THE THEATRICAL MENDELSSOHN: ELIJAH
SUNDAY, APRIL 23, 2023 | 3 pm
Perfoming Arts Center San Luis Obispo
This dramatic oratorio tells the story of the prophet Elijah in a series of scenes, including the resurrection of a youth, a contest between the prophets of Baal and Elijah, the plotting of Queen Jezebel against Elijah, and Elijah’s final ascension into heaven. Mendelssohn imitates the great oratorios of Bach and Handel. Conducted by Thomas Davies, Elijah is performed in two parts, with a dramatic overture to begin the action.
Soprano, as Widow and Angel II
Recently cited by the New York Times for her “especially lovely” singing, Elissa Johnston enjoys diving into repertoire ranging from Bach, Handel and Mozart to Messiaen, Carter and Unsuk Chin.
Elissa’s engagements for the 22/23 season include performances of Peter Sellars staged production of Heinrich Schütz’s Musikalische Exequien, conducted by Grant Gershon at Walt Disney Concert Hall and at the 2023 Salzburg Festival, Schumann’s Liederkreiss Opus 39 at Le Salon de la Musique in La Jolla Ca, performances of Bach’s Solo Cantata no. 202 with Street Symphony in Los Angeles, and the world premiere of James MacMillan’s Fiat Lux with Pacific Symphony, conducted by Carl St. Clair.
Last season Elissa appeared with the L.A. Philharmonic in Die Staat by Louis Andriessen, conducted by John Adams. She also appeared as soloist with the Los Angeles Master Chorale in Handel’s Dixit Dominus, with Jacaranda Music in Bach’s Easter Oratorio, and in chamber music performances with Pittance Chamber Music, Le Salon de Musiques, the Hear/Now Festival, and in the music of Bob Dylan with MUSE/IQUE.
In the 20/21 season Elissa performed in several live capture concerts, with Pacific Symphony under Carl St. Clair in Canteloube’s Chants d’Auvergne, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel in John Adams’ Grand Pianola Music, and with Pittance Chamber Music, in chamber music of André Previn.
Highlights from the 19/20 season include singing arias by Handel and Scarlatti with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Handel’s Messiah with Pacific Symphony, and Bruckner’s Mass in F Minor with the Los Angeles Master Chorale.
Elissa made her Carnegie Hall debut in 2018 with the Pacific Symphony under Carl St. Clair, singing the role of Sarada Devi in Philip Glass’ The Passion of Ramakrishna, as part of Carnegie’s yearlong celebration of Philip Glass’ 80th birthday.
Other recent appearances have included the west coast premiere of Reena Esmail’s This Love Between Us, the world premiere of Michael Daugherty’s To the New World, Mahler’s 4th Symphony, Samuel Barber’s Knoxville, Summer of 1915, Messiaen’s epic song cycle Harawi with pianist Vicki Ray, David Lang’s The Little Match Girl Passion, Schoenberg’s String Quartet No. 2, Brahms Requiem, Poulenc’s Gloria, Stravinsky’s Les Noces, and world premieres of Chinary Ung’s SPIRAL XII and AURA.
Elissa is a member of the ensemble in Peter Sellars production of Di Lasso’s Lagrime di San Pietro with the Los Angeles Master Chorale under Grant Gershon, which has appeared in performances worldwide, including at the Salzburg Festival, the Ravinia Festival, Melbourne International Arts Festival and the Auckland Arts Festival.
Susan Azaret Davies
Alto, as Angel I and Jezebel
Susan Azaret Davies holds bachelor and master of music degrees in piano performance and accompanying from the University of Southern California where her principal teachers were Carol Rosenberger and Gwendolyn Koldofsky. She enjoys an active career as a pianist and singer.
Her festival appearances include the Oregon Bach Festival, Festival Mozaic, the Cabrillo Festival, Idyllwild Summer Arts and the Festival Internacional de Musica de Morelia, Mexico. She served as the music director/pianist for the Educational Opera Association of Los Angeles, which won an Emmy for its KCET television special “Opera for Children”.
