- The Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice celebrates its seventh season;
- Fisher Center at Bard College presents “The Symphonic and The Operatic” featuring works by Italian composers Giacomo Puccini and Giuseppe Martucci;
- And Arts Society of Kingston presents “Landscape Still Lives” art show by Richard Kirk Mills.
Learn more at Upstater.com.
Baritone Jeffrey Tichenor was born in Kentucky. He studied opera performance at Murray State University, and after moving to New York City he continued his studies with Richard Barrett at Brooklyn Conservatory. Roles in his repertory include Masetto in Don Giovanni and Gugliemo in Cosi Fan Tutte both by Mozart, Harlequin in Ariadne auf Naxos by Strauss, and Albert in Werther by Jules Massenet. Tichenor performed Dr. McVeigh in Do Not Go Gentle by Robert Manno, premiered at the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice this past weekend.
I spoke with Jeffrey after his performance.
Simona David: Jeff, was this your first year at the festival?
Jeffrey Tichenor: The first year as a performer, but I attended the festival in the past.
SD: How were you cast for this role? By the way, you made a great Dr. McVeigh!
JT: I took a voice lesson with the Festival’s Artistic Director Louis Otey in 2014. I must have impressed him enough to have him cast me in this role. I am very appreciative of his support and look forward to more lessons with him and hopefully more performance opportunities.
SD: What did this role mean to you?
JT: It wasn’t until we started group rehearsals that I realized what a pivotal role Dr. McVeigh plays. He and Dr. Gilbertson are the ones trying to convince Dr. Feltenstein that his diagnosis is incorrect. The scene between the three doctors was quite intense.
SD: How many hours did you rehearse?
JT: I’m not really certain how many hours, but there were several group rehearsals in addition to a private coaching with pianist Doug Martin, and also practice on my own.
SD: How was it working with composer Robert Manno and conductor David Wroe?
JT: They were both extremely supportive. Not to mention very friendly. I had not met either of them until the rehearsals started. Immediately there was a genuine personal rapport. Composer Robert Manno was great to answer any questions the cast had regarding the score, and Maestro David Wroe was clear and concise in his conducting technique. It’s a very difficult score, which they both realized. They made suggestions to help the cast through the scenes and do their best.
SD: How about the other members of the cast? You seemed like a great team together. Did you bond right away or did it take many hours of rehearsal to getting to know each other and each other’s parts?
JT: The cast was absolutely top notch and professional, and we seemed to bond right away and lend support from the beginning. No one complained about an extra added rehearsal. There was a great sense of camaraderie to come together and really make the opera happen and shine. I personally sat in awe of many of the singers’ level of skill and professionalism. They all were truly great!
SD: Was it fun, was it difficult to work on this production?
JT: Fun yes, but of course sometimes very difficult. The opera has some very complex music, rhythms and words. There was not a lot of rehearsal time. So you really had to be on top of your game to put it all together. Not to mention, most of the scenes involved many performers. Performing an aria is one thing. You are usually on stage by yourself. But performing in ensemble, in group scenes, you are responsible to do your best for the others that are relying on you to get it right.
SD: Were you familiar with Dylan Thomas’ poetry prior to working on this production, or was it new to you? What did you take out from Thomas’ story?
JT: I am not familiar with Dylan Thomas’ poetry. That’s probably my own fault and this experience should inspire me to become more familiar with his work. I think what I took most is that many artists have many hidden issues. Alcohol, drug abuse, etc. But they are very sensitive people, and spend many hours either alone trying to work or before the public in a very raw and revealed state. It’s a difficult balance to maintain.
SD: What is your overall impression of the festival?
JT: I feel that the festival is very professionally executed, and that a lot is expected of the performers and volunteers, but if we all come together and do our best, it will be a great success. I have been attending the festival for two years now and each year gets better and better. I cannot express how fortunate I feel to have settled into a community with a world class festival less than 30 minutes from my house.
SD: Do you plan to come back next year?
JT: I certainly hope to! I’m already looking at the 2016 season to see where I might fit. And, I’m also thinking of suggestions for concerts that might happen during the day. “Hey Louis, I’d love to perform Brahms’s Liebeslieder Waltzes with a great quartet or octet or perhaps Bach’s cantata for baritone Ich habe genug!
© 2015 Simona David
This weekend in the Catskills:
- The Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice celebrates its sixth anniversary: composer Carlisle Floyd and mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade are among celebrities attending this year;
- Saratoga Race Course is in full swing (the National Museum of Racing, also in Saratoga, is open every day during the race season in July and August);
- Jan Harrison is showing at Bright Hill Literary Center in Treadwell;
- And The Urge Unchecked group show is on view in the Commons Building in Margaretville – the show includes works by Lisbeth Firmin and Gary Mayer among others.
