Soprano with a sparkling voice to match her personality, Connecticut
native Kristen Plumley brings her joy of being on stage to every role she performs.
Lauded as "sensationally note-perfect" (St. Petersburg Times), "a roguish comedienne"
(The Middletown, CT Press) and “Met-worthy” (The Dallas Morning News), Ms. Plumley
has portrayed Adina (L'Elisir d'Amore) and Gilda (Rigoletto) with Greensboro Opera
Company, Musetta (La bohème) with Amarillo Opera, Norina (Don Pasquale) and Zerlina
(Don Giovanni) with Virginia Opera, Barbarina (Le Nozze di Figaro) with New York
City Opera, Norina (Don Pasquale) and Zerlina (Don Giovanni) with Virginia Opera,
Nannetta (Falstaff) and Amor (Orfeo ed Euridice) with Opera Festival of New Jersey,
Sophie (Werther) with Chautauqua Opera, Adele (Die Fledermaus) with Boheme Opera
(NJ) and Opera Theatre of Connecticut, Despina (Così fan Tutte) with Lyric Opera
of Cleveland, the Sultan of Egypt (Glück’s Les Pelerins de la Mecque) with L’Opéra
Français de New York, Yum-Yum (The Mikado) with Opera Memphis and Josephine (H.M.S.
Pinafore) with Nevada Opera.
Other roles to her credit include Juliette (Roméo et Juliette), Lauretta (Gianni
Schicchi), and Kathy (Student Prince), and musical theater favorites Maria (West
Side Story), Carrie (Carousel), Fiona (Brigadoon) and Laurey (Oklahoma!).
On the concert stage, Kristen Plumley has performed a broad spectrum of works, including
Mozart's Coronation Mass and Requiem, Haydn's Mass in Time of War with the New England
Symphonic Ensemble at Carnegie Hall. Additionally, she has sung Mozart's Mass in
C minor, Elgar’s For the Fallen, Bach’s Coffee Cantata and Respighi’s Laud to the
Nativity, as well as Jack Everly's Sci-Fi Spectacular (music from science fiction
movies and television shows) with the Cleveland, Indianapolis, Seattle and Baltimore
Symphonies and An Evening of Gilbert and Sullivan with the symphony orchestras of
St. Louis, Richmond, Memphis and Minnesota.
Enthusiastic about contemporary works, she has been active in many new operas at
the prestigious Banff Centre for the Arts (Alberta, Canada) and in companies throughout
New York City. In 2015 Kristen created the role of Ruth Draper in Icarus Rising,
a new dance opera about the life of Lauro DeBosis, an Italian freedom fighter during
World War II, with Verlezza Dance.
Ms. Plumley received an Artist Diploma in opera from the Hartt School of Music and
a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and music from Holy Cross College. Twice a winner
in the Connecticut Opera Guild Scholarship Competition, she is also a recipient
of the Richard F. Gold Career Grant (Shoshana Foundation).
Aurora Awakes – was commissioned to write this band work by
the Jeb Stuart High School Wind Ensemble of Falls Church, Virginia. The piece was
premiered on May 8, 2009 and was the recipient of the 2009 American Bandmasters
Association/Ostwald Award and the 2009 National Band Association's William D. Revelli
Award. The piece harkens to the coming of light through Aurora, the Roman goddess
of the dawn. In this composition, Mackey uses a bit of well-known musical material
from popular culture. The opening is the ostinato guitar riff from U2’s Where the
Streets Have No Name. Though the strains of the guitar have been metamorphosed into
the insistent repetitions of keyboard percussion, the aesthetic is similar as a
distant proclamation that grows steadily in fervor. The difference between U2’s
presentation and Mackey’s, however, is that the guitar riff disappears for the majority
of the song, while in Aurora Awakes, the motive persists for nearly the entirety
of the remainder of the piece. The composer also borrows from a masterpiece of wind
band literature as the final chord of the piece is identical to the closing chord
of the Chaconne of Gustav Holst’s First Suite in E-flat, written exactly one century
prior. Mackey adds an even brighter element by including instruments not in Holst’s
original. The composer states, “That has always been one of my favorite chords because
it's just so damn bright. In a piece that's about the awaking of the goddess of
dawn, you need a damn bright ending, and there was no topping Holst.”
Program notes compiled by Marcie Phelan.