She has appeared as mezzo-soprano soloist in oratorio performances in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Beverly Hills, San Luis Obispo, Fremont, and Eugene, Oregon, and as collaborative pianist in recitals throughout California and in Carnegie Hall, New York City. She is principal keyboard player for the San Luis Obispo Symphony, accompanist for the San Luis Obispo Master Chorale and choir director/organist at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Pismo Beach. She resides in Pismo Beach with her husband, Tom, when not visiting their two grown sons, Peter and Andrew.
Tenor, as Obadiah and King Ahab
A Central Coast native, George studied music at Cuesta College before transferring to Indiana University and receiving his Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance.
In addition to the Master Chorale, George has sung with many local ensembles, including Opera SLO, Resonance, Central Coast Gilbert & Sullivan, Cuesta Voce, and the Cuesta Chamber Singers, among others. He serves as a Choral Scholar for St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in SLO, participates in Cal Poly’s annual Bach Week, and has been a featured soloist for Orchestra Novo, Cuesta Concord Chorus, Allan Hancock College, and the New World Baroque Orchestra.
Bass, as Elijah
Daniel Eifert is a recurrent soloist with the San Luis Obispo Master Chorale of California where he has performed Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, the Beethoven Missa Solemnis, and Haydn’s
Creation. He is a former member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus and the Grant Park Music Festival Chorus, making appearances as a soloist under the baton of Riccardo Muti and Esa-Pekka Salonen.
Daniel made his solo Carnegie Hall debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Orff’s Carmina Burana in 2012. He has been featured with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the Apollo Chorus of Chicago, and the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra.
Daniel enjoys a continuing collaboration with the Bach Institute of Valparaiso University, with past performances including Bach’s St. John Passion, St. Matthew Passion, Mass in B Minor, and the Christmas Oratorio.
In October 2017, Daniel joined the Valparaiso University Chorale with the Leipzig Baroque Orchestra in Germany for a celebration of the 500 th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation. He earned degrees from Valparaiso University and the University of Minnesota. Daniel currently resides in Wisconsin with his wife and three children.
Beyond the Notes
Beyond the Notes is sponsored by Libbie Agran and the Shanbrom Family Foundation.
Marian Wilson Kimber
Professor of Musicology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Marian Wilson Kimber is Professor of Musicology at the University of Iowa. Her publications have treated the biographies and reception of Felix Mendelssohn and Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, exploring Mendelssohn’s works for piano and orchestra and Hensel’s Romantic piano cycle, Das Jahr. As part of the 2009 celebrations surrounding the 200th anniversary of Felix Mendelssohn’s birth, Wilson Kimber was the keynote speaker for a conference held at Seoul University under the auspices of four Korean universities.
Her article, “The ‘Suppression’ of Fanny Mendelssohn: Rethinking Feminist Biography,” has been one of the most frequently read articles published in the journal Nineteenth Century Music. Wilson Kimber’s research also explores women’s roles in America’s concert life. Her book, The Elocutionists: Women, Music, and the Spoken Word (University of Illinois Press, 2017) won the H. Earle Johnson Subvention from the Society for American Music. Wilson Kimber is a founding member of the duo Red Vespa, which performs comic spoken word pieces by women composers.
Saturday, April 22, 2023, 7:00 pm
“Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel and the Problem of a Woman in Music” presented by Dr. Marian Wilson Kimber
Location: San Luis Obispo Museum of Art, 1010 Broad Street, San Luis Obispo
Composer Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel was restricted from having a professional career due to her gender and upper-class status. In spite of this, she became an important musical figure in the nineteenth century and a symbol of women’s struggle for equality.
Sunday, April 23, 2023, 1:15 pm
“Felix Mendelssohn Composes His World” presented by Dr. Marian Wilson Kimber
Location: Pavilion, Performing Arts Center, 1 Grand Avenue, San Luis Obispo
Felix Mendelssohn’s romantic music drew on his lifelong engagement with his German musical heritage as well as theater, literature, and poetry. An amateur painter, Mendelssohn also composed music that reflected the natural landscape he encountered in his many travels.