Voices of the Land: Songs and Opera Scenes by Jonathan Chenette will be performed on Saturday, March 29, 7:30 pm at Christ Episcopal Church in Poughkeepsie. The event is sponsored by Concerts Con Brio and the Vassar College Office of the President.
Voices of the Land includes Celtic-themed songs for treble voices and harp, excerpts from the opera Eric Hermannson's Soul based on a story by Willa Cather, and the song cycle Oh Millersville!, a whimsical portrayal of small-town life through the eyes of a 12-year-old schoolgirl (poems published as a literary hoax by Mutiny on the Bounty author James Norman Hall). Jonathan Chenette, dean of the faculty and professor of music at Vassar College, is composer and producer.
Elaborating on the theme behind Voices, Chenette says, “The words and music on this concert evoke landscapes ranging from Ireland and Wales to the small-town and prairie Midwest. These landscapes, the places we live and love, influence us deeply and give rise to poetry and song. It's almost as if the land itself sings,” he explains.
Featured singers include: soprano Amy Johnson of the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, who has performed Tosca with the New York City Opera on PBSs “Live from Lincoln Center”; tenor James Ruff, a voice instructor at Vassar College, whose repertoire ranges from early music to Celtic music with his group Duanlied; New York City-based baritone Tom Meglioranza, winner of the Naumburg, Concert Artists Guild, and Joy in Singing competitions; and the Poughkeepsie-based women’s quartet, Sonority. Instrumentalists include Rachel Handman, violin; Trey Files, percussion; Jeanmarie Chenette, harp; and Miriam Charney, piano.
This concert is part of Christ Episcopal Church’s ongoing Concerts Con Brio series. For more information, click here.
Christ Episcopal Church is located at 20 Carroll Street in Poughkeepsie. The suggested donation for this event is $12 at the door; students are free.
Biographies of Featured Artists
Jonathan Chenette’s compositions have received international recognition, including performances on the ISCM World Music Days in Amsterdam, at the World Harp Congress in Vienna, at the Bishop Auckland Early Music Festival in the U.K., and on an NPR national broadcast by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. His music appears in publications by Boosey & Hawkes, Theodore Presser, and Fish Creek Music and in recordings on the Innova, Riverrun, Fleur de Son Classics, and Capstone labels. Much of his music has involved collaborations with visual artists, writers, dancers, folk musicians, farmers, environmental advocates, and museums. A graduate of the University of Chicago with a Ph.D. in music composition and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, Chenette also holds a master’s degree in music composition from Butler University. He became Dean of the Faculty and Professor of Music at Vassar College in 2008 and served a semester as Acting President in 2013. Previously, he held an endowed professorship and appointment as Associate Dean at Grinnell College in Iowa. He is the recipient of grants or fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Iowa Arts Council, the American Music Center, Meet the Composer, and the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center in Bellagio, Italy.
Soprano Amy Johnson’s repertoire encompasses over two dozen roles ranging from Donna Anna in Don Giovanni to the title role in Salome. Ms. Johnson has earned special praise for her portrayal of Puccini’s Tosca, which she has performed with over a dozen companies, most notably New York City Opera as seen on PBS's Live from Lincoln Center. She has appeared in leading roles with Vlaamse Opera in Antwerp, Indianapolis Opera, Portland Opera, Spier Festival in South Africa, Palm Beach Opera, Michigan Opera Theater, Festival Musica e Musica in Italy, Austin Lyric Opera, and Arizona Opera, among others. She created the role of Manuela in the world première of composer Thea Musgrave’s Simón Bolívar for Virginia Opera, subsequently reprised for the BBC Proms at London’s Royal Albert Hall. She made her Carnegie Hall debut (Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9) in a benefit for South Asia earthquake victims. Other concert highlights include appearances with Orquesta Sinfonica de Xalapa, Bernstein’s Kaddish Symphony with Winston-Salem Symphony, Berg’s Lulu Suite with Kentucky Symphony, and Musgrave’s Three Women with San Francisco Women’s Philharmonic. Her first solo CD, Amy Johnson - Red, White and Blue: Arias of the Passionate, Pure and Perverse, will soon be released on the Hungaroton label. Ms. Johnson is a graduate of Grinnell College and holds a Masters degree from Manhattan School of Music. She was a member of the voice faculty at The University of Massachusetts-Amherst from 2008-13 and currently serves as Assistant Professor of Voice and Co-Director of Undergraduate Opera Workshop at the College-Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati.
American baritone Thomas Meglioranza was born in New York City and graduated from Grinnell College and the Eastman School of Music. He was a winner of the Walter W. Naumburg, Concert Artists Guild, and Franz Schubert/Music of Modernity, and Joy in Singing competitions. He has sung Messiahs with the Houston Symphony, Oregon Symphony and Minnesota Orchestra, Eight Songs for a Mad King with the LA Philharmonic, Harbison’s 5th Symphony with the Boston Symphony, Bach cantatas with Les Violons du Roy and the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, and Copland's Old American Songs with the National Symphony. He made his Wigmore Hall debut in 2008 singing modern American songs, and his WWI-era recital was named one of the “Ten Best Classical Performances of the Year” by the Philadelphia Inquirer. His operatic roles include Chou En-Lai in Nixon in China and Prior Walter in Peter Eötvös' Angels in America. Festival appearances include Tanglewood, Aspen, Ravinia, Grant Park, Marlboro, and the Australian Festival of Chamber Music. His discography includes Bach cantatas with the Taverner Consort, orchestral songs of Virgil Thomson with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, as well as acclaimed albums of Schubert lieder and French mélodies with pianist Reiko Uchida.
Tenor James Ruff has received critical praise for his versatile singing on both the concert and operatic stage. He has sung as soloist with such Early Music groups as the Handel and Haydn Society, Newberry Consort, King's Noyse, Aradia Ensemble, New York Collegium, Early Music New York, Music of the Baroque, NYS Baroque, My Lord Chamberlain's Consort, Ensemble Abendmusik, La Fenice, and Arcadia Players, and under such conductors as Christopher Hogwood, Andrew Parrott, and Jane Glover. As a specialist in French Baroque repertoire, he sang Charpentier's Messe de Minuit and Te Deum over the CBC airwaves from Toronto. He has made numerous tours singing the title role in The Play of Daniel, with Early Music New York, at the Spoleto Festival in Italy as well as in Florida, Tennessee, Missouri and New York City. He reprised this role with Gotham Early Music for Trinity Church-Wall Street’s Twelfth Night festival in December, which is already set to be repeated next year. On the concert stage, Ruff continues to sing the oratorios and concert works of Mozart, Bach, Haydn and Britten. This season has included a concert of early Gaelic music at the Boston Early Music Festival and a recital of early 20th century art song at Vassar College. He will sing Beethoven’s Mass in C with the Danbury Concert Chorus May 10th, and will perform early Celtic music with his group Duanlied at Beacon Hill Concerts in Stroudsburg, PA on June 14th. He currently teaches voice both at Vassar College and privately, and is director of music at Christ the King Episcopal Church in Stone Ridge, New York.
About Concerts Con Brio
Concerts Con Brio was founded in 2007 by Christ Church music director Laura Ramsey Russell as a music series that would present concerts to the Poughkeepsie community at Christ Episcopal Church, a beautiful and acoustically excellent space.
About Vassar College
Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.