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Brahms Requiem to be presented March 4 in King
Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Brahms Requiem to be presented March 4 in King

Soprano Lisa Layman and baritone Levi Hernandez

The Fredonia College Symphony joins forces with the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, under the direction of Dr. David Rudge, for Brahms' profoundly moving, Ein Deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem), on Saturday, March 4, at 8 p.m., in King Concert Hall.

The performance also includes Richard Danielpour's two-movement work, “Celestial Night.”

The Ein Deutsches Requiem is considered by many to be Brahms' greatest vocal work, and his first orchestral score to receive widespread praise. Intended primarily as a consolation for mourning survivors, requiems also are said to contain much hope and blessing for the departed, particularly in the last two movements. With soaring strings, transcendent voices, and powerful winds and brass, Brahms composed the piece as a tribute in the wake of the deaths of his mother and Robert Schuman, a close father-figure, and it considered an intimate and comforting work of hope and beauty.

The Fredonia School of Music suffered a loss recently with the sudden passing of trombone professor and band conductor, Carl Mazzio, and the performance has been dedicated to the life, music, and memory of Mr. Mazzio.

“The College Symphony Orchestra welcomes the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus for a collaboration on one of the seminal masterworks of German music," commented Dr. Rudge. "Danielpour’s ‘Celestial Night,’ inspired by star gazing, completes the program. Like the Brahms Requiem, it too finds its themes in what’s beyond our immediate world. This program is dedicated to the memory of our beloved colleague Carl Mazzio, whose recent and untimely death has been a loss to our entire community.”

Tickets: $15 for general admissions; $8 for students/children are available at the Fredonia Ticket Office in the Williams Center; by calling 673-3501, or online.

Soloists include soprano Lisa Layman of the School of Music voice faculty, and baritone Levi Hernandez.

Ms. Layman has appeared with the Houston Grand Opera, the Concert Chorale of Houston, Yale Opera, Yale Chamber Music Society, and the Yale Philharmonia. Her oratorio work and concert recitals have included performances of Haydn's “Lord Nelson Mass,” and Handel's “Messiah.” She also appeared with the Riverside Choral Society in Mozart's Requiem and Mass in C Minor at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center as well as Beethoven's Mass in C, and “Mirjam's Siegesgesang” by Schubert at Merkin Hall. Ms. Layman made her operatic debut to critical acclaim as Micaela in Connecticut Grand Opera's production of Bizet's “Carmen.” She thrilled audiences at Tampa Opera with Gilda in “Rigoletto” where one critic referred to her has "a young Callas!" She appeared for many years with the Lyric Orchestra in New York City, New Jersey, Florida and at the Holder’s International Festival in Barbados, West Indies. Locally, Ms. Layman has appeared with the Erie (Pa.) Opera Theater, Erie Chamber Orchestra, Winds on the Lake, and various performance ensembles at Fredonia. She also sang the role of Baba for the Fredonia Hillman Opera production of “The Medium” this past fall.

Mr. Hernandez is said to be gaining momentum as a sought after artist on the operatic stage. Mark Thomson Ketterson of Opera News declared of his principal debut with Lyric Opera of Chicago as Dandini in “La cenerentola:” “Young baritone Levi Hernandez’s intelligent Dandini displayed a most impressive knack for subtle text-painting within a pristinely negotiated coloratura line…” Recently, the El Paso native made his Houston Grand Opera debut as Sharpless in “Madama Butterfly” next to Ana Maria Martinez and Joseph Calleja. He also joined the rosters of San Francisco Opera and the Metropolitan Opera in their productions of Puccini’s “Il trittico” and “La Fanciulla del West.” Last season saw his debut with Arizona Opera as Alvaro in “Florencia en el Amazonas” and returns to Opera Omaha as Sonora in “La fanciulla del West,” Opera Roanoke as Germont in “La Traviata,” and Opera Theatre of St. Louis as the Music Master in “Ariadne auf Naxos,” Germont in “La Traviata” with the Shippensburg Festival, and Guglielmo/Remigio Le villi in “La Navarraise” at the Bard Music Festival. Additionally, he joined the Choral Society of El Paso for Handel’s “Messiah.” The 2016-2017 season and beyond include Sharpless in “Madama Butterfly” with both Arizona Opera and Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, Handel’s “Alexander’s Feast” with Music of the Baroque, the “Messiah” with Northwestern University, Pa Joad in “The Grapes of Wrath” in his return to Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and debuts with Opera Colorado and San Diego Opera. An alumnus of the Lyric Opera center for American Artists, Hernandez made his Lyric Opera main stage debut during the 2004-2005 season. During his tenure at Lyric he was also seen as Marullo in “Rigoletto,” Sciarrone in “Tosca,” the Innkeeper in “Manon Lescaut” and the Bartender in the world premiere of William Bolcom’s “A Wedding.” A versatile actor as well as a fine singer, Hernandez portrayed the title role in Puccini’s “Gianni Schicchi” at the 2004 Grant Park Music Festival. Other career highlights include Marcello in “La Bohème” for El Paso Opera, Papageno with Madison Opera in their “Die Zauberflöte,” performances in Boston Lyric Opera’s productions of “Carmen” and “Il barbiere di Siviglia,” and Count Ceprano in “Rigoletto,” Moralès in “Carmen,” and Haly in “L’italiana in Algeri,” all with Opera Company of Philadelphia. Hernandez has been seen on the concert stage as a soloist in Handel’s “Messiah” with the El Paso Symphony, Charlotte Symphony, the Phoenix Symphony, the Pennsylvania Ballet, and Cheyenne Symphony, and in Orff’s “Carmina Burana” with the Pennsylvania Ballet. A 2002 Metropolitan Opera National Council Awards finalist, his many awards include a Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation grant as well as being a 2002 OPERALIA competition finalist. After receiving his undergraduate degree at Westminster Choir College, Hernandez attended the prestigious Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia where he performed a number of leading roles including Figaro in “Il barbiere di Siviglia”, Marcello in “La Bohème,” Ford in “Falstaff,” Gugliemo in “Così fan tutte,” Sharpless in “Madama Butterfly,” the Vicar in “Albert Herring” and Falke in “Die Fledermaus.”

