NICK IS FEATURED IN THE JUNE ISSUE OF OPERA NEWS
"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..."
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NICK'S MOST RECENT RECORDINGS RECEIVE RAVE REVIEWS
GODS & MONSTERS with Myra Huang
"Nicholas Phan and Myra Huang offer musical storytelling at its finest in a new recital of legends, tales and horror stories drawn from the nineteenth-century German Lieder repertoire. In addition to superb narrative skills and dramatic conviction, Phan possesses enough musical imagination and vocal daring to bring each story and character vividly to life, and Huang matches the tenor with pianistic arsenal of colors and attacks, controlled by her astonishing technique...Among many high points of the recital is Mahler’s Wunderhorn song, “Wo die schönen Trompeten blasen,”...Both artists sustain the magical nocturnal atmosphere, with generous phrasing and restrained dynamics in a sophisticated, beautifully felt and expressed performance..."
- Opera News (Critic's Choice - May 2017)
"...throughout the disc, whose programme is subdivided into four sections and a postlude, his narrative prowess, care with words and desire to bring these stories to life immediately draw you in...this is an appealing, charming and clearly lovingly planned recital, engagingly performed."
"There are so many jewels here...Wo die Schönen Trompeten blasen is outstanding, made so by Phan’s impeccable diction and pianist Myra Huang’s deft characterisation..Phan's sheer sensitivity is a delight. An absorbing recital disc, and an ideal introduction to the joys of lieder. Beautifully recorded..."
- The Arts Desk
"...Huang's fleet fingers make light of some fearsomely virtuosic accompaniments. At his best. Phan offers some exquisitely calibrated soft singing supported by a rich acoustic and crystal-clear sound."
- BBC Music Magazine
"Tenor Nicholas Phan serves up ravishing selections from the German Romantic song repertoire. His lovely Schubert interpretations benefit from his intuitive phrasing, as well as from the fiery and tender accompaniment of pianist Myra Huang."
- iTunes Editor's Notes
"Few voices are as reliable (or beautiful) as Phan's, which gives him freedoms he takes. In everything he sings, storytelling is paramount. Perfect diction, too, is a given, to which Phan adds a kind of around-the-campfire confidentiality that draws you into the tales rather than talking you through them. It's a voice born to sing German Lieder..."
- Bay Area Reporter
"With his wonderfully animated quality as a natural storyteller, Phan’s program could be a good way for a family to introduce children to lieder. Their performances of some of the dramatic songs have a spellbinding quality...[Phan] has a wonderful legato style and delivers clear articulation of the text. He packs intensity into the words with a commanding display of dynamic gradation and vocal color..."
- American Record Guide
BACH'S ST. JOHN PASSION with Apollo's Fire
"Nicholas Phan’s ardent Evangelist paints with a breadth of vocal colours his descriptions of Peter’s bitter weeping and mortification that the crowd wish to free the murderer Barabbas...Sorrell’s keen attention to detail ensures that in many respects this recording hits the sweet spot time and again."
"Among the other new recordings of J. S. Bach’s 'St. John,' one is first-rate, a good choice...a documentation of presentations by Jeannette Sorrell’s ensemble Apollo’s Fire last year in Cleveland and New York. Notable, especially, for Nicholas Phan’s Evangelist...it is a deeply considered account, rendered with consummate skill and artistry."
- The New York Times
"...the singing is the chief glory. Nicholas Phan is a personable Evangelist who also negotiates the jagged perils of 'Ach, mein Sinn' with no nonsense...★★★★"
- BBC Music Magazine
"Phan's Evangelist is powerfully, emotionally projected...undeniably thrilling and moving"
- BBC Radio 3
"The recording is vivid, and Nicholas Phan is an exceptional Evangelist."
- Classic FM
""The production values are excellent...the voice of The Evangelist (i.e. St. John, the narrator), sung by Nicholas Phan, came through with superb and heartbreaking clarity."
- The American Interest
"... Nicholas Phan sings both the role of the Evangelist and the difficult tenor solo arias. It's at the farthest extreme from a star turn, and for me it's the clincher of the real integrity of this reading. The acuity of Phan's narration of the story and the depth of his reflections on it in the arias bind the performance in a sense of shared mission..."
- Bay Area Reporter
NICK IS PROFILED IN SAN FRANCISCO CLASSICAL VOICE
"At 38, tenor Nicholas Phan is one of the few “young” American singers who champions lieder and art song. His love affair with song began a decade ago, during the first of four summers he spent at the Marlboro Music Festival. Since then, he has recorded four song recitals for AVIE, of repertoire ranging from Blow and Beethoven to Britten.
