Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Friends of Music continues its 25th Anniversary Season with a performance by two visiting artists from Gdansk, Poland on Sunday, May 15th at 3PM at the Cyr Center, West Main St. in Stamford, NY.

Pianist Rafal Lewandowski and cellist Jerzy Wujtewicz will perform a program of all-Polish composers: Chopin, Tansman and contemporary composer Alicia Jonas. Mr. Lewandowski has toured the United States previously but this will be his first visit to Stamford. He has recorded a DVD and several CDs, including 2 of works by Chopin. Dr. Wujtewicz performed with the Baltic Piano Trio for Friends of Music in April, 2008. Before appearing in Stamford the artists will be joined by a violinist in a performance at Bargemusic, a barge converted into a chamber music hall and moored in the East River at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City.

Rafal Lewandowski studied piano at the Academy of Music in Gdansk, Poland. In 1995 he won a scholarship to attend a master-class in Weimar under direction of the world-famous French pianist Bernard Ringeissen. Mr. Lewandowski continued his work with this eminent musician during a two-year period in Paris. He completed his studies with a unanimous First Prize at the Conservatoire Nationale de Musique Rueil Malmaison.

Mr. Lewandowski has given concerts and recitals in France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Denmark, Austria and several times in the United States. He made his New York debut as a soloist performing with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. He has appeared at many prestigious festivals including “Rencontres Internationales Frederic Chopin a Nohant,” Pennsylvania Music Festival and the Summer Music Festival in Łancut. In 1999, proclaimed by UNESCO “The Year of Fryderyk Chopin,” Mr. Lewandowski gave a piano recital in the Jardin de Luxembourg, the garden of the French Senate in Paris.

Rafał Lewandowski made recordings for TV France3, TV Muzzik and Polish radio and television. He devotes much time to chamber music and collaborates with renowned instrumentalists, singers and conductors. He has recorded three CDs and a DVD, and videos of him performing can be seen on YouTube

Jerzy Wujtewicz studied at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Kiev under Professor Vadima Czerwowa. Under full scholarship, he graduated with distinction. He continued his education as an aspirant at the Moscow Conservatory under Professor Lev Ginzberg receiving a Doctorate in Science. Since 1988, Jerzy has been working at the S. Moniuszko Academy in Gdansk. He is a specialist in chamber music giving master classes, and also teaching cello and chamber classes. Dr. Wujtewicz performs as a soloist and as a member of a chamber group in Poland and abroad.

Friends of Music 25th Anniversary Season
May 15, 2011
Rafal Lewandowski, piano
Jerzy Wujtewicz, cello

Sonata for Cello and Piano                Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin
(1810 – 1849)                   
Fantasia for Cello and Piano             Alexandre Tansman
(1897 – 1986)                   
Quodlibet for Cello and Piano          Alicia Jonas (Contemporary)


The second half of today’s program will consist of solo piano pieces composed by Fryderyk Chopin and performed by Rafal Lewandowski.

Scherzo No. 1 in B minor, Op. 20

Scherzo No. 2 in B-flat minor

Barcarole in F-sharp major, Op. 60

Ballade No. 4 in F minor, Op. 52

Polonaise in A-flat major, Op. 53, Heroic or Drum

A big "Thank you!" to all of our donors and in particular to the Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation for their generosity which makes this concert and our entire series possible.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Opera Performance Enchants Audience

Folks who attended the performance by baritone Edward Parks, soprano Joyce El-Khoury and pianist Natalia Katyukova in Stamford on April 17th were extremely enthusiastic about the experience. One gentleman said to me "I've been to a lot of concerts here, and they get better every year, but this is the best performance you've ever had!" I would have a hard time picking a favorite, but I have to agree this one was truly special, one of those rare instances when I forgot where I was and felt transported by the music. A real gift; thank you to all who made it possible and especially to the Young Artists, Rebecca Hinkle and Nathan Urbach from the Lindemann Program!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Concert Sunday April 17, 2011, 3PM at the Cyr Center in Stamford NY

