PUTNEY—Yellow Barn welcomes a duo of alumni for an exploration of Olivier Messiaen’s Chants de terre et de ciel (“Songs of Earth and Heaven”) and Oliver Knussen’s Whitman Settings, Op. 25.
Soprano Kristina Bachrach and pianist Daniel Anastasio will conclude their residency with an evening performance at Next Stage on Friday, Jan. 11. The event begins at 7:30 p.m., lasts approximately 70 minutes, and ends with an open discussion between musicians and audience members.
According to a news release, Bachrach and Anastasio first met and began performing together at Yellow Barn in 2016.
“Daniel and I are thrilled at the chance to explore and share the ways that these two pieces speak to each other,” Bachrach says. “In Chants de terre et de ciel (for which Messiaen also wrote the poetry), he celebrates his earthly but eternal bond to his wife and their exuberance and excitement over their young son, Pascal.
“A devout Catholic, he thanks God for them and he ends the cycle with the song Résurrection (for Easter Sunday). The texts for Oliver Knussen’s Whitman Settings are more explicitly earthbound. The narrator addresses the mysterious reach of the stars and the rain, compares himself to the spider, blindly sending out filament in search of something on which to anchor, and observes two eagles finding themselves in fiercely loving alliance.”
Messiaen met his wife, Claire-Louis Delbos, when they were both students at the Conservatoire in Paris. Messiaen was studying to become a pianist and a composer; Delbos was also an aspiring composer and concert violinist. The two began performing in recitals together and married on June 22, 1932. Delbos suffered several miscarriages before finally having a son, Pascal, in 1937. Chants de terre et de ciel was written the following year.
Oliver Knussen wrote Whitman Settings in 1991, setting text by American poet Walt Whitman to music.
In notes accompanying his score, Knussen writes, “All four poems muse on things in space or the sky, and all four songs grow from the short idea heard at the outset.”
The song cycle is dedicated to soprano and Yellow Barn faculty member Lucy Shelton, who gave the first complete performance at BBC Pebble Mill with John Constable.
Bachrach has made debuts at Carnegie Hall and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and performed more than 50 recitals across the U.S. In addition to Yellow Barn, Bachrach has attended the Marlboro Music Festival, Tanglewood, and the Banff Centre.
On the operatic stage, Bachrach has appeared as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, Musetta in La Bohème, La Princesse in L’enfant et les sortilèges, and Clorinda in La Cenerentola with companies such as Gotham Chamber Opera, Opera Philadelphia, Opera Naples, and Nashville Opera.
She created the role of Lucinda in the world premiere of Dark Sisters by Nico Muhly, recent recipient of two Metropolitan Opera commissions.
Anastasio received a B.A. in music and philosophy at Cornell University and a master of music degree from Juilliard. He is a candidate for the doctor of musical arts at Stony Brook University under Gilbert Kalish and Christina Dahl, who are both longstanding Yellow Barn faculty.
Anastasio was recently appointed to the piano faculty at San Antonio College, where he teaches full-time. In addition to the piano quartet Agarita, he is co-founder of Unheard-of//Ensemble and Blueprints piano series.
Created in 2008 by Artistic Director Seth Knopp, Yellow Barn’s Artist Residencies program is the first retreat in the U.S. created specifically for professional, performing musicians of any kind.