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Myths To Live By

Co-created by Steven Blier and Julia Bullock
November 18, 2020

Turn, Turn, Turn (“To Everything There Is a Season”)
by Pete Seeger/ Book of Ecclesiastes

Julia Bullock, soprano; Elliott Carlton Hines, baritone; & Christian Reif, piano

A Flower is a Lovesome Thing by Billy Strayhorn

Julia Bullock, soprano & Steven Blier, piano

One Life To Live by Kurt Weill/Ira Gershwin

Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano & Steven Blier, piano

Lied eines Schiffers an die Dioskuren (A Sailor’s Song to the Twin Stars)
by Franz Schubert/Johann Mayrhofer 

Aaron Crouch, tenor & Steven Blier, piano

Minstrel Man by Margaret Bonds/Langston Hughes

Aundi Marie Moore, soprano & Susan Ricci-Rogel, piano

City Called Heaven arr. by Hall Johnson

Aundi Marie Moore, soprano & Susan Ricci-Rogel, piano

Ici-bas (“Here on earth”) by Gabriel Fauré/Sully Prudhomme

Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano & Steven Blier, piano

The Princess of Pure Delight by Kurt Weill/Ira Gershwin

Julia Bullock, soprano & Christian Reif, piano

Woodstock by Joni Mitchell

Steven Blier, piano; with Julia Bullock, soprano


Notes on the Program
by Steven Blier

The pandemic has isolated us from one another physically, and I can’t wait for the day when all of this is behind us. But while I have to put on a mask just to have a short, in-person conversation outdoors with my neighbors, I suddenly find myself in closer contact than ever with many of my far-flung colleagues—some of them huddling at homes across the United States, some writing and phoning from their perch in Europe.

Julia Bullock falls in the second category—about a year ago she left New York to set up shop in Germany. I first worked with Julia when she was a student at Juilliard, and I’ve been gratified to watch her career skyrocket since she left school. Small wonder: Julia is bracingly smart and articulate, and a sensational artist. It got harder and harder to book her for a NYFOS concert, but this autumn I was lucky enough to work my way back into her schedule. Not that Julia is sitting around idle—she has been giving performances of Barber’s Knoxville and Britten’s Les illuminations with European orchestras, while also doing a stint as Artist-in-Residence at the Guildhall School in London. Right now she is in Norway preparing for concerts with her husband, the conductor Christian Reif. But FaceTime has been very good to Julia and me, and it’s been a joy to reconnect with her.

As often happens, one song provided the inspiration for our program: “The Princess of Pure Delight’ by Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin. Although I’d never heard Julia sing it, I remember that she used it as an audition piece for conductor Rob Fisher some years ago. Afterwards he wrote me to say that she had given one of the best performances of “Princess” that he’d ever heard, with a kind of charm and specificity he rarely finds in classically trained vocalists. Rob is scarcely a pushover, but I wasn’t surprised. Julia can be quite disarming. 

I never forgot Rob’s enthusiasm, and I wracked my brain to figure out a way to build a program around it. On the face of it, “The Princess of Pure Delight” seemed a bit lightweight for the grimy historical moment we’re living through. But what if we juxtaposed that whimsical piece with a wide variety of songs that explore other kinds of stories—the myths that guide our lives? 

Julia seemed surprised to be reminded of “The Princess of Pure Delight”—“I sang that piece! Did you know?” “Yeah, I knew….”—and stimulated by the idea of the idea of myths as psychological motivators. We both knew that the word “myth” has taken on a negative connotation. It has come to mean a belief in a non-viable theory or untruth: the Beauty Myth, the Myth of Development, the Myth of George Washington and the Cherry Tree. Julia and I took a broader and kinder view of myths. For us, they are symbolic stories that hold our ideals and—at their best—guide us to our best selves.

We’re leading off with “Turn, Turn, Turn” by Pete Seeger, a quiet song that taps into unexpected reserves of feeling. It has attracted a wide variety of performers—there are iconic recordings by The Byrds, Nina Simone, Marlene Dietrich, and Judy Collins. The song is deceptively simple: Seeger took verses from the Book of Ecclesiastes, gave them a mantra-like refrain (the title), and added a prayer for peace at the very end. Every time I hear those words “A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late,” I succumb to tears.

Though I am a city boy through and through, the pandemic had the odd effect of bringing me closer to nature (Manhattan-style). All spring and summer I became dependent on my daily visits to the flowers and budding trees in Riverside Park. The voluptuous beauty of plants in full bloom affirmed the earth’s regenerative power. Their bold affront to the fear and misery of Covid gave me strength. 

Billy Strayhorn’s gorgeous tune “A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing” captures my awakening to the urban beauties lying just outside my door. Strayhorn, of course, was Duke Ellington’s longtime assistant and amanuensis. For many years Ellington’s name went on many of the compositions Strayhorn wrote for his boss’s orchestra. But Strayhorn’s musical thumbprint is unmistakable: sensual and languorous, beautiful to listen to and a tactile delight to play. If Ravel had written jazz, it would sound like Strayhorn.

It was an accident that we programmed two songs from Weill’s Lady in the Dark. Or was it? Kurt Weill stated, “As for myself, I write for today. I don’t give a damn about writing for posterity.” Yet his songs have maintained their unique capacity to speak to the present moment. Last month we programmed his “Thousands of Miles,” which described love’s power to transcend separation and physical distance. Offering hope and comfort, it expressed our present isolation as well as any contemporary piece I’ve heard.

Neither “The Princess of Pure Delight” nor “One Life to Live” plumb those emotional depths. Both songs have a goofy exuberance appropriate to their original setting. The central character in Lady in the Dark is undergoing psychoanalysis, and practically all the music in the showtakes place during dream sequences. But what better place to look for life-governing myths than our dreams? “Princess” takes us back the first myths we hear—the world of fairy tales. And “One Life to Live” is a hymn to living an uninhibited, guiltless life—the beautiful myth of free will, the triumph of the id. It too is a tonic for all of us who are sheltering in place—a reminder to seize the day, whatever its limitations. 

When Aundi Moore offered us Margaret Bonds’s “Minstrel Man,” Julia quickly latched onto it. There are many myths attached to Black performers throughout our history, from turn-of-the-century minstrelsy to the fetishizing of Black operatic divas in our times. In sixteen brief lines Langston Hughes takes us straight to the hidden pain of Black artists. 

The musical setting is by Chicago-born Margaret Bonds, who maintained a deep friendship with Hughes. Bonds found her musical voice early. When we she went to Paris to study with Nadia Boulanger, the reigning doyenne of mid-century composers, Boulanger told her she had no need for further study. “Go home and write.” Langston Hughes provided the inspiration for many of Bonds’s compositions, an impressive repertoire made up largely of vocal music. 

Negro spirituals are songs of faith, offering a vision of salvation and peace. They originated as songs of the enslaved, and thanks to the efforts of Harry Burleigh (heard in last month’s concert) in the early years of the twentieth century, these beautiful songs were made available to the public at large. But their surface meaning also bears a coded message that was intended to bolster the spirits of fugitive slaves. Spirituals became an important component of the Underground Railway. In their lyrics, heaven is the afterlife, but heaven is also a refuge north of the Mason-Dixon line. “City Called Heaven” is a perfect example of spirituals’ double significance as religious song and liberation song. The beautiful arrangement we’re hearing is by Hall Johnson, a mid-century choral arranger and composer. Burleigh’s piano writing is spare; Johnson’s is opulent. Both are sublime. 

Few subjects are more prone to myths than love. If you grew up with the expectation that love means never having to say you’re sorry…well, I’m sorry. That’s not true. Nor is the “happily ever after” myth a dependable one. The poet Sully Prudhomme sums up this disappointment in “Ici-bas,” which compares love’s heavenly ideal with its earthly Realpolitik. Gabriel Fauré’s elegant music alternates sensuality and church harmony, subtly juxtaposing the sadness of a broken heart with the dream of an endless love. Fauré is a gentle giant: the first two verses are identical, but the third verse blooms into a cathartic climax that ends the song like a wounded prayer.

We thought we should include one actual Greek myth in this program, and the choice was easy. Franz Schubert frequently used mythological themes in his 600-plus Lieder, and Julia and I went for Lied eines Schiffers an die Dioskuren. The song is a prayer to the twin stars we usually call the Gemini. Castor and Pollux were half-brothers, one mortal and one the son of Zeus. They were passionately devoted to one another, and when Castor was slain Pollux begged his father to reunite him in death with his twin half-brother. Zeus gave in to his plea and lifted them both to the heavens, where they became the starry patron saints of sailors. 

