The CCM Philharmonia Orchestra, Chamber Choir, Chorale and Cincinnati Children’s Choir proudly present a stirring rendition of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Adams’ El Niño at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 2, in UC’s Corbett Auditorium. CCM welcomes guest artists Michael Maniaci, Eric Jurenas and Steven Rickards for this performance. CCM Director of Choral Studies Earl Rivers conducts.
“John Adams’ El Niño is a joyous composition,” says Rivers. The text of El Niño retells the traditional biblical story of the birth of Jesus. Although this composition is about a specific event, the true subject is larger and widely relate-able: the inexhaustible miracle of birth. “The opening movement of El Niño pulsates with repetitive, engaging rhythms,” Rivers explains. “The strong rhythmic drive of the opening sets the stage for the unfolding of the work.”
A piece told in three languages, El Niño was originally a co-commission by four major arts organizations: the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Lincoln Center in New York City and the Barbican Center in London. It was created to be performed as either an oratorio or a staged production. CCM will be presenting the work as an oratorio.
About one third of the composition is sung in Spanish and incorporates the poetry of Rosario Castellanos, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Hildegard von Bingen, Gabriela Mistral, Vicente Huidobro and Rubén Dario. A majority of the Spanish texts were written by female authors. El Niño also draws from selected passages from the Wakefield Mystery Plays, Martin Luther’s Christmas Sermon, the Gospel of Luke and several Gnostic Gospels from the Apocrypha.
The late San Francisco Chronicle music critic Michael Steinberg observed that El Niño “draws from many springs and is nourished by a variety of idioms, from Handel to pop, and it is his [Adams’] distinctive voice that we hear.”
An unusual requirement for any musical work, El Niño requires three countertenors, which is a type of classical male singing voice whose vocal range is equivalent to that of the female contralto, mezzo-soprano or soprano voice types. CCM welcomes three guest artists to fill these solos: Michael Maniaci and Eric Jurenas, both CCM alumni, and Steven Rickards, who sang and recorded the original production of El Niño.
There are three additional vocal soloists whose parts are very demanding, and these will be sung by current CCM students:
- soprano Kerrie Caldwell, a second-year Masters of Music in Vocal Performance major
- mezzo-soprano Leah de Gruyl, a second-year Artist Diploma student
- baritone Edward Nelson, a first-year Artist Diploma student
In addition to traditional instrumentation, the CCM Philharmonia will be playing with two amplified guitars, a unique challenge for the talented musicians to negotiate.
In April of 2006, CCM gave the regional premiere of Adams’ On the Transmigration of Souls, which was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in memory of 9/11. Later this season, the May Festival will present his choral masterwork Harmonium, and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra will present Adams’ Harmonielehre in concert in late September of 2014.
About Steven Rickards
Steven Rickards has received international acclaim as one of America’s finest countertenors. After performing in the premiere of John Adams’s oratorio El Niño at the Châtelet opera in Paris, he has sung with the Adelaide Symphony, the BBC Philharmonic, the Deutsches Symphonie Orchester, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, the Tokyo Symphony and the Malmö Opera in Sweden. His schedule of performances has included frequent appearances with Joshua Rifkin and the Bach Ensemble, as well as the American Bach Soloists, Chanticleer, Ensemble Voltaire (formerly Ensemble Oubache), the Gabrieli Consort, Chicago’s Music of the Baroque, the New London Consort, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Seattle Baroque Orchestra, the Opera Company of Philadelphia and the Santa Fe Opera.
Rickards has sung at Carnegie Hall with the Oratorio Society of New York and in France as a soloist with the Festival Singers under the direction of Robert Shaw. His current ensemble Echoing Air presents programs of Purcell and other pre-Baroque composers in the U.S. and Great Britain. Rickards currently lives in Indianapolis where he teaches singing at Butler University and the University of Indianapolis.