Now devoting a good third of his career to art song, Phan recently gave a recital at London’s fabled Wigmore Hall. This season has also seen his role debut as the lead in Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra of London, and next season he sings Toronto Symphony’s concert version of Bernstein/Sondheim’s Candide. It’s a genuinely 21st-century career..." (READ MORE)
NICK TOURS THE EAST COAST WITH MUSICIANS FROM MARLBORO FESTIVAL PERFORMING BEETHOVEN & VAUGHAN WILLIAMS
"Musicians from Marlboro, the touring ensemble from the Vermont chamber music gathering, are regular visitors to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, each concert bearing a few glimpses into the storied summer festival’s approach to its craft. Sometimes, though, the group offers something more. That was the case Sunday, when its latest iteration included Nicholas Phan, a tenor who, in a short time, has become one of the world’s most remarkable singers.
The reasons for his success were apparent during an incisive performance of “On Wenlock Edge,” Vaughan Williams’s song cycle for tenor, piano, and string quartet...One could admire, in Phan’s performance, the variety of shadings in his voice, the naturalness of his phrasing, and the evenness of his vocal range. But that was all secondary to the sheer intensity with which he inflected every word. It was there in the fragile, whispered opening of “From far, from eve and morning” and in the torrent of anguish in “Is my team ploughing” and “Bredon Hill.” Even when the mood lightened, there was no moment where you did not feel the sheer force of Phan’s projection.
He was, in an odd way, almost as impressive in a selection of five of Beethoven’s settings of Irish folk songs for voice and piano trio. These are not Beethoven’s most distinguished creations, and the rather banal texts suffer in comparison to Housman’s. But there was no less depth in Phan’s artistic investment, and he made the stories these songs told compelling and poignant..."
"...Their intensity rose with the arrival of tenor Nicholas Phan. He and pianist Lydia Brown joined the strings for Vaughan Williams’ On Wenlock Edge, and this combination found meaning in the words of the song cycle: Brown’s gusts of wind in the first song, the recurring bells of the fifth. Each song was granted its own atmosphere.
Phan’s voice -- here as well as in five movements from Beethoven’s Irische Lieder -- is a thing of wonder. He has a warm, centered basic sound that he shades in smart ways to sharpen meanings. He toggled back and forth between a warm vibrato and a timbre a good deal more bald but still beautiful. To Beethoven, he brought a slightly less formal sound..."
98.7 WFMT Chicago includes nick's 'live from wfmt' broadcast among its 'best of 2016' performances
On November 21, 2016, Nick joined WFMT for a live performance of English and French songs by Bernstein, Ives, Rorem, Heggie, Copland, Debussy, and Ferre. He was accompanied by pianist Craig Terry, music director of Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center.
NICK MAKES HIS role debut as the title role in Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex with Esa-pekka salonen and Philharmonia Orchestra
"...In his best work, Salonen has always proved adept at blending structural precision with a kind of stealthy emotional luxuriance. He did it again on Sunday in Zellerbach Hall, leading his orchestra, the robust Lund Male Chorus and a small cast of superb vocal soloists through the stately but poignant tale of Oedipus’ downfall...Tenor Nicholas Phan threw himself into the title role with a valiant blend of elegance and almost heedless fervor..."
"...Tenor Nicholas Phan brought elegant tone and expressive phrasing to the title role..."
"...With his Italian-sounding Latin pronunciation and the bel canto coloratura Stravinsky wrote into the part, Nicholas Phan’s Oedipus called to mind the tragic heroes of Bellini and Donizetti. His powerful, piercing tenor was ideal for the prideful monarch — Phan even incorporated some genuine shouting as the paranoid Oedipus accuses Creon of plotting against him. Elsewhere, the tenor made use of his lovely, floating head-voice in order to imbue his seemingly confident character with a certain vulnerability..."
"Nicholas Phan as Oedipus delivered a performance both convincing and moving, his smooth vocals tackling a difficult range of notes with fluidity and emotion.."
NICK's role debut as tamino in mozart's Magic FLute with boston baroque now streaming on 99.5 WCRB boston
Hear one of the highlights of the concert season on-demand, as Martin Pearlman leads a stellar cast in one of Mozart's most effervescent operas, on WCRB In Concert.
In 1989, 16 years after its founding, Boston Baroque and music director Martin Pearlman made history when they presented the first all period-instrument production of Mozart's The Magic Flute here in the United States. Nearly 30 years later in April of this year, Pearlman returned to this marvelous work with another shimmering historically-informed performance. Recorded on April 16, 2016, at New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall.
Hear the program on-demand by clicking HERE