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Jennifer Holliday, Mykal Kilgore and Anthony Roth Costanzo Featured in MasterVoices' Final Chapter of "Myths and Hymns" (May 26)
Last Edit: Official_Press_Release 09:24 am EDT 05/09/21
Posted by: Official_Press_Release 09:15 am EDT 05/09/21

MASTERVOICES PRESENTS FAITH, THE FOURTH AND FINAL CHAPTER OF ADAM GUETTEL’S THEATRICAL SONG CYCLE MYTHS AND HYMNS, ON MAY 26, 2021
Faith Features the MasterVoices chorus; Singers Anthony Roth Costanzo,
Jennifer Holliday, Mykal Kilgore, Theresa McCarthy, Miles Mykkanen, Ailyn Pérez, Nicholas Phan, The Gospel Soul Children of New York; and Dancers Emma Lou DeLaney, Milan Magaña, Justine Rafael, and Katja Stoer

Short Musical Films Directed by Anthony Roth Costanzo, Trip Cullman, Andrew Palermo,
and Ted Sperling; and Contributions by Visual Artists Erik Freer,
Artolution and Max Frieder

New York, NY, - MasterVoices, under the artistic direction of Ted Sperling, presents Faith, the fourth chapter of its central project for the 2020-2021 season: a four-part virtual rollout of award-winning composer Adam Guettel’s theatrical song cycle, Myths and Hymns. Conceived and supervised by Mr. Sperling, this free digital production’s final chapter will be offered starting on Wednesday, May 26 at 6:30 PM ET on mastervoices.org and the ensemble’s YouTube channel.

Inspired by Greek myths and a 19th-Century Presbyterian hymnal, the 1998 cycle is a kaleidoscopic collection of musical genres as it explores the nature of faith and longing in a secular world. New short musical films illustrate the protagonist’s exploration of Flight, Work, Love, and Faith. Myths and Hymns showcases more than 200 artists, soloists, and choristers and all chapters remain available for free streaming from their respective launch dates until June 30, 2021. Myths and Hymns (Chapters 1 and 2) is nominated for a 2021 Drama League Award in the Outstanding Digital Concert Production category.

The final chapter, Faith, features the MasterVoices chorus, soloists Anthony Roth Costanzo, Jennifer Holliday, Mykal Kilgore, Theresa McCarthy, Miles Mykkanen, Ailyn Pérez, Nicholas Phan, The Gospel Soul Children of New York; and dancers Emma Lou DeLaney, Milan Magaña, Justine Rafael, and Katja Stoer. The short musical films are directed by Anthony Roth Costanzo, Trip Cullman, Andrew Palermo, and Ted Sperling, who also created all choral arrangements for the production; visual artists Erik Freer, Artolution (Max Frieder, Co-founder and Executive Director); and Don Sebesky and Jamie Lawrence, who orchestrated the music for all chapters.

On the evening prior to this fourth installment’s public launch, MasterVoices hosts a private virtual screening with additional content featuring Ted Sperling and some of the artists. More details on the screenings are available here.

Myths and Hymns’ first chapter, Flight, launched on January 13 with duo pianists Anderson & Roe; a cappella gospel music group Take 6; actress Annie Golden; soloists Julia Bullock, Renée Fleming, Joshua Henry, Capathia Jenkins, Mykal Kilgore, Norm Lewis, Jose Llana, Kelli O'Hara, and Elizabeth Stanley; short musical films directed by Greg Anderson, Sammi Cannold, Lear deBessonet, Khristian Dentley, and Ted Sperling; visual artists Yazmany Arboleda, Cloud Chatanda, Steven Kellogg, Lucy Mackinnon, and Danny Mefford; arrangers Greg Anderson, Mark Kibble, and Ted Sperling; and lyricist Ellen Fitzhugh.

