BAC Salon: Szymanowski, Berio + Debussy
Alexandra Smither, soprano
K. Szymanowski: String Quartet no. 1, op. 37 (1917)
L. Berio: Sequenza III for solo voice (1966)
C. Debussy: String Quartet (1893)
“Superb capacity to find the inner heart of everything they play, regardless of era, style or technical demand” -The International Review of Music on Tesla Quartet
“A huge, mature, and vocally stunning performance” -VOICE Magazine on Alexandra Smither
A program of sumptuous turn of the 20th century masterworks for string quartet by Karol Szymanowski and Claude Debussy—both exemplifying groundbreaking harmonic pursuits of the time—and Luciano Berio’s Sequenza III, which incorporates coughing, laughing, whispering, speaking, and singing into one of the great modern feats for solo voice. Performed by the refined Tesla Quartet and Canadian rising star Alexandra Smither in her first New York appearance.
Leadership support for music programming provided by the Anne and Chris Flowers Foundation and the Thompson Family Foundation.
Praised for their “superb capacity to find the inner heart of everything they play, regardless of era, style or technical demand” (The International Review of Music), the Tesla Quartet brings refinement and prowess to both new and established repertoire.
Dubbed “technically superb” by The Strad, the Tesla Quartet recently took Second Prize as well as the Haydn Prize and Canadian Commission Prize at the 12th Banff International String Quartet Competition. The quartet has also garnered top prizes at numerous other international competitions, including the Gold Medal at the 2012 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, Third Prize and the Best Interpretation of the Commissioned Work at the 6th International Joseph Haydn Chamber Music Competition in Vienna, and Third Prize at the 2012 London International String Quartet Competition. The quartet performs regularly across North America, with recent international appearances in London, Vienna, Beijing, Shanghai, and Seoul. The 2017-18 season includes debut performances in Germany and Hungary, concerts across America, and a residency with the Quad City Visiting Artist Series.
Canadian-British soprano Alexandra Smither is quickly making a name for herself in the world of old and new classical music. In May of 2017 Ms. Smither swept the Eckhardt-Grammate National Music Competition, taking home both First Place and Best Performance of the Commissioned Work, Nicole Lizee’s Malfunctionlieder.
Her prize included a nationwide tour of Canada in 2017 in which she performed a recital of contemporary works featuring Canadian composers. She made her triumphant debut with Houston Grand Opera as Younger Alyce in their production of Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied, in which she “imbued her solo aria My Darling Jim with heartbreaking tenderness” (Texas Classical Review). Additionally, she has appeared on the operatic stage as Gretel (Hansel und Gretel, Rice University), Mrs. Waters (The Boatswain’s Mate, Opera5), Esmeralda (The Bartered Bride, Music Academy of the West), Lydia (Second Nature, Music Academy of the West). As a 2017 Soprano Fellow at the Tanglewood Festival, she made her Seiji Ozawa Hall debut at the Tanglewood Festival alongside Emanuel Ax and Bill Hudgins in Schubert’s Der Hirt auf dem Felsen. The festival also brought performances of selections from Berg’s Sieben Fruhe Lieder with the Tanglewood Festival Orchestra, recital of French song, coached by Roger Vignoles, and Bach cantatas under the baton of John Harbison.
Photos: Dario Acosta, Emily Ding