Major Milestones Ahead for Tenor Nicholas Phan in 2016-2017 Season, Including Recital Debut in London’s Wigmore Hall, First Performances in Asia, and Title Role Debut in Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex with Philharmonia Orchestra and Esa-Pekka Salonen
August 30, 2016
Praised by Opera News as “one of the most beautiful young lyric voices around” and “a singer who communicates with the immediacy of a contemporary singer-songwriter,” Nicholas Phan launches his 2016-17 season curating and singing at the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago’s fifth annual Collaborative Works Festival , of which he is Artistic Director. The 2016 Festival (Sep 7-10) will focus on the influence of Paul Verlaine’s poetry on the realm of French mélodie and will feature performances by Phan and colleagues, including 2016 Beverly Sills Award winning soprano Ailyn Pérez, throughout Chicago from September 7-10. Among several important milestones for Phan this season is his debut in February at London’s famed Wigmore Hall, where he and his long-time recital partner, pianist Myra Huang, will present the program of his next solo album, Gods & Monsters, featuring German lieder inspired by fairy tales. In September, he will make his debut in Asia performing and recording Bach Cantatas with Masaaki Suzuki and Bach Collegium Japan in Kobe and Tokyo, returning to Tokyo in December to sing Handel’s Messiah with the same forces. Throughout the season he will give concerts with leading orchestras and conductors across America, including two programs with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the first of which will be with the orchestra’s music director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin; his title role debut in Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex with the Philharmonia Orchestra of London and Esa-Pekka Salonen, as part of their residency at Cal Performances; a return engagement with the Cleveland Orchestra for performances of Bach’s St. John Passion led by music director Franz Welser-Möst; his debut with the Nashville Symphony for performances and a live recording of John Harbison’s Requiem, led by the orchestra’s music director Giancarlo Guerrero; and two programs with the San Francisco Symphony led by Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas and Herbert Blomstedt. In January he will perform Beethoven folk song arrangements and Vaughan Williams’s On Wenlock Edge on tour with Musicians from the Marlboro Festival, where he was in residence during the summers of 2007-2010, including stops at Carnegie Hall, the Library of Congress, the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, and Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
Nicholas Phan comments:
“I’m looking forward to so much this coming season, which has so many milestones to celebrate. I’m excited to work with some new conductors whose work I’ve admired for many years, as well as reuniting with many with whom I’ve enjoyed working so much in the past. Being so passionate about the art song repertoire, it’s particularly exciting that I will get to reunite with my beloved colleagues from the Marlboro Music Festival, celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Collaborative Works Festival with my co-founders in Chicago this season, as well as have the opportunity make my debut in one of the greatest recital halls in the world. To see our work in Chicago continue to flourish, as well as the privilege of singing songs in London’s renowned Wigmore Hall in the same season is phenomenal.”
Phan’s work with the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago is the product of the tenor’s passionate commitment to reinvigorating the song recital. In addition to the headlining solo recital by Ms. Pérez and pianist Craig Terry, Phan will be joined by soprano Sarah Shafer, mezzo-soprano Kelley O’Connor, pianists Matthew Gemmill and Scott Allen Jarrett, and the Chicago-based Spektral Quartet in exploring the profound influence of French Symbolist poet Paul Verlaine (1844 – 1896) on the composers of the time, among them Gabriel Fauré, Claude Debussy and Reynaldo Hahn. The Chicago Tribune selected last year’s festival, “American Spirit,” to be on its list of best classical music events of 2015, calling Phan and his colleagues among “the most dedicated champions of art songs.” The Chicago Classical Review has observed, “The vocal recital is less of a locally endangered species thanks to the yeoman efforts of the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago.” For further information visit: http://caichicago.org.
Phan’s program for his Wigmore Hall recital debut in February will showcase German Lieder by Schubert, Schumann, Beethoven, Brahms, Mahler, Mendelssohn and Wolf focusing on various fairy tales, myths and legends. Entitled Gods and Monsters, the program will be recorded by Phan for release next season on Avie Records, for which he has recorded two acclaimed albums of songs by Benjamin Britten and A Painted Tale, a pastiche cycle of early English songs which the tenor himself assembled and which Gramophone named an “Editor’s Choice.” Phan’s wide-ranging discography expanded last season, when the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and its music director Nicholas McGegan released the first recording of Alessandro Scarlatti’s rediscovered serenata La Gloria di Primavera on the orchestra’s own label. The album, featuring Phan as tenor soloist, was made after he joined McGegan for Western Hemisphere premiere performances of the work in San Francisco. Following performances of the work at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall, the New York Times praised “the fine vocal soloists,” noting, “Mr. Phan, in particular, is becoming a star of the American early-music scene, a status that Philharmonia Baroque has long enjoyed.”
Among the other highlights of Phan’s 2015-16 season were a North American tour with the acclaimed early music ensemble Apollo’s Fire, performing both the Evangelist and the tenor arias in Bach’s St. John Passion; and his role debut as Tamino in Mozart’s Magic Flute with Boston Baroque, performing and recording the work live in Jordan Hall. In the fall he gives a recital for the first time at the Library of Congress, and debuts in May at New York’s Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. David Stearns credited Phan in the Philadelphia Inquirer with giving the best vocal performance of 2015, calling the tenor’s interpretation of Vaughan Williams’s On Wenlock Edge – which he will sing again this season, this time with Musicians from Marlboro – “emotionally devastating – mainly thanks to his musical meticulousness that revealed details others missed.” In June, he gave the American premiere with The Knights of Nico Muhly’s song cycle Impossible Things at the New York Philharmonic’s second BIENNIAL presentation of new and recent works. Alex Ross reported in the New Yorker that the work “inevitably recalls Britten’s magisterial cycles, most of all the Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings,” and added: “Nicholas Phan sang with extraordinary warmth of tone and clarity of diction.”