The second chapter, Work, premiered on February 24 and featured soloists Shoshana Bean, Daniel Breaker, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Michael McElroy, Ailyn Pérez, and Nicholas Phan, and actor John Lithgow; short musical films directed by Anthony Roth Costanzo, Doug Fitch, Anne Kauffman, and Ted Sperling; visual artists Manik Choksi, Erik Freer, Tommy Nguyen, Adrienne Rogers, and Ray Charles White; and lyricist Ellen Fitzhugh.

The third chapter, Love, premiered on April 14 with singers Dianne Drayse Alonso, Nina Bernstein, John Brancy, Dove Cameron, Drew Gehling, Cheyenne Jackson, Shereen Pimentel, and Lori Wilner; short musical films directed by Victoria Clark and Ted Sperling; and visual artist Earl Womack.
Wednesday, May 26, 2021, 6:30 PM ET
Myths and Hymns - CHAPTER FOUR: FAITH
Music and Lyrics by Adam Guettel
Orchestrations by Don Sebesky and Jamie Lawrence
MasterVoices
Ted Sperling,​ ​Artistic Director and Conductor
Orchestra:
Chuck Wilson, Dan Willis, John Winder, woodwinds
Larry Lunetta, trumpet
Antoine Silverman, violin
Steve Bargonetti, guitar
Douglas Romoff, bass
Norbert Goldberg, percussion
Todd Ellison, piano

The Great Highway
MasterVoices
Ailyn Pérez, soloist
Anthony Roth Costanzo, soloist
Nicholas Phan, soloist
Anthony Roth Costanzo, director
Erik Freer, visual artist

There’s a Land
MasterVoices
Theresa McCarthy, soloist
Miles Mykkanen, soloist
Emma Lou DeLaney, Milan Magaña, Justine Rafael, and Katja Stoer, dancers
Andrew Palermo, director and choreographer

There’s a Shout
MasterVoices
The Gospel Soul Children of New York
Jennifer Holliday, soloist
Ted Sperling, director
Visual art provided by Artolution and Max Frieder

Awaiting You
Mykal Kilgore, soloist
Ted Sperling, director

Saturn Returns: the Return
MasterVoices
Soloist to be announced
Trip Cullman, director

​Light After Darkness (Encore)
MasterVoices
Select soloists from all chapters
More About Myths and Hymns
Following his Obie Award-winning 1996 musical Floyd Collins – for which Ted Sperling served as Music Director – Adam Guettel’s next project was the song cycle Myths and Hymns. The songs were inspired by two very different sources: the ancient Greek stories of Icarus, Pegasus, Hero and Leander, Sisyphus, and Perseus and Medusa, and Protestant hymn texts that the composer found in an antique hymnal. It was workshopped in several forms and venues and ultimately performed as Saturn Returns in an extended run at the Joseph Papp Public Theater in 1998, where it became a must-see event. Sperling and Guettel made a recording of selections for Nonesuch Records using the original title, and ever since then the work has been known as Myths and Hymns.

The song cycle opens with a jaunty prologue, Prometheus, and is sparked by the song Saturn Returns: the Flight. This song lays out the central issue that the cycle is attempting to resolve: a “hunger inside” that is not easily categorized or sated, a feeling that something has been lost, a yearning for completion, for fulfillment. The four chapters then explore different “places” where the answer may lie. In the first chapter, Flight, the answer seems to be “up,” or “away.” Guettel frames the myth of Icarus as the story of a young man striving to get out from under his famous father’s shadow and shine like the sun. After his crash, the solace and hope of Migratory V expresses the human aspiration to fly together and soar above the troubles below. The retelling of Pegasus explores the fall of the hero Bellerophon when he angers Zeus. The chapter ends with the cycle’s first hymn text, Jesus, the Mighty Conqueror, with its refrain consisting of the single word, “rise,” repeated over and over.

