America, Come Home
January 26, 2021
Of Thee I Sing by George and Ira Gershwin
Isabel Leonard, mezzo-soprano & Steven Blier, piano
American Tune by Paul Simon
Justin Austin, baritone & Steven Blier, piano
Life Doesn’t Frighten Me by Richard Danielpour/Maya Angelou
Angel Riley, soprano & Lucy Yates, piano
Prayer for the New Year by Mohammed Fairouz/Fadwa Tuqan
Amanda Lynn Bottoms, mezzo-soprano; Laura Metcalf, cello; & Steven Blier, piano
Take Care of This House by Leonard Bernstein/Alan Jay Lerner
Miles Mykkanen, tenor & Steven Blier, piano
Freedom Train by Sammy Heyward/Langston Hughes
Joshua Blue, tenor & Steven Blier, piano
Grief by William Grant Still/Leroy V. Brant
Thomas Hampson, baritone & Steven Blier, piano
Washington Square Dance by Irving Berlin
Miles Mykkanen, tenor & Steven Blier, piano
About the Artists
STEVEN BLIER is the Artistic Director of the New York Festival of Song (NYFOS), which he co-founded in 1988 with Michael Barrett. Since the Festival’s inception, he has programmed, performed, translated and annotated more than 140 vocal recitals with repertoire spanning the entire range of American song, art song from Schubert to Szymanowski, and popular song from early vaudeville to Lennon-McCartney. NYFOS has also made in-depth explorations of music from Spain, Latin America, Scandinavia and Russia. New York Magazine gave NYFOS its award for Best Classical Programming, while Opera News proclaimed Blier “the coolest dude in town” and in December 2014, Musical America included him as one of 30 top industry professionals in their feature article, “Profiles in Courage.”
Mr. Blier enjoys an eminent career as an accompanist and vocal coach. His recital partners have included Renée Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli, Samuel Ramey, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Susan Graham, Jessye Norman, and José van Dam, in venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to La Scala. He is also on the faculty of The Juilliard School and has been active in encouraging young recitalists at summer programs, including the Wolf Trap Opera Company, the Steans Institute at Ravinia, Santa Fe Opera, and the San Francisco Opera Center. Many of his former students, including Stephanie Blythe, Joseph Kaiser, Sasha Cooke, Paul Appleby, Dina Kuznetsova, Corinne Winters, Julia Bullock, and Kate Lindsey, have gone on to be valued recital colleagues and sought-after stars on the opera and concert stage.
In keeping the traditions of American music alive, he has brought back to the stage many of the rarely heard songs of George Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Kurt Weill and Cole Porter. He has also played ragtime, blues and stride piano evenings with John Musto. A champion of American art song, he has premiered works of John Corigliano, Paul Moravec, Ned Rorem, William Bolcom, Mark Adamo, John Musto, Richard Danielpour, Tobias Picker, Robert Beaser, Lowell Liebermann, Harold Meltzer, and Lee Hoiby, many of which were commissioned by NYFOS.
Mr. Blier’s extensive discography includes the premiere recording of Leonard Bernstein’s Arias and Barcarolles (Koch International), which won a Grammy Award; Spanish Love Songs (Bridge Records), recorded live at the Caramoor International Music Festival with Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Joseph Kaiser, and Michael Barrett; the world premiere recording of Bastianello (John Musto) and Lucrezia (William Bolcom), a double bill of one-act comic operas set to librettos by Mark Campbell; and Quiet Please, an album of jazz standards with vocalist Darius de Haas. His latest release is Canción amorosa, a CD of Spanish songs with soprano Corinne Winters.
His writings on opera have been featured in Opera News and the Yale Review. A native New Yorker, he received a Bachelor’s Degree with Honors in English Literature at Yale University, where he studied piano with Alexander Farkas. He completed his musical studies in New York with Martin Isepp and Paul Jacobs.
Praised in Opera News as “a gentle actor and elegant musician” and The Wall Street Journal for his “mellifluous baritone,” JUSTIN AUSTIN has been performing professionally since age 4. Born in Stuttgart, Germany to professional opera singer parents, Austin began his singing career as a boy soprano performing at venues such as Teatro Real, Bregenzer Festspiele, Lincoln Center, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. While working with directors such as Götz Friedrich and Tazewell Thompson, Austin was able to realize his love for music and performance early on.
