Courtroom Concert Program Details
October 23, 2014, Noon
Courtroom 317, Landmark Center
Music of Elizabeth Alexander
Andrew Wilkowske, Kathleen Humphrey, Ruth MacKenzie, singers
Jacqueline Ultan, cello • Elizabeth Alexander, piano
Die Gedanken Sind Frei (16th c. German protest song)
Oath Taking (Opal Palmer Adisa)
The Eternal One (Ralph Waldo Emerson, adapted)
On the Edge of the Water (Elizabeth Alexander)
Trouble in a Minnesota Town (Neal Bowers)
I. Come Soon, from Nature Creature (Lilian Moore)
II. Life Will Break You, from Nature Creature (Louise Erdrich)
No One Gets a Program (Dutch proverb / Additional lyrics by Elizabeth Alexander)
Elizabeth Alexander (b. 1962) grew up in the Carolinas and Appalachian Ohio, inheriting her love of music, language, and challenging questions from her parents, a piano teacher and a minister/prison warden. These passions are reflected in her catalogue of over 100 songs and choral works and a style which moves with ease between concert stage, choir loft, and jam session. Critical reviews frequently mention “the close personal resonance between the composer and the words,” in reference to her musical settings of both the poetry of others and the lyrics she crafts herself.
Her music has been described as “brilliantly innovative” (New York Concert Review), “truly inspired” (Boston Intelligencer), “effective both visually and musically” (Ear Magazine), and “some of the most exquisite moments of the concert” (Kansas City Metropolis). Her frequent commissions include works for orchestra, chamber ensembles, solo instruments, and voice, but she is best known for her choral pieces, which have received over a dozen awards and have been performed by thousands of choruses worldwide.
She studied composition with Steven Stucky, Jack Gallagher, Yehudi Wyner, and Karel Husa, receiving her doctorate in Music Composition from Cornell University. A 2011 McKnight Composition Fellow, she has also received awards and fellowships from the Jerome Foundation, New York Council on the Arts, Wisconsin Arts Board, National Orchestral Association, International League of Women Composers, American Composers Forum, Meet the Composer, and ASCAP.
Andrew Wilkowske – when singing a “virile, sturdy Marcello” or a “garrulous yet endearing” Papageno – displays an engaging combination of musical talent and masterful stage presence. Wilkowske, whose voice has been described as “nimble,” with an “impressively open top,” is one of the most versatile performers on the stage today. According to Opera News, Wilkowske’s recent performance in The Elixir of Love with Utah Opera was “played with on-the-nose hubris and vocal swagger.”
This season he will reprise the role of Ponchel in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Silent Night with Lyric Opera of Kansas City, a role he created in 2011 with Minnesota Opera. With Milwaukee Opera Theatre, he will sing the world premiere of Lucy, a one-man-opera composed by John Glover and Kelley Rourke. Later this season he returns to Minnesota Opera to sing Dr. Dulcamara in L’Elisir d’Amore. Additionally, Wilkowske will appear with the Minnesota Orchestra and the Minnesota Bach Ensemble. .
Wilkowske co-created the rock recital Guns N’ Rosenkavalier with composer John Glover, featuring the music of Schubert, Schumann, Faurè, Strauss, Van Halen, Bruce Springsteen, Alicia Keys and Madonna. The concert was most recently heard at Mill City Summer Opera, and has also played to acclaim at Glimmerglass Opera and Milwaukee Opera Theatre.
Widely known for his expertise in modern repertoire, Wilkowske recently sang in the premiere of Kirke Mechem’s The Rivals with Skylight Music Theatre. Other recent premieres include The Grapes of Wrath, by Ricky Ian Gordon and Michael Korie with Minnesota Opera and Pittsburgh Opera; The Adventures of Pinocchio, by Jonathan Dove and Alastair Miles with Minnesota Opera; The Fly, by Howard Shore and Henry David Hwang with Los Angeles Opera.
Other recent engagements include Ponchel in Silent Night with Cincinnati Opera and Opera Philadelphia; Papageno in The Magic Flute with Minnesota Opera; The Emperor and King in The Emperor of Atlantis and Die Kluge with Chicago Opera Theater; La Rocca in Verdi’s King For a Day (Un giorno di regno) with Glimmerglass Opera; Mr. Gedge in Albert Herring with Florentine Opera; Guglielmo in Così fan tutte with Intermountain Opera Bozeman; Sharpless in Madama Butterfly with Minnesota Opera; Tonio in I Pagliacci with Mill City Summer Opera; Carmina Burana with the Minnesota Orchestra, under the baton of Osmo Vänksä; Emperor Overall in the critically acclaimed production of The Emperor of Atlantis with Boston Lyric Opera; and Dandini in La Cenerentola with The Minnesota Opera.
Active on the musical theatre stage, Wilkowske’s performance in Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris was called “chilling” and “deeply moving” by the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and his performance in the world premiere of Sleeping Beauty with the Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati earned him a nomination for a Cincinnati Entertainment Award.
Wilkowske’s escapades as opera’s favorite barber are documented in his award-winning “A Year of Figaro” blog.
Kathleen Humphrey has performed extensively in both theater and concert venues. Among her many roles with The Minnesota Opera, a recent highlight includes the world premiere of Doubt, (Sister Veronica & Mrs. Shields) by John Patrick Shanley and Douglas Cuomo. Kathleen has also appeared with Theater Latte Da in A Light In The Piazza (Margaret), The Guthrie Theater, Chanhassen Dinner Theaters, Theatre de la Jeune Lune, The Children’s Theatre Company and Skylark Opera in Candide (The Old Lady).
Ms. Humphrey has also performed with Utah Opera, Berkshire Opera, MA, with The Minnesota Orchestra, The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and with the Fargo-Moorhead, South Dakota and Cedar Rapids Symphonies, among others, and she is a soloist at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church in Minneapolis.
Ruth MacKenzie is an artist whose compass has taken her in many creative directions. Her theatrical creations: Kalevala: Dream of the Salmon Maiden, The Snow Queen, and Theotokos, have been produced by the Guthrie Theatre, The O’Shaughnessy Auditorium and The Children’s Theater Company. She has performed concerts throughout the United States and the Nordic Countries, and is sought after for her exquisite interpretation of lyrics and the many textures of her rich alto voice. She has been a featured performer with Garrison Keillor’s, Prairie Home Companion and Peter Ostroushko’s Heartland Band. She is the recipient of two McKnight Fellowships and a Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation Grant, NY.
Ruth is an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister and currently serves First Universalist Church of Minneapolis while continuing her long-standing love of singing, and concertizing.
Jacqueline Ultan is the founder of Saltee, a beat box, cello, and guitar groove trio; and co-founder, with fellow cellist Michelle Kinney, of Jelloslave, a 2 cello drum and tabla quartet. Jelloslave has released two critically acclaimed CDs, including Touch It (2006), and Purple Orange (2010). Saltee has produced two CD’s including a live self-titled CD, and their more recent 2012 EP CrossPolyNation. Jacqueline also plays in pop-rock band The Starfolk, who have released the Lemon-Lime EP, and their 2013 critically acclaimed, self-titled debut record.
Jacqueline has won several grant awards including a 2014-15 Mcknight Performing Artist Fellowship, administered by Macphail Center for Music; A 2013-14 Minnesota State Arts Board Touring Grant with her band Jelloslave; A 2011 Jerome Foundation 416 Club Commissions Grant; and a Subito Grant from the American Composer’s Forum.
A dedicated teacher, Jacqueline serves on the faculty at the Macphail Center for Music, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, and also runs a home teaching studio. Jacqueline holds a Master’s Degree in performance from Yale University.