Helen Cha-Pyo, conductor
Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet, mezzo-soprano
Thomas Kurtz, saxophone
The MSU Symphony Orchestra performs Copland’s John Henry, Yoshimatsu’s Cyberbird Concerto with Thomas Kurtz, saxophone, Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1 (Jeremiah) with mezzo-soprano Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet, and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 (New World).
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.
During her varied career, dramatic soprano Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet has established herself as a leading force in the German and contemporary repertoires. Having begun singing Italian and ‘spinto’ Russian roles, she has naturally progressed into the more dramatic German soprano – and more recently ‘Zwischenfach’ – repertoire. Her intense stage presence has been widely praised by critics, with the Times proclaiming her a ‘spine-chillingly powerful’ performer.
In Europe, Charbonnet has appeared at major opera houses including the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona; Opéra National de Paris; Teatro Real, Madrid; Oper Frankfurt; Opéra National de Bordeaux; Deutsche Oper Berlin; Teatro Comunale di Firenze; Teatro La Fenice; and Bregenz Festival. Her major roles include Ortrud Lohengrin (in Frankfurt and Dallas), Kundry Parsifal, Venus Tannhäuser (Geneva and Toulouse), Sieglinde Die Walküre, and Brünnhilde Der Ring des Nibelungen (both Opéra national du Rhin). Her portrayal of Isolde was described in Opera magazine as ‘every inch the passionate Irish princess, at first a bundle of fury, then wholly possessed by the love potion. Her soprano smouldered hotly below, blazed thrillingly on high.’
Recent highlights include the title role of Ariane et Barbe-bleue (in Barcelona and Dijon); Judith Bluebeard’s Castle (Nantes/Angers and Paris); Leonore Fidelio (Teatro San Carlo); Katerina Izmailova Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (Florence May Festival and Teatro Municipal Santiago); Goneril King Lear (Frankfurt); Elektra (Deutsche Oper Berlin, Edinburgh International Festival, and LSO under Valery Gergiev); and Cassandre Les Troyens (Opéra National de Paris).
Charbonnet’s concert repertoire includes Schoenberg’s Erwartung (with Jukka-Pekka Saraste in Cologne) and Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass (with Pierre Boulez at the BBC Proms).
Engagements in the 2013-14 season include role debuts as Kostelnička Jenůfa (La Monnaie, Brussels) and the Mother Il Prigioniero in Barcelona, as well as Erwartung with Susanna Mälkki in Amsterdam. Looking further ahead, Charbonnet will add roles to her repertoire including Herodias Salome, Klytemnestra Elektra and Amneris Aida.