From www.artsATL.com: Mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe sings sweet cabaret songs in Spivey Hall recital

March 24, 2015

By STEPHANIE ADRIAN

Stephanie Blythe

Utter the word cabaret and chances are it will evoke a stream of associations such as Liza Minelli in Bob Fosse’s 1972 film classic by the same name or Edith Piaf and her tragic life as a World War II–era chanteuse and operative within the French resistance.

My thoughts immediately fly to America’s derivative of that torch song tradition — the speakeasies, “Joe sent me” and Helen Morgan, the iconic singer whom my own grandmother toured with as a dancer during Morgan’s post-Showboat days before grandma retired from the stage to marry a jazz clarinetist from Cincinnati.

But one doesn’t tend to associate the critically acclaimed mezzo-soprano and vocal powerhouse Stephanie Blythe with the musical descendants of Paris’ Chat Noir.

Yet Blythe and her expressive pianist Warren Jones performed a recital of both art song and cabaret hits on Saturday evening at Clayton State University’s Spivey Hall.

Blythe is known for her ability to execute meaty operatic roles such as Azucena in Il Trovatore and Ulrica in Un Ballo in Maschera. She can pull off Wagner’s most formidable Fricka, goddess of marriage, in Das Rheingold and Die Walküre. It was thus all the more thrilling to hear her close the evening at Spivey with Noël Coward ballads like “Mad About The Boy” and “Nina,” songs that she comically described as “thirsty work,” taking sips from her glass of water intermittently.

It was a paradigm shift worth experiencing. Blythe sang the songs of five composers, spanning Francis Poulenc to Coward with Léo Ferré, Jacques Brel and Benjamin Britten peppered in between.

Composed in 1925, the Poèmes du Ronsard is one of Poulenc’s earliest attempts at song. A year earlier the magazine La Révue musicale had commissioned a number of important French composers — Ravel, Dukas, Honegger, etc. — to write songs to texts by sixteenth-century poet Pierre de Ronsard; it was a faction that did not include Poulenc.

He rebelled by composing five songs of his own and selected several Ronsard poems including “Je n’ai plus que les os” that linger on the theme of old age and death, something that Poulenc had no experience with at the tender age of 26. Blythe’s interpretation at Spivey was larger than life — a wash of resonant sound that was neither feminine nor masculine in nature — and simply stunning. Her voice filled every crevice and corner of the hall, shocking our senses.

It was then that the homage to cabaret began with the songs of the mid-century chansonnier Léo Ferré (1916–93). While Ferré was a poet in his own right, he also set the texts of Baudelaire, Verlaine and Apollinaire. Blythe and Jones gave us two songs of Baudelaire, “La Vie Antérieure” and “L’invitation au voyage.”

Many classical music fans will be familiar with the Duparc settings of these poems, and while the Ferré interpretations could be characterized as neo-Romantic popular music, they were equally moving. His “L’invitation au voyage” is set in 6/8 as the Duparc version, but is not as dark. Blythe aptly portrayed the song with a frivolous, lighthearted nature.

Just before intermission, Blythe earned a standing ovation with her rendition of Brel’s “Amsterdam.” Brel (1929–79) and Piaf are often mentioned in the same breath and credited with launching the French cabaret style to international recognition. The third in a song group that included “Le pieds dans le ruisseau” and the unmistakable “Ne me quitte pas,” “Amsterdam” was a tour de force. Here Blythe gave us a different and riveting vocalism, belting sans vibrato as she described the lusty sailors who sing, sleep and die at the port of Amsterdam.

But which song was the real pièce de résistance of the evening aside from “Amsterdam”? Arguably, it was the alarmingly funny “Singing in the Bathtub” from the Warner Brothers’ film Show of Shows. At the conclusion of the evening, it was clear that Blythe had proven that she doesn’t just play a goddess on the operatic stage. She really is one.

www.artsATL.com Preview: The Atlanta Opera’s ambition shown in updated version of Verdi’s classic “Rigoletto”

February 26, 2015

(Photo by Marina Levitskaya)

Although considered an operatic warhorse, Giuseppe Verdi’s Rigoletto hasn’t been seen in Atlanta since 2000. It’s an opera that became an instant hit in 1851 after its initial performance at Teatro La Fenice, and one that Atlanta Opera artistic director Tomer Zvulun believed it was time to reexamine. The production boasts an impressive team that includes set designer John Conklin, costume designer Vita Tzykun and conductor Joseph Rescigno.

