Great Artists Series 19-20: Eric Owens, bass-baritone & Jeremy Denk, piano
ERIC OWENS, bass-baritone & JEREMY DENK, piano
Sunday, December 8, 2019 @ 7 P.M.
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Winterreise, D. 911 (1827) by Franz Schubert
Bass-baritone Eric Owens has a unique reputation as an esteemed interpreter of classic works and a champion of new music. Equally at home in orchestral, recital, and operatic repertoire, Mr. Owens brings his powerful poise, expansive voice, and instinctive acting faculties to stages around the world.
In the 2018-2019 season, Mr. Owens returns to Lyric Opera of Chicago to make his role debut as the Wanderer in David Poutney’s new production of Wagner’s Siegfried. He also stars as Porgy in James Robinson’s new production of Porgy and Bess at the Dutch National Opera and makes his role debut as Hagen in Götterdämmerung at the Metropolitan Opera conducted by Philippe Jordan. Concert appearances include the world premiere of David Lang’s prisoner of the people at the New York Philharmonic conducted by Jaap van Zweden, the King in Aïda at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Riccardo Muti, Verdi’s Requiem with the Minnesota Orchestra, and Mozart’s Requiem with Music of the Baroque. Mr. Owens will also go on a multi-city recital tour with tenor Lawrence Brownlee.
Mr. Owens launched the 2017-2018 season with his role debut as Wotan in David Pountney’s new production of Wagner’s Die Walküre. He also sang Filippo II in Verdi’s Don Carlo at Washington National Opera, Don Basilio in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia at Houston Grand Opera, and the Forester in Janáček’s The Cunning Little Vixen at the Glimmerglass Festival, where he served as Artist in Residence and Artistic Advisor. Concert appearances included Rossini’s Stabat Mater with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Riccardo Muti, Verdi’s Requiem with both the National Symphony Orchestra led by Gianandrea Noseda and the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, and Mendelssohn’s Elijah with Music of the Baroque.
The 2016-2017 season featured Mr. Owens in his role debut as Wotan in David Pountney’s new production of Wagner’s Das Rheingold at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. He sang a trio of operas at the Metropolitan Opera that included the Met premiere of Kaijo Saariaho’s L’amour de Loin, a new production of Rusalka under Sir Mark Elder, and a revival of Idomeneo conducted by James Levine, all of which were broadcast through the Met’s Live in HD series. Concert highlights included joining Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic for performances as Wotan in Das Rheingold and of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, which he also performed at the Cincinnati May Festival as its Artist in Residence, a gala celebrating the Metropolitan Opera’s Fiftieth Anniversary at Lincoln Center, and performances as Orest in Strauss’s Elektra at the Verbier Festival and Méphistophélès in Berlioz’s La Damnation de Faust with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. He also gave a recital at the Cleveland Art Song Festival, performed dual recitals with Susanna Phillips at the Washington Performing Arts and Lawrence Brownlee at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and William Jewell College, and appeared with the Chicago Symphony’s Negaunee Music Institute to present an interactive recital for incarcerated youth alongside Riccardo Muti and Joyce DiDonato.
Mr. Owens has created an uncommon niche for himself in the ever-growing body of contemporary opera works through his determined tackling of new and challenging roles. He received great critical acclaim for portraying the title role in the world premiere of Elliot Goldenthal’s Grendel with the Los Angeles Opera, and again at the Lincoln Center Festival, in a production directed and designed by Julie Taymor. Mr. Owens also enjoys a close association with John Adams, for whom he performed the role of General Leslie Groves in the world premiere of Doctor Atomic at the San Francisco Opera, and of the Storyteller in the world premiere of A Flowering Tree at Peter Sellars’s New Crowned Hope Festival in Vienna and later with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Doctor Atomic was later recorded and received the 2012 Grammy for Best Opera Recording. Mr. Owens made his Boston Symphony Orchestra debut under the baton of David Robertson in Adam’s El Niño.
Mr. Owens’s career operatic highlights include Alberich in the Metropolitan Opera’s Ring cycle directed by Robert Lepage; Orest in Patrice Chereau’s production of Elektra conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen at the Met; the title role of Der Fliegende Höllander and Stephen Kumalo in Weill’s Lost in the Stars at Washington National Opera; his San Francisco Opera debut in Otello conducted by Donald Runnicles; his Royal Opera, Covent Garden, debut in Norma; Vodnik in Rusalka and Porgy in Porgy and Bess at Lyric Opera of Chicago; the title role in Handel’s Herculeswith the Canadian Opera Company; Aida at Houston Grand Opera; Rigoletto, Il Trovatore, and La Bohème at Los Angeles Opera; Die Zauberflöte for his Paris Opera (Bastille) debut; the title role of Macbeth at the Glimmerglass Festival; and Ariodante and L’Incoronazione di Poppea at the English National Opera. He sang Collatinus in a highly-acclaimed Christopher Alden production of Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia at Glimmerglass Opera. A former member of the Houston Grand Opera Studio, Mr. Owens has sung Sarastro, Mephistopheles in Faust, Frère Laurent, and Aristotle Onassis in the world premiere of Jackie O (available on the Argo label) with that company. He is featured on the Nonesuch Records release of A Flowering Tree. Mr. Owens is an avid concert singer, who collaborates closely with conductors such as Alan Gilbert, Riccardo Muti, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Sir Simon Rattle, Donald Runnicles, and Franz Welser-Möst.
