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Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Collegiate Chorale Presents the World Premiere Two Act Concert Version of The Grapes of Wrath

James Bagwell, Music Director
March 22, 2010 at 8pm at Carnegie Hall

The Collegiate Chorale, led by Music Director James Bagwell, presents the World Premiere Two Act Concert Version of Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie's musical version of Nobel Prize-winner John Steinbeck's epic Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Grapes of Wrath, on March 22, 2010 at 8pm at Carnegie Hall, conducted by Ted Sperling with Jane Fonda as the narrator.  Tickets are $25-$160 and are available through CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800, at the Carnegie Hall Box Office, or online at  For more information visit

An all-star cast from Broadway and the classical world comes together to present a rare mingling of opera and theatre in The Grapes of Wrath.  Originally commissioned and produced by the Minnesota Opera and called "The great American opera" by Musical America, Gordon and Korie's new work melds popular musical styles of the '20s and '30s (song-and-dance, soaring love songs, banjo ballads, jazz choruses, and a barbershop quartet) with the classic drama of grand opera, all to a heart-wrenching yet uplifting effect.  The composer (Gordon) and librettist (Korie) have crafted a special concert version of their original opera with narration written especially for this presentation.  The starry cast includes  Jane Fonda (narrator), Victoria Clark, Christine Ebersole, Nathan Gunn, Elizabeth Futral, Anthony Dean Griffey, Peter Halverson, Steven Pasquale, Stephen Powell, Andrew Wilkowske and Matthew Worth and the role of Tom Joad's young sister, Ruthie, will be sung by Nathan Gunn's daughter Madelyn Gunn.  Music by Ricky Ian Gordon and libretto by Michael Korie.  Featuring the American Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ted Sperling.  Directed by Eric Simonson with lighting design by Frances Aronson and projection design by Wendall Harrington.
"In this concert version, we convey the story of the Joad family's journey across America in approximately two hours.  We have retained many of the big musical set pieces, arias and choral ensembles, and we have eliminated much of the recitative, replacing it with a narrator who reads sections from the novel, allowing segues from those powerful passages seamlessly into music that continues the drama without loss of suspense or momentum.  In addition, this version will feature music never heard in the original full staging of the opera.  This is not only a concert version of the full opera, but a different version," said Michael Korie.

"We are honored to be presenting this richly textured work of soaring passion and devastating beauty.  Inherent in its mission is The Chorale's commitment to premiering or showcasing exceptional American works such as Ricky Ian Gordon's The Grapes of Wrath.  Gordon and librettist Michael Korie have given a musical voice to this quintessentially American novel in a lyrical language which draws from opera and American musical theater idioms.  The choral writing and casting of soloists reflect this cross-over nature.  I think both opera and Broadway lovers alike will be moved by this remarkable work," said James Bagwell, music director of The Collegiate Chorale.
The Collegiate Chorale, among New York's foremost vocal ensembles, has added to the richness of the city's cultural fabric for more than 65 years.  Founded in 1941 by the legendary conductor Robert Shaw, The Chorale achieved national and international prominence under the leadership of Robert Bass.  The Chorale has established a preeminent reputation for its interpretations of the traditional choral repertoire, vocal works by American composers, and rarely heard operas-in-concert, as well as commissions and premieres of new works by today's most exciting creative artists.  In the summer of 2009, The Chorale performed for the fourth season at Switzerland's Verbier Music Festival.  In July 2008, The Chorale toured with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under Zubin Mehta in Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem.
The mission of The Collegiate Chorale is to enrich its audiences through innovative programming and exceptional performances of a broad range of vocal music featuring a premier choral ensemble.  Inherent in its mission is The Chorale's belief that choral music is a compelling collaboration that creates a powerful, shared experience unifying listeners and musicians of all backgrounds, beliefs and ages.
Music Director James Bagwell maintains an active schedule throughout the United States as a conductor of choral, operatic, and orchestral music.  He has recently been named Principal Guest Conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra in New York.  Since 2003, he has been Director of Choruses for the Bard Music Festival, conducting and preparing choral works during the summer festival at the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College. He has also prepared The Concert Chorale of New York for performances with the American Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Mostly Mozart Festival (broadcast nationally in 2006 on Live from Lincoln Center), all in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. He was Music Director of The Dessoff Choirs for the past five season, and in 2009 he prepared the Dessoff Symphonic Choir for the New York Philharmonic performances of both Mahler's Eighth Symphony and Britten's War Requiem for Lorin Maazel's final concerts as Music Director.
James Bagwell has trained choruses for a number of major American and International orchestras, including the San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, NHK Symphony (Japan), St. Petersburg Symphony, The American Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. He has worked with noted conductors such as Lorin Maazel, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Michael Tilson Thomas, Louis Langrée, Leon Botstein, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Raymond Leppard, James Conlon, Jesús López-Cobos, Erich Kunzel, Leon Fleischer, and Robert Shaw.
For eleven seasons, he has been Music Director for the May Festival Youth Choir in Cincinnati, which was recently featured on the radio program From the Top. He has conducted some 25 productions as Music Director of Light Opera Oklahoma, including Candide, Sweeney Todd, and The Merry Widow, among others.  At Bard SummerScape he has led numerous theatrical works, most notably Copland's The Tender Land, which received unanimous praise from The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Opera News. He frequently appears as guest conductor for orchestras around the country and abroad, including the Jerusalem Symphony, Tulsa Symphony, and the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra.  For three seasons he was Artistic Director of The Indianapolis Symphonic Choir.  He holds degrees from Birmingham-Southern College, Florida State University, and Indiana University. He has taught since 2000 at Bard College, where he is Director of the Music Program.  
For more information, visit

Ricky Ian Gordon's (Music) credits include Dream True; States of Independence; and Stonewall/Night Variations with Tina Landau; The Tibetan Book of the Dead with Jean Claude Van Itallie; Only Heaven with Langston Hughes and Nancy Rhodes; Autumn Valentine; Sweet Song; and Morning Star with William Hoffman. He was part of the American Songbook Series in Bright Eyed Joy/The Music of Ricky Ian Gordon at Lincoln Center and at The Guggenheim. Recordings include Audra McDonald's Way Back to Paradise, Bright-Eyed Joy, Of Eternal Light (Water Music), Only Heaven and Genius Child (a song cycle for Harolyn Blackwell). Awards: The National Institute for Music Theater Award, The Stephen Sondheim Award, The Gilman and Gonzalez-Falla Music Theatre Foundation Award, The Jonathan Larson Foundation Award, The Constance Klinsky Award, The Richard Rodgers Award.
Michael Korie (Libretto) was nominated for Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards for Grey Gardens. He and composer Scott Frankel received the ASCAP Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award. Also with Frankel are two musicals in development, Doll and Meet Mister Future. With composer Ricky Ian Gordon, his libretto to The Grapes of Wrath premiered to acclaim at Minnesota Opera, with upcoming productions at Utah Opera, Houston Grand Opera and Pittsburgh Opera. His librettos for operas composed by Stewart Wallace include Harvey Milk (San Francisco Opera) and Hopper's Wife (Long Beach Opera), both directed by Christopher Alden; Kabbalah (Next Wave Festival); and Where's Dick?, directed by Richard Foreman (Houston Grand Opera). He co-wrote lyrics with Amy Powers to composer Lucy Simon's Zhivago, book by Michael Weller, directed by Des McAnuff (La Jolla Playhouse).
Jane Fonda's (Narrator) work on stage and screen has earned her numerous nominations and awards, including Oscar Awards (Best Actress in 1971 for Klute and in 1978 for Coming Home) and an Emmy Award for her performance in "The Dollmaker." Her credits include Monster-in-Law, Georgia Rule, Coming Home, The China Syndrome, Julia, Barefoot in the Park, Nine to Five, On Golden Pond, "The Dollmaker" and four Broadway plays including Invitation to a March and There Was a Little Girl (Theatre World Award).  In May 2005, Random House published Fonda's memoirs, My Life So Far.  She has long been known for activism and advocacy on environmental issues, human rights and the empowerment of women and girls.
Nathan Gunn (Tom Joad) recently created the roles of Alec Harvey in André Previn's Brief Encounter at the Houston Grand Opera and Father Delura in Peter Eötvös' Love and Other Demons at the 2008 Glyndebourne Opera Festival. Other engagements this season include his returns to the Metropolitan Opera for Die Zauberflöte, the Dallas Opera for Malatesta in Don Pasquale and the Los Angles Opera for Il Barbiere di Siviglia and L'Elisir d'Amore. He also makes his debut in Bilbao as the title role in Billy Budd.  Mr. Gunn has appeared in internationally renowned opera houses such as the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Seattle Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Royal Opera House (Covent Garden), Paris Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper, Glyndebourne Opera Festival, and the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels.
Victoria Clark (Ma Joad) received the 2005 Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards, as well as a Drama League honor for her luminous portrayal of protective but domineering mother Margaret Johnson in the critically-acclaimed Craig Lucas-Adam Guettel musical The Light in the Piazza directed by Bartlett Sher at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater. Her virtuoso performance in the Tony Award-winning musical has made her a favorite among audiences and critics, including The New York Times' Ben Brantley, who called Clark's work in Piazza "the best musical performance by an actress this season." She garnered equally enthusiastic reviews for her performance at Chicago's Goodman Theater in 2004, earning the prestigious Joseph Jefferson Award.  Last season, Clark was reunited with her colleagues Craig Lucas and Bartlett Sher for the Playwrights Horizons production of A Prayer for My Enemy.
Christine Ebersole (Mae / Waitress) received the Tony Award, Obie Award, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Special Citation from NY Drama Critics and the Drama League Award for Performance of the Year for her dual roles as Edith and Edie Beale in Grey Gardens. Her Broadway credits include Steel Magnolias, Dinner at Eight (Tony and Outer Critics Circle noms.), 42nd Street (2001 Tony and Outer Critics Circle awards), The Best Man, Getting Away With Murder, Harrigan 'n Hart, Camelot (opposite Richard Burton and Richard Harris), Oklahoma!, On the Twentieth Century, I Love My Wife and Angel Street. Off-Broadway credits include Alan Bennett's Talking Heads (2003 Obie and Outer Critics Circle awards, Drama Desk nom.), Three Sisters, Geniuses and four Encores! concerts. Regional credits include Much Ado About Nothing (Old Globe), Mame, Evita, My Fair Lady, The Marriage of Bette and Boo and Laughing Wild. Films include Tootsie, Amadeus, Dead Again, Richie Rich, Black Sheep, Folks!, True Crime, Till There Was You, My Favorite Martian, Thief of Hearts and My Girl 2.
Elizabeth Futral (Rosasharn) has established herself as one of the major coloratura sopranos in the world today, with a diverse repertoire that includes Vivaldi, Handel, Mozart, Bellini, Donizetti, Rossini, Verdi, Glass, and Previn.  Ms. Futral has garnered raves at the world's greatest opera houses in such roles as Gilda, Juliette, Lakmé, Lucia, Nanetta, Mélisande, Romilda, and Violetta. She dazzled audiences and critics with her debut at the Los Angeles Opera as Cleopatra in Francisco Negrin's acclaimed production of Handel's Giulio Cesare. This was followed by her highly anticipated return to the New York City Opera, where she starred in the title role of the company's new production of Douglas Moore's classic American opera, The Ballad of Baby Doe.
Two-time Grammy Award-winning American tenor Anthony Dean Griffey  (Jim Casy) has captured critical and popular acclaim on opera, concert and recital stages around the world.  He has performed leading roles at the great international opera houses including The Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Glyndebourne, the Opera National de Paris, and the Teatro Comunale di Firenze.   A regular guest of the world's orchestras, Mr. Griffey has collaborated with many of today's pre-eminent conductors, including James Levine, Seiji Ozawa, André Previn, Michael Tilson Thomas, Sir Andrew Davis, Esa Pekka Salonen, Alan Gilbert, Kurt Masur, Donald Runnicles, Sir Colin Davis, Christoph Eschenbach, Valery Gergiev, James Conlon, and Charles Dutoit.
Baritone Peter Halverson (Pa Joad) has performed throughout the United States, distinguishing himself on the dramatic stage and in concert. A versatile performer, he has more than fifty roles to his credit including the title roles in Pelléas et Mélisande, Eugene Onegin, Don Giovanni, The Barber of Seville, Gianni Schicchi, The Man of La Mancha and Phantom. He has been a frequent guest artist with the Minnesota Opera, Minnesota Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, North Star Opera, and has appeared at the Kennedy Center Mozart Festival, Oregon Bach Festival and San Luis Osbispo Mozart Festival. In addition, he has sung with the Florentine Opera, Berkshire Opera, Madison Opera, Tacoma Opera, Chattanooga Opera, National Symphony, Dallas Symphony, San Antonio Symphony and New Mexico Symphony.
American baritone Stephen Powell (Uncle John) brings his handsome voice, elegant musicianship, and robust stage presence to a wide range of music, from Monteverdi and Handel through Verdi and Puccini to Sondheim and John Adams.  In 2009-10, Stephen Powell appears as Ford in Verdi's Falstaff with Pittsburgh Opera; sings as soloist in Szymanowski's Stabat Mater with Rome's Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Christoph Eschenbach conducting; in Messiah with the Huddersfield Choral Society in England; in the Brahms Requiem with Baltimore Symphony, as well as the Dutch Radio Orchestra at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Holland, both with Marin Alsop conducting; in Carmina Burana with Cincinnati Symphony, Paavo Jarvi conducting; appears in recital with wife Barbara Shirvis in Dallas, Texas; and sings 2 gala concerts with the North Carolina Symphony, Grant Llewellyn conducting. He also makes his Asian debut in La Traviata at the Beijing National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing, China, Lorin Maazel conducting.
Andrew Wilkowske (Noah) whose voice has been described as "nimble," with an "impressively open top," is one of the most versatile performers on the stage today. A gifted actor as well as singer, Wilkowske's Papageno in The Magic Flute "stole the show" according to the Washington Post, and was a "lusty-voiced fellow," according to Opera News.  Engagements this season include a series of Figaros, making his debut as Rossini's Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with the Skylight Opera. He returns to Skylight later this season in the title role of Le Nozze di Figaro to complete Skylight's Figaro Cycle. In addition, Wilkowske reprises Mozart's Figaro with the Green Mountain Opera Festival (under the baton of Maestro Jacques Lacombe), Ashlawn Opera, and the Acadiana Symphony. Wilkowske's experiences are documented in his award-winning 'a year of figaro' blog.
Steven Pasquale 
(Al) most recently starred on Broadway in Neil LaBute's reasons to be pretty. A regular on the theater scene, Pasquale's credits include Archibald Craven in The Secret Garden (World AIDS Day Concert), Henrik in A Little Night Music (opposite Victor Garber, Natasha Richardson and Venessa Redgrave), Captain Taylor in A Soldier's Play (Second Stage, opposite Taye Diggs), Tom in the Neil LaBute off-Broadway hit, Fat Pig, Robbie in the Ahrens/Flahrety/McNally musical A Man of No Importance (Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations), Beautiful Child, The Spitfire Grill, Spinning Into Butter, Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party and he created the role of Fabrizio in Adam Guettel and Craig Lucas' The Light in the Piazza. Television audiences have followed him for five seasons as Sean Garrity on the FX hit show "Rescue Me." His other television credits include a recurring role on HBO's Emmy and Golden Globe Award winning drama "Six Feet Under" and Sofia Coppola's "Platinum."
Hailed by the Dallas Morning News for his "dashing, fine bright baritone" and the New York Times for a voice that is "fully powered and persuasively expressive," Matthew Worth (Ragged Man / Connie Rivers / Truck Driver) was recently the featured "Sound Bites" artist in Opera News, and is enjoying successes on both the operatic and concert stages, in all styles from the Renaissance to new repertoire. Matthew Worth's engagements in 2009-10 include a return to Chicago Opera Theater as Charlie in Jake Heggie's Three Decembers, Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette with New Orleans Opera, the title role in Don Giovanni with Virginia Opera, Jupiter in Orpheus in the Underworld with Central City Opera, Messiah at University of Richmond, in concert performances of The Grapes of Wrath with New York's Collegiate Chorale, as soloist in a holiday concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and in Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra conducted by Donald Runnicles. 
Ted Sperling (Conductor) won the 2005 Tony and Drama Desk Awards for his orchestrations of The Light in the Piazza, for which he was also music director. Broadway credits as music director/conductor/pianist: Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Full Monty, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Angels in America, My Favorite Year, Falsettos, Drood, Les Miserables, Roza and Sunday In the Park With George. Mr. Sperling was also an original cast member of the Broadway musical Titanic. Off-Broadway credits as music director: A Man of No Importance, Wise Guys, A New Brain, Saturn Returns, Floyd Collins, Falsettoland, and Romance in Hard Times. As a stage director Charlotte: Life? Or Theater? and Striking 12, as well as a revival of Lady in the Dark starring Andrea Marcovicci. Mr. Sperling conducted the musical scores for the films The Manchurian Candidate, Everything Is Illuminated, and directed the short musical film Love, Mom, starring Tonya Pinkins.

Eric Simonson's (Director)plays and adaptations at Steppenwolf, where he is a member of the ensemble, include Nomathemba (written with Ntozake Shange and Joseph Shabalala), Carter's Way and, most recently, Honest (for First Look). Other plays include The Last Hurrah, Work Song: Three Views of Frank Lloyd Wright (with Jeffrey Hatcher), Edge of the World, Lombardi: The Only Thing and Speak American.  His work has been produced in Japan and throughout the United States at theaters including The Huntington Theatre Company, L.A. Theatre Works, City Theatre of Pittsburgh, The Kennedy Center, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Arizona Theatre Company, Madison Repertory Theatre, Kansas City Repertory Theatre and Crossroads Theatre Company. His adaptation of Moby Dick at Milwaukee Repertory was chosen as one of Time Magazine's top ten productions of 2002. Eric is also an accomplished theatre, film and opera director. His production of Steppenwolf's The Song of Jacob Zulu received six Tony® Award nominations, including one for best direction. He received the 2006 Academy Award for his documentary short A Note of Triumph, as well as the 2005 Princess Grace Statue Award for sustained artistic achievement. His adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five (originally produced at Steppenwolf) recently received its Off-Broadway premiere at New York's 59E59 Theater.
The American Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1962 by Leopold Stokowski. Under the music direction of Leon Botstein since 1992, the American Symphony has pioneered the performance of thematically organized concerts, linking music to the visual arts, literature, politics, and history. In addition, the American Symphony Orchestra performs in a lecture/concert series with audience interaction called Classics Declassified at Peter Norton Symphony Space. It is also the resident orchestra of the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College, where it performs an annual concert series as well as in Bard's annual SummerScape Festival and the Bard Music Festival. ASO maintains an award-winning music education program which is presented at numerous high schools through New York, New Jersey, and Long Island.  Among the American Symphony's recent recordings are music by Copland, Sessions, Perle, and Rands for New World Records, and music of Ernst von Dohnányi for Bridge Records. Its recording of Richard Strauss's opera Die ägyptische Helena with Deborah Voigt and of Strauss's Die Liebe der Danae were made for Telarc. Other recordings with Leon Botstein include Franz Schubert: Orchestrated on the Koch International label, with works by Joachim, Mottl, and Webern, and, on the Vanguard Classics label, Johannes Brahms's Serenade No. 1 in D major, Op. 11 (1860). The American Symphony inaugurated São Paolo's new concert hall and has made several tours of Asia and Europe. It has performed with the Peer Gynt Theater Company of Norway in Central Park, and has a long history of appearing in charitable and public benefits for such organizations as Sha'are Zedek Hospital, the Jerusalem Foundation, and PBS.  The American Symphony Orchestra has had an illustrious history of music directors and guest conductors.  Succeeding Leopold Stokowski, who directed the Orchestra from 1962 to 1972, were Kazuyoshi Akiyama (1973-1978), Sergiu Comissiona (1978-1982), Moshe Atzmon and Guiseppe Patane (co-directors 1982-1984), John Mauceri (1985-1987), and Catherine Comet (1990-1992).  Notable guest conductors have included Leonard Bernstein, Karl Böhm, Aaron Copland, Morton Gould, Aram Khachaturian, James Levine, André Previn, Yehudi Menuhin, James de Priest, Gunther Schuller, Leonard Slatkin, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Sir William Walton.
For season subscriptions please contact The Chorale office at 646.202.9623 or visit

Israel in Egypt at Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, New York University
Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 8pm
Music by George F. Handel
Sari Gruber, soprano
Brian Asawa, alto
Rufus Muller, tenor

The American Symphony Orchestra
James Bagwell, Conductor

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