For the 2020/21 season Austin was scheduled to create the leading role of George in the world premiere of the Lincoln Center Theater and The Metropolitan Opera co-commissioned opera “Intimate Apparel” by Lynn Nottage and Ricky Ian Gordon directed by Bartlett Sher. Rescheduled performances are to be announced. Canceled due to COVID-19 was Austin’s return to The Metropolitan Opera making his house debut in the Met’s new production of Jake Haggie’s Dead Man Walking directed by Ivo van Hove and conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Austin was also scheduled to join the Met debuting the role of Novice’s Friend in John Dexter’s classic production of Benjamin Britten’s Billy Budd conducted by Simone Young. Austin debuted with the Moab Music Festival as a resident artist and makes his return to the New York Festival of Song for a virtual concert series. Austin stars as Captain Macheath in a film adaptation of The Threepenny Opera by Kurt Weill & Bertolt Brecht produced by City Lyric Opera. Austin makes solo recital debuts with LA Opera, Lakes Area Music Festival, and Opera Saratoga. Austin also joins IDAGIO for online concerts at the Global Concert Hall.
During the 20-21 season, British-American tenor JOSHUA BLUE will sing Rinuccio in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. He was scheduled to return to Washington National Opera to sing the role of Jaquino in Beethoven’s Fidelio; perform Beethoven’s Symphony #9 at the Lensic Performing Arts Center and Oberlin Conservatory of Music; and sing Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Jacksonville Symphony and Eugene Symphony.
Last season, Blue performed Beethoven’s Symphony #9 with the National Symphony Orchestra for the Opening Festival of The REACH at the Kennedy Center. Opera engagements featured role debuts as Tamino with WNO in addition to scheduled roles of Alfred in Johann Strauss’s Die Fledermaus at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Don Ottavio with the Berkshire Opera Festival. Concerts last season marked a return to Carnegie Hall for Handel’s Messiah; Stravinsky’s Pulcinella with the Florida Orchestra; and a program called Tain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do: Songs from Gay Harlem with the New York Festival of Song.
Highlights of the 18-19 season included debuts at the Kennedy Center as Alfredo in Verdi’s La Traviata and Act I of Puccini’s La bohème in concert with the National Symphony Orchestra. He joined Wolf Trap Opera to sing Harlekin in Ullmann’s Der Kaiser von Atlantis and traveled to Japan to cover the role of Triquet in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin at the Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival.
Previous seasons included his debut at Carnegie Hall in Handel’s Messiah; performances in Moravec’s Sanctuary Road; and the American premiere of Glass’s The Trial at OTSL. Blue earned his B.M. from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and his M.M. from The Juilliard School. He is an alumnus of the Cafritz Young Artist program at Washington National Opera.
AMANDA LYNN BOTTOMS, mezzo-soprano, is a member of the Cafritz Young Artist Program at the Washington National Opera continuing her work at the Kennedy Center in addition to collaborations with LA Opera, Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago and New York Festival of Song. Recent mainstage work includes roles in the Maurice Sendak production of The Magic Flute, Menotti’s The Consul, and the world premiere of Michael Lanci’s Admissions. Acclaimed for her “superb vocal and dramatic chops” (Opera News), Bottoms recently debuted in Opera Philadelphia’s O19 Festival, as Smeraldina in Prokofiev’s The Love for Three Oranges and headlined the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society Emerging Voices Recital Series. Ms. Bottoms has been a finalist in prestigious international competitions including the George London Foundation, Zachary Foundation, Operalia and the Metropolitan Opera National Council Regionals. Recent concert work includes collaboration with the Philadelphia Orchestra under the baton of maestro Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Buffalo Philharmonic, UCLA Symphony, Curtis Symphony Orchestra and Cecilia Chorus of New York.