In the second chapter, Work, the possible answer comes in dedication, striving, and struggle. Children of the Heavenly King/At the Sounding is a call to action creating an ebullient mood, and in contrast, Build a Bridge describes the sense of futility of attempting a bridge too difficult to cross. It is followed by the humorous back-and-forth motion of Sisyphus, who is relentlessly optimistic that he will finally succeed in pushing the rock to the top, and the chorus, which is forced to watch his vain efforts. Life is But a Dream takes “Row Your Boat” as a jumping-off point, and asks ruefully, “Is it really like the song? Do we gently row along?” The chapter ends with Every Poodle with scat lyrics and raga-inspired dance breaks, a release after all this effort.

Love, the third chapter, begins with an a cappella vocalese from the chorus, expressing the longing for someone to love, to feel complete with. This flows directly into Hero and Leander, which evokes the sounds of the roiling waves that must be braved for the lovers to unite. Come to Jesus intertwines the story of a young couple’s dissolution because of an unwanted pregnancy with the haunting hymn text of the title. Medusa is included in Myths and Hymns for the first time, in a new version prepared by the composer. The song recounts the story of the warrior Perseus who beheaded the formidable Medusa, one of three Gorgon sisters whose gaze turned men to stone. It premiered in 1988 at Home for Contemporary Theater and Art in New York City and has not been performed since then. The chapter ends with the wistfully humorous and self-involved How Can I Lose You?

The fourth chapter, Faith, begins with The Great Highway which takes us from a place of isolation in a void to a glorious, sunny climax, spilling us into the paradise of the next song. There’s a Land conjures a version of heaven where all problems are solved. There’s a Shout also puts stock in a God that will come to the rescue and features art from refugee camps around the world, made possible by a collaboration with Artolution. Awaiting You mourns the loss of loved ones and teachers. A recasting of Saturn Returns shows the acceptance that fulfillment will have to come from an internal change, a reconciliation of desire and acceptance. Light After Darkness uses one more hymn text to recapitulate the themes of the piece and celebrate its completion.
About Adam Guettel
Adam Guettel is a composer/lyricist living in New York City. His upcoming musical, The Days of Wine and Roses, will tentatively have its first production on Broadway next season. Another new musical, Millions, is also slated for production soon. His musical, The Light in the Piazza (cast album on Nonesuch Records), with a book by Craig Lucas, premiered on Broadway at Lincoln Center Theater's Vivian Beaumont Theater in April 2005 and went on to receive six 2005 Tony Awards including two for Mr. Guettel – Best Original Score, Best Orchestrations, and a Grammy nomination for best cast recording. The Light in the Piazza also received five Drama Desk Awards, including two for Mr. Guettel – Best Music and Best Orchestrations. He received a Tony nomination for his score for To Kill A Mockingbird in 2019. He wrote music and lyrics for Floyd Collins, which received the 1996 Lucille Lortel Award for Best Musical and earned Mr. Guettel the Obie Award for Best Music. Saturn Returns (recorded by Nonesuch as Myths and Hymns) was produced in an extended run at the Joseph Papp Public Theater in 1998. Accolades for Mr. Guettel include the Stephen Sondheim Award (1990), the ASCAP New Horizons Award (1997), and the American Composers Orchestra Award (2005). He received an honorary doctorate from Lehman College in 2007. In 2019 he was made an honorary member of The Royal Academy of Music in London.

About Ted Sperling
One of today’s leading musical artists, Tony Award-winning Maestro Ted Sperling is a classically trained musician whose 35-year career has spanned from the concert hall and the opera house to the Broadway stage. Presently Artistic Director of MasterVoices, he has led such symphony orchestras as the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Boston Pops, San Diego Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, the Iceland Symphony, Czech National Symphony, and BBC Concert Orchestra, as well as New York City Opera and Houston Grand Opera. Formerly Principal Conductor of the Westchester Philharmonic, Mr. Sperling is a multi-faceted artist also known for his work as orchestrator, singer, pianist, violinist, violist, director, and music director.