He has been recognized with multiple honors, including the Musical America’s 2017 “Vocalist of the Year” award, 2003 Marian Anderson Award, a 1999 ARIA award, second prize in the Plácido Domingo Operalia Competition, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and the Luciano Pavarotti International Voice Competition. In 2017, the Glimmerglass Festival appointed him as its Artistic Advisor.
A native of Philadelphia, Mr. Owens began his musical training as a pianist at the age of six, followed by formal oboe study at age eleven under Lloyd Shorter of the Delaware Symphony and Louis Rosenblatt of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He studied voice while an undergraduate at Temple University, and then as a graduate student at the Curtis Institute of Music. He currently studies with Armen Boyajian. He serves on the Board of Trustees of both the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts and Astral Artistic Services. Starting in 2019, Mr. Owens becomes the co-chair of the Curtis Institute’s opera department.
Jeremy Denk is one of America’s foremost pianists. Winner of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, and the Avery Fisher Prize, Denk was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Denk returns frequently to Carnegie Hall and in recent seasons has appeared with the Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, and Cleveland Orchestra, as well as on tour with Academy of St Martin in the Fields, and at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms.
In 18-19, Denk embarks on a three-week recital tour of the US, including appearances in Washington, D.C., Seattle, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh, and culminating in his return to Carnegie Hall. His orchestral highlights include play-directing Mozart with the Toronto Symphony, and on tour throughout the US with Academy of St Martin in the Fields. He also returns to the Atlanta and Colorado Symphonies, and continues his work as Artistic Partner with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, opening the season directing Beethoven 5 from the keyboard.
In the same season, Denk re-unites with his long time collaborators, Joshua Bell and Steven Isserlis, on an eleven-city tour of the US, including appearances in New York, Boston, Washington, and San Francisco. He also performs and curates a series of Mozart Violin Sonatas (‘Denk & Friends’) at Carnegie Hall. Further collaborations include performing the Ives violin sonatas at Tanglewood with Stefan Jackiw. Abroad, he returns to the Barbican in London to reunite with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, makes his debut with the City of Birmingham Symphony, and returns to the Helsinki Philharmonic. He also appears in recital in Europe, including his return to the Wigmore Hall as part of a three-year residency. His recording c.1300-c.2000 will be released by Nonesuch Records with music ranging from Guillaume de Machaut, Gilles Binchois and Carlo Gesualdo, to Stockhausen, Ligeti and Glass.
In 17-18, Denk reunited with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony to perform Bartok 2, following a performance of the same concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the BBC Proms. He also returned to Carnegie Hall, both to perform Beethoven 5 with Orchestra St. Luke’s, and alongside Joshua Bell. With his return in subscription to the Seattle Symphony, Denk toured with the orchestra performing Beethoven 5, and was featured as Artistic Partner of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra with multiple performances throughout the season, including the premiere of a new piano concerto written for him by Hannah Lash. He also appeared in recital throughout the US, with his performances in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Houston, Seattle, Los Angeles, Baltimore, and Princeton. His collaborations in 17-18 included a US tour of the complete Ives Violin Sonatas with Stefan Jackiw in a special project in which Denk presented the sonatas with a vocal ensemble performing hymns embedded in the compositions. A recording of the Sonatas with Jackiw is forthcoming from Nonesuch Records. Abroad, Denk was presented by the Barbican in multiple performances as artist-in-residence at Milton Hall. He also returned to play-direct the Britten Sinfonia in London, and on tour in the UK. In Asia, Denk made his debut in recital in Hong Kong, Seoul, and Singapore.
In 2014, Denk served as Music Director of the Ojai Music Festival, for which, besides performing and curating, he wrote the libretto for a comic opera. The opera was later presented by Carnegie Hall, Cal Performances, and the Aspen Festival. Denk is known for his original and insightful writing on music, which Alex Ross praises for its “arresting sensitivity and wit.” The pianist’s writing has appeared in the New Yorker, the New Republic, The Guardian, and on the front page of the New York Times Book Review. One of his New Yorker contributions, “Every Good Boy Does Fine,” forms the basis of a book for future publication by Random House in the US, and Macmillan in the UK. Recounting his experiences of touring, performing, and practicing, his blog, Think Denk, was recently selected for inclusion in the Library of Congress web archives.
In 2012, Denk made his Nonesuch debut with a pairing of masterpieces old and new: Beethoven’s final Piano Sonata, Op. 111, and Ligeti’s Études. The album was named one of the best of 2012 by the New Yorker, NPR, and the Washington Post, and Denk’s account of the Beethoven sonata was selected by BBC Radio 3’s Building a Library as the best available version recorded on modern piano. Denk has a long-standing attachment to the music of American visionary Charles Ives, and his recording of Ives’s two piano sonatas featured in many “best of the year” lists.
Jeremy Denk graduated from Oberlin College, Indiana University, and the Juilliard School. He lives in New York City, and his web site and blog are at jeremydenk.net.
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