Tan Dun (b.1957) is a Chinese classical composer and
conductor, most widely known for his scores for the movies Crouching Tiger, Hidden
Dragon and Hero, as well as composing music for the medal ceremonies at the 2008
Beijing Olympics. His works often incorporate audiovisual elements, use of instruments
constructed from organic materials, such as paper, water, and stone, and are often
inspired by traditional Chinese theatrical and ritual performance. In 2013, he was
named a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. In 2008, Google and YouTube commissioned Tan
Dun to compose a new work, Internet Symphony "Eroica" as part of the inaugural YouTube
Symphony Orchestra project. Musicians from around the world were invited to audition
by submitting videos of their interpretations of the Internet Symphony to be judged
by members of leading international orchestras. There were more than 3,000 auditions
from more than 70 countries. The project culminated in a performance at Carnegie
Hall on April 15, 2009, that was webcast and is still available on YouTube. More
than 22 million people from 200 countries on six continents have experienced Tan
Dun's feeling of a global music community which is encapsulated in his Internet
There are few major American composers that made a more substantial contribution
to the wind band repertoire in the latter half of the twentieth century than Vincent
Persichetti. Persichetti was born in Philadelphia and started his musical training
at age five on the piano. As a teenager, he was already having his compositions
performed publically. By age twenty, Persichetti was head of the theory and composition
departments at Combs College. Persichetti composed fourteen works for winds, and
his dedication to this type of ensemble spanned his entire career. Much of Persichetti’s
music bears religious overtones, and the title of Psalm references the nature of
singing in meditation and celebration. Beginning with a plaintive chorale for solo
clarinets, the work moves through three distinct sections that give other instruments
highlighted moments and eventually arrives in what the composer describes as "a
Paean culmination of the materials."
Hector Berlioz is considered one of the greatest and most famous composers within
the Romantic Period. His marked contribution was his audacious and daring originality
in orchestration and composition. His Overture: Judges of the
Secret Court follows the form of the Italian overture as popularized
by Rossini during the first part of the nineteenth century. Like the Italian pieces,
this overture includes much thematic repetition, a looseness of structure, and frequent
use of the famous “Rossini crescendo”. Dr. Mark Walker, in transcribing this piece
maintained the beauty of the Berlioz original while incorporating his own unique
orchestration techniques. The piece boasts several challenging solos for the band’s
performers including an astonishing percussion solo introducing one of the famous
crescendos that makes this piece a true crowd pleaser.
Gunther Schuller wrote this work as twelve-tone music, which is a compositional
technique. This style of composition is most associated with a group of early 20th
century composers whose figure head was Arnold Schoenberg. Twelve-tone compositional
techniques and ideas however were influential for many great modern composers and
are still being written today. Because of the atonal sound and the lack of analytical
techniques, this art form remains not very well understood as a total musical phenomenon
by composers, performers and listeners alike. Mr. Schuller was fascinated by the
sonic possibilities presented by the instruments of the wind band and he exploited
them in this work. He eschewed the notion about band writing that parts must be
doubled. At one point, the clarinet section is divided into a twenty-eight-note
chord with individual players playing the individual tones. Improvisation also comes
into play. The listener will not hear a theme in this musical technique, but should
listen for the main melodic carriers to reveal themselves through their higher dynamic
levels or expressive markings.
Robert Schumann has been described as the most romantic of all the early 19th century
romantic composers. The Konzertstuck for 4 Solo Horns
was written immediately after the Adagio and Allegro
for horn and piano in 1849. This was a particularly productive time in Schumann’s
life while the composer was living in Dresden. The horn players of the Dresden orchestra
were all using valve horns by 1849, which gave Schumann the independence to write
the work in a brilliant virtuoso style. It has been said that this work was Schumann's
favorite composition. Performances of this work until recent times were rare, probably
because of the technical demands put upon all the soloists. More recently the standard
of horn playing has so dramatically improved that the Konzertstuck is played much
more frequently. William A. Schaefer has produced many arrangements of orchestral
music for winds in order to make music of great composers accessible to young musicians.
Mr. Schaefer always manages to score as the composer himself might have done if
writing for wind ensemble, always giving the impression that the pieces are wind
Johann Strauss Jr. was an Austrian composer commonly referred to as "The Waltz King,"
who was so successful with the waltz genre that it took considerable coaxing from
French composer Jacques Offenbach and Strauss’s own wife to convince him to venture
into operetta. Strauss had been unsuccessful in his previous attempts at musical
theatre, but in Die Fledermaus, which premièred in
Vienna in 1874, his efforts seemed to be charmed, as the operetta was a tremendous
success. This comic operetta is full of disguises, mistaken identities, and late-night
partying. In the operetta, a maid pretends to be an actress when she goes to a ball
in disguise. She is introduced to her boss, who is confused by her striking resemblance
to his maid. The 'actress' finds this very funny and in the "Laughing Song" she
advises him to look at people more closely. Her hands and feet are far too dainty
to be those of a maid, and her profile far too noble. Maybe he is in love with his
maid, and seems to see her everywhere.
Franz Schubert established the German lied as an important art form and then set
a standard of excellence no one since has quite matched. He created more than 600
songs in a prodigious outpouring that sometimes saw him composing five songs in
a single day. However, it is not the sheer numbers that matter, but rather the songs'
extraordinary quality and enormous emotional range. At the heart of his genius lay
his unrivaled gift for melody. Written in 1823 to the verse of the great German
poet Friedrich Rückert, Du bist die Ruh ("You are peace") matches words of selfless,
devoted love to music of sublime simplicity and serenity. Twice in the second stanza,
Schubert voices the longing of the singer for complete union with the beloved in
a powerful ascending line.
Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg (1896-1981) collaborated
to produce this well-known ballad for the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz” and Judy
Garland as the principal character, Dorothy Gayle. The song won the Academy Award
for Best Original Song and became Judy Garland’s signature lyric as well as one
of the most enduring standards of the 20th century.