Opera legends, singers, and musicians from across the globe will visit Blacksburg on June 16-29 to present two weeks of performances and master classes as part of the Vocal Arts and Music Festival at Virginia Tech. Presented by the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech, the festival returns for a third year on campus, and is one of only three International Vocal Arts Institute programs in the world; the other two are in Tel Aviv, Israel, and Montreal.

Musical performances and special events will be presented each evening of the festival, including master classes with some of the biggest names in opera, chamber music concerts, and solo and ensemble programs spotlighting the festival’s talented singers.

While the official opening night is June 16, two evenings of free preview events have been added to this year’s festival lineup. On June 14, Joan Dornemann, assistant conductor of the Metropolitan Opera and co-founder of the International Vocal Arts Institute, will lead a master class; and on June 15, a special sneak peek competition will be held, where the public will get a preview of the singers who will be featured throughout the festival.

Also new to the festival this year is a 90-minute, one-act opera, “Three Decembers,” on the Haymarket Theatre stage on June 24. Composed by Jake Heggie (composer of “Dead Man Walking” and “Moby Dick”), and with a libretto by Gene Scheer, “Three Decembers” is one of the most performed new operas in America. Conducted by Paul Nadler and staged by Candace Evans, this production is sung in English, performed with piano accompaniment, and includes adult themes.

Audience favorites will return to the festival, as well, with evenings filled with selections from the American musical songbook, chamber music pieces featuring instrumentalists who have performed with orchestras and music ensembles throughout the world, musical collaborations between the festival’s renowned instrumental faculty and singers, and the grand finale night.

Performance and events schedule

Master class with Joan Dornemann

  • Joan Dornemann, the charismatic assistant conductor of the Metropolitan Opera and co-founder of the International Vocal Arts Institute, leads an insightful master class with the festival’s talented singers.
  • Thursday, June 14, 7:30 p.m.
  • Squires Recital Salon
  • Free

Sneak peek competition

  • Festivalgoers are treated to a preview of the great singing to come, and have a vote in this all-for-fun, high-spirited competition among many of this year’s singers.
  • Friday, June 15, 7:30 p.m.
  • Squires Recital Salon
  • Free    

Festival opening night

  • The opening concert celebrates German composers and works, and features the festival singers and guest faculty musicians, including Michael Klotz, viola; Dmitry Kouzov, cello; and Peter Laul, piano. Repertoire to include a dynamic range of German Lieder and Schumann’s “Piano Quintet.” The first large-scale piano quintet and Schumann’s only one, it became the model for Brahms and Dvorak.
  • Saturday, June 16, 8 p.m.
  • Squires Recital Salon
  • $20 general public, $10 students/youth

Voices from the Valleys

  • A tapestry of music from Schubert to Verdi, Vaughan Williams to Osvaldo Golijov, this concert celebrates festival chamber musicians, including David Ehrlich, violin; Alexander Fiterstein, clarinet; Michael Klotz, viola; Dmitry Kouzov, cello; Peter Laul, piano;  Mathias Tacke, violin; and Benjamin Wyatt, cello. Featured guest singers are Blacksburg-based Ariana Wyatt, soprano, and Opera Roanoke’s Scott Williamson, tenor, singing solo works and duets.
  • Sunday, June 17, 3 p.m.
  • Squires Recital Salon
  • $20 general public, $10 students/youth

Master class with Sherrill Milnes

  • Legendary baritone Sherrill Milnes coaches the next generation of opera stars, sharing wisdom and wit gained throughout his extensive career.
  • Monday, June 18, 7:30 p.m.
  • Squires Recital Salon
  • $20 general public, $10 students/youth

Master class with Leon Major

  • Internationally acclaimed stage director Leon Major brings his unique insights to the festival vocalists, as he has in master classes around the globe, from Shanghai to Tel Aviv.
  • Tuesday, June 19, 7:30 p.m.
  • Squires Recital Salon
  • Free 

Chamber music celebration

  • Instrumentalists David Ehrlich, violin; Alex Fiterstein, clarinet; Michael Klotz, viola; Dmitry Kouzov, cello; Peter Laul, piano; Mathias Tacke, violin; and Benjamin Wyatt, cello, present a program that demonstrates both the virtuosic and the collaborative nature of chamber music, including Shostakovich’s piano quartet and C. M. von Weber’s clarinet quartet.
  • Wednesday, June 20, 8 p.m.
  • Squires Recital Salon
  • $20 general public, $10 students/youth

An evening of Italian opera and song

  • Music lovers of all stripes can bask in the beauty of this program, featuring some of opera’s best-loved works from Puccini, Rossini, Verdi, and perhaps a few surprise nuggets along the way.
  • Thursday, June 21, 8 p.m.
  • Squires Recital Salon
  • $20 general public, $10 students/youth

