When plans for the 35th anniversary season of the Schwabacher Recital Series were announced jointly by the San Francisco Opera Center and the Merola Opera Program at the beginning of this year, program details for the last of the four concerts had not yet been finalized. What was known was that the recital would present a quartet of vocalists, all of whom were 2018 Adler Fellows: soprano Natalie Image, mezzo Ashley Dixon, tenor Amitai Pati, and bass-baritone Christian Pursell. It had also been announced that the pianist for this event would be Kevin Murphy. Murphy will be a special guest for this occasion, since he is Director of the Steans Music Institute Program for Singers, a division of the Steans Music Institute, a pre-professional conservatory program held every summer in conjunction with the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Illinois.
Collaborative pianist Kevin Murphy (courtesy of the San Francisco Opera)
All of the program selections have now been determined. Now that the San Francisco Symphony has completed its cycle of programs celebrating the birth centennial of Leonard Bernstein, whose 100th birthday will be this coming August 25, it is time for the festivities to cross Grove Street, so to speak, and settle in at the San Francisco War Memorial. Most of the Schwabacher Recital selections will be of music Bernstein wrote for both the concert hall and the Broadway stage. There will also be songs by Bernstein’s close friend and colleague, Aaron Copland, as well as selections by two composers that Bernstein championed over the course of his career as a conductor, Gustav Mahler and Charles Ives.
The “theatrical” side of Bernstein’s career will conclude the program will selections from two major musicals, West Side Story and Candide, and his one-act opera “Trouble in Tahiti.” At the other end, the program will begin with a set that will include the song cycle La Bonne Cuisine: Four Recipes for Voice and Piano, the Two Love Songs, three selections from Songfest, “I Go On” from Mass, and a setting of Psalm 148. Copland will be represented by two of the twelve songs he wrote setting poems by Emily Dickinson. The Ives offering will be his interpretation of Vachel Lindsay’s poem “General William Booth Enters Into Heaven.” (Lindsay had his own thoughts about both music and instrumentation included in the published text of this poem.) The Mahler songs will include two settings of poems by Friedrich Rückert and one taking its text from Des Knaben Wunderhorn (the boy’s magic horn), the collection of German folk poems and songs edited by Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano.
Like the other Schwabacher Recital programs, this concert will take place in the Taube Atrium Theater, part of the Diane B. Wilsey Center for Opera, which is located in the Veterans Building (on the fourth floor) at 401 Van Ness Avenue on the southwest corner of McAllister Street. It will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 4. General admission will be $30. Tickets may be purchased in advance online through an event page on the San Francisco Opera Web site. In addition, subject to availability, student rush tickets will go on sale at 7 p.m. at the reduced rate of $15. There is a limit of two tickets per person, and valid identification must be shown.