The Harris Theater for Music and Dance has announced a collaboration with renowned soprano Renée Fleming on the new performance series Renée Fleming: To the Edge, produced by the Harris Theater, in association with Lyric Unlimited. Renée Fleming: To the Edge is a creative work in progress that dives deeply into all that is on the cutting edge of performance, exploring the voice as it enriches a variety of artistic forms. Fleming is known for her personal dedication to projects that transcend the notion of genre boundaries; springing from Ms. Fleming’s role as creative consultant at Lyric Opera, this series is a reflection of her breadth and passion for performance in its entirety, outside of any expectation of the structure of opera. Given the Harris’ expertise in producing and commissioning works that excite, inform, and push the envelope, the collaboration seems a perfect artistic partnership and a thrilling premise for a special innovative series.
The first performance of this series is the world premiere of “Higher: Renée Fleming and Patricia Barber Perform the Music of Patricia Barber.” “Higher” is a musical collaboration between Grammy winner Fleming and Chicago jazz vocalist, pianist, and composer, Patricia Barber for a virtuosic, adventurous, and uniquely harmonious evening of music, produced by the Harris Theater, in association with Lyric Unlimited. Just in time for the holidays, on December 14, Ms. Fleming will perform a recital program of Ms. Barber’s songs which have been newly arranged for the special engagement. In keeping with the season, the two artists will also join forces for a selection of holiday favorites. Accompanying the two will be collaborator and pianist Craig Terry, who also serves as artistic director for the Harris Theater’s Beyond the Aria series and music director of Lyric Opera’s Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center. The performance will then be presented at the Kennedy Center on December 16.
“When Renée sings my music, I am thrilled to discover that a musical ideal can be realized. She inspires me to reach higher," reflects Barber, of whom TIME Magazine says, “Cross Diana Krall with Susan Sontag, and you get Patricia Barber, whose throaty, come-hither vocals and coolly incisive piano are displayed to devastating effect.”
Renée Fleming is as revered and respected as they come; she was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Obama in 2013, she’s graced the world’s greatest opera stages and concert halls, and she was the first ever classical artist to sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl. Patricia Barber is an internationally acclaimed jazz star, the first songwriter ever to win a Guggenheim Fellowship in composition, and a staple in her hometown of Chicago. Watching these luminaries take the stage together will certainly represent a singularly and uniquely brilliant concert experience.
“Collaborating with Renée Fleming and Patricia Barber on such unique and beautiful repertoire is the kind of expansive programming that we love to create at the Harris, and we look forward to presenting much more of it in our new series, which Renée Fleming will curate in the coming months,” said Michael Tiknis, Harris Theater’s president and managing director. “These two women are extraordinary artists in so many ways and their commitment to excellence mirrors our own – it was a perfect fit from the start and displays the innovative collaborations that we have become known for and are committed to here at the Harris.”Said Fleming, “I’m thrilled to be performing with Patricia Barber. When I was introduced to her work years ago, I was immediately struck by her uniquely sophisticated lyrics, her musical vocabulary, which, though idiomatically jazz, evokes art songs for me, and the intimacy she conveys in performance. In developing a series for the Harris Theater, I thought, ‘How better to launch the project than by collaborating with my now friend, Patricia?’”
Tickets for this special engagement are $35–$125, available online at harristheaterchicago.org by calling the Harris Theater Box Office at 312.334.7777.
Renée Fleming: To the Edge, produced by the Harris Theater, in association with Lyric Unlimited, will explore the voice as it enriches a variety of artistic genres (photo by Andrew Eccles).
Clef Notes Chicagoland Journal for the Arts