Jeffrey Gall, Director | Markand Thakar, Conductor
In the corridors of power, jealousy and ambition lead to sexual violence and a suicide. Where is meaning in a world where crimes like these go unpunished? In collaboration with the MSU Symphony, MSU Opera explores these questions in a fully staged production of Benjamin Britten’s transcendent 2-act chamber opera. Sung in the original English.
Jeffrey Gall made his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1988, the first countertenor ever to sing at the Met. He sang Tolomeo in Handel’s Giulio Cesare, and in 1994 returned to the Met for Britten’s Death in Venice. He studied voice at the Yale School of Music with Blake Stern, and holds degrees in Slavic languages from Princeton and Yale Universities. He sang with such early music ensembles as the Waverly Consort and Pomerium Musices early in his career and then moved on to solo roles in Baroque and contemporary opera. He has sung principal roles at La Scala, Teatro San Carlo (Naples) and La Fenice in Italy; the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and the Salle Garnier in France; the Monnaie in Brussels; the Netherlands Opera; the Cologne and Frankfurt Operas in Germany; the Canadian Opera, as well as the Spoleto, Edinburgh, Innsbruck, Halle, Schwetzingen, and Bordeaux Festivals. In the United States he has sung at the San Francisco, Chicago Lyric, Santa Fe, Los Angeles, Dallas, Philadelphia, and Boston Operas, and has made many concert appearances at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York, as well as at the Kennedy Center in Washington. He has recorded for CBS, Harmonia Mundi, Erato, Nonesuch, Titanic, and Smithsonian Records, and appears in the title role on the London video of Peter Sellars’ production of Handel’s Giulio Cesare. Prof. Gall has conducted clinics and master classes in both standard repertory and early-music techniques at music schools across the United States. In addition, he is a founding member of the Italian vocal ensemble Il Terzo Suono.
Markand Thakar is Music Director of the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra and a member of the graduate conducting faculty at the Peabody Conservatory.
A former assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic, Maestro Thakar’s appearances include concerts and a national radio broadcast with that orchestra; as well as concerts with the National, San Antonio, Columbus, Fort Worth, Alabama, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Amarillo, Charlotte, Wichita, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Richmond, Colorado Springs, Greensboro, Illinois, Kalamazoo, Windsor, Flint, Maryland, Ann Arbor, National Gallery, Waterbury, Annapolis, and Florida West Coast symphony orchestras; the Calgary, Louisiana, Long Island, and Ulsan (South Korea) philharmonics; and the Boston Pro Arte, National and Cleveland chamber orchestras; and opera productions with the Baltimore Opera Theater, the Teatro Lirico d’Europa, Opera on the James, and the Duluth Festival Opera. A frequent guest conductor at the Aspen Music Festival, Mr. Thakar has appeared with Yo-Yo Ma and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra and with Itzhak Perlman and the Boulder Philharmonic, and is a winner of the Geraldine C. and Emory M. Ford Foundation Award. Familiar to national radio audiences as a frequent commentator for National Public Radio’s Performance Today, he has appeared on CBS This Morning and CNN conducting the Colorado Symphony.
With BCO Thakar has recorded three CDs for the Naxos label, including disks of concertos by Classical Era masters Stamitz, Hoffmeister and Pleyel, and music by Jonathan Leshnoff on the American Classics imprint, named to Naxos’ “Best of the Best” list. BCO traveled to China to perform a series of Viennese New Year’s concerts, and recent a performance in New York earned a warm review from the New York Times, which praised the group’s “warmth and substance.” During his 12-year tenure in Duluth, the DSSO saw dramatic growth in both audience and artistic prominence, to what Minnesota Public Radio called “Minnesota’s other great orchestra.”
Noted internationally as a pedagogue, his two annual intensive conducting programs with BCO have drawn conductors from five continents. His students have won significant conducting positions across North America and internationally, including music directorships with the Aachen (Germany), Winnipeg, Hartford, Eugene, Charleston, Lubbock, Muncie, Williamsport, Amarillo, Young Musician’s Foundation, Lake Forest, Mid-Atlantic, Sioux City, Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Lake Charles, Washington-Idaho, and Grande Ronde Symphony Orchestras; staff conducting positions with the Metropolitan Opera and the orchestras of Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Dallas, Seattle, Saint Louis, Portland (OR), Richmond, Winnipeg, Portland (ME), Buffalo, Phoenix, Charlotte, Kansas City, Canton, Winston-Salem, and El Paso; as well as numerous collegiate positions.
Markand Thakar is the author of three seminal books. Counterpoint: Fundamentals of Music Making (Yale University Press, 1990), also issued in Italian and Czech, uses species counterpoint to promote an understanding of how both composer and performer contribute to the experience of musical beauty. Looking for the “Harp” Quartet; An Investigation into Musical Beauty (University of Rochester Press, 2011) is a study of musical beauty from the standpoint of the composer, performer and listener. On the Principles and Practice of Conducting (University of Rochester Press, anticipated 2016) is a manual for conductors at all levels.