With MasterVoices, Maestro Sperling has led acclaimed productions of rarely-heard gems as both director and conductor. These include Kurt Weill’s The Firebrand of Florence, Knickerbocker Holiday, The Road of Promise (based on The Eternal Road and subsequently recorded on Navona Records), and the 2018-19 season’s sold–out three–performance run of Lady in the Dark at New York City Center. Other notable productions with the group include George and Ira Gershwins’ satirical musicals Of Thee I Sing and Let ‘Em Eat Cake, a reconstruction of Victor Herbert’s Babes in Toyland, and Song of Norway (all at Carnegie Hall); the NYC premieres of David Lang’s battle hymns at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum; and Ricky Ian Gordon’s operas The Grapes of Wrath at Carnegie Hall and 27 at NY City Center.

Outside of MasterVoices, 2019 projects included bringing The King and I to Japan, and several programs with the San Diego Symphony. Notable 2018 concerts included a Bernstein recital with soprano Isabel Leonard at the Kimmel Center and the Park Avenue Armory, an opera program with the RTE National Symphony Orchestra in Dublin, a benefit concert staging of Camelot starring Lin-Manuel Miranda, and two film programs with San Francisco Symphony. He served as Music Director and conductor for the revival of My Fair Lady at Lincoln Center Theater, and serves as Artistic Director of NYU’s newly launched Broadway Orchestra Initiative. He made his Broadway stage debut as Wallace Hartley in Titanic and appeared as Steve Allen in the finale of Season Two of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

Sperling has conducted multiple concerts for PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center, the American Songbook Series at Lincoln Center, and the Lyrics and Lyricists series at the 92nd Street Y. He conducted Audra McDonald in a double bill of La Voix Humaine and the world premiere of Send: Who Are You? I Love You? at the Houston Grand Opera. He won the 2005 Tony and Drama Desk Awards for his orchestrations of Adam Guettel’s The Light in the Piazza, for which he was also Music Director.

In addition to his directing work with MasterVoices, Mr. Sperling’s work as a stage director includes the world premieres of four critically acclaimed original musicals Off-Broadway—including The Other Josh Cohen and See What I Wanna See—and a noted production of Lady in the Dark at the Prince Theater in Philadelphia, starring Andrea Marcovicci. He graduated summa cum laude from Yale University, and received the Faculty Prize at The Juilliard School. Mr. Sperling currently teaches orchestral playing and conducting at NYU.

About MasterVoices
MasterVoices (formerly The Collegiate Chorale) was founded in 1941 by legendary American choral conductor Robert Shaw and has been under the artistic direction of Tony Award-winner Ted Sperling since 2013. Known for its versatility, the group’s repertoire ranges from choral masterpieces and operas in concert to operettas and musical theater. It is also known for highly theatrical performances of rarely-heard works such as the 2018-19 season’s Lady in the Dark by Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin, Victor Herbert’s Babes in Toyland, Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha, Tchaikovsky’s Maid of Orleans, and Rossini’s Moïse et Pharaon. The group regularly commissions and premieres new works; recent seasons included works by Ricky Ian Gordon, Marisa Michelson, Royce Vavrek, and Randall Eng.

As the country’s first interracial and interfaith chorus, the group performed at the opening of the United Nations and has sung and recorded under the batons of esteemed conductors including Serge Koussevitzky, Arturo Toscanini, Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, and Alan Gilbert. It has been engaged by top-tier orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic and the Israel Philharmonic, and has appeared at the Verbier and Salzburg Festivals.

Concerts regularly feature an inclusive roster of world-class soloists from across the musical spectrum, including Anthony Roth Costanzo, Bryn Terfel, Stephanie Blythe, Deborah Voigt, Eric Owens, Nmon Ford, John Holiday, Kelli O’Hara, Paulo Szot, Bebe Neuwirth, and Victoria Clark, along with cross–disciplinary collaborations with such diverse creative minds as Vogue Editor-at-Large Hamish Bowles, Silk Road visual artist Kevork Mourad, and acclaimed choreographer Doug Varone. Roger Rees was the group’s Artistic Associate from 2003–2015.

For more information, visit mastervoices.org. Connect with MasterVoices on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@mastervoicesny).
Link http://mastervoices.org
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