The coproduction with Opera Omaha and Boston Lyric Opera will open at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre on February 28, and opening night promises to be exceptionally special. In addition to featuring rising stars Todd Thomas (as Rigoletto) and Nadine Sierra (as Gilda) on stage, revered baritone Sherrill Milnes, who helped launch the opera in Atlanta in 1979, will be in attendance.

It’s not uncommon to see operas within the standard repertoire updated these days. Opera audiences have witnessed Gounod’s Faust through the lens of 1930s Nazi Germany, and the now extinct New York City Opera represented the title character in its 2006 production of Handel’s Semele as Marilyn Monroe, paralleling events in the opera with the affair between JFK and the famous blonde bombshell.

Some may be familiar with Jonathan Miller’s 1950s Mafioso rendition of Rigoletto at English National Opera, or the more recent version of Verdi’s midcentury melodrama set in 1960s Las Vegas, which premiered last season at the Metropolitan Opera. In the latter production, the Duke of Mantua became a Sinatra-esque nightclub singer, crooning “La donna è mobile” in a casino surrounded by leggy showgirls.

Yet Zvulun admonishes that updating a production can become a cliché if the director loses sight of the relationships between the characters. Perhaps the most compelling relationship in the Atlanta Opera’s upcoming show is that of Rigoletto and his lovely daughter Gilda. To Rigoletto, Gilda is everything, but to the Duke of Mantua she is an irresistible bird of prey.

The upcoming AO production will be set in Renaissance Italy as Verdi had intended. Zvulun focuses not only on the Duke’s appetite for women, but also on la maledizione, the curse that is bestowed upon Rigoletto, a hunchbacked court jester who serves at the duke’s pleasure.

When Rigoletto pokes fun at Monterone — a father who is outraged after his daughter has been seduced and dishonored  by the duke — Monterone curses the jester, simultaneously foreshadowing Gilda’s fate.

In Tvulun’s mind’s eye, Rigoletto’s deformity becomes more pronounced as the story progresses. Atlanta opera goers will see both his physical body and the setting on stage reflect his undoing and inevitable mental collapse.

With the coming of spring, the Atlanta Opera will round out the 2014–15 season with Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro and American composer Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers at the Alliance Theatre. Plans for the 2015–16 season were announced in early February.

Zvulun will expand AO’s offerings to five productions, three on the main stage — La Bohème, Romeo and Juliet, and Pirates of Penzance — as well as two nonoperatic presentations under the umbrella of a new series called Atlanta Opera Discoveries.

In the February Issue of Opera News Online: Review of AO’s Madama Butterfly

111314-madama-butterfly_1Atlanta Opera opened its 2014-15 season with Madama Butterfly (seen Nov. 8), a co-production with the Castleton Festival.  The new Butterfly marks the initial show of AO artistic and general director Tomer Zvulun’s first planned season at the company.  Zvulun assumed responsibility for staging Madama Butterfly as well — and there is no doubt that Zvulun is an apt stage director.

This Castleton-AO production was a far cry from the Jun Kaneko version seen in Atlanta six years ago, which featured abstract computer graphics and a quartet of mysterious Kurogo characters that came and went throughout the opera. This season’s production, designed by set and projection designer Erhard Rom, utilized fluid projections throughout. Whether it was a muted view of the Nagasaki Harbor or cherry blossoms, Butterfly became a multimedia event with exciting operatic singing.  The symphonic interlude between Acts II and III felt retro, as if we were staring at the entr’acte screen from Dr. Zhivago and listening to a heart-wrenching film score. While it may be sacrilege to compare the music of Puccini to a soundtrack by Maurice Jarre, the psychological effect of an ever-changing landscape provided a restless twenty-first-century audience constant visual and aural stimulation.

Maestro Arthur Fagan led the Atlanta Opera orchestra and chorus with aplomb. Both performed well under his leadership, providing the solo singers with generous phrasing and harmonies upon which they could rely. It was especially lovely to hear them in light of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s ongoing contract disputes.  Atlanta’s Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre was almost filled to its 2750-seat capacity on opening night — perhaps in response to the city’s current artistic crisis. (Atlanta Symphony Orchestra was still embroiled in contract disputes when Butterfly opened; a new labor contract was announced on November 9.)

