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NicK Launches 2017-18 Season in Chicago with Sixth Annual Collaborative Arts Festival (Sep 6-9); Other Highlights Include New Artistic Directorships, Multiple Debuts, Repertoire from Lute Songs to Title Role of Bernstein’s Candide

"Described by the Philadelphia Inquirer as an artist whose “voice takes complete possession of the music,” tenor Nicholas Phan once again launches his new season in Chicago, curating the sixth annual Collaborative Arts Festival, which he co-founded in 2010 and of which he is artistic director. This year’s four-day festival (Sep 6-9), “Myths and Legends,” explores a theme of storytelling and fantasy and features guest artist Susanna Phillips in a solo recital and master class. Phan also adds two new artistic associations to his portfolio this season, when he becomes the first singer to serve as Guest Artistic Director of Laguna Beach Music Festival, and serves as Guest Director of Apollo’s Fire, where he will oversee one of the fall subscription weeks with this acclaimed Cleveland-based baroque orchestra.

In concert, Phan makes his Herbst Theater recital debut with San Francisco Performances, where he has served as the vocal artist-in-residence since 2014. The Herbst program, which explores music of the Belle Époque, includes Fauré’s La bonne chanson and Debussy’s Ariettes oubliées, both of which will be featured on his next recording for Avie Records, slated for release in April 2018. Throughout the season, Phan will perform with orchestras big and small in the wide range of repertoire that prompted Opera News to call him “both secure and chameleonic in identity.” Highlights include debuts with A Far CryMinnesota Orchestra, France’s Orchestre d’Auvergne, and the Orquestra Sinfônica de São Paulo led by music director Marin Alsop, marking Phan’s first performances in South America. He also performs with The Knights, Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony under Riccardo Muti, and in the title role of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide with the Toronto Symphony, as part of the world-wide celebration of the centenary of the composer’s birth. Rounding out Phan’s season is a return to the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center to perform Brahms’s Liebeslieder Waltzes in New York and on tour in Chicago, as well as a collaborative performance with the Jasper String Quartet, singing arrangements of Schubert Lieder and Britten folksongs..."  (READ MORE


"WHEN TENOR NICHOLAS PHAN invited me to one of his rehearsals, I jumped at the chance. I’ve long admired Phan’s musical individuality and his smart, thoughtful blog, and I’m fascinated to see him at work. At an October 2016 meeting near Lincoln Center, Phan and pianist Myra Huang are revisiting “Gods and Monsters,” a program of German lieder that they’ve already toured and recorded. If one of them needs to tear through a song full-out to check stamina, the other obliges. They dig into the texts, refining tempo changes—“Is that ritard too indulgent?”—and sharpening musical gestures. 

I’m curious to know why, with a career centered on composers such as Bach, Mozart, Stravinsky and Britten, Phan never felt the need to move to Europe. He answers immediately, “I’m very aware of being an American artist, and I feel a responsibility to be here.” Half Greek, half Chinese, and raised in the Midwest, Phan admits that the first time he identified as an American—“and what that meant”—was in 2003, at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition. “It was like being at the Olympics, with flags from every country hanging at the hotels,” he says. Phan, who was one of the youngest competitors that year, has only one regret. “I was too chicken to just go out and sing ‘Shenandoah.’” 

Now, at thirty-eight, Phan seems both secure and chameleonic in identity. He’s smart and well-educated, an ex-violinist (“Sometimes it’s a relief having and not being the instrument”) and a sophisticated chamber musician..."