Classical Action Event Archive


Gypsy of the Year

 December 4 & 5






Cécile McLorin Salvant, Vocalist

Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Cécile McLorin Salvant, vocalist

Cécile McLorin Salvant was born and raised in Miami, Florida of a French mother and a Haitian father. She started classical piano studies at 5, and began singing in the Miami Choral Society at 8. Early on, she developed an interest in classical voice, began studying with private instructors, and later with Edward Walker, vocal teacher at the University of Miami.

In 2007, Salvant moved to Aix-en-Provence, France, to study law as well as classical and baroque voice at the Darius Milhaud Conservatory. It was in Aix-en-Provence, with reedist and teacher Jean-François Bonnel,that she started learning about jazz, and sang with her first band. In 2009, after a series of concerts in Paris, she recorded her first album "Cécile", with Jean-François Bonnel's Paris Quintet. A year later, she won the Thelonious Monk competition in Washington D.C.

Over the years, she has developed a curiosity for the history of American music, and the connections between jazz, vaudeville, blues, and folk music. Cécile carefully chooses her repertoire, oftentimes unearthing rarely recorded, forgotten songs, with strong stories.Salvant enjoys popularity in Europe and in the United States, performing in clubs, concert halls, and festivals. In 2014, her second album, WomanChild (Mack Avenue Records) was nominated for a Grammy.

Her third album, For One To Love (for Mack Avenue Records), was recorded in 2015 with Aaron Diehl (piano), Paul Sikivie (bass), and Lawrence Leathers (drums). In 2016, For One To Love won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album.

Ben Ratliff writes in The New York Timesshe sings clearly, with her full pitch range, from a pronounced low end to full and distinct high notes, used sparingly [...] Her voice clamps into each song, performing careful variations on pitch, stretching words but generally not scatting; her face conveys meaning, representing sorrow or serenity like a silent-movie actor.




Fred Hersch, Pianist

Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Fred Hersch, pianist

A select member of jazz’s piano pantheon, Fred Hersch is a pervasively influential creative force who has shaped the music’s course over more than three decades as an improviser, composer, educator, bandleader, collaborator and recording artist. An eight-time Grammy Award nominee, he continues to earn jazz’s most prestigious awards, including recent distinctions as a 2016 Doris Duke Artist and 2016 Jazz Pianist of the Year from the Jazz Journalists Association.

Hersch has long defined jazz’s creative edge in a wide variety of settings, from his breathtaking solo recitals and exploratory duos to his extraordinary trios and innovative chamber settings. With some three dozen albums to his credit as a leader or co-leader, he consistently wins an international array of awards and lavish critical praise for his albums. The 2015 Palmetto album Fred Hersch SOLO won a Coup de Coeur from L’Academie Charles Cros – his third such award – as well as the French Grand Prix de L’Académie de Jazz. His latest release, Sunday Night at the Vanguard (Palmetto), is a definitive statement by his long-running trio with bassist John Hébert and drummer Eric McPherson.

Hersch has earned similar distinction with his writing, garnering a 2003 Guggenheim Fellowship in Composition. He’s collaborated with an astonishing range of artists throughout the worlds of jazz (Joe Henderson, Charlie Haden, Art Farmer, Stan Getz, Bill Frisell); classical (Renée Fleming, Dawn Upshaw, Christopher O'Riley); and Broadway (Audra McDonald). Long admired for his sympathetic work with singers, Hersch has joined with such notable jazz vocalists as Nancy King, Janis Siegel, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Norma Winstone and Kurt Elling. 

The feature documentary The Ballad of Fred Hersch premiered at the prestigious Full Frame Film Festival in March 2016 to a sold-out house and rave reviews. His memoir, Good Things Happen Slowly, will be published in 2017 by Crown Books/Random House.




Nina Stemme, soprano

Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Nina Stemme, soprano
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The Swedish soprano Nina Stemme is today in great demand at all major opera houses worldwide. She is a frequent guest at Metropolitan Opera in New York, La Scala in Milan, Wiener Staatsoper, Opera Bastille in Paris, Royal Opera House in London as well as the opera houses in Stockholm, Zürich, Munich, Barcelona, Houston and San Fransisco, where she in recent years has sung roles such as Isolde (Tristan und Isolde), Brünnhilde (Wagner’s Ring Cycle), Elisabeth (Tannhäuser), Marschallin (Der Rosenkavalier) and Leonore (Fidelio).