Dina Kuznetsova made her Atlanta Opera debut as Cio-Cio San. She embodied Butterfly’s humility and devotion, infusing each phrase with a roundness of tone and commanding a grand dynamic range. Her “Un bel dì” was exceedingly and convincingly intimate.  Adam Diegel, her Pinkerton, deployed a penetrating, highly-placed tenor voice that was riveting to hear.

Nina Yoshida Nelson was Suzuki, underscoring Cio-Cio San’s pathos in Act III with her luxurious voice and incredibly expressive face. Corey McKern was a debonair Sharpless, the conscience that Pinkerton chose to routinely ignore. Jason Ferrante was well-suited for the character role Goro. Merola graduate Joseph Lattanzi sang Prince Yamadori majestically while Kyle Albertson played Bonze and delivered his lines with a menacing baritone. Neophyte Alan Higgs made a promising operatic debut in the brief role of Imperial Commissioner and Ashley Curling’s lovely Mozartean voice fulfilled the role of Kate Pinkerton.

STEPHANIE ADRIAN

Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta: “The Creation of the World”

In Atlanta this Saturday? Come hear “The Creation of the World”! Music by Haydn, Milhaud and the world premiere of a new Quartet by Paul Salerni. The Vega Quartet, Elena Cholakova, and Stephanie McClure Adrian perform. 8 PM- FREE!

In Atlanta this Saturday? Come hear "The Creation of the World"! Music by Haydn, Milhaud and the world premiere of a new Quartet by Paul Salerni. The Vega Quartet, Elena Cholakova, and Stephanie McClure Adrian perform. 8 PM- FREE!

Review: The Atlanta Opera joyously celebrates 25 years of vocal guidance from Walter Huff

Review: The Atlanta Opera joyously celebrates 25 years of vocal guidance from Walter Huff

September 18, 2014

By Stephanie Adrian

Huff also teaches at Indiana University.

Kennesaw State University hosted the Atlanta Opera’s first-ever Choral Celebration at the Bailey Center on Tuesday evening. It was a concert that honored Walter Huff’s 25-year tenure as chorus master of the Atlanta Opera. While Huff and the Atlanta Opera Chorus, accompanied by pianist Brian Eads, played the starring role this night, there was a cast of characters — both singers and local celebrities — who made appearances too, adding to the evening’s excitement.

Previous to his work with the Atlanta Opera, Huff’s extensive life in music included posts as a vocal coach at the Washington National Opera, Peabody Opera Theatre, and Tanglewood Music Center, as well as a term as chorus master with the San Diego Opera. He served as a faculty member at Georgia State University for several years, and recently accepted a position as associate professor of choral conducting at Indiana University’s prestigious Jacob School of Music. But Huff’s role as chorus master at the Atlanta Opera has been one in which he has both mentored and collaborated with Atlanta singers for over 100 main stage opera productions, impacting the city’s cultural landscape.

After a crisp rendition of “Fuoco di gioia” from Giuseppe Verdi’s Otello, Atlanta Opera general and artistic director Tomer Zvulun kicked off the evening with a recollection of his own 10-year history with the company as a stage director and his interactions with Huff, calling him “one of the most important chorus masters in the country.” It was an endorsement that was reinforced with each operatic selection performed by the stellar chorus and by each ensuing testimonial.

Jay Hunter Morris — the Heldentenor who stepped into the hefty role of Siegfried at the last minute in the Metropolitan Opera’s recent Robert LaPage Ring Cycle (and to great acclaim) — spoke after a lovely rendition of “Placido è il mar” from Mozart’s Idomeneo. Morris revealed that it was Huff who had prepared him for conservatory auditions in the late 1980s and again years later, collaborated with Morris during a pivotal moment within his singing career. 

Lois Reitzes, host of the WABE-FM program Second Cup Concert, and William Fred Scott, former artistic director of the Atlanta Opera, were in attendance, and each stepped forward to sing Huff’s praises. Scott spoke of Huff’s limitless repertoire and their shared vision for an opera chorus that was “precise, yet suave — perfect, but not pedantic.”

