Thursday, March 29, 2012

Collaborative Works Festival

Today is an extremely exciting day for my colleagues at Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago and I, as tonight is the very first concert of our first ever Collaborative Works Festival - our new, annual Festival devoted to the art of song and vocal chamber music.  My colleagues at CAIC and I have actually been dreaming of this Festival since 2005, long before CAIC as an organization was even an idea.  We have had this vision of building a showcase for the art of song and promoting this incredibly rich repertoire that we are so passionate about - from that vision, CAIC was born, and now, the pinnacle of that vision - the Collaborative Works Festival, is about to begin.  Below, you can read more about my thoughts on our vision for this annual series of concerts in my Artistic Director's note reprinted from this weekend's program.  Tonight is a major milestone for us at CAIC, and there will be much to celebrate.

Unfortunately, the life of the traveling artist forces one to miss many important milestones - it's the one aspect of this life in music that I find most difficult.  Tonight is one of those nights in which I have wished in vain that I could clone myself or divide myself in two, and somehow pull off the impossible feat of being able to be in two places at once.  When the opportunity arose to be able to present Martin Katz and Jesse Blumberg as our inaugural festival artists, we at CAIC knew that this was not a chance to be missed. Unfortunately, though, due to the complexity of calendars, I wasn't able to coordinate my own schedule to match with theirs in order to be there for this momentous event.  So, while I will be singing Bach with David Robertson and the Saint Louis Symphony this weekend, Jesse and Martin will be launching this Festival which has become so close to my heart and has become one of my primary passions.  My heart is with them and my colleagues at CAIC this weekend, and I am forever grateful for their integral part in getting this vision of ours off the ground in such classy and spectacular style.  

Tickets are still available for both concerts of the Festival, which are both at the the Cindy Pritzker Auditorium at the Harold Washington Library in downtown Chicago, and there are still spaces available for tomorrow night's Master Class on Schubert songs with Martin Katz, which will be held at the Pianoforte Salon of the FIne Arts Building on Michigan Avenue.  If you are in Chicago, please be sure to catch both of these amazing artists perform these all too rarely performed masterpieces, and celebrate the launch of this new Chicago tradition with us.  I will be celebrating with you all in spirit.


The simple act of a human voice telling a story through song has a way of piercing to the core of our hearts, inciting reactions from laughter to tears. Something aboutadding music to text makes the story a universal one: Music's universal language draws us together, allowing us to hear someone sing their story and feel, "Oh my gosh - that's me...I've lived that, too..."

While the grand forms of musical theater and opera are incredibly powerful and moving, they can feel like blockbuster movies, sweeping up their audience with the staggering weight and momentum of the many dramatic elements involved: orchestras, soloists, choruses, sets, costumes, wigs, make-up, imaginary fourth walls, and gigantic theaters make for a big show. When it comes to songs, there are only the performers and the audience, and the atmosphere created is one of direct communication and personal expression. For me, a song is a special type of conversation that gives me the opportunity to see inside the performers' heart and soul. Because of its direct nature, the art song has an unlimited potential for real vulnerability and intimacy in the relationship created between performers and audience.

As powerful as the song is, it is an art form in peril. There are so few that present performances of song, and even fewer that seek to preserve the art form and cultivate an audience for it. Part of the mission of Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago is to promote the art of song and vocal chamber music. It is our passion for this niche of the vocal repertoire that inspired Shannon, Nicholas, and me to pursue lives in music. We have experienced the transforming power of song as both performers and as listeners, and our lives have been forever changed for it. CAIC has created the Collaborative Works Festival to be Chicago's showcase for this repertoire, and we are excited to be pursuing this part of our mission with such fervor. This music is too powerful to be ignored or forgotten, to be left unplayed and unsung. It is music that is truly for everyone, and it should be enjoyed by all. It just needs more opportunities to shine!

I cannot imagine a more fitting way to kick off this annual Festival than with performances of Franz Schubert's song cycles. Schubert truly is the 'father of the German Lied', and his virtuosic song settings have inspired song composers of every generation and every nationality. This combination of performers is perfectly apt, as well. Martin Katz has mentored countless musicians in the performance and study of song, as well has having accompanied some of the world's most famous singers for nearly half a century. Jesse Blumberg has established himself as a leader of his generation in championing the art of song, both as a performer and a presenter; in 2007 Jesse founded the Five Boroughs Music Festival in New York City, which has become impressive platform for song and chamber music.

I sincerely hope you enjoy the 2012 Collaborative Works Festival's 'Epic Journeys'. We're excited to have you with us on the beginning of our own epic journey, as we inaugurate a new Chicago tradition!

No comments: