New programs and audience favorites featured during the Vocal Arts and Music Festival
With a mix of returning favorites and new programs, the Vocal Arts and Music Festival will feature 17 days of special events, including master classes with some of the biggest names in opera, chamber music concerts, solo and group performances spotlighting the festival’s talented singers, and a special guest artist recital with a featured artist from the Metropolitan Opera.
Acclaimed musicians from across the United States will serve as the festival’s guest artists and instrumental faculty. These instrumentalists have performed with some of the greatest orchestras and music ensembles throughout the world, including the Vienna Philharmonic, Lyric Opera of Chicago, St. Petersburg Symphony, Tokyo Philharmonic, Jerusalem Symphony, Israel Chamber Orchestra, and China National Symphony Orchestra.
They will color the festival with pieces from Mozart, Dvořák, Brahms, and Schumann, among others. The instrumentalists bring their breadth of musical experience and knowledge to the event, and will not only be featured in performances throughout the festival, including the first full concert on June 14, but will also mentor chamber instrumentalists.
Special guest artist Matthew Polenzani performs an intimate recital program accompanied by pianist Howard Watkins on Friday, June 27. Bringing a fresh and versatile take to concerts and operas on leading international stages, American lyric tenor Polenzani is now a regular featured singer with the Metropolitan Opera. He appeared in the Metropolitan Opera’s spring 2014 production of “Cosi Fan Tutte,” and will appear in Verdi’s “Rigoletto.” To date, he has sung over 285 performances at the Metropolitan Opera, many conducted by his musical mentor James Levine. Polenzani received the 2004 Richard Tucker Award and the Metropolitan Opera’s 2008 Beverly Sills Artist Award.
At the core of the festival is a group of young singers handpicked by the International Vocal Arts Institute founders Joan Dornemann and Paul Nadler, both of the Metropolitan Opera. These professionals come to Virginia Tech for unparalleled access to top opera teachers.
Opera superstars Mignon Dunn, Ruth Falcon, Sherrill Milnes, and a host of other vocal faculty, return to the festival this year to work closely with the young singers, helping them fine-tune their craft, providing instruction on how to improve technique, nurture voice development, and properly prepare for performances.
The singers will take the stage most evenings of the festival in a variety of themed performances, including an evening of opera with two contrasting works by Georges Bizet on Thursday, June 24. Bizet’s very first opera, “Doctor Miracle,” is a one-act opera about a young man’s quest for the mayor’s daughter and includes disguises, intrigue, and high jinks, all for the sake of true love. In contrast, an adaptation of Peter Brook’s acclaimed one-act version of “Carmen” zeroes in on the central characters and key dramatic moments of Bizet’s most famous opera. The production is directed by Josh Major, chair of opera studies at the New England Conservatory of Music.
Audience favorite “A Night on Broadway” returns on June 21. Directed by Shane Schag from Manhattan School of Music, the performance will feature festival singers in solos, duets, and ensemble numbers culled from decades of musical theatre greats. With staging by David M. Beris, the event features pieces from Rodgers and Hammerstein to Jerome Kern, Stephen Sondheim, and more.
Virginia Tech’s Personal Touch catering will offer a special four-course dinner prior to the Broadway performance on June 21, in the Moss Art Center’s Cube. Two different seating times are offered at 5:30 and 6 p.m. The cost is $100 per couple, with the option of a wine pairing for an additional $30 per couple. Space is limited and reservations must be made by June 17. Contact Suzanne Quesenberry at 540-231-2409 or by email to make reservations.
A full list of Vocal Arts and Music Festival events is available online. Programs are subject to change.
Performances will be held in the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, located within the Moss Arts Center’s Street and Davis Performance Hall at 190 Alumni Mall; or in the Squires Recital Salon, located within the Squires Student Center at 290 College Ave. in Blacksburg.
Two packages are available for the Vocal Arts and Music Festival: the Premier Package includes all performances at a 20 percent discount, and the Build Your Own Package allows for a 10 percent discount for five performances or more. Tickets to individual performances are also available. Tickets can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center's box office, noon to 6 p.m. on Monday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday; or by calling 540-231-5300. Free events will not be ticketed. All performances are general admission.
Parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street. Virginia Tech faculty and staff possessing a valid Virginia Tech parking permit can enter and exit the garage free of charge. Event parking for visitors is $5. Event passes may be purchased when entering the garage on event evenings. Limited street parking is also available. Parking on Alumni Mall is free on weekdays after 5 p.m. and on weekends.