Poetry of kings and prophets:
psalms from spain's golden age and beyond
Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at 7:30pm
Special Performance at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, 921 Madison Avenue at 73rd Street, NYC
Presented in association with the exhibition of Jacob and his Twelve Sons: Zurbarán Masterpieces on Loan from Auckland Castle at The Frick Collection
Amanda Forsythe, Soprano Soloist
Aya Hamada, Harpsichord
Siman Chung, Countertenor
One of the most remarkable programs we have ever assembled, this concert is inspired by a fascinating series of 13 life-sized portraits by Francisco de Zurbarán portraying Jacob and his Twelve Sons. On loan from Auckland Castle in England, the paintings will be exhibited at The Frick Collection from January 31 – April 22, 2018.
The story of the portraits is fascinating for its radical narrative and has prompted an inspired concert program. Zurbarán, a painter from Spain’s Golden Age best known for his Christian religious subjects, painstakingly illuminated the founders of the Jewish faith. In a remarkable statement of religious, political and social tolerance, these overtly Jewish paintings were purchased in 1756 and displayed at Auckland Castle by Bishop Richard Trevor to show concern for the plight of oppressed Jews living in England at a time when Jews and other non-Anglican religious groups in Britain were treated with indifference, if not contempt. By surrounding his many influential guests with these imposing and exotic works, the bishop made a public appeal for social, political and religious consideration, which still resonates today.
In that same spirit of social, political, religious and artistic freedom of expression, Voices of Ascension presents a program anchored by Spanish Renaissance masters Cristobal de Morales, Francisco Guerrero, Alonso Lobo, Roque Ceruti, Tomas Luis de Victoria, Domenico Scarlatti, and George Frideric Handel's Joseph and His Brethren. Our concert will take place at Madison Avenue Presbyterian, just a few blocks away from the Frick, so that audience members may see the paintings and walk straight to the concert.
The American soprano Amanda Forsythe sings Euridice on the recording of Charpentier’s La descente d'Orphée aux enfers with Boston Early Music Festival which won the 2015 GRAMMY AWARD for Best Opera Recording. She has been praised by Opera News for her “light and luster", “wonderful agility and silvery top notes”. She was a winner of the George London Foundation Awards and was sponsored by them in her New York recital début. She also received prizes from the Liederkranz Foundation and the Walter W. Naumburg Foundation.
Amanda Forsythe is a regular soloist with the highly acclaimed baroque ensembles Philharmonia Baroque, Apollo’s Fire, Boston Baroque and Pacific Musicworks. Her concert repertoire also includes Handel’s Israel in Egypt, Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate, Vivaldi’s Nulla in mundo pax sincera, Pergolesi's Stabat Mater and Orff’s Carmina Burana.
Praised by the New York Times for her “graceful” performance, harpsichordist Aya Hamada is an active recitalist, concerto soloist, and continuo player. She has given numerous recitals in major venues throughout Japan as well as in the US, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Belgium, England, France, Spain, and Italy, including recitals at the Peñíscola International Festival of Medieval and Baroque Music (Spain), Music Before 1800 (New York), the Da Camera Society (Los Angels) and at the International Conference of the Historical Keyboard Society of North America (Montreal). She has made over three dozen appearances as a concerto soloist on four continents and has performed under conductors William Christie, Jordi Savall, Nicholas McGegan, and Masaaki Suzuki. She premiered Virginal by Harold Meltzer with the New Juilliard Ensemble in 2010. Her debut album, Jacques Duphly: Pièces de clavecin, was chosen as Recording of the Month in the Music Web International (July 2015) and the Record Geijutsu Magazine (June 2015). The American Record Guide wrote, “This is a terrific solo debut…. Her control of touch and dramatic delivery are both extraordinary. Her expressiveness is especially noteworthy.” Others have praised her “acrobatic finesse” (Early Music America Magazine), and “sensitive and dramatic interpretations” (Fanfare Magazine). Ms. Hamada won first prize in the London Music Festival Competition and second prize in the Josef Hofmann Piano Competition. She earned her Master of Music degree in the inaugural class of Historical Performance from the Juilliard School. She studied under Kenneth Weiss in New York and Skip Sempé in Paris and has received additional coaching from Pierre Hantaï and Christophe Rousset.
Countertenor Siman Chung, a native of Busan, South Korea, looks toward a number of important engagements in the 2017-2018 season as his career continues to grow. This fall, Mr. Chung joins the roster of the Metropolitan Opera to cover a leading role in the company premiere of Thomas Adès’s The Exterminating Angel. And in Spring 2018, he will make a role and company debut with Opera Columbus -- the title role of Orphée, in the Berlioz version of Gluck’s Orphée et Eurydice. This same production of Orphée will then be seen in Toronto.
In Spring 2017, Mr. Chung returned to Korea National Opera in the role of Grifone in Vivaldi's Orlando finto pazzo, which he had first performed there in 2016, earning critical praise for his “voice of power and emotion. . . suggesting readiness for even larger countertenor assignments internationally.”
Mr. Chung made his Carnegie Hall debut in December 2015, singing in Händel’s Messiah with The Cecilia Chorus. Another recent success was in the leading role of the Refugee in Jonathan Dove’s Flight with Mannes Opera. He has also been heard with Mannes Opera in excerpts from Rinaldo, Giulio Cesare, and as Idamante in Idomeneo, during a concert evening of opera scenes.