The program was somewhat autobiographical, showcasing a bit of the music that Atlanta audiences have heard during Huff’s stint in Atlanta. The brindisi summoned our memory of Mary Dunleavy singing the role of Violetta only a year ago; Huff programmed Psalm 104 from Philip Glass’ minimalistic opera Akhnaten, harking back to the AO’s semistaged production at the Schwartz Center in 2008 (with the composer sitting in the audience); Giacomo Puccini’s Moon Chorus from Turandot brought to mind the 2007–08 season, when Dennis Hanthorn was at the helm and the Atlanta Opera found a permanent home at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.

But above all, Huff could not overlook the incredibly ebullient productions of George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess that took place in Atlanta in both 2005 and 2011, which led to an invitation by the Opéra-Comique in Paris for an eight-week tour throughout Europe. Accordingly, the Bailey Center audience reveled in “Oh Lord, I’m On My Way” from Act III of Porgy.

Yet Huff’s programming was intended to highlight not his own career but rather the variety of vocal shades that one encounters throughout operatic repertoire and, moreover, to showcase what the Atlanta Opera chorus is capable of achieving. Huff reminded us of the vast range of characters that his working opera chorus has embodied over the last 25 years. 

The Atlanta Opera Chorus accomplished this and was even able to show off a little, aptly boasting two selections from the verismo repertoire: a light and airy “Bell Chorus” from Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci early on and finally closing with the “Easter Hymn” from Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana. The latter selection featured glamorous soprano Indra Thomas as Santuzza.

Huff’s “Silver Celebration” was merely the first offering of the Atlanta Opera’s 2014–15 season. Atlanta audiences will also hear Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Verdi’s Rigoletto and Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre as well as the Atlanta premiere of Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers at the Alliance Theatre this season.

– See more at: http://www.artsatl.com/2014/09/review-atlanta-opera-joyously-celebrates-25-years-vocal-guidance-walter-huff/#sthash.HaGaEXF1.dpuf

Lorin Maazel and Madame Butterfly

MaazelOn July 13 conductor Lorin Maazel passed away.  Maazel , 84, was a child prodigy who began leading orchestras at the age of 9.  His final performance was a production of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly, which took place at the Castleton Festival in Virginia two days earlier. 

Tomer Zvulun, General and Artistic Director of the Atlanta Opera, collaborated with Maazel as stage director for Butterfly.  The Castleton production, which featured sets designed by Erhard Rom, was a joint venture with Atlanta Opera and New Orleans Opera  and will be featured in Atlanta this November.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2014/07/13/331148634/conductor-lorin-maazel-who-brought-america-to-the-podium-dies

Meeting Celeste Headlee

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NPR journalist Celeste Headlee recently moved to Atlanta and will be hosting a 9 a.m. radio show on GPB’s newly acquired signal 88.5 that launches in October 2014.   I had an opportunity to meet Headlee earlier this week and we spoke about her musical legacy as the grand-daughter of esteemed American Composer, William Grant Still (1895-1978).  Still’s opera Troubled Island – with libretto by Langston Hughes and Verna Arvey – premiered at New York City Opera in 1949 and was the first opera by a black composer to be performed in the United States.  Still’s other operas include Blue Steel, A Bayou Legend, Highway NO. 1, U.S.A., Costaso, Mota, The Pillar, and Minette Fontaine.  

In the June 2014 Issue of Opera News: REVIEW of Atlanta Opera’s Faust

Noah Stewart

Atlanta Opera’s spring production of Faust at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre began in a promising way (seen March 11). It is difficult to overstate the remarkable improvement in the opera orchestra’s playing since Maestro Arthur Fagan joined ranks with the Atlanta Opera as music director. Even a season ago, this would have been a difficult opera for this company and this orchestra: the orchestral writing is highly exposed with solo lines throughout. It was apparent from the initial fortissimo note of the prelude that orchestrally things had changed for the better.

Louisa Muller made her Atlanta Opera debut as stage director for this production. She had a gifted cast assembled before her, including Walter Huff’s energetic chorus. It was a traditional but not stodgy staging that employed attractive choreography.