Two rising young opera singers and their talented accompanist will open the 25th Anniversary Season for Friends of Music on Sunday, April 17th at 3:00 PM at the Cyr Center in Stamford, NY.  Ms. Joyce El-Khoury, soprano, Mr. Edward Parks, baritone and Ms. Natalia Katyukova, piano will perform a selection of arias and duets through the auspices of The Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. Mezzo soprano Jennifer Johnson Cano was originally scheduled to perform but unfortunately a family emergency will prevent her appearance. Ms. El-Khoury, who sang for us in April 2010, graciously rearranged her plans and agreed to sing in Ms. Johnson's stead. The revised program will be posted here as soon as it is available.

The Lindemann Program was founded in 1980 to help identify and nurture the most promising young opera artists through training and performance opportunities at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.  The chosen artists are provided with specialized training in music, language, dramatic coaching, and movement from the Met's own artistic staff and from invited master teachers. The Program provides an annual stipend for living expenses and funds private lessons, and the artists have access to rehearsals for all Metropolitan Opera productions.

The selected musicians are offered a position with the Lindemann Program for a period of one year with annual renewal for up to three years for singers and two years for pianists. During this time, the artists’ engagements both inside and outside of the Met are at the consent of the Artistic and Executive Directors, and Friends of Music is again very grateful that these gifted young musicians will be allowed to open this special season for us in Stamford.

Edward Parks, from Indiana, Pennsylvania, is in his third year of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.  This season, Mr. Parks sings Larkens in La Fanciulla del West at the Met, which will be broadcast in HD; and Schaunard in La Bohème onstage at the Met and as part of the Met’s Japan tour in the summer of 2011. Mr. Parks made his Met debut last season as Fiorello in Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Other engagements last season included a recital with the Marilyn Horne Foundation at Carnegie Hall, a Winterreise recital at Weill Hall, and his debut with Opera Theatre of St. Louis singing Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro. Mr. Parks also sang Count Almaviva with the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra and participated in the Ravinia Festival’s Steans Institute for Young Artists. In 2007 he made his Carnegie Hall debut in an evening of songs by Charles Ives.
Mr. Parks received his bachelor’s degree from Oberlin Conservatory, and his master’s degree from Yale University. While at Oberlin, Mr. Parks sang the roles of Count Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro and Belcore in L’Elisir d’Amore. At Yale, he performed the roles of Marcello in La Bohème, Jupiter in Orphée aux Enfers, and Gabriel von Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus. A National Winner of the 2008 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Mr. Parks has also received awards from the George London Foundation, the Irma M. Cooper Opera Columbus International Vocal Competition, Connecticut Opera, the Palm Beach Opera Competition, the Music Academy of the West, and the Marilyn Horne Foundation.

Joyce El-Khoury is in her third year of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. This season, Ms. El-Khoury performs Frasquita in Carmen at the Met, and Esmeralda in The Metropolitan Opera and The Juilliard School’s joint production of The Bartered Bride conducted by James Levine. Ms. El-Khoury made her Met debut last season performing as a Bridesmaid in Le Nozze di Figaro, a Lay Sister in Suor Angelica, and as a Maid in Simon Boccanegra. Upcoming engagements include Violetta in La Traviata with Welsh National Opera; Musetta in La Bohème with Canadian Opera Company; Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle with the New York Choral Society at Alice Tully Hall; Mimì in La Bohème with the Castleton Festival and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at Tanglewood both conducted by Lorin Maazel; and a concert with the Munich Philharmonic conducted by Lorin Maazel. This past summer, Ms. El-Khoury performed Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi and stepped in last minute to perform the title role in Suor Angelica with the Castleton Festival conducted by Lorin Maazel, which garnered rave reviews.