THOMAS HAMPSON, America’s foremost baritone, has received international honors and awards for his captivating artistry and cultural leadership. Lauded as a Metropolitan Opera Guild “Met Mastersinger” and inducted into both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Gramophone’s “Hall of Fame,” Hampson is one of the most respected and innovative musicians of our time. With an operatic repertoire of over 80 roles, his discography comprises more than 170 albums, which include multiple nominations and winners of the Grammy Award. He served as the New York Philharmonic’s first-ever Artist-in-Residence, and was honored with a Living Legend Award by the Library of Congress, where he served as Special Advisor to the Study and Performance of Music in America.
Hampson is an honorary professor on the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Heidelberg, and holds honorary doctorates from several institutions, including Manhattan School of Music and the New England Conservatory. He carries the titles of Kammersänger of the Wiener Staatsoper and Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of the Republic of France. Thomas Hampson is the founder of The Hampsong Foundation, curator of the Arts@Future Series in IDAGIO’s Global Concert Hall, and Artistic Director of the Heidelberg Lied Academy.
Multiple Grammy Award-winning ISABEL LEONARD continues to thrill audiences both in the opera house and on the concert stage. In repertoire that spans from Vivaldi to Mozart to Nico Muhly, she has graced the stages of the Vienna State Opera, Paris Opera, Salzburg Festival, Bavarian State Opera, Carnegie Hall, Glyndebourne Festival, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, Aix-en-Provence Festival, Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Los Angeles Opera as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Angelina in La Cenerentola, Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, Dorabella in Così fan tutte, Charlotte in Werther, Blanche de la Force in Dialogues des Carmélites, Costanza in Griselda, the title roles in La Périchole and Der Rosenkavalier, as well as Sesto in both Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito and Handel’s Giulio Cesare.
She has appeared with some of the foremost conductors of her time: Valery Gergiev, Seiji Ozawa, Antonio Pappano, Charles Dutoit, Gustavo Dudamel, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Yannick Nézét-Seguin, Franz Welser-Möst, Plácido Domingo, Edward Gardner, James Levine, Edo de Waart, James Conlon, Marin Alsop, Sir Andrew Davis, Michele Mariotti, Harry Bicket, Andris Nelsons, and Michael Tilson Thomas with the Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Vienna Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, among others. Ms. Leonard is in constant demand as a recitalist and is on the Board of Trustees at Carnegie Hall.
Cellist LAURA METCALF, noted for her “gorgeous cello legatos” (Washington Post) and her “brilliant” playing (Gramophone Magazine) is known for her compelling solo and chamber music performances worldwide and in her home of New York City. Her debut solo album, “First Day” was released in April 2016 on the Grammy-winning Sono Luminus label and debuted at #7 on the Billboard classical chart. The album has been praised as “a flat-out winner” (Greg Hettmansberger, Madison Magazine) and “rich and rewarding,” (an earful), and prompted multiple critics to hail her as a “major talent.” She is the cellist of acclaimed string quintet SYBARITE5 who won the 2011 CONCERT ARTISTS GUILD Victor Elmaleh Competition, and has performed sold-out concerts at the Library of Congress, Lincoln Center and many other venues worldwide. Sybarite5 made its Carnegie Hall debut at Zankel Hall in 2012, and their album “Disturb the Silence” recently reached the Top Ten on the Billboard Charts. The quintet gave the world premiere of Dan Visconti’s concerto for string quintet and orchestra with a consortium of American orchestras in 2015. The quintet has performed at the Ravinia, Caramoor, Chautauqua, Aspen and Grand Teton Music festivals. She has been featured as a soloist with the Zagreb Philharmonic, One World Symphony , Laredo Philharmonic, the Ensemble 212 Orchestra and the Orquesta Sinfonica Sinaloa, and has repeatedly been invited to perform with renowned international artists at the Newport Music Festival. She has given concerts in nearly all 50 states, as well as Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Haiti, France, Kazakhstan. Nepal, India, Germany, United Kingdom, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, Japan, Austria, and Canada.
A winner of the 2019 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, MILES MYKKANEN has garnered recognition on the world’s concert and operatic stages for his “focused, full-voiced tenor” (The New York Times). Of his performance in the title role of Candide at Tanglewood, it was reported in Opera, “Mykkanen sang and spoke feelingly and superbly, with crystalline diction, a powerful lyric sound seemingly capable of infinite dynamic gradations.”
