Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar Offers Recitals of American Song


Mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe will perform with Alan Smith in a public recital on Tuesday, May 22, entitled “American Voices: A Recital of Songs by American Composers,” at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music.

The public is invited to recitals, open masterclasses and a free lecture from May 21 to May 26 during the inaugural Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music.

The seminar kicks off with an open masterclass led by Artistic Director and Metropolitan Opera star Stephanie Blythe ’92, along with master teacher and collaborative pianist Alan Smith. The 10 seminar participants, who are all up-and-coming singers and musicians selected in a competitive national audition, will perform during this event, starting at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, May 22 in the Sara M. Snell Music Theater at Crane. They will perform the music of John Corigliano, Gerald Finzi, Stephen Foster, Ricky Ian Gordon and Charles Ives.

That evening, mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe and pianist Alan Smith will present a special recital entitled “American Voices: A Recital of Songs by American Composers.” The performance will be offered at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 22 in Snell Theater. This is a rare opportunity to see world-class artists bring their immense talent to an intimate recital on the North Country stage.

Tickets are $20 for the general public and $15 for SUNY Potsdam students and faculty. All proceeds will benefit the Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar. For tickets, please contact the Community Performance Series Box Office at (315) 267-2277 or visit www.cpspotsdam.org. Tickets can also be purchased at the CPS Box Office, located in the lobby of Snell Theater, or at Northern Music & Video in downtown Potsdam.

The 2012 Fall Island Vocal Artists Seminar participants include: tenor Steven Brennfleck of Ewing, N.J.; mezzo-soprano Carola Emrich-Fisher of Boston; tenor Zachary Finkelstein of Toronto; pianist Matthew Gemmill of Wheaton, Ill.; pianist Bridget Hough-Meynenc of Santa Barbara, Calif.; tenor Grant Knox of Newport, Ky.; pianist Ryan McCullough of Toronto; soprano Lauren Michelle of Los Angeles; soprano Adrienne Pardee of New York City, and tenor Jason Weisinger of Baldwin, N.Y.

On Thursday evening, May 24, at 7 p.m., Dr. Gary Busch will present a lecture, “Early American Art Song: Rediscovering a Legacy,” featuring music performed by Blythe, Smith and the seminar participants. The lecture/recital will feature American songs from the Colonial period, the early 19th  century, the Civil War, Reconstruction, Tin Pan Alley and finally the early 1900s. The performance will be in the Ralph Wakefield Recital Hall, located on the second floor of Bishop Hall at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music.

Blythe and Smith will lead a second public masterclass with the seminar participants on Friday, May 25 at 10 a.m. in Snell Theater. Featured composers are Aaron Copland, Jake Heggie, Charles Ives, Libby Larsen and Ralph Vaughan Williams.

The seminar’s culminating recital will be on Saturday, May 26 at 7:30 p.m. in Snell Theater. The 10 seminar participants will perform pieces they have studied during the course of the week with Blythe and Smith. All of the music will be performed in English.

Except for the “American Voices” recital with Blythe and Smith, all other events are free and open to the public.

About the Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar:

The Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar embarks on its inaugural season realizing the dream of a Crane School of Music and SUNY Potsdam alumna, Stephanie Blythe, with her former undergraduate opera director, Dr. Carleen Graham. After ongoing discussions about singer and collaborative artist training, Blythe and Graham began to formalize a plan that would specifically encourage and cultivate autonomous artistry in emerging artist-level singers and pianists. Blythe, as artistic director, and Graham, as administrative director, chose to invite renowned collaborative artist, pianist, vocal coach and composer Alan Smith to join them. To complete the team is administrative intern and Crane School of Music student Audrey Saccone. They have developed an intensive week of music making for the 10 invited participants that will incorporate related aesthetics and what it means to be a performing artist in today’s society. All music will be performed in English and will feature a number of living composers, many of whom Blythe has professionally collaborated with.

For more information, contact Saccone or Graham at (315) 267-2422 or fallislandpotsdam@gmail.com.

To learn more about the Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music, visit www.potsdam.edu/fallisland.

Founded in 1886, SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music has a long legacy of excellence in music education and performance. Life at Crane includes an incredible array of more than 300 recitals, lectures and concerts presented by faculty, students and guests each year. The Crane School of Music is the State University of New York’s only All-Steinway institution, and is celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2011-12.