Dr. Rudge, director of Orchestras and Opera at Fredonia and Music Director of the Orchard Park Symphony, has conducted orchestras on five continents to rave reviews. As Director of the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Guatemala he was credited with the dramatic rebirth of that orchestra. Dr. Rudge founded the Eastminster Chamber Orchestra, and was Assistant Conductor of the University of South Carolina Symphony Orchestra, the Columbia Lyric Opera and Ballet and the South Carolina Philharmonic. He was chosen several times to prepare the Beethoven Chamber Orchestra for the International Workshop for Conductors in ZlÌn, Czech Republic. He has guest conducted the West Bohemian Symphony Orchestra in Mariánské Lázne, CR, and, as a two-time winner of the International Opera Conductors’ Competition, he was invited to conduct a complete production of “Rigoletto” at the Silesian State Opera in the Czech Republic, and to lead the Vratza Philharmonic in Bulgaria. In 1996, as an Artistic Ambassador for the U.S. Department of State, he spent two months in Damascus, Syria conducting the National Symphony and Chamber Orchestra. He has conducted the Opera and Orchestra at the Rome Festival, Italy, and has guest conducted the Dialecto Urbano Chorus, Caracas, Venezuela, the Giurgiu Philharmonic (Romania), the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, the Western New York Chamber Orchestra, the Woodstock Chamber Orchestra, the Orchestra Society of Philadelphia, the North Carolina Governor’s School Orchestra and the Poughkeepsie Chamber Orchestra. Holding degrees from the Hartt School of Music, the University of Houston and the University of South Carolina, Dr. Rudge has also studied conducting at the Dartington School, England, the Mozarteum in Salzburg, the Pierre Monteux School, the Aspen Music Festival, the National Conservatory of Romania, and the Conductors Institute with Donald Portnoy and Harold Farberman. Violin study was with Yumi Ninomiya, Jascha Brodsky, Renato Bonacini, and Fredell Lack. Chamber music coaching has been with members of the Curtis, Cleveland, Kolisch, Amadeus, Portland, Razumovsky and Emerson String Quartets. He has also pursued baroque performance practice, as both a violinist and conductor, with the directors and members of the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. Dr. Rudge has taught at Oklahoma State University, the University of South Carolina, Colby College, the Hartt School of Music and the Omega Institute of Holistic Studies, New York. He has given classes in conducting at the Conservatorio Nacional, Guatemala; the Higher Institute of Music, Damascus, Syria; the National Taiwan Normal University, the American String Teachers Association (ASTA) National Conference, and as a faculty member of the Conductor’s Institute at Bard College. He has been coach and guest conductor of the Boston, Columbia, Houston and Costa Rican youth orchestras, as well as many student honor-orchestras, such as the New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois all-state orchestras. Dr. Rudge has played as both a violinist and violist with the South Carolina Philharmonic, the Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Tulsa Philharmonic, Orquesta Sinfónica Venezuela, Charleston Symphony, Portland Symphony and the Houston Grand Opera. He was the first violinist of the Andrea String Quartet, and was invited to perform with the Portland String Quartet in their 25th anniversary concert. At Fredonia he also teaches Free Improvisation, and is the Founder of The Improv. Collective, a unique performing ensemble dedicated to free improvisation for self-expression. He is a member of the teaching staff and board of directors of Music for People, an organization that advocates and promotes freely improvised music. Dr. Rudge was awarded a Fulbright Teaching Fellowship to return to the Middle East. As a Senior Fellow, he spent the summer months in Egypt conducting the Cairo Opera Orchestra, the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra, and the Cairo Opera Chorus, and teaching at the National Conservatoire of Music.

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