Season 3 Kick-off: Mozart, Barber & Ravel

3:00pm Saturday, September 16, 2017

Ilana Davidson, Soprano
Chris Whittaker, Conductor

Join us for the opening concert of the 2017-18 season!  The concert opens with Maurice Ravel's "Le Tombeau de Couperin" -- a modern French dance suite that Ravel began as an homage to baroque master François Couperin but which took on greater depth during Ravel's time as a nurse's aide and artillery regiment truck driver during WWI.  Each movement is dedicated to a friend who died on the front lines the Great War.  "Knoxville: Summer of 1915" continues this theme of music and memory, as Samuel Barber found a great sense of nostalgia in James Agee's poem, writing to his uncle, "It reminded me so much of summer evenings in West Chester, now very far away, and all of you are in it.”  Samuel Barber had just left his wartime service in World War 2 when he completed Knoxville, which draws on about one-third of Agee's text.  We're thrilled to feature soprano soloist Ilana Davidson, a Grammy-winning artist whose interpretations of music from Baroque to 21st century have garnered overwhelming praise.  Read more about Ms. Davidson below.

Our concert closes with Mozart's "Prague" Symphony No. 38 in D. Perhaps the most 'forward-looking' work on the program, Mozart had just finished a wildly successful run of his new opera "The Marriage of Figaro" and was enjoying the height of his popularity.  In "Prague," Mozart's writing evolves to new levels of sophistication, particularly in his complex writing for the woodwinds, the notably complex "Allegro" music in the first movement, and his abandonment of the old-form Minuet which gives the symphony a tighter, more cogent dramatic arc.  

Renew your Friends of the WHCO gift or give today and join for our first of three post-concert receptions with food and drink provided by our local business friends.

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Concert Location:

Fort Washington Collegiate Church
729 West 181st Street
New York, NY, 10033



Maurice Ravel: Le Tombeau de Couperin

Samuel Barber: Knoxville Summer of 1915

Mozart: Symphony No. 38 in D “Prague” K. 504

Followed by a post-concert reception for Friends of WHCO.

About our guest artist

Ilana Davidson

Ilana Davidson

Grammy-winning American soprano Ilana Davidson brings a crystalline soprano, assured musicality and interpretive insight to repertoire spanning the 12th to 21st centuries. She has worked with conductors Harry Bicket, Leon Botstein, Thierry Fischer, Alan Gilbert, Jaap van Zweden, Claus Peter Flor, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Oliver Knussen, Thomas Hengelbrock, Reinbert de Leeuw, Grant Llewellyn, Keith Lockhart, Stuart Malina, Michael Riesman, Carl St. Clair, Leonard Slatkin, Andre-Raphael Smith, Yoav Talmi, Lawrence Renes, Lothar Zagrosek and Benjamin Zander.  Her recording of William Bolcom’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience conducted by Leonard Slatkin won 4 Grammy Awards including Best Classical Album.

Her association with the music of the composer Ernst Krenek began with the Queen in Das Geheime Königreich at the Krenek Festival in Vienna and Die Nachtigall with the Austrian Chamber Symphony. The former spawned a series of projects dedicated to the composer’s works including her solo debut recording of Krenek’s Lieder, a recital tour and multiple New York City performances as well as a recording of his opera What Price Confidence.

Ms. Davidson’s other operatic forays include Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Amor in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, Oscar in Un Ballo in Maschera, Chef der Gepopo in Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre, and Erste Blumenmädchen in Parsifal all performed in the Netherlands; Libby Larson’s Everyman Jack at Sonoma City Opera, Galatea in Händel’s Acis and Galatea at the Staunton Music Festival and Philip Glass/Robert Moran’s The Juniper Tree with the Collegiate Chorale at Alice Tully Hall; Flora in The Turn of the Screw and Amore in L’incoronazione di Poppea with the Florida Grand Opera.

New York’s Carnegie Hall welcomed her for Bolcom’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience with the Saint Louis Symphony, Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with the Boston Philharmonic and most recently Mona Lisa (Von Schillings), Der Diktator (Krenek), and From Jewish Folk Poetry, Op. 79 (Shostakovich) with The American Symphony Orchestra and TŌN. 
Ms. Davidson made her Avery Fisher Hall debut in Carl Orff’s Trionfi di Afrodite with the American Symphony Orchestra. In addition, she sang Carmina Burana with the Houston, Edmonton, Reading, Alabama and Toledo Symphonies, as well as Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 and Gluck’s Orphée et Euridice and with the Québec Symphony. She sang the Fauré Requiem with the Charlotte Symphony; and J.S Bach’s Weinachtsoratorium, Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s as well as The Matthew Passion and Händel’s Messiah with Duke Chapel.

Other Baroque highlights include Bach Cantatas with Boston’s Händel and Haydn Society, Cupid in Purcell’s King Arthur with the Staastoper Stuttgart, Amor in Legrenzi’s La Divisione del Mondo with the Innsbruck Early Music Festival and Schwetzingen Festivals, solo appearences with Ars Antiqua early music ensemble, the Angel in Schütz’s A Christmas Story at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art (Broadcast live on NPR); as well as performances of Händel’s Messiah and Haydn's Creation with Pacific, Ann Arbor, Alabama, Nashville Symphonies, National Philharmonic, Bellingham Music Festival and Harrisburg Symphonies. 

Her strong affiliation with Mozart has been heard in programs of the composer’s arias with Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam; Zerlina in Don Giovanni with the National Philharmonic, Die Zauberflöte with the Vlaamse Opera and the Staatsoper Stuttgart; the Requiem with the Schlierbacher Chamber Orchestra, Harrisburg and Augusta Symphonies the Great Mass in C Minor at the Berkshire Choral Festival. 

More recently, Ms. Davidson gave her debut with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra as Euridice in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Eurydice, Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 with the Bellingham Music Festival, Fort Worth, Detroit, Anchorage, Symphonies and at the Brevard Music Center; Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate at Brevard and with the Wheeling Symphony, Brahms Requiem with the North Carolina Symphony, the Berkshire Choral Festival and Mahler Symphony No. 2 with the Rhode Island Philharmonic.

Other recordings in Ms. Davidson’s discography include Kurt Weill’s Down in the Valley (Capriccio), Stanley Kubrick’s MountainHome by Paul Elwood (Innova), John Zorn’s Chimeras (Tzadik) and Krenek’s What Price Confidence (Phoenix Edition).

Ms. Davidson is a graduate of The Curtis Institute of Music, attended the Tanglewood Music Center for two seasons, the Aston Magna Early Music Academy and is co-artistic director/creator of ClassicalCafé. She is a recent winner of the Bronx Council of the Arts Award for vocal performance and is the cantorial soloist at North Fork Reform Synagogue.