If I Were a Bird...
Date: 3:00pm PST January 26 Location: Evans Hall
Birds have captured the human imagination since ancient times. In literature, birds are used as symbols of freedom and transcendence, as confidants of lovers, as heralds of spring, new life, and new possibilities, and as harbingers of death. Birds serve as mirrors for our human lives, reflecting our struggles, joys, hopes, and fears. In this program, mezzo-soprano Lisa Neher and pianist Stephanie Thompson perform art songs and solos exploring the human condition with setting of poems that feature many different birds. Works include English, French, German, and Spanish songs by composers Amy Beach, Aaron Copland, Gabriela Lena Frank, Edvard Grieg, Juliana Hall, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, Richard Hundley, Charles Ives, Florence Price, Franz Schubert, and Ryan Woodhouse. The concert includes the premiere of Portland composer Theresa Koon’s song Winged from Within, a reading of her essay “A Bird in the Hand,” about her experiences raising a baby blackbird in the former East Germany, and a presentation from Portland Audubon Society Executive Director Nick Hardigg.
About the Artists:
Mezzo-soprano Lisa Neher thrives in the crossroads of the concert hall and the theatre stage, bringing dramatic specificity and committed physicality to her performances. A composer and contemporary music specialist, she was recently heard with Third Angle New Music, the Resonance Ensemble, the University of Nebraska at Kearney New Music Series, New Music Gathering, Queer Opera, the International Saxophone Symposium, Opera Theatre Oregon, and Cascadia Composers. Lisa premiered the leading role of Jennifer in Rita Ueda’s chamber opera One Thousand White Paper Cranes for Japan with the Singaporean ensemble Chamber Sounds. Her commissions include works for Third Angle New Music, Durward Ensemble, the Glass City Singers, Coe College Orchestra, pianist Michael Kirkendoll, and flutist Rose Bishop. She is a fellow of the Cortona Sessions for New Music and the Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music. For more information, visit her website, www.lisanehermusic.com.
Stephanie Thompson, pianist, takes delight in exploring textures and tone colors in solo and collaborative repertoire. A passionate advocate of art song, she is committed to text analysis and expressing poetic nuance in music. Recent performance highlights include a Pacific Northwest concert tour of Her Songs with mezzo-soprano Lisa Neher and the premiere of Damien Geter’s 1619, a song cycle for choir and piano on the legacy of slavery with Capella Nova under the direction of Dr. Katherine FitzGibbon. Thompson is staff accompanist and teaches classical piano and piano accompaniment at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, where she performs with all three choral ensembles. She is an alumni of the Aspen Music festival and is a founding member of the Lewis & Clark Faculty New Music Ensemble, The Friends of Rain.
Theresa Koon composes music primarily for the voice, emerging from an international performance career. Operas, song cycles and choral music make up the center of her work, generally with chamber ensemble or piano accompaniment. Influences include J.S. Bach, Samuel Barber and Kurt Weill. Collaborators have included Fear No Music, 45th Parallel, Artists Repertory Theater, Sinfonia Concertante Orchestra, the Ensemble of Portland, the Resonance Ensemble, Nautilus Music Theater (Minnesota), the Detroit Institute of ART, and the National Opera Association. When not composing, Theresa enjoys teaching Vocal Music Appreciation Classes for Friends of Chamber Music, and also teaching voice at PCC and in her eclectic studio. Theresa is the founding director of Opera For The Hesitant, and has performed in operas, concerts, music theater and cabarets in Germany, Canada and across the US. Her choral work “Mother of Exiles” —a setting of the poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty—will be released by PARMA Recordings in 2020. www.promisetheopera.wordpress.com
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