About Michael Maniaci
Winner of the Metropolitan Opera and Houston Grand Opera Competitions, Michael Maniaci has appeared in leading roles with the Metropolitan Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Venice’s Teatro La Fenice, Barcelona’s Gran Teatro Liceo, Glimmerglass Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Royal Danish Opera and New York City Opera to name a few. His concert highlights include appearances with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Carnegie Hall, LA Philharmonic, Beijing International Music Festival, Tanglewood Contemporary Music Festival, Ensemble Mattheus, Fort Worth Symphony, Apollo’s Fire and Tafelmusik.
Maniaci’s recording of Mozart Arias with Boston Baroque Orchestra debuted at No. 13 on the Billboard charts in 2010, and he has been featured on television documentaries for the BBC and Discovery Channel. He has also appeared on A&E’s Breakfast with the Arts and in feature articles in the pages of DETAILS Magazine, Time Out New York and the London Times.
Maniaci can be seen on DVD performing the title role in Meyerbeer’s Il Crocaito in Egitto for Teatro La Fenice and Nireno in the Royal Danish Opera’s production of Giulio Cesare. Maniaci is a proud graduate of CCM, where he studied with CCM Professor of Voice David Adams and earned a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance, before continuing his training at the Juilliard Opera Center. Locally he will star in Cincinnati Opera’s production of Cavalli’s La Calisto as Endimione in the summer of 2014.
About Eric Jurenas
Proclaimed as “the real deal” by the Grand Rapids Press and defined as having a “rich, mature voice” by Third Coast Digest, American countertenor Eric Jurenas is quickly making a name for himself in both the opera and concert scenes. After a brief stint as a baritone in his first year of university studies, he made the daunting switch to the opposite side of the vocal spectrum. Jurenas has worked with several groups as a featured soloist, including Michigan Opera Theatre, Opera Philadelphia, the Santa Fe Opera, the Dayton Philharmonic, American Bach Soloists, Colorado Bach Ensemble, Calvin College Choirs, Kentucky Bach Choir and the Bel Canto Chorus of Milwaukee, among others.
Highlights of Jurenas’ 2013-2014 season include performances with American Bach Soloists and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. His first professional opera was Handel’s Giulio Cesare with Michigan Opera Theatre where he was applauded by Opera News for his “performances of admirable gusto.” He will be covering fellow CCM alumnus David Daniels in the title role of a newly commissioned production, Oscar, with Santa Fe Opera in summer 2013. He will again cover Daniels in Opera Philadelphia’s production of Oscar in 2015.
An avid competitor around the country and the world, Jurenas has won awards from several vocal competitions, including the Hal Leonard Online Vocal Competition, Dayton Opera Guild Competition, Kentucky Bach Choir Competition and the Bel Canto Chorus of Milwaukee Competition. He has been a part of several international competitions including Montréal International Music Competition XVIII, International Bach Competition in Leipzig, Seoul International Competition and the International ARD Competition Munich. Jurenas was also recently invited to audition for the French Baroque group Les Arts Florissants by Artistic Director William Christie. He is currently pursuing a Masters at the Juilliard School. He received his Bachelors from CCM, where he studied with Professor of Voice William McGraw.
3 p.m. Sunday, March 2
Corbett Auditorium, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati
Tickets to John Adams’ El Niño are $12 adults, $6 non-UC students and FREE for UC students with valid ID.
Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice/elnino.
Parking and Directions
Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Please visit uc.edu/parking for more information on parking rates.
For detailed maps and directions, please visit uc.edu/visitors. Additional parking is available off-campus at the new U Square complex on Calhoun Street and other neighboring lots.
For directions to CCM Village, visit ccm.uc.edu/about/directions.
CCM Season Presenting Sponsor & Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation
Community Partner: ArtsWave
Supported by CCM’s Tangeman Sacred Music Center.
“Mujer de Mucha Enagua, Pa’Ti Xicana” painting courtesy of Yreina D. Cervántez; Serigraph (SHG), 1999