A graduate of Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, Ms. El-Khoury performed Tatyana in Eugene Onegin, the title role in Massenet’s Manon, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, Violetta in La Traviata, and was the soprano soloist in Rossini’s Stabat Mater and Mendelssohn’s Elijah.  Ms. El-Khoury spent the summers of 2006 and 2008 at the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program. Other previous engagements include recitals with the Metropolitan Opera’s 2009 Summer Recital Series; the soprano soloist for the Mozart Requiem and Vesperae de Dominica with Coro Vivo Ottawa; and a concert with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Canada conducted by Pinchas Zukerman. She is a First Prize winner of the George London Foundation, First Prize winner of the Opera Index Competition, Second Prize winner in the Gerda Lissner International Voice Competition, First Prize winner in the Mario Lanza Vocal Competition, First Prize winner and WRTI Radio audience favorite in the Giargiari Bel Canto Competition Ms. El-Khoury was also the Third Prize winner of the Orchèstre Symphonique de Montréal National Competition, Galaxy Rising Star of the CBC Award, and the Vivian Asfar Memorial Award for Vocal Excellence from Opera Lyra Ottawa.

Natalia Katyukova was born in the city of Tschaikovsky Klin near Moscow, Russia, and is in her first year of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. Ms. Katyukova was an apprentice coach with the Merola Opera Program at San Francisco Opera this past summer. She is a winner of the International Piano Competition “Dino Ciani,” the International Piano Competition in Andorra, and Grand-Prix Laureate of the International Chamber Music Competition in Kiev among many other prizes.  Ms. Katyukova has given concerts in various cities in Russia and also in Germany, Italy, Finland, Japan and in other countries. In 1993 she was invited to perform a solo concert in the House-Museum of Liszt in Weimar, Germany. She has recorded numerous programs for All-Russian Radio. She also performed the unknown works of Tschaikovsky and the Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 18 of Sergei Rachmaninov with The Grand Symphony Orchestra of TV USSR conducted by Vladimir Fedoseev. Ms. Katyukova studied at the Moscow State Conservatory and at the Conservatory of Bolzano, Italy.  She received her Artist Diploma at Texas Christian University, and received a full scholarship to pursue her Graduate Diploma in Collaborative Piano at The Juilliard School in New York City.

Our profound thanks to all of our donors and in particular to the Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation for making this concert possible. Please come and join us for a great musical treat!

Friends of Music 25th Anniversary Season
April 17, 2011

The Metropolitan Opera’s
 Lindemann Young Artist Development Program

Joyce El-Khoury, soprano
Edward Parks, baritone
Natalia Katyukova, piano

“Largo al factotum” from Il Barbiere di Siviglia                   Gioachino Rossini
Edward Parks                                                                          (1792 – 1868)

Chi il bel sogno” from La Rondine                                       Giacomo Puccini
Joyce El-Khoury                                                                     (1858 – 1924)

“Avant de quitter” from Faust                                               Charles-François Gounod
Edward Parks                                                                          (1818 – 1893)

“Song to the Moon” from Rusalka                                         Antonin Dvorak
Joyce El-Khoury                                                                     (1841 – 1904)

 “Yeletsky’s Aria” from Pique Dame                                    Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Edward Parks                                                                          (1840 – 1893)


Marietta’s Lied” from Die tote Stadt                                   Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Joyce El-Khoury                                                                     (1897 – 1957)

“Tanzlied des Pierrot” from Die tote Stadt                            Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Edward Parks                                                                          (1897 – 1957)

“Nedda . . . Silvio! A quest’ora!” from Pagliacci                  Ruggiero Leoncavallo
Edward Parks and Joyce El-Khoury                                       (1857 – 1919)

“Là ci darem la mano” from Don Giovanni                           Wolfgang Amadeus
Joyce El-Khoury and Edward Parks                                        Mozart (1756 – 1791)

(All pieces accompanied by Natalia Katyukova, pianist)