Streaming live on WKNO at 7pm CT on Thursday, May 20
Stephanie Doche, mezzo soprano
Tess Altiveros, soprano
Jake Stamatis, baritone
Dane Suarez, tenor
Tanisha Ward, soprano
Cris Frisco, pianist and curator
Jessica Munson, violin
Mark Wallace, cello
Rhythm Section Vocalists from Stax Music Academy
A Regular Woman from In Real Life (Paterson) - Tess Altiveros
Words from Pretty Little Room (Patterson) - Stephanie Doche
Pat the Bassoonist from Speed Dating Tonight (Ching) - Jake Stamatis
Grief (Still) - Tanisha Ward
If You Should Go (Still) - Tanisha Ward
Parted (Still) - Tanisha Ward
Selections from Songs of Love (Baur) - Stephanie Doche
III. A Song of Cherry Time
IV. Song of the River
V. You and I
(M)av(I)ye (Ince) - Jake Stamatis
Conundrum (Orth) - Dane Suarez (tenor), Jessica Munson (violin), and Mark Wallace (cello)
A medley arranged by Keia Johnson - Rhythm Section Vocalists from Stax Music Academy
Sitting on the Dock of the Bay
What You See is What You Get
Stephanie Doche*, mezzo-soprano
Praised as “explosively eloquent” (Memphis Flyer) and beholding “fervent, commanding vocal prowess,” (San Diego Story), French-American mezzo-soprano Stephanie Doche (rhymes with posh) is highly coveted for her “darkly shaded voice". Critically acclaimed for her fioratura singing, Stephanie performed her “triumphant” portrayal as Angelina in La Cenerentola with both Opéra Louisiane and Opera NEO in 2019. Stephanie joins the Florida Grand Opera FGO Studio for the 2020/2021 season anticipating to perform the roles of Flora Bervoix in La traviata and Siébel in Faust (both canceled due to COVID-19). In 2021, Stephanie performs the roles of Dinah in Trouble in Tahiti, Pamela/Mama in New York Stories (Hagen), and Rosine in Signor Deluso (Pasatieri) as part of Florida Grand Opera’s Winter Opera Series. During the 2018/2019 season she was a Handorf Company Artist with Opera Memphis, successfully performing the wide-ranging roles of Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, Cousin Hebe in H.M.S. Pinafore, and Toledo in The Falling & the Rising (professional premiere). In 2021, Stephanie is slated to appear with Opera Company of Middlebury, Opéra Louisiane, and Finger Lakes Opera, as well as make her role debut as Bizet’s iconic femme fatale, Carmen.
Tess Altiveros, soprano
Hailed by Opera News for "a ripe, sensual lyric soprano", Tess Altiveros’s work has been described as a “tour de force" by the Pioneer Press and “particularly soulful” by the L.A. Times. Known for her versatility, recent credits span repertoire from the 17th century to the 21st, including The Falling and the Rising (Seattle Opera), Le Nozze di Figaro (Kentucky Opera), Die Zauberflote (Pacific Symphony), West Side Story (Boulder Philharmonic & Central City Opera), the West Coast tour of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo under Maestro Stephen Stubbs (Pacific MusicWorks), St Matthew Passion (fully staged with the Colorado Symphony), and the world premiere of Muehleisen’s Borders at Carnegie Hall. Upcoming engagements include L’Elisir d’Amore (Seattle Opera), The Falling and the Rising (Opera on the James), Mozart C Minor Mass (Seattle Pro Musica), Wayward Sisters (Pacific MusicWorks), and Rodas Recordada (Music of Remembrance). A native Seattleite, Ms. Altiveros has been a regular anthem singer for the Seattle Mariners for over a decade.
Jake Stamatis, baritone
Jake Stamatis, born and raised in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania, has performed a variety of roles on the operatic stage. His quick, kind, and loveable demeanor has charmed audiences in such roles as Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro, Leporello in Don Giovanni, Ko-Ko in The Mikado, Schaunard in La Bohème, and Frosch in Die Fledermaus where he “never sang a note yet stole the third act with his hilarious delivery of lines” (Lee Shephard, the Broome County Arts Council). As an Opera Memphis Handorf Company Artist, Jake appeared as Betto in Gianni Schicchi and Guglielmo in Cosí fan tutte (cancelled due to COVID19) and was a pioneering member of the celebrated Sing2Me program. He received his bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance from Susquehanna University and his master’s degree from Binghamton University.
