Dunner, soprano Davis reunite this weekend for all-American bill


February 13, 2003|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

It is fitting that as Leslie B. Dunner's tenure at the helm of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra winds down, soprano Kishna Davis is coming to town for one more concert under the maestro's baton.

ASO aficionados will recall that it was Davis who appeared as an 11th-hour replacement soloist at Dunner's ASO debut in February 1998. She brought last-minute repertoire with her as well.

But if the conductor or the soprano, a Howard County native, felt undue pressure at having been brought together so late in the game for Dunner's audition concert, neither betrayed it in performance. The results were extraordinary. Dunner got the job, and Davis' Verdi and Puccini arias elicited a chorus of "Bravo!" that exceeded any other ever heard by this writer in Maryland Hall.

Kishna Davis returns to Annapolis this weekend to perform Honey and Rue, an orchestral song cycle composed by Andre Previn to texts by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison. The songs were composed for soprano Kathleen Battle on commission for the centennial celebration of New York City's Carnegie Hall.

As Davis performs Previn's settings of such evocative Morrison texts as "First I'll Try Love," "Whose House Is This?" "The Town Is Lit," "Do You Know Him?" "I Am Not Seaworthy" and "Take My Mother Home," local concert-goers will be witnessing the artistry of a singer on the rise. Davis recently appeared in an all-Gershwin celebration with Yuri Temirkanov and the Baltimore Symphony, and she made her debut with the Phoenix Symphony.

For this concert, she will be joined by bass-baritone Kevin Deas in excerpts from Gershwin's folk opera Porgy and Bess.

Deas, who has sung Porgy under the baton of Bobby McFerrin, also has won acclaim for performances with such world-class ensembles as the New York Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonic and the symphonies of San Francisco, Houston, Atlanta and Utah. He also spent a year touring as the lead vocalist in Riverdance, a remarkable synthesis of movement and music.

Deas also will perform a set of Aaron Copland's Old American Songs, including "At the River," "I Bought Me A Cat" and "Simple Gifts."

Dunner and his players round out this all-American program with orchestral excerpts from Copland's only full-length opera, The Tender Land.

The program begins at 8 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday. Tickets are $25, $30 and $35. To order, call the ASO box office at 410-263-0907 or visit the orchestra's Web site at www.annapolissymphony.org.

Local music lovers will also want to sample the artistry of pianist Andreas Haefliger, who will play sonatas by Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert at St. John's College Feb. 21. The concert, which begins at 8:15 p.m., will be held in Key Auditorium. It is free and open to the public.

Haefliger, a Swiss-born pianist, was trained at New York's Juilliard School. His 2002-2003 concert season includes an appearance at Carnegie Hall playing Bartok's 3rd Piano Concerto with the Orchestra of St. Luke's and a complete cycle of the five Beethoven Piano Concertos with the Milwaukee Symphony.

Haefliger has recorded works by Schumann, Schubert, Dvorak and Mozart for the Sony Classical and London/Decca labels. He also has appeared in recital with his father, Ernst Haefliger, a noted interpreter of Bach, Mozart and German lieder.

For additional information on Haefliger's recital at St. John's, call 410-626-2539 or visit the college Web site at www.sjca.edu.

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