Noah Stewart sang the title role. In a fur-lined robe and surrounded by books, beakers, and other research implements he delivered his initial “Rien!” almost completely doubled over, offering a convincing picture of extreme old age. The opening act was played behind a scrim, providing a sense of intrigue as Faust made his bargain with Méphistophélès, although the darkness of the scene obscured Faust’s transformation after he drank the devil’s frothy potion. Once the scrim was raised and revealed the verdant Act II set — designed by Early Staley and rented from Houston Grand Opera — Stewart was able to convey a stunning contrast between antiquity and youthful impetuousness. His tenor is limpid and warm throughout most of his range. “Salut! Demeure chaste et pure” in Act III provided an especially lovely display of Stewart’s lyric ability and dynamic flexibility, made all the more moving by the exquisite violin solo that followed.

Alexander Vinogradov sang the role of Méphistophélès with grandeur and ease. His solo arias were the high points of the evening, especially the strophic serenade, “Vous qui faites l’endormie” when he flaunted a broad palette of vocal color and resonance. Vinogradov’s only sin was his understatement of the musical guffaws that serve to punctuate each verse. Mary Dunleavy returned to Atlanta to sing the ill-fated heroine Marguerite after a glorious run as Violetta last season. Dunleavy is unarguably radiant. A fluent interpreter of lyric soprano repertoire who admirably maintains a vocal production that is both free and fresh, Dunleavy paces herself and never seems to let herself get caught up in the moment until the finale. That was her way in La Traviata last spring and she followed suit here when she sang with abandon in the prison scene and final trio.

The opposite case was exemplified in mezzo-soprano Emily Fons’s performance. Her interpretation of Marguerite’s lovesick suitor Siébel was anything but reserved — rather raw and exceedingly physical. Fons’ rendition of “Faites-lui mes aveux” revealed a voice that ascended the scale easily, both agile and expressive. Edward Parks gave a confident performance as Valentin, delivering the showpiece aria, “Avant de quitter,” that was added to the score for baritone Charles Santley in 1864. Parks’s upper register was thrilling and especially so when he and the orchestra culminated the piece with an impressive crescendo.

Seamless transitions prevailed overall (with the omission of the Walpurgis Night revels and Faust’s encounter with the courtesans of antiquity), yet the concluding moments of the opera and quick scene changes from church to prison to redemption, seemed disjointed. Resolution was close at hand, though, as Méphistophélès and Faust made a hasty exit after the trio, leaving the stage to Marguerite as she was at last delivered from her earthly suffering.

STEPHANIE ADRIAN

www.artsATL.com Review: Rising star Tara Erraught brings her Irish roots and soaring mezzo to Spivey Hall

March 26, 2014

By Stephanie Adrian

Tara Erraught

The month of March prompts one to think of shamrocks, corned beef and cabbage, and a myriad of other Irish clichés like kissing the Blarney Stone and green beer. In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, perhaps, Spivey Hall welcomed Irish mezzo-soprano Tara Erraught and her pianist Dearbhla Collins to perform a recital on March 23. Erraught’s offering of Respighi, Brahms, Wolf and several opera arias, however, was anything but a cliché.

The 25-year-old Erraught, a native of Dundalk, Ireland, is a principal singer at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, where she has sung as an ensemble member for the last six years. Her distinction as a leading lady on the operatic stage has become evident this season as she sang the role of Kitty in Iain Bell’s Harlot’s Progress at the Theater an der Wien and the role of Angelina in La Cenerentola at the Bayerische Staatsoper. Erraught is garnering attention on this side of the pond as well, and will debut shortly at both the Washington National Opera and San Francisco Opera.

The concert at Spivey Hall opened with Joseph Haydn’s “Scena di Berenice,” a Metastasio text from his libretto L’Antigono. The scena provided us time to admire Erraught’s intense, spinning top notes. A lyric mezzo with a rather sizeable voice, her instrument possesses the earthy timbre of an alto, but the range of a soprano. Her Bartoli-like melismas and long phrases showcased the utmost vocal freedom and an easy, pulsing vibrato that was stunning to hear. As the scena developed, Erraught became exceedingly involved physically and dramatically, piquing our interest.