Dane Suarez*, tenor
Praised for his "big, heroic voice" and "powerful emotions," tenor Dane Suarez has developed an exciting and varied career. In the winter of 2020, Mr. Suarez returned to West Bay Opera to perform the role of Macduff (Macbeth). For the remainder of the 2020 season, he was scheduled to reprise the role of Rodolfo (La bohème) with Fort Worth Opera (COVID19 postponement), perform the title role in Faust with Opera Neo (COVID19 postponement), and make his role debut as Manrico (Il trovatore) with Opera in the Heights (COVID19 postponement). For 2020-2021, Mr. Suarez is happy to have returned to Opera Memphis, he joined the Memphis Symphony Orchestra for their holiday concert, and he will perform the role of Don José (Carmen) with Festival Opera. Dane was a National Semi-Finalist of The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He made his Washington National Opera debut in 2015 and his New York City Opera debut in 2017. He has sung leading roles with Opera San Jose, Opera Memphis, Aspen Music Festival, and more. Dane currently resides in Memphis with his wife and their two perfect dogs.
Tanisha Ward, soprano
Tanisha Ward is a native Memphian, former Artist-in-Residence with Opera Memphis, and the winner of an Emerging Artist Grant from Arts Memphis. She holds a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Mississippi. Ward has been seen in supporting and featured roles with several Opera Memphis productions including Aida, Treemonisha, Porgy and Bess, and Turandot. She also covered the leading soprano role of Euridice in Gluck’s Orpheus. Ward was featured in a one-woman show entitled Black Roots of Opera for Opera Memphis in honor of Black History Month. She has sung with several other regional and international companies and orchestras including Playhouse on the Square, New York Lyric Opera, Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, and Red Mountain Theater. She is currently a Company Artist with Moon River Opera in Savannah, Georgia.
Cris Frisco, pianist and curator
Conductor and pianist, Cris Frisco, is a collaborative musician equally at home in the worlds of classical and popular music. He is currently the Interim Director of Musical Activities at Opera Memphis and Music Director of Opera Fayetteville. In past seasons he has been conductor, music director, and pianist for productions on Broadway, at the Philadelphia Orchestra, McCarter Theatre Center, Walnut Street Theater, Opera Birmingham, Kentucky Opera, Opera Fayetteville, The Princeton Festival, The Theatre Outlet, Muhlenberg Summer Theater, Passage Theater, and the Bucks County Playhouse. Currently in development, he is the music director for Anatomiae Occulti’s contemporary dance production of Sweeney Todd. A committed educator for the next generation of artists, Cris has served on the faculties of Westminster Choir College, Rutgers University, the Castleton Festival, The New School for Drama’s Summer Immersion Experience, the Westminster CoOPERAtive, the Opera Theater and Music Festival of Lucca, and Wichita State’s summer study program in Florence, Italy. He is also a member of the coaching and accompanying staff at the New School for Drama and Mannes College of Music.
Rhythm Section Vocalists, Stax Music Academy
The Stax Music Academy Rhythm Section is SMA’s flagship ensemble and performs many different styles of music including the Stax Records catalogue, rhythm & blues, funk, and contemporary jazz. Students refine their accuracy of rhythm, phrasing, articulation, and music theory. Stax Music Academy Rhythm Section vocalists learn assigned vocal repertoire verbatim, perform vocal choreography, and portray proper practice and performance etiquette. Throughout the years, members of the Rhythm Section have traveled the world playing in places such as Australia, Italy, France, Germany, England, New York's Lincoln Center, and Washington D.C.'s Kennedy Center. In 2021, they performed alongside Ant Clemons and Justin Timberlake for the Biden-Harris inauguration to viewers across the world. They followed up that performance by leading the Stax Music Academy Black History Month Virtual Concert which was viewed by more than 100,000 fans.
*denotes current Handorf Company Artists
Robert G. Patterson
A resident of Memphis, Robert G. Patterson's music is infused with the popular rhythms and melodic fragments around him, and these provide source material for his personal voice. A student of George Crumb and Don Freund, he is a resident composer with the Luna Nova Ensemble and recent accomplishments include commissions from the International Horn Society, the One Coin Concert series in Osaka, Japan, and First Prize in the NATS Art Song Composition. In addition to his musical activities, Patterson also has been a professional software developer, and his interest in computers led him to become an expert in musical engravings using a computer. His Patterson Plug-Ins Collection for Finale software is a staple of composers and copyists worldwide.
An opera composer/librettist, conductor, and songwriter, Michael Ching is the composer/librettist of the opera Speed Dating Tonight! With nearly one hundred productions since its 2013 premiere at the Janiec Opera of the Brevard Music Center, Speed Dating Tonight! is one of the most popular operas of the 21st century. His most recent project, All Dressed Up (No Place to Go) for L'arietta Productions in Singapore, includes nine quarantine-related songs which are now part of Speed Dating Tonight In 2021, Savannah Voice Festival will premiere his Cenerentola sequel, A Royal Feast. Michael is Music Director of Amarillo Opera, Composer-in-Residence at Savannah Voice Festival, and Opera consultant at EC Schirmer. He is the former Artistic Director of Opera Memphis. In 2019, Michael was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Opera Association. Michael studied composition with Robert Ward at Duke University and Carlisle Floyd at the Houston Opera Studio.
Described by the press as “a modern-day master” (AXS.com) and the “highlight of the program” (The New York Times), Robert Paterson has won awards for his music in virtually every classical genre. The Classical Recording Foundation at Carnegie’s Weill Hall named Paterson Composer of The Year in 2011, and his music has been on the Grammy ballot for the past six seasons. Paterson’s music has been performed by over one hundred ensembles, including Nashville Opera (for the world premiere of Three Way with a libretto by David Cote), Opera Orlando, Minnesota Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, Vermont Symphony Orchestra, Delaware Symphony, Louisville Orchestra, and the Buffalo Philharmonic. Alongside his wife, Victoria, Robert co-directs Mostly Modern Projects, a non-profit that focuses on performing and recording music by living composers.
William Grant Still
A prolific composer of over 200 significant works, William Grant Still is popularly known as the “Dean of African-American Composers”. He was the first Black conductor to lead a major U.S. orchestra, the first to have an opera performed by a major company, and the first American composer to have a work performed by New York City Opera. Born in Mississippi, he grew up in Little Rock, AR and studied at Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Still lived and worked in Memphis as a member of W. C. Handy’s band before joining the U.S. Navy to serve in the First World War. After the war, Still settled in Harlem, where he became part of the vibrant artistic community later known as the Harlem Renaissance. Ultimately, Still moved to Los Angeles where he composed operas, symphonies, and arranged the music for three films.
John Baur was born in 1947 in St. Louis, and attended the College-Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati, where he completed the Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral degrees in composition. His major teachers during that time were Paul Cooper and Jeno Takacs. In 1971 he received a Fulbright-Hayes grant to study with Thea Musgrave and Richard Rodney Bennett in London, and also received lessons and seminars with Nadia Boulanger while visiting Paris. His works span a wide variety of genres, from three string quartets through orchestral and chorus/orchestra as well as large ensembles with ballet. His numerous commissions have been from various performers, such as Bertram Turetsky, the Kronos Quartet, Opera Memphis, and LONTANO (in London). This has led to three National Endowment for the Arts grants, among others. His opera, The Promise, is a work based on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. He has completed a libretto of a new opera, Magdala, based on the life of Mary Magdalene, which he will finish in retirement. Other projects in retirement include lectures on theoretical topics from the medieval and renaissance periods and the symphonies of Joseph Haydn. Baur’s teaching career began at the College-Conservatory of Music as a graduate assistant, and continued at the Shenandoah Conservatory, Tulane University, and the University of Memphis’ Scheidt School of Music, where he taught for 41 years.
The music of Turkish/American composer Kamran Ince bridges Anatolia and Balkans to the West. The energy and rawness of Turkish and Balkan folk music, the spirituality of Byzantium and Ottoman court music, the tradition of European art music and the extravert and popular qualities of the American psyche are the base of his sound world. These ingredients happily breathe in cohesion, and they spin the linear and vertical contrasts so essential to his music forward. Hailed by The Los Angeles Times as “that rare composer able to sound connected with modern music, and yet still seem exotic”, Ince was born in Montana in 1960 to American and Turkish parents. He holds a Doctorate from Eastman School of Music, and currently serves as Professor of Composition at University of Memphis and at MIAM, Istanbul Technical University. His numerous prizes include the Prix de Rome, the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Lili Boulanger Prize, and the Arts and Letters Award in Music from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His Waves of Talya was named one of the best chamber works of the 20th Century by a living composer in the Chamber Music Magazine. His music is published by Schott Music Corporation. Five Naxos CDs of Ince’s music have recently been released. They are Kamran Ince, Music for a Lost Earth, Galatasaray, Hammers & Whistlers, and Constantinople. His other CD’s include In White on Innova, Fall of Constantinople on Decca, and Kamran Ince & Friends on Troy.
Rene Orth is a composer who "breaks new ground" (Opera News), writing music described as “...always dramatic, reflective, rarely predictable, and often electronic” (Musical America). Her music focuses on dramatic and lyrical storytelling, and she takes a keen interest in blending electronic soundscapes with acoustic music. She recently completed her three-year tenure as Composer-in-Residence for Opera Philadelphia. Her work has been performed by a variety of opera companies and orchestras, including Berkeley Symphony, Louisville Orchestra, Summerville Orchestra, New World Symphony, Julliard Youth Symphony, Festival d’Aix en Provence, Opera Philadelphia, Tapestry Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Washington National Opera, and Curtis Opera Theater. She has collaborated with notable artists and ensembles such as the Del Sol, Dover and Aizuri Quartets, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Sasha Cooke, Daniela Mack Shrader, Blythe Gaissert, Zach James, Seraph Brass, Rock School of Dance, and Pennsylvania Ballet. Orth is a recent graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where she held the Edward B. Garrigues Fellowship. She received her M.M. in Music Composition at the University of Louisville as a Moritz von Bomhard Fellow and holds additional degrees from MediaTech Institute and Rhodes College.
Words - Robert Patterson
Words. Men and their words. Like lunatic, indifferent, irrelevant, depraved,
Unnatural, nonchalant, vacillating, rude, excitable, an imbecile, vacant, and perverse,
Unfeminine, dangerous, melancholic, weak, damnable, emotional, hysterical, a freak.
Men. Men and their words. Malignant, silly, unhinged girl.
Insipid, childish, careless girl. Misguided, tragic, willful girl.
She must be made example of.
Her mother’s fault, a child diseased, devoted father’s deep lament,
Her blood’s regret, a tainted lamb who simply has just lost her way,
What can we say? She’s just a girl. And so the girl must pay.
Once again the words of men decide my fate…always have.
‘Cause men alone have all the words. To keep them for their very own.
The men with words – the lion’s share – to hoard and have themselves,
To Shape those words like God shapes bone.
To pluck it from their very side, declaring “Here is bone made flesh!
This woman…she is mine!” Mine.
They want. They take. They have. They hold.
They hold the reins…the buggy reins…the reins clutched in my woman’s fist.
The Raven - Evan Williams
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”
Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.
Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”
And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted—nevermore!
Pat, the Bassoonist - Michael Ching
I play the bassoon in the symphony. Do you know what a bassoon is?
That’s not it. The tall one, looks like a tube.
I’d like to date someone who’s not in music. But that can be tricky.
I play in concerts every weekend with the symphony.
It can interfere with dating. Maybe you’d like to come to a concert?
Then we could go out afterwards. You don’t have to like classical music.
But you have to like beer! Do you like beer?
Then let’s get together. I’m Pat, number seven.
Pat, the bassoonist. Number Seven.
Grief - William Grant Still
Weeping angel with pinions trailing
And head bowed low in your hands.
Mourning angel with heart-strings wailing
For one who in death’s hall stands.
Mourning angel silence your wailing
And raise your head from your hands.
Weeping angel on your pinions trailing
The white dove, promise, stands!
If You Should Go - William Grant Still
Love, leave me like the light, the gently passing day;
We would not know, but for the night, when it has slipped away.
Go quietly; a dream, when done,
Should leave no trace that it has lived
Except a gleam across the dreamer’s face.
Parted - William Grant Still
She wrapped her soul in a lace of lies,
With a prime deceit to pin it;
And I thought I was gaining a fearsome prize,
So I staked my soul to win it.
We wed and parted on her complaint,
And both were a bit of barter,
Tho’ I’ll confess that I’m no saint,
I’ll swear that she’s no martyr.
A Song of Cherry Time - John Baur
My heart is stirred to its depths
By the fan that you have sent
To remind me of our love.
Come to my chamber when you will,
I await you with a longing
As ardent as your own.
Song of the River - John Baur
My boat is of ebony;
The holes in my flute are golden.
As a plant takes out stains from silk,
So wine takes sadness from the heart.
When one has good wine,
A graceful boat,
And a maiden’s love,
Why envy the immortal gods?
You and I - John Baur
You and I
Love each other so
As from the same lump of clay
Is moulded an image of you
And one of me.
In a moment of ecstacy
We dash the image to pieces,
Put them in water,
And with stirring and kneading
Mould again an image of you
And another of me.
There and then,
You will find yourself in me,
I myself in you.
(M)av(I)ye - Kamran Ince
Light reflected on your face
My heart is torrid like the sun
Warm breeze strokes your beauty
My soul is warm as the sun
Gallops towards the sea
And the cuddles within the water
Vintage melodies chasing us
Here is the time, inside my palm:
Awed, sly, guileful
And you, you beaming at me
All turns into the blue
We walked, saw, and rested
“Happily!” you said, “I am here”
Whatever I like and I wish
The ones I dream about and desire
All here, here with their colors
I know, all is meaningless…
The only thing is life is beautiful
As beautiful as you are!
Conundrum - Rene Orth
A woman seeks the highest truth.
A light shines, seducing.
Light. Shining light.
Where is revelation?
Pure truth. Pure light.
Come close to see.
The highest truth is without image.
But without image, how can the truth be known?
The light blinds. The woman fails.
She turns to words for solace.
The highest principle is without words
But if there are no words, how can the principle be known?
Jessica Munson, violin
Mark Wallace, cello