For more, visit Upstater.com.
New York State Museum
The New York State Museum in Albany is hosting its annual fundraiser New York in Bloom, an extremely popular floral show launched in 1992. New York in Bloom will display this year over a hundred floral arrangements from New York’s most exquisite florists and floral designers. Themed activities will be offered throughout the weekend, including demonstrations and children’s activities. The hours are Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/programs/nybloom/.
Columbia County Council on the Arts
Columbia County Council on the Arts (CCCA) is hosting an art history class this Sunday, February 22 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. “Understanding Painting” will cover various art movements including the Renaissance, French Neo-Classical and Romantic movements of the 18th and 19th century, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, as well as Modernism. The class will be taught by Emmet McLaughlin, painter and educator. For more information, visit http://artscolumbia.org/.
Woodstock School of Art
Woodstock School of Art is hosting a Pre-College Portfolio Development event this Saturday, February 21 from 1 to 4 p.m. The event is tailored to high school students getting ready for college. There will be a presentation and portfolio review. Parents and teachers are welcomed. Pre-registration is required. To register, call 845-679-2388 or write to Nancy.Campbell@woodstockschoolof art.org. For more information, visit http://www.woodstockschoolofart.org/events.html.
Saugerties Public Library
Saugerties Public Library is hosting the Saugerties Art Tour Group Show featuring the works of over twenty artists, on view through the end of February. The exhibit includes works by Richard Edelman, Viorica Stan, Anita Barbour, Michael Ciccone, Yvette Lewis, and other artists participating in the Saugerties Art Tour in the summer. For more information, visit http://saugertiespubliclibrary.org/art/.
Spillian / Fleischmann Estate
Spillian, a retreat center located at the old Fleischmann mansion on Todd Mountain Road in Fleischmanns, is hosting Voices from the Catskills: The Seven Favorite Maladies of Ludwig van Beethoven this Sunday, February 22 at 4 p.m. The Seven Favorite Maladies of Ludwig van Beethoven is a play written and directed by playwright Carey Harrison , and featuring pianist Justin Kolb. Harrison is the author of forty plays, and six novels. He is the son of famed British actor Rex Harrison. Kolb is a worldwide known classical music pianist, and the chairman of the Phoenicia Festival of the Voice. The play will last until approximately 5:30 p.m., when dinner will be served. For more information about this event, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/1403016860002066/?ref=3&ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular.
Have a great Catskill weekend!
Art in the Catskills, published earlier this year, is an inventory of cultural assets in the Catskills, and it essentially serves as a travel guide for art and history lovers.
I wrote this book, because this is the kind of book I wish I was handed when I moved to the Catskills ten years ago. And, although some of the cultural projects that I discuss in this book were developed later – like for instance The Woodstock Writers Festival, which launched in 2010, and The Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice, which also launched in 2010, most are well-established, well-known historical landmarks. For instance, Thomas Cole’s Old Studio at Cedar Grove Mansion in Catskill was built in 1839; the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild was founded in 1902; the Maverick Concert Hall, the oldest chamber music hall in the country still in existence, opened in 1916; the Woodstock Playhouse opened in 1938; all these are national artistic and cultural landmarks.
People are used to come to the Catskills for its tremendous outdoor recreational opportunities, but what I’m saying with this book is that the Catskills is also an amazing cultural destination – look for instance at the Glimmerglass Opera Festival in Cooperstown – the festival will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year (it opened in 1975). Or Bard Music Festival, which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. And, right here close to us, there is Belleayre Music Festival that brought Ray Charles and Wynton Marsalis to the Catskills.
And there is art in all forms and styles. Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown displays works by famed landscape painters like Thomas Cole and Asher B. Durand. The Emporium in High Falls houses documents about Cubist painter Marc Chagall, who lived in New York City in the 1940s, and maintained a studio in High Falls – Chagall painted in the Catskills from 1946 to 1948. So, there is a lot of art in the Catskills.
I knew quite a bit about the Catskills prior to writing this book, but during the research phase, I learned many new things:
- The National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs, founded in 1986 by Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney and his wife Marylou, is the only dance museum in the country, and one of the very few in the world. Its collections are extensive;
- Thomas Cole’s New Studio, which was built in 1846, and was demolished in the 1970s, is currently being re-built based on the original design model.
There is a lot going on in the Catskills, and I talk about all these in my book. A second edition is coming out early next year.
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Looking forward to talking more about Art in the Catskills!
© 2014 Simona David