Con Vivo Music is back with another free, family-friendly concert! This time we’re celebrating independence with an exploration of art song by American composers on July 9. The concert will feature two amazing vocal soloists: Sarah Nelson Craft and Barry L Robinson.
The concert will span America’s rich heritage of musical styles including classical, jazz, musical theater, and spirituals from composers Aaron Copland, Charles Ives, Margaret Bonds, Henry Thacker Burleigh, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, and CVM’s own Mazz Swift.
Performed by Sarah Nelson Craft (mezzo-soprano), Barry L Robinson (baritone), Mazz Swift (violin), and Christopher Cooley (piano).
Sarah Nelson Craft, mezzo-soprano
Mezzo-soprano Sarah Nelson Craft is a “born storyteller” whose commanding, versatile voice has caught the attention of audiences around the world. Carnegie Hall recently presented her in a solo Spotlight Recital with pianist Warren Jones, a triumphant performance that drew high praise from critics; Opera News described her performance as “exquisite… glowing… charming… affecting… Craft fully inhabited the music with intensity and focus.” The previous season brought her to France where she participated in “The Song Continues: Paris Residency” presented by Carnegie Hall at the Opéra Bastille. Ms. Craft made her Caramoor Festival mainstage debut in 2013 as Ninetta in Verdi’s Les vêpres siciliennes and in several concerts there for which she was noted as a “young singer to watch out for” (taminophile.com). She also received critical acclaim for her performance as Giunone in Handel’s Agrippina with New York City’s operamission: she “knocked this exciting aria out of the park” (Parterre), and her “imposing mezzo scored in Giunone’s lone aria” (Opera magazine).
Ms. Craft’s operatic roles have included Cherubino, Dorabella, Dido, Rosina, Hansel, Hermia, Annio in La clemenza di Tito, Nancy in Albert Herring, and the title role in Cendrillon, with companies including Opera North, dell’Arte Opera Ensemble, and the Macau International Music Festival. She has performed the title role in La cenerentola with both Fargo-Moorhead Opera and Opera at Florham, and appeared in Matt Aucoin’s mini-opera for NPR’s This American Life live at BAM.
Highly sought after as a concert soloist, Ms. Craft recently performed at Alice Tully Hall with the American Classical Orchestra in Mozart’s Coronation Mass and at Carnegie Hall with the Masterworks Festival Chorus in Vivaldi’s Gloria. 2012 marked her Lincoln Center debut at Avery Fisher Hall as the alto soloist in both Bach’s Mass in B minor and Handel’s Messiah with the National Chorale. Other notable performances have included Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Mahler’s Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen, both with Princeton Pro Musica, Mahler’s Symphony No.2 with the New Jersey Festival Orchestra, and Tippett’s A Child of Our Time with the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra. Other favorite concert roles include Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion and Magnificat, Mozart’s Requiem, Copland’s In the Beginning, and Duruflé’s Requiem.
Ms. Craft is a frequent recitalist as an Artist-in-Residence with Judson Arts at Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village and as a member of Con Vivo chamber ensemble. Her passion for both new music and early music is reflected in her multiple appearances in readings of new works with American Opera Projects and in regular concerts with Amor Artis chorus and New York Baroque Incorporated.
A native of Brooklyn, New York, Ms. Craft earned her Bachelor’s Degree (cum laude) in Italian and music from Dartmouth College and earned her Master’s Degree in vocal performance from the University of North Texas College of Music. She received further training at the Music Academy of the West where she worked with Marilyn Horne who continues to be a mentor. She has been a first prize and audience choice award winner at the Metropolitan Opera National Council District Auditions, a semifinalist in the Opera Columbus Irma M. Cooper International Vocal Competition, and a 2015 finalist for The American Prize in art song and oratorio.
Barry L Robinson, baritone
American baritone Barry L. Robinson, recently made his international operatic debut at Deutsche Oper Berlin in Prokofiev’s L’amour des trois oranges. This season, he “dug into [the role of the priest Fojo] with passionate commitment” (New York Times) for a revival of Harry Lawrence Freeman’s Voodoo, not heard on the operatic stage for 80 years. As Fojo, Mr. Robinson was praised for his “ideal, thrillingly doom-laden deep baritone for the sinister spells and invocations” (Parterre Box). He is a recent 2015 recipient of an encouragement award from The Wagner Society of New York. In previous seasons, he has been featured in concert at Teatro Sodre in Uruguay and the world renowned Mozarteum Argentino Festival in Buenos Aires, Argentina. A rising talent, Mr. Robinson has been lauded for his “amazing, robust” voice and “potential for operatic stardom” (New York Amsterdam News).
Mr. Robinson began his career with the operas of Mozart, singing Leporello in Don Giovanni, Alfonso in Così fan tutte, and both Il Conte and Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro. He has also had success with 20th century roles including the Herald in Britten’s The Burning Fiery Furnace and Frank Chambers in The Postman Always Rings Twice by Stephen Paulus. His current repertoire features the baritone roles of Verdi’s opere serie, French Grand Opera, Russian opera, and the Germanic repertoire of R. Strauss and Wagner.
This program is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a partner agency of The National Endowment for the Arts, administered by the Hudson County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs, Thomas A. Degise, County Executive, and the Board of Chosen Freeholders.