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University of Chicago Department of Music Performs Debussy’s "Fêtes" and "La Mer" with Poulenc’s "Gloria" this Memorial Weekend

Performance features soprano Patrice Michaels and a composition by University of Chicago Professor Augusta Read Thomas.

Chicago, IL, May 19, 2012 --( The University of Chicago Department of Music concludes another glorious season on Saturday, May 26 at 8:00 pm and Sunday, May 27 at 3:00 pm in Mandel Hall, located at 1131 E. 57th Street in Hyde Park. This year the University Symphony Orchestra, University Chorus, Motet Choir, and Rockefeller Chapel Choir present Francis Poulenc’s celebrated Gloria, a grandiose setting of the Roman Catholic Gloria in excelsis Deo text, featuring soprano soloist Patrice Michaels. The University Symphony opens this annual Cathy Heifetz Memorial Concert program with Claude Debussy’s colorful and exuberant Fêtes (Festivals), followed by Augusta Read Thomas’ Of Paradise and Light. The USO continues its celebration of Debussy’s 150th birth anniversary with one of the premier symphonic masterpieces of the 20th century, La Mer – a fantastic, impressionistic vision of the Mediterranean Sea. Barbara Schubert and James Kallembach share the podium for this collaborative concert.

“Like the Romantic ideal of art, Patrice Michaels’ voice is both natural and passionate,” says Classical CD Digest. “A formidable interpretative talent” (The New Yorker), Ms. Michaels receives raves for her “poise, musicianship and impressive fioratura” (Los Angeles Times), for “a voice that is light, rich and flexible” (Opera News), and her “pinpoint-accurate…bravura” (Boston Globe). She has performed on stage, in concert, and in recital since her debut in 1991, and has appeared with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Cleveland Opera, Central City, Tacoma Opera, The Banff Centre, and Chicago Opera Theater. She has been featured with the Shanghai, Czech National, St. Louis, Atlanta, Phoenix, and Minnesota Orchestras, the Maryland Handel Festival, Kansas City and Virginia Symphonies, as well as New York’s Concert Royal, Chicago’s Music of the Baroque, and the Maverick Festival.

August Read Thomas was the Mead Composer-in-Residence for Pierre Boulez and Daniel Barenboim at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1997 through 2006. In 2007, her Astral Canticle was one of the two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in Music. The "Colors of Love" CD by Chanticleer, which features two of Thomas' compositions, won a Grammy award. In 2010, the renowned composer was appointed as University Professor of Composition in the Department of Music and the College at the University of Chicago. Of Paradise and Light is an orchestral transcription of Read Thomas' 2008 setting of e e cummings' poem, (kiss me), for girls' chorus. Thomas describes this new version as a work loosely in the tradition of Barber's Adagio for Strings: one which draws on the subtle and nuanced colors of the orchestra's string sections to create a soulful work of reflection, "as though a sliver of paradise and light came down to shine upon a garden of colorful flowers."

Claude Debussy was born in St. Germain-en-Laye, France on August 22, 1862. From the age of ten on, he was a student, and somewhat of a rebel, at the Paris Conservatoire de Musique, where he won the highest prizes for composition – including the Prix de Rome for his cantata L'Enfant prodique. Among his major orchestral works are Fêtes and La mer, a symphonic masterpiece that shuns conventional theme and development much like the controversial composer himself. This concert’s poster artwork, The Hollow of the Wave off Kanagawa, the most celebrated print by Japanese artist Hokusai, was included as the cover piece of Debussy’s own printed score of La Mer at the composer’s insistence.

The Cathy Heifetz Memorial Award was established to commemorate the life and honor the memory of Cathy Heifetz (1949-1976), who came to The University of Chicago in 1973 as a student in the Department of Music. The Memorial’s first endowment created an annual award to honor a student in the Department of Music whose associations as a member of this community have been singularly marked by a spirit of caring and helpfulness. The 2012 Cathy Heifetz Memorial Award will be presented at the May 27 concert.

Quick Facts

What: University Symphony Orchestra, University Chorus,
Motet Choir, and Rockefeller Chapel Choir
2012 Annual Cathy Heifetz Memorial Concerts
Barbara Schubert and James Kallembach, conductors
Patrice Michaels, soloist

Program: Debussy’s Fêtes (Festivals) from Trois Nocturnes
Thomas’ Of Paradise and Light
Debussy’s La Mer
Poulenc’s Gloria (with combined choruses)

When: Saturday, May 26, 2012 at 8:00 PM
Sunday, May 27, 2012 at 3:00 PM

Where: Mandel Hall
1131 E. 57th St., on the University of Chicago campus

Admission: Free and open to the public
Donations requested at the door: $10 / $5 students and children

Photographs and extended biographies are available upon request.

Event Hotline: 773.702.8069 •

Persons who require assistance should call in advance: 773.702.8484.

Positioned at the heart of a world-renowned academic institution, the Department of Music offers degrees in fields of musical scholarship and composition and sponsors a lively and diverse performance program that involves 15 student performance ensembles and programs in over 100+ concerts a year. Five ensembles-in-residence, the including Grammy-award winning eighth blackbird and Pacifica Quartet, and numerous professional concerts offered by University of Chicago Presents further enhance the vibrant musical life on campus.
Contact Information
University of Chicago Department of Music
Rashida N. Black

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