Noted American composer, librettist, director and pianist Carlisle Floyd returns to CCM for a series of master classes November 10-17, 2010. His residency culminates in a full evening concert on Wednesday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. in Patricia Corbett Theater. Maestro Floyd will be joined by renowned pianist George Darden and CCM student artists for an evening celebrating Floyd’s life in the theater. This special concert event is free and open to the general public.
After the success of Maestro Floyd’s opera, Of Mice and Men, which concluded CCM’s 2009-10 Mainstage Series, the great American composer is returning to spend extensive time in residence as a master teacher. His residency will be capped off with a special concert event. “An Evening With Carlisle Floyd” will be comprised of dramatic arias and scenes from Maestro Floyd’s operas. Floyd will introduce and speak about each piece. A tentative program for the concert is available here.
About Carlisle Floyd
Carlisle Floyd is one of the foremost composers and librettists of opera in the United States today. Born in 1926, Floyd earned B.M. and M.M. degrees in piano and composition Syracuse University. He began his teaching career in 1947 at Florida State University, remaining there until 1976, when he accepted the prestigious M. D. Anderson Professorship in the University of Houston. In addition, he is co-founder with David Gockley of the Houston Opera Studio jointly created by the University of Houston and Houston Grand Opera.
Floyd’s operas are regularly performed in the US and Europe. He first achieved national prominence with the New York premiere of his opera, Susannah, by the New York City Opera in 1956 after its world premiere at Florida State University in 1955. In 1957 it won the New York Music Critic’s Circle Award and subsequently was chosen to be America’s official operatic entry at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair. Of Mice and Men is Floyd’s other most often performed work. Based on the Steinbeck novel, it was commissioned by the Ford Foundation and was given its premiere by the Seattle Opera in 1970.
Floyd’s operas Bilby’s Doll (1976) and Willie Stark (1981) were both commissioned and produced by the Houston Grand Opera, the latter in association with the Kennedy Center. A televised version of the world premiere production of Willie Stark opened WNET’s Great Performances Series on the PBS network in September of 1981. Floyd’s latest opera, Cold Sassy Tree, received its premiere at Houston Grand Opera in April 2000. Subsequently, it has been performed by Austin Lyric Opera, Central City Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera Carolina, Opera Omaha, San Diego Opera, and Utah Opera.
Recently, the composer has gained increasing attention for his non-operatic works. 1993 saw the New York premiere of Floyd’s orchestral song cycle Citizen of Paradise given by the leading mezzo-soprano of the Metropolitan Opera Suzanne Mentzer. Floyd also completed a large-scale work for chorus, bass-baritone soloist, and orchestra entitled A Time to Dance, commissioned by the American Choral Directors Association.
Floyd has been the recipient of a number of honors and awards: a Guggenheim Fellowship; Citation of Merit from the National Association of American Conductors and Composers; the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Nation Award from the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce; the distinguished professor of Florida State University Award; an honorary doctorate from Dickinson College; and the National Opera Institute’s Award for Service to American Opera. He served on the Music Panel of the National Endowment for the Arts from 1974-80 and was the first chairman of the Opera/Musical Theater Panel. Mr. Floyd was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2001, and in 2004 was awarded the National Medal of Arts in a ceremony at the White House. In 2008, Floyd was the only composer to be included in the inaugural National Endowment for the Arts Opera Honors.
Carlisle Floyd is published exclusively by Boosey & Hawkes. Bio reprinted by kind permission of Boosey & Hawkes
About George Darden
The long career of pianist George Darden has taken him throughout America, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia: New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Paris, Strasbourg, Rome, Lugano, Stuttgart, Vienna, Tel Aviv, Moscow, Hong Kong, Majorca and Menorca. Some of the notable places have been at the Musikverein-Brahmssaal in Vienna, Metropolitan Opera, George London Foundation, New York’s 92nd Street Y, Alice Tully Hall, New York Philharmonic for Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail with Sir Colin Davis conducting, Puccini Festival in Valencia, Spain, and in Moscow with performances at the State Museum-Homes of Sviatoslav Richter, Alexander Pushkin, Feodor Chaliapin, and Mikhail Glinka. His debut with the Metropolitan Opera in 1985 was with Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and he remained with the company for twenty-one years until his retirement in 2006. In the opera house he has worked with renown singers Elisabeth Söderström, Marilyn Horne, Kathleen Battle, Kiri Te Kanawa, Mirella Freni, Thomas Hampson and with conductors James Levine, Sir Charles Mackerras, Charles Dutoit, Christian Badea, James Conlon, Julius Rudel, Antal Dorati, Roberto Abbado, and Valery Gergiev.
In June/July 2009 he returned to Austria to prepare a production of Porgy and Bess at the personal invitation of Nikolaus Harnoncourt at the Styriarte Festival in Graz on the occasion of Harnoncourt’s 80th birthday. In addition to preparing that production, he performed with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and has done 165 performances of Porgy and Bess. He recently returned from his seventh trip to Moscow at the invitation of the Bolshoi Opera where he was the first pianist/coach to work with the newly-established Young Artist Program at the Bolshoi. In addition to working with young artists, he returns each year to the San Francisco Opera/Merola Program to work with the pianists and singers in the program.
Mr. Darden announced his retirement from performing in 2010 and only a few more recitals with tenor Vinson Cole remain: Asheville, Boston, Kansas City, Cleveland, and Philadelphia. He has been the tenor’s pianist/coach for almost thirty years. In addition to his on-going work with the Bolshoi and Merola programs, he has also been active at the Metropolitan Opera with the company’s National Council Auditions, both as a judge in the District and Regional Auditions and with the finalists in preparation for their final concert in the opera house.
He has appeared in recital and galas with artists Placido Domingo, Renée Fleming, Dolora Zajick, Vinson Cole, Aprile Millo, Roberta Alexander, Carol Vaness, Samuel Ramey, Wilhelmenia Fernandez, Eric Halfvarson, Evelyn Lear, Thomas Stewart, Hermann Prey, Elena Nikolaidi, Sir Thomas Allen, and with the Three Tenors at Tiger Stadium in Detroit. His recordings can be found on RCA Italiana (Clementi Rarities with pianist, Pietro Spada), Tioch Digital, Milan SPI, KEM-DISC (Spirituals and Gershwin Songs, both with soprano Wilhelmenia Fernandez), and Connoisseur Society (In the French Style with Metropolitan Opera Orchestra former principal flutist Trudy Kane).
Five operas in which Mr. Darden was credited with musical preparation have been televised over PBS’ Emmy Award-winning “The Metropolitan Opera Presents” Series: Verdi’s Il trovatore (Pavarotti, Marton, Milnes, Zajick), Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia (Battle, Nucci, Blake, Dara) and Semiramide (Horne, Anderson, Ramey), Strauss’ Arabella (Felming, Brendel, Bonney, Dessay), Giordano’s Fedora (Freni, Domingo, Croft), and the James Levin 25th Anniversary Gala.
Mr. Darden studied at Indiana University with Béla Boszorményi-Nagy and at Florida State University with noted American composer and pianist, Carlisle Floyd.