Following the tremendous success of the 2013 and 2014 Collaborative Works Festivals, Art Song protagonist Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago will open its 2014-2015 season with its fourth annual Collaborative Works Festival, held at venues around Chicago from September 9 – 12, 2015.  The 2015 Festival, American Spirit, will feature two salon concerts exploring American composers’ and poets’ meditations on spirituality. This year’s festival features another all-star lineup of internationally acclaimed artists, including Grammy Award-nominated soprano Nicole Heaston; acclaimed soprano Laquita Mitchell; CAIC co-founders Nicholas Phan and Shannon McGinnis; and 2015 Avery Fisher Career Grant winner, pianist Michael Brown.  For its traditional annual solo vocal recital, the festival will also include the Chicago recital debut of Italian bass-baritone Luca Pisaroni, who will appear with pianist Craig Terry.

Continuing a commitment to ensuring that the Chicago classical music lineup contains at least one major vocal recital each season, the 2015 Collaborative Works Festival will open with its annual solo recital on September 9, 2015 in Ganz Hall, presented in collaboration with Roosevelt University’s Chicago College for the Performing Arts. This year’s solo recital headliner, Pisaroni, will perform a program that is reflective of his life as an Italian bass-baritone now based in Vienna, Austria, comprised of songs by the great Viennese composer Franz Schubert and Italian composers Bellini, Donaudy, and Tosti.  Widely known as an opera superstar who frequents stages such as the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House, San Francisco Opera, Vienna State Opera, and Salzburg Festival, Pisaroni is also a regular recitalist in the world’s premiere recital halls, including London’s Wigmore Hall, Vienna’s Musikverein, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, and Carnegie Hall.  The New York Times wrote of his 2014 recital in Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall that: “There was much to admire in the evening-long program of songs by Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Schubert, especially Mr. Pisaroni’s rich, muscular timbre and smooth-flowing legato… Mr. Pisaroni’s German diction was clean, and his choice of texts — predominantly by Heine and Goethe — hinted at a discerning reader and thinker.”

Pianist Craig Terry, who is also the music director of the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, will be Pisaroni’s recital partner.

Terry, who appears regularly in recital with such esteemed singers as Christine Brewer, Stephanie Blythe, Joyce Didonato, and Susan Graham in venues such as the Kennedy Center, Ravinia Festival, and Carnegie Hall, will lead the Festival’s annual Master Class at PianoForte on the afternoon of September 11, 2015.  This year’s master class will focus on American art song, and will feature rising young stars of Chicago’s classical vocal music scene, accompanied by CAIC artistic staff.

This year’s first salon concert, presented in partnership with The Poetry Foundation on September 10, 2015, will explore the influence of the Transcendentalist movement on American composers.  The religious and philosophical movement, sparked by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay, Nature, has been a profound influence on many American composers and poets.  This first concert will feature performances of songs by Charles Ives, who was fascinated by the transcendentalists, as well as settings of Emily Dickinson’s poetry by iconic American composers Aaron Copland and Lee Hoiby.

The closing concert of this festival will comprise a second salon concert, held on September 12, 2015 at the University of Chicago’s Logan Center for the Arts Performance Penthouse.  The concert will continue the exploration of American composers’ meditations on spirituality, focusing in on the influence of spirituals, hymns and liturgical music on Leonard Bernstein, John Carter, and Aaron Copland, as well as performances of Samuel Barber’s Hermit Songs, among other notable works.

For more information about the CAIC’s upcoming festival, visit www.caichicago.org.

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Collaborative Works Festival recital performance, celebrating the art song genre (photo by Elliot Mandel).

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