In the 2020-21 season, Miles Mykkanen was engaged for performances at the Festival d’Aix en Provence and with Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra. His calendar anticipates his debut at the Bayerische Staatsoper as Chevalier de la Fore in a production by Dmitri Tcherniakov of Dialogues des Carmélites under the baton of Bertrand de Billy, the title role of Candide with the Lithuanian National Opera, a Seattle Opera debut as Don Ottavio in Don Giovannidirected by Brenna Corner with conductor Lidiya Yankovskaya, and a return to the Metropolitan Opera to sing Novice in Billy Budd under the baton of Simone Young. The tenor also joins Musicians from Marlboro on a domestic tour performing Schubert’s Auf dem Strom and Britten’s Canticle III with Radovan Vlatkovic (horn) and Lydia Brown (piano).
ANGEL RILEY is an emerging American soprano embarking on a promising career. Hailing from Belleville, Illinois, Angel recently graduated with a Master of Music degree in Voice Performance under the tutelage of Juliana Gondek at the University of California–Los Angeles where she acquired extensive experience as an operatic, concert, and recital soloist.
At UCLA Angel performed the lead role of Lala in the world premiere of Janice Hamer’s Lost Childhood as well as Sor Andrea in Carla Lucero’s opera Juana. Additional credits include the soprano soloist in Leonard Bernstein’s Songfest for the Los Angeles Bernstein Centennial celebration, soprano soloist in Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection” with the UCLA Philharmonia under Maestro Neal Stulberg in historic Royce Hall, and a televised national anthem in the Rose Bowl for UCLA Bruins football.
Angel’s exciting stage presence and rich vocal color distinguish her performances, resulting in her winning a coveted position as a 2020 Emerging Artist with Boston Court Pasadena and a 2020-21 Gerdine Young Artist with the Opera Theatre of St. Louis where she will perform the roles of Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance and Musetta in Le bohème.
In 2020 LUCY YATES joined LA’s The Industry on keyboards for Sweet Land (Du Yun/Raven Chacon) and was named a company member. She made her conducting debut in 2018 as maestro al cembalo at Seattle Opera with the “extremely inventive” O+E (Gluck/Calzabigi Orfeo ed Euridice), in an “elegantly poetic” English version she wrote for that production. She made her Rossini Opera Festival debut in 2014 as assistant conductor and onstage continuo fortepianist in Mario Martone’s staging of Aureliano in Palmira.
Miss Yates first drew international attention as Violetta in a 2002 Franco Zeffirelli/Plácido Domingo production of La traviata at Busseto, and as Monica in The Medium at Spoleto, under Menotti’s direction. Other roles include Gilda, Beatrice di Tenda, Fiordiligi, Nedda, Rosina, Anne Trulove, and Older Alyce. An alumna of the Steans Institute at Ravinia and the Britten-Pears School, she was music director of ArtSong Nouveau from 2000-2005.
Through twenty years with Bel Canto at Caramoor, now Teatro Nuovo, under Will Crutchfield, Miss Yates has emerged as a cogent and lyrical translator and teacher of Italian. She is a Lecturer at UCLA, guest lecturer at USC, and clinician for dell’Arte Opera Ensemble. She has served as dramaturg, titlist, and coach for the New York City Opera, and panelist on the Metropolitan Opera Radio Quiz. In 2021 her articles on Mozart and Britten will appear in Crescendo, the magazine of the Santa Fe Opera. She is also preparing the Italian version of Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie’s The Garden of the Finzi-Continis.
Thank you to everyone who made this program possible
Amanda Lynn Bottoms
Steven Blier, pianist and host
Miles Mykkanen, tenor and host
Jonathan Estabrooks, video production
The NYFOS administration
Steven Blier, Artistic Director
Charles McKay, Managing Director
Claire Molloy, Deputy Director
NYFOS’s Board of Directors
Richard A. Rosen, Chairman
Robert D. Krinsky, Treasurer
Philip K. Howard
Judith Goetz Sanger
and, especially, our NYFOS@Home series supporters