Stemme’s role interpretations are met with great acclaim among both audience and critics, and 2013 she was the first recipient of the Opera Award for Best Female Singer. Stemme was appointed Swedish Court Singer 2006, Austrian Kammersängerin 2012, and she has been selected ”Singer of the Year” twice, 2005 and 2012, in the German magazine Opernwelt, andwon the first Opera Award 2013 in London and the Opera News Award 2014.

Her highly acclaimed Isolde in Christof Loy’s production of Tristan and Isolde at the Royal Opera House in London rendered her the Laurence Olivier Award for best role interpretation 2010. Stemme is also honored with the Swedish Royal medal ”Litteris et Artibus” and the Italian Premio Abbiati. 

Since her debut in Cortona, Italy in 1989 as Cherubino, her repertoire has included Rosalinde (Die Fledermaus), Mimi (La Bohème), Cio-Cio-San (Madama Butterfly), Manon Lescaut, Tatjana (Eugene Onegin), Katerina (Greek Passion), Suor Angelica, Euridice (Orfeo ed Euridice), Countess (Le nozze di Figaro), Marguerite (Faust), Agathe (Der Freischutz), Marie (Wozzeck), Nyssia (König Kandaules), Jenufa, Arabella, Eva (Die Meistersinger), Elsa (Lohengrin), Senta (Der fliegende Holländer), Sieglinde (Die Walküre), Amelia (Un ballo in machera), Leonora (La forza del destino), and Aida. Stemme has performed at numerous opera scenes and festivals including Bayreuth, Salzburg, Savonlinna, Glyndebourne, Bregenz and the BBC Proms in London.

Among Stemme’s CD recordings are Fidelio with Claudio Abbado (Decca), Tristan und Isolde with Sir Antonio Pappano (EMI 2005) and Marek Janowski (PentaTone 2012), Die Walküre with Valéry Gergiev (Mariinsky), Tannhäuser with Marek Janowski (PentaTone), Greek Passion (Koch Schwann), König Kandaules (Andante), The Flying Dutchman (Chandos), final scenes from Salome and Capriccio together with Strauss’ Vier letzte Lieder (EMI), Nina Stemme singt Lieder (Phaedra: In Flanders’ Fields volym 40) as well as Wesendonck Lieder (with The Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Thomas Dausgaard). Recordings of La Fanciulla del West, Der Rosenkavalier, La forza del destino, Tristan und Isolde, Aida, and Jenufa are available on DVD.

Future engagements include a.o. Tristan und Isolde at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and Deutsche Oper Berlin, Turandot in Munich, Siegfried in Dresden, Ring Cycle’s in Washington and at the Royal Opera Stockholm.

In January 2016 the Faculty of Fine and Performing Arts at Lund University appoints Nina Stemme as Honorary Doctor.

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Emmanuel Ceysson, harpist

Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Emmanuel Ceysson, harpist
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After 10 years as Principal Harp of the Opera de Paris, Emmanuel Ceysson became the Principal Harp of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in 2015.

His unfailing commitment to his instrument has earned him the highest international distinctions. In rapid succession, he won the Gold Medal and a special performance prize at the USA International Harp Competition (Bloomington) in 2004, First Prize and six special prizes at the New York Young Concert Artist Auditions in 2006, and First Prize at the prestigious ARD Competition in Munich in September 2009, thus becoming the first harpist to obtain awards at three major international events.

A world acclaimed soloist, since 2005 Ceysson has been a presence in such leading venues on the international musical scene as the Wigmore Hall, the Salle Gaveau, Carnegie Hall, the Vienna Konzerthaus, and the Berlin Philharmonie.

Ceysson trained at Paris Conservatoire and is a Young Concert Artist alumnus. His recital and concerto venues include The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Carnegie Hall, Berlin Philharmonie and Vienna Konzerthaus. He is also a respected professor giving regular classes around the world (London, Hong Kong, Bogotá), and is currently teaching at the Mannes School of Music in New York City.