After a melancholy group of three songs by Ottorino Respighi, Erraught told us that while there was no unifying theme for her repertoire choices, each song was a favorite — songs that she desperately wanted to do. The Respighi set included a gem entitled “Nebbie,” a song that the composer wrote without words even before encountering the poem by Ada Negri, which would eventually be assigned to it. The piece seems simple — a chordal accompaniment with a tonic pedal and predictable ascending and descending vocal lines that culminate with a declamatory statement, “Vieni! Vieni!” Yet the piece was incredibly moving. Erraught aptly conveyed elegance amid a text that is weighted with angst and despair.

Next, the Irish mezzo launched into selections from Johannes Brahm’s Zigeunerlieder. The eight Hungarian Gypsy songs were selected from some 380 songs that Brahms wrote during his lifetime and exhibit dance rhythms and strong accents. The final piece, “Rote Abendwolken ziehn,” is exuberant and gave us a first glimpse of the operatic scope and dynamic capability of Erraught’s voice. The Brahms set was immediately followed by Wolf’s “Mörike-Lieder.” The juxtaposition held a hint of irony as Wolf is reputed to be “anti-Brahms” as he strived for a perfect synthesis of words and music.

It’s always a pleasure to hear a formal song recital conclude with a few choice arias that exhibit a singer’s virtuosic capability; it’s like dessert after an incredibly satisfying meal. On this afternoon, Erraught and Collins gave us three unique arias — “Amour, viens render à mon âme” from Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, “Voce di donna” from Ponchielli’s La Gioconda and “Non v’è donna sulla terra” from Michael William Balfe’s Falstaff. The latter, composed in 1838, is so rarely heard that it was like the cherry on top of the sundae.

Erraught qualified Balfe as the “Irish Rossini.” This aria for Nanetta is characteristic of the bel canto vocal style of Bellini, Rossini and Donizetti. The double aria consists of both an andante cavatina section and a more energetic and showy ensuing cabaletta. Erraught displayed all of the bel canto characteristics one hopes for — a naturally beautiful voice and effortless delivery of highly florid passages. 

And just as we were wishing that we had been in Munich in early March to hear Tara Erraught’s Angelina in La Cenerentola, she seemed to read our minds and bestowed upon us “Non più mesta” as an encore. 

Preview on www.artsATL.com: Music educators convene for public conference, concerts based on Zoltán Kodály’s “universal musical humanism”

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March 17, 2014

By Stephanie Adrian

Hungarian pianist and composer Zoltán Kodály held that everyone has musical ability that should be cultivated in order to benefit humanity. The Organization of American Kodály Educators (OAKE), a professional organization for music educators, will convene in Atlanta on March 20 to promote his philosophy of “universal musical humanism.”

Propelled by disenchantment with Hungary’s education system, Kodály (1882–1967) dedicated himself to understanding what children were learning and how they were learning it. He found that children possess an innate musical ability and learn best through the songs, games, and dances of their native culture. In an effort to preserve the music of Hungary, Kodály traveled to villages throughout his country and developed several core principles through which music educators could advance universal music literacy.

American teachers will adapt the songs native to regions across the United States — Texas cowboy songs, Appalachian folk tunes or blues songs — for use within the classroom. They may use a high-quality popular song or even a Disney ditty to present a rhythmic or musical concept. Recognizing the voice as a child’s primary instrument, Kodály educators begin with the folk music of the child’s mother tongue. They progress from the known to the unknown, selecting age-appropriate music of the highest quality and eventually bridging to the music of the masters: Bach, Beethoven, Brahms.

The Atlanta conference, which is open to the public, will feature presentations on Lithuanian folk dance, Jewish choral music, Freedom Songs from the Civil War to the civil rights movement, and African American playground songs. This year OAKE will also offer a secondary choral track and classroom demonstrations for newcomers. Information is available on the organization’s website http://www.oake.org.

Two public concerts will bookend the conference. On March 19 at 8 p.m. pianist Gilbert de Greeve, professor emeritus of the Royal Conservatory of Antwerp, will present a benefit recital of Claude Debussy’s “24 Préludes for Piano” at Central Presbyterian Church. Part of the Arts of the Spirit concert series, it will feature a visual presentation and narration by Atlanta soprano Alexis Lundy. Concert proceeds will benefit the National Conference Choir Scholarship Fund.

Some 500 children, selected by audition, participate in these choirs, learning the concert repertoire through the Kodály process. The conference finale is a performance by several of these National Choirs at 7 p.m. On March 22 at the Woodruff Arts Center in Midtown.

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