Schubert wrote the song in collaboration with Johann Mayrhofer. The story of the two boys who wanted to spend eternity together might have had special significance for the composer and poet—Mayrhofer is thought to have been one of Schubert’s early loves, and the two shared a tiny apartment in Vienna. Schubert’s piano writing lingers in the bottom half of the instrument for the entire song, evoking the depth of the ocean and the ply of oars.  Over this deep brass choir the voice soars in devotion. 

I am a child of the 60s, and I grew up with the myth of peace, freedom, and tie-dye. We didn’t trust anyone over 30, a myth we let go of as we neared that age. As the 60s turned into the 70s, the youth movement of my teens took on more and more political and social impetus, leading to Black Power, Women’s Liberation, and eventually Gay Liberation. Music was a central part of Flower Power, and in 1969 everything seemed to coalesce at a weekend music festival in upstate New York—Woodstock. The organizers rustled up a dazzling lineup of stars, and 450,000 young people turned up for an “Aquarian Exposition” that was equipped to have only 50,000 in attendance. 

Two important facts about me: (1) I didn’t connect very strongly to the counterculture, though I understood the urgent need for political and social change; (2) I wound up attending Woodstock for a day, tricked by some friends who kept our excursion vague until I was in the car. 

My memories of that day are vague. But these days I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Joni Mitchell’s song “Woodstock” and the power of my generation as we confronted the monolithic war machine. I am obsessed with the line, “Caught in the devil’s bargain,” a perfect summary of where we find ourselves in the moment: an ugly, mercenary, no-win situation. 

The Youth Movement believed in a myth. Powered by it, those young people changed the world for the better. It took time and dedication and repetition, but society began to creak open. No wonder I practiced “Woodstock” over and over again last month, long after I’d worked out my arrangement.  The song holds the truth that I now need to hear—the myth I live by: we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden, as Joni says. And we shall. 


Texts and Translations

Turn, Turn, Turn (“To Everything There Is a Season”) [1959]
Music by Pete Seeger (1919-2014); lyrics from the Book of Ecclesiastes, with additional words by Pete Seeger

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep.

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together.

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing.

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.

A Flower is a Lovesome Thing [1941, lyrics added in 1965]
Music and words by Billy Strayhorn (1915-1967); arr. Steven Blier

A flower is a lovesome thing
A luscious, living, lovesome thing
A daffodil, a rose, no matter where it grows
Is such a lovely lovesome thing.

A flower is the heart of spring
That makes the rolling hillsides sing
The gentle winds that blow
Blow gently for they know
A flower is a lovesome thing.

Playing in the breeze
Swaying with the trees
In the silent night
Or in the morning light
Such a miracle

Azaleas drinking pale moonbeams
Gardenias floating through daydreams
Wherever they may grow
No matter where you go
A flower is a lovesome thing.

One Life to Live from Lady in the Dark [1941]
Music by Kurt Weill (1900-1950); lyrics by Ira Gershwin (1896-1983)

There are many minds in circulation
Believing in reincarnation
In me you see
One who doesn’t agree
Challenging popular affronts
I believe I’ll only live once,
And I want to make the most of it.
If there’s a party, I want to be the host of it
If there’s a haunted house, I want to be the ghost of it
If there’s a town, I want to be the toast of it

I say to me every morning
“You’ve only one life to live.”
So why be done in?
Let’s let the sun in
And gloom can jump in the riv’.

No use to beat on the doldrums
Let’s be imaginative
Each day is numbered
No good when slumbered
With only one life to live.

Why let the goblins upset you?
One smile and see how they run!
And what does worrying net you?
The thing
Is to have fun.

All this may sound kind of hackneyed
But it’s the best I can give.
Soon comes December,
So please remember
You’ve only one life to live.

What you collect at the grindstone
Becomes a millstone in time.
This is my thesis:
Why go to pieces?
Step out while you’re in your prime.

You may say I’m an escapist
But I would rather by far
Be that than be a red-tapist—
Lead me,
Speed me
Straight to the bar!

Just laugh at Old Man Repression
And send him into obliv’!
Then you’re the winner—
I’m off to dinner,
I’ve only one life to live,
Just one life to live!

Lied eines Schiffers an die Dioskuren (“A Sailor’s Song to the Twin Stars”) [1822]
Music by Franz Schubert (1797-1828); poem by Johann Mayrhofer (1787-1836)

Minstrel Man [1959]
Music by Margaret Bonds (1913-19720; poem by Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

Because my mouth
Is wide with laughter
And my throat
Is deep with song,
You do not think
I suffer after
I have held my pain
So long?

Because my mouth
Is wide with laughter,
You do not hear
My inner cry?
Because my feet
Are gay with dancing,
You do not know
I die?

City Called Heaven [1930]
Traditional, arranged by Hall Johnson (1888-1970)

I am a po’ pilgrim of sorrow,
I’m tossed in dis wide worl’ alone.
No hope have I for tomorrow,
I’ve started to make Heav’n my home.
Sometimes I am tossted an’ driven, Lord
Sometimes I don’ know where to roam.
I heard of a city called Heaven
I started to make it my home.
My mother has reached that pure glory,
My father’s still walkin’ in sin,
My brothers an’ sisters won’t own me
Because I am tryin’ to get in.
Sometimes I am tossted an’ driven, Lord,
Sometimes I don’ know where to roam,
I heard of a city called Heaven
I’ve started to make it my home.

Ici-bas (“Here on earth”)
Music by Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924); poem by Sully Prudhomme (1839-1907)

The Princess of Pure Delight from Lady in the Dark [1941]
Music by Kurt Weill; lyrics by Ira Gershwin

The prince in orange
And the prince in blue
And the prince whose raiment
Was of lavender hue
They sighed and they suffered
And they tossed at night
For the neighboring princess
Of pure delight—
(Who was secretly in
love with a minstrel!).

Her father, the king, didn’t
Know which to choose,
There were two charming
Princes he’d have to refuse.
So he called for the dean
Of his sorcerers and
Inquired which one 
Was to win her hand.
(Which they always did in those days.)
My king, here’s a riddle –
You test them tonight
“What word of five letters
Is never spelled right?
What word of five letters
Is always spelled wrong?”
The one who can answer
Will be wedded ere long.
(That will be twenty gulden, please!)

The king called the three
And he told them the test,
The while his fair daughter
Kept beating her breast!
He put them the riddle.
They failed, as he feared.
Then all of a sudden the
Minstrel appeared!
(… Quite out of breath!)
“I’ll answer that riddle,”
Cried the singer of song,
“What’s never spelled ‘right’
In five letters is ‘wrong’,
And it’s right to spell ‘wrong’
Your highness the princess
Belongeth, to me!
(… And I love her, anyway!)”

“Be off with you, villain,”
The king cried in rage.
“For my princess a prince
Not a man from the stage”
“But, sire,” said the minstrel,
“‘Tis love makes me say
No king who’s a real king
Treats lovers this way!
(It isn’t sporting!)
And if you’re no real king,
No princess is she –
And if she’s no princess
Then she can wed me!..”
“By gad!” cried his highness,
“You handsome young knave!-
I fear me you’re right!”
And his blessing he gave,
(… As a trumpeter
began to trumpet).

The princess then quickly
Came out of her swoon
And she looked at her swain
And her world was in tune
And the castle soon rang
With cheer and with laughter!
And of course
They lived happily ever after.

Woodstock [1970]
Music and lyrics by Joni Mitchell (b.1943); arr. Steven Blier

Original lyrics:
I came upon a child of god
He was walking along the road
And I asked him, where are you going?
And this he told me.
I’m going on down to Yasgur’s farm
I’m going to join in a rock ‘n’ roll band
I’m going to camp out on the land
I’m going to try an’ get my soul free.

We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden.

Then can I walk beside you
I have come here to lose the smog
And I feel to be a cog in something turning,
Well maybe it is just the time of year
Or maybe it’s the time of man
I don’t know who l am
But you know life is for learning.

We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden.

By the time we got to Woodstock
We were half a million strong
And everywhere there was song and celebration.
And I dreamed I saw the bombers
Riding shotgun in the sky
And they were turning into butterflies
Above our nation.

We are stardust
Billion-year old carbon
We are golden
Caught in the devil’s bargain
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden.


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.

American classical singer JULIA BULLOCK is “a musician who delights in making her own rules” (New Yorker). Combining versatile artistry with a probing intellect and commanding stage presence, she has, in her early 30s, already headlined productions and concerts at some of the preeminent arts institutions worldwide. An innovative programmer whose artistic curation is in high demand, her curatorial positions include collaborative partner of Esa-Pekka Salonen in 2020-21, his inaugural season as Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony; 2019-20 Artist-in-Residence of the same orchestra; Artist-in-Residence of London’s Guildhall School for the 2020-22 seasons; opera-programming host of new broadcast channel All Arts; founding core member of the American Modern Opera Company (AMOC); and 2018-19 Artist-in-Residence of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Also a prominent voice of social consciousness and activism, Bullock is, as Vanity Fair notes, “young, highly successful, [and] politically engaged,” with the “ability to inject each note she sings with a sense of grace and urgency, lending her performances the feel of being both of the moment and incredibly timeless.”

Bullock has made key operatic debuts at San Francisco Opera in the world premiere of Girls of the Golden West, Santa Fe Opera in Doctor Atomic, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and Dutch National Opera in The Rake’s Progress, and the English National Opera, Spain’s Teatro Real, and Russia’s Bolshoi Theatre in the title role of The Indian Queen. In concert, she has collaborated with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel, the San Francisco Symphony and both Salonen and Michael Tilson Thomas, the New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Andris Nelsons, Japan’s NHK Symphony and Paavo Järvi, and both the Berlin Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestra with Sir Simon Rattle. Her recital highlights include appearances at New York’s Carnegie Hall, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Cal Performances at UC Berkeley, Boston’s Celebrity Series, Washington’s Kennedy Center, and the Mostly Mozart and Ojai Music festivals, where she joined Roomful of Teeth and the International Contemporary Ensemble for the world premiere of Josephine Baker: A Portrait. This was the original prototype for Perle Noire: Meditations for Joséphine, a work conceived by Bullock in collaboration with Peter Sellars, and written for her by Tyshawn Sorey and Claudia Rankine. Bullock’s growing discography includes Doctor Atomic, recorded with the composer conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and West Side Story, captured live with Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, both of which were nominated for Grammy Awards. Bullock was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music, Bard College’s Graduate Vocal Arts Program, and New York’s Juilliard School. She lives with her husband, conductor Christian Reif, in Munich. www.juliabullock.com

Two-time Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano SASHA COOKE has been called a “luminous standout” (New York Times) and “equal parts poise, radiance and elegant directness” (Opera News). Ms. Cooke is sought after by the world’s leading orchestras, opera companies, and chamber music ensembles for her versatile repertoire and commitment to new music.

In the 2020-2021 season, Ms. Cooke returns to Dallas Opera as Sylvie in the world premiere of Joby Talbot’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, conducted by Emmanuel Villaume. She was also scheduled to perform at the Metropolitan Opera as Hansel in Hansel and Gretel and San Francisco Opera as Offred in Poul Ruder’s The Handmaid’s Tale. In concert, she sings Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with the Radio Filharmonisch Orkest under the baton of Edo de Waart, Bach’s Mass in B minor with the Orchestre National de France under the direction of Trevor Pinnock, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with the Minnesota Orchestra and music director Osmo Vänskä. Additionally, she performs a duo recital alongside soprano Susanna Phillips at Friends of Chamber Music in Portland, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in Urbana, Illinois, and the Shriver Center in Baltimore. www.sashacooke.com

AARON CROUCH, a native of Bowie, Maryland, is a recent graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Some of Aaron’s roles at Curtis include Prunier in Puccini’s La Rondine, Lensky in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin and Don Ottavio in Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Aaron was a Gold Medalist at the YoungArts Foundation in 2017. He also received First Place in the 2017 Sue Goetz Ross Competition, as well as First Place in the 2017 Classical Singer Vocal Competition. In December of 2018, Mr. Crouch was awarded an encouragement award from the Premiere Opera International Vocal Competition. He also received an Emerging Artist Award from Opera Index in 2019. In past summers, Mr. Crouch has attended the Chautauqua Institute where he performed the role of Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore. In 2019, Mr. Crouch was a young artist at The Glimmerglass Festival where he debuted the role of The Son in the world premiere of Jeanine Tesori’s opera, Blue. www.aaroncrouchmusic.com