Singers with strings

  • David Ehrlich, violin; Michael Klotz, viola; Dmitry Kouzov, cello; Peter Laul, piano; Mathias Tacke, violin; Milana Strezeva, piano; and Benjamin Wyatt, cello, collaborate with the singers on Samuel Barber’s “Dover Beach,” Respighi’s “Il Tramonto,” and pieces by Richard Danielpour.
  • Friday, June 22, 8 p.m.
  • Squires Recital Salon
  • $20 general public, $10 students/youth

An evening with Renata Scotto

  • The evening begins with a film based on the life of Renata Scotto, followed by her master class with the festival singers. Considered one of the preeminent singers of her generation, Scotto has specialized in the bel canto repertoire, complemented with experiences in the verismo and Verdi repertoires. She performed around the world for more than 40 years, and continues to contribute to the field as a stage director and teacher.
  • Saturday, June 23, 7 p.m.
  • Haymarket Theatre
  • $20 general public, $10 students/youth

Three Decembers

  • This 90-minute, one-act opera by Jake Heggie (composer of “Dead Man Walking” and “Moby Dick”), with a libretto by Gene Scheer, is one of the most performed new operas in America. The story centers on letters from a mother to her son and daughter across the decades, illuminating the love, hope, sadness, and compassion they share as they struggle with both personal and family identity. This staged production is sung in English and performed with piano accompaniment. Contains mature themes. Conducted by Paul Nadler and staged by Candace Evans, featuring singers Aidan Ferguson, Corrie Donovan, and Logan Walsh.
  • Sunday, June 24, 7 p.m.
  • Haymarket Theatre
  • $20 general public, $10 students/youth

Master class with Diana Soviero

  • American opera great Diana Soviero returns to Virginia Tech and teaches young singers with the same passion that characterized her singing and acting career.
  • Monday, June 25, 7:30 p.m.
  • Squires Recital Salon
  • $20 general public, $10 students/youth

Great moments in opera

  • Excerpts from the best-loved operas take center stage as the festival singers perform from masterworks across the centuries. This evening is conducted by Paul Nadler of the Metropolitan Opera.
  • Squires Recital Salon
  • Tuesday, June 26, 8 p.m.
  • $20 general public, $10 students/youth

American musical songbook

  • A festival favorite, this evening features a wide range of Broadway and musical theater selections of the 20th century. This event is directed by Maria Zouves.
  • Wednesday, June 27, 8 p.m.
  • Squires Recital Salon
  • $20 general public, $10 students/youth

The Mendelssohn Quintets

  • Festival guest artists and string faculty Shmuel Ashkenasi, Mathias Tacke, and David Ehrlich on violin; Beth Guterman and Michael Klotz on viola; and Marc Johnson on cello, perform Felix Mendelssohn’s two string quintets, “No. 1 in A major, Opus 18” and “No. 2 in B-flat major, Opus 87.” These works, rarely performed together, demonstrate the elegance of one of the first of the great 19th century Romantic composers.
  • Thursday, June 28, 8 p.m.
  • Squires Recital Salon
  • $20 general public, $10 students/youth

Grand finale: Russian-French connections

  • The 2012 festival closes in grand style with a focus on international artistry from the perspective of both French and Russian composers, those who influenced one another across boundaries of place and nationality. This fascinating program draws on music from Borodin, Debussy, Fauré, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, and others. Instrumental faculty players are Shmuel Ashkenasi, Mathias Tacke, and David Ehrlich on violin; Beth Guterman and Michael Klotz on viola; Marc Johnson on cello; and Milana Stezeva on piano.
  • Friday, June 29, 8 p.m.
  • Haymarket Theatre
  • $20 general public, $10 students/youth 

Programs are subject to change. 

The Vocal Arts and Music Festival brings together opera legends, vocal coaches, and directors, who spend three weeks working closely with up-and-coming opera professionals. The festival’s singers were handpicked by International Vocal Arts Institute founders Joan Dornemann and Paul Nadler, both of the Metropolitan Opera, to participate in the 2012 festival. These singers come to Virginia Tech for three weeks of unparalleled access to top opera teachers and to perform with world-renowned instrumentalists and pianists each evening. From cellists to clarinetists, the instrumentalists will be featured in performances throughout the festival, bringing their breadth of musical experience and knowledge.

Tickets

Discounted festival ticket packages are available now. Tickets for individual festival events will be available beginning June 1. For more information, visit the festival website or call 540-231-1983.

The corporate sponsor for the Vocal Arts and Music Festival is National Bank. Media sponsors are Virginia Living Magazine and The Roanoke Times.

 

 

Related Links

  • Photos: Beam Signing, Center for the Arts
  • Images: Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech