A veteran of the Metropolitan Opera, tenor Gregory Lorenz will premiere a new arrangement by Dr. Michael Fennelly for string sextet of Six Songs from A Shropshire Lad by George Butterworth. In addition, Dr. Fennelly conducts the Metamorphosis Chamber Orchestra in Arnold Schoenberg's intensely romantic Verklärte Nacht ("Transfigured Night") inspired by the poem by Richard Dehmel. The program includes songs by Duparc and Messiaen's mystical duet "La mort du nombre" with soprano Megan Weston. Gregory Lorenz is known for his vivid interpretations of repertoire from all periods. Recent appearances have focused on concert performances of Mozart’s operas, with the Pacific Symphony, Opera Camerata in Washington, DC, and the Piccolo Spoleto Festival.
Tickets are $30 for General Admission.
Soprello, a musical collaboration between soprano Allison Pohl and cellist Alistair MacRae, explores the connections between vibrating strings and the human voice. In the interaction between these instruments, Soprello aims to engage audiences with music new and old, both specific to its instrumentation and inventively repurposed. Building on live and radio performances in New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Washington, and Ontario, Allison and Alistair have worked to create a new repertoire for their combination, spanning over 300 years of musical history. Soprello has given premiere performances of new works by Stephen Gerber, David Dzubay, and Rick Sowash, and will be premiering a new arrangement of the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria by Dr. Michael Fennelly.
Tickets are $30 for General Admission.
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Presented by Athena Music Foundation, world-renowned opera singer and Broadway star Alyson Cambridge performed a special holiday concert, accompanied by pianist Michael Fennelly at Carnegie Hall's gorgeous Weill Recital Hall on November 25, 2018. The evening's primarily classical repertoire included art song, opera, African American spirituals and holiday favorites. With special guests two-time Tony-nominated singer Constantine Maroulis and the Port Jervis Children's Choir.
Athena Music Foundation presented Megan Weston, soprano and Michael Fennelly, piano in The Paris Salon: Age of the Romantic Virtuoso on Friday, September 14, 2018 at the beautiful Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara. The duo performed the exhilarating and elegant music of the nineteenth century and offered illuminating insights on the supremacy of opera, the triumph of the international virtuoso, and the reign of the Paris Salon.
The inaugural performance of the Athena Music Foundation Recital and Chamber Music Series featured international soprano Joanna Mongiardo ("a triumph" - Opera News) and eminent pianist Rachelle Jonck in an afternoon of songs by Clara Schumann, Mozart, Rossini, and the New York premiere of Scott Wheeler's song cycle Three Night Songs at the National Opera Center in New York City on September 17, 2017.
By Meche Kroop, Voce di Meche - November 2, 2018
You will, dear reader, pardon us for departing from our customary habit of writing about the pianist last. Sometimes we are familiar with an artist in a certain guise and then see them in a new light (hear them in a new sound?). We have known Michael Fennelly for years as a collaborative pianist and have always admired his sensitive partnership with a variety of young singers.
Last night we heard him perform as a soloist, a performance in which both he and the piano virtually levitated off the stage of Weill Recital Hall. He performed his own arrangement of George Gershwin's 1924 Rhapsody in Blue. At the work's premiere Gershwin himself played the piano accompanied by a jazz band. He didn't write down the piano part until the performance ended! We wonder what Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky thought of the work; they were present at the premiere!
There have been many iterations and orchestrations but we have never heard the work the way we heard it last night. The audience, as one, jumped to their collective feet and whooped! Although not a "classical" theme and variations format, there were several contrasting themes, each with its own variations. There was an astonishing variety of tempi, rhythm, and dynamics.
This would have made a rousing opener or finale for the concert of the Athena Music Foundation (of which Mr. Fennelly is the founder) which starred the famous soprano Alyson Cambridge, known to opera goers everywhere. We had heard her twice before. Two years ago she dazzled us with "Song to the Moon" from Dvorak's Russalka at a New Amsterdam Opera Gala and last year she created the role of Sally Hemmings--a highly believable and sympathetic creation-- at one of Andrew Ousley's Crypt Sessions.
Last night we got a clearer picture of just how versatile this dazzling artist is. The mixed program comprised an appetizer of art songs, a main course of Barber, and lots of spirituals, American musical theater and Christmas music for dessert, with an opera aria for seasoning.
In every case, Ms. Cambridge showed a compelling stage presence, looking equally glamorous in a pale pink tulle gown and a sexy red one, thus reflecting her vocal versatility. For our taste, the Shumann ("Widmung"), Schubert ("Ave Maria"), and Richard Strauss ("Zueignung") remained our favorites. There was so much vocal and gestural expressivity and passion that translations were unnecessary. Moreover, there is a deeply affecting vibrato in her instrument. We almost failed to mention the opening "Come All Ye Songsters" by Purcell which revealed Ms. Cambridge's facility with coloratura...
By Gerald Carpenter, Noozhawk - September 11, 2018
At 7:30 p.m. this Friday, Sept. 14, the Athena Music Foundation will present a concert in the Lobero Theater which it calls The Paris Salon: Age of the Romantic Virtuoso, featuring soprano Megan Weston and pianist Michael Fennelly. The concert, an exercise in elegant and informed nostalgia, will evoke a typical evening's performance at a Parisian salon of the 19th century.
The salon, according to The American Heritage Dictionary, is "A large room, such as a drawing room, used for receiving and entertaining guests ... A periodic gathering of persons of social or intellectual distinction." Add several sofas, comfy chairs, music stands, and a piano, and you have the kind of salon Weston and Fennelly will recreate from the stage of the Lobero.
In the 19th century, the salons were the provenance of wealthy patrons — more often, patronesses — who divided their favors between worthless parasites and immortal geniuses, and who provided for the debut of countless masterpieces. They were smallish gatherings, though not particularly intimate: one's status, even that of the hostess, was in perpetual flux, and the handicapping went on nonstop. Alcohol and tobacco promoted gossip. The salon was the meeting ground of Art and Society, and one of the institutions that inspired the culture critic Walter Benjamin to hail Paris as the Capital of the Nineteenth Century.
Of course, there will be no drinks served in the auditorium, tobacco in any form is strictly verboten, and the seats, still comfy, are more standardized, but the Lobero is small enough to make it possible to distinguish the performer's features from the back row.
Weston and Fennelly already are famous for their warm charisma, and the music will establish its own venue as it always does. Paris, here we come!
The Financial Times has hailed Weston for her "remarkable virtuosity and charm," while the Spanish monarchy has conferred a knighthood on Fennelly (does that make him "Don Miguel"?). As a duo, they have performed at the Berkshire Theater Festival, the Sembrich Museum (N.Y.), the Metropolitan Opera Guild (Lincoln Center), Carnegie Hall, and in such exotic venues as Bora Bora and Antarctica...
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