Baritone ELLIOTT CARLTON HINES is a recent graduate of the Opernstudio at Staatsoper Stuttgart. For the 20/21 season, Hines will sing Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Testo in Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, and Paul in Les Enfants Terribles at Staatsoper Stuttgart. A native of Houston, Texas, Hines is a 2014 graduate of The Juilliard School, and was a member of the ensemble at Salzburger Landestheater for the 2017/2018 season, where he sang Spalanzani in The Tales of Hoffmann and Il Conte in Le Nozze di Figaro. In 2018, he made his debut with Birmingham Opera Company, under the direction of Graham Vick, in Giorgio Battistelli’s world premiere of Wake. Hines’ spectrum of work at Salzburger Landestheater as a member of the “Internationales Opernstudio Gerard Mortier” from 2015 to 2017 included Morales/Dancaïre in Carmen, Il Poeta in Il Turco in Italia, Schaunard in La Bohème, as well as Sparbüchsen Bill in Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny. Hines received his B.M. in Voice from Oberlin Conservatory in 2012, and also sang as a Young Artist with Opera Theater of Saint Louis, Opera Santa Barbara, Da Camera of Houston, and at the Internationale Meistersinger Akademie. www.elliottcarltonhines.com

Metropolitan Opera Soprano, AUNDI MARIE MOORE, hailed by The Washington Post for possessing a voice of “Clarion Beauty”, has captured the hearts of many audiences and critics alike with her rich warm expressive tones. Career Highlights include Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni with L’Opéra de Monte Carlo, Nedda in Pagliacci with Sarasota Opera, Soprano 2 in Facing Goya with the Spoleto Festival USA, Serena in Porgy and Bess with Atlanta Opera, Young African American Soprano in the world premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s Rappahannock County with Virginia Opera, and Odessa Clay in the World Premier of Approaching Ali with Washington National Opera. Her 2019/2020 season included performing Strawberry Woman in Porgy and Bess at The Metropolitan Opera and Maggie Porter in Tazewell Thompson’s World Premiere of Jubilee with Arena Stage, and he Mother in Amahl and The Night Visitors with On Site Opera. #Livingmydreams @Aundimariemoore  www.aundimariemoore.com

German conductor CHRISTIAN REIF has quickly established a name for himself as a fast-rising talent. In July 2019, Reif completed a three-year post as Resident Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony and Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. His tenure culminated in a six-city European tour with the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra including performances at Vienna’s Musikverein, Berlin Philharmonie and Hamburg Elbphilharmonie.  Following the performance in Berlin the Merkur wrote of Reif that a “bright future and a great career must lie ahead”. 

Reif makes subscription debuts in the 2019/20 season with Royal Scottish National, Gävle Symphony, Stavanger Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Romanian Radio Symphony, Brno Philharmonic and RTE National Symphony Orchestras as well as the Ulster Orchestra and Fundación Excelentia of Madrid.   He returns to the Orchestre National de Lyon in a two-programme Beethoven project and to the San Francisco Symphony in a Soundbox program with soprano Julia Bullock.  He will also conduct the Dallas Symphony in an opening gala concert, as well as make appearances with the Orchestre National de Belgique and Orquestra Sinfonica Portuguese in Lisbon.  www.christianreif.eu

SUSAN RICCI ROGEL is a highly sought-after collaborative pianist, teacher and vocalcoach in the Washington, D.C. area. A graduate of University of Maryland College Park (BM, MM), she has collaborated in concerts held at Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall (Carnegie Hall) in NYC, the Chautauqua Institute, the John F. Kennedy Center for thePerforming Arts, DAR Constitution Hall, Strathmore Hall, the Barns of Wolf Trap, theLyceum in Alexandria and the Arts Club of Washington. Ms. Rogel was on the music faculty of Prince George’s Community College from 1991-2016. She also maintains anactive teaching and coaching studio, and is the assistant director and accompanist forthe Chesapeake Chorale. Ms. Rogel has worked frequently with The United States Army Field Band Soldiers’ Chorus as a coach and accompanist. With mezzo soprano Leneida Crawford, Ms. Rogel has recorded a compact disc of contemporary American Art Song entitled ROOTS & SOIL, and has been personally coached by composers Richard Hundley, Lori Laitman, and William Bolcom.



Thank you to everyone who made this program possible

Sasha Cooke, mezzo-soprano
Aaron Crouch, tenor
Elliott Carlton Hines, baritone
Aundi Marie Moore, soprano
Christian Rief, pianist
Susan Ricci-Rogel, pianist
Steven Blier, pianist and host
Julia Bullock, soprano 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
Philip Kalikman
Karen Koch
Judith Goetz Sanger
Peter Thall

and, especially, our NYFOS@Home series supporters

New York Festival of Song • One Penn Plaza • #6108 • New York, NY 10119 • 646-230-8380 • info@nyfos.org