Ceysson has recorded numerous CDs, as a soloist or chamber musician, with Naxos, Naïve, Aparté and Harmonia Mundi.

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Ailyn Pérez, soprano

Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Ailyn Pérez, soprano
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Hailed by the New York Times as “a beautiful woman who commands the stage” and “a major soprano,” Ailyn Pérez is increasingly in demand at the world’s leading opera houses and cultural capitals. She has won both the 2012 Richard Tucker Award, thereby becoming the only Hispanic recipient in the award’s 35-year history, and the 15th annual Plácido Domingo Award. As Opera News observes, “The phrase ‘an embarrassment of riches’ might have been invented to describe the combination of talents that belong to Ailyn Pérez, … who truly seems to have it all.”

Pérez is a graduate of Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts and Indiana University. Her many accolades include the George London Foundation’s Leonie Rysanek Award, Shoshana Foundation Career Grant (2007), 2nd place in the 2006 Plácido Domingo OperaliaCompetition, and honors from the Loren L. Zachary Foundation, Opera Index, and the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation.

In the 2015-16 season Pérez returned to Teatro alla Scala sing Mimi in performances of La bohème, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel; she will return to La Scala twice more in 2017, as Mimi and with her house role debut of Violetta in La Traviata. Last season’s engagements also included a concert tour of Rachmaninov Vocalise and the ‘Letter Scene’ from Eugene Onegin with New Century Chamber Orchestra; the role of Tatyana Bakst in the World Premiere of Jake Heggie’s Great Scott for Dallas Opera; Adina L’elisir d‘amore for Deutsche Oper Berlin; a return to Houston Grand Opera as Countess in Le nozze di Figaro (having made her house debut as Desdemona Otello in 2015); title role Manon for Dallas Opera; Musetta in La bohème at the Metropolitan Opera House and Juliette Romeo et Juliette at the Santa Fe Opera. 

Career highlights include Violetta in La Traviata for Opernhaus Zurich, Hamburg State Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper Munich, San Francisco Opera and at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, where she was hailed as “an ideal Violetta” (Observer, UK); Pérez appeared twice more at Covent Garden the same season, as the title role in Massenet’s Manon, and for her role debut as Liù in Turandot. Other highlights include Adina in L’elisir d’amore for Bayerische Staatsoper Munich, Wiener Staatsoper and Washington National Opera; Violetta and Manon on a Japanese tour with the Royal Opera House; house debuts at the Bolshoi as Mimì and at Glyndebourne as Falstaff’s Alice Ford; Countess in Le nozze di Figaro and Marguerite Faust for Hamburg State Opera; Marguerite Faust in Santa Fe and Amelia Grimaldi in Simon Boccanegra at La Scala, the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin and opposite Leo Nucci at Opernhaus Zurich.

In concert Pérez  has performed Verdi’s Requiem with the Orchestre Métropolitain in Montreal conducted by Yannick Nézet Seguin; Mozart’s Requiem with Antonio Pappano and the Accademia Santa Cecilia Orchestra in Rome and Mahler’s 2nd Symphony with Essen Philharmoniker. In recent seasons she has sung opposite Carreras, Bocelli and with Plácido Domingo in gala concerts at the Royal Opera House, and has made guest appearances at several gala concerts for the Metropolitan Opera. She has also appeared in recital at London’s Rosenblatt Recitals, at Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center and for Santa Fe Desert Chorale. Her debut album, Poème d’un jour: a program of French and Italian songs on the Opus Arte label, was released to rave reviews; the UK’s Independent awarded it a full five stars, while International Record Review confessed: “Every so often, a singer comes along who completely bowls you over.”

Pérez begins the 2016-17 season with a return to the Metropolitan Opera as Mimi in La bohème, before performing with Opera di Oviedo as Giulietta I Capuleti e I Montecchi and Violetta La Traviata at Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin. She will also give recitals in Chicago, at the Three Palaces Festival Malta and Wolf Trap Foundation USA, and will return to Teatro alla Scala as Violetta and as Mimi. Further ahead, Pérez  will return to the Bayerische Staatsoper Munich, Houston Grand Opera and Metropolitan Opera, will make her house debut at Netherlands Opera, and will make her role debut as Fiordiligi Cosi fan tutte

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