized Ian Greenlaw as “possessing a voice both strong and sweet, and matinée idol good looks…”, and the Washington Post noted that he has “elegant stage presence, a subtle sense of humor and a splendid voice.”
Greenlaw was most recently seen as Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette with Atlanta Opera, Grandfather Clock/Cat in L’enfant et les sortilèges with the New York Philharmonic, and as the soloist in Bartók’s Cantata Profana with the St. Louis Symphony. Additional performances include the title role in Sam Helfrich’s production of Il barbiere di Siviglia with Kentucky Opera and Peter in Hansel and Gretel at Opera Theatre of St. Louis in performances conducted by Stephen Lord. He also performed excerpts from Die Zauberflöte in an all-Mozart program that served as a prelude to the Opera Theatre of St. Louis’ 2006 season. Recent and future performances include the role of the protagonist in Lorin Maazel’s opera, 1984, at the Palau des Arts in Valencia, Spain, and appearances with both the Los Angeles Philharmonic and New York Philharmonic as a soloist in Britten’s War Requiem. Greenlaw will also reprise the role of Winston in 1984 for his La Scala debut.