Amy Pfrimmer is an Associate Professor of Music at Tulane University where she holds the Lillian Gerson Watsky Professorship in Voice. She serves as voice area coordinator, director of Tulane Opera, and is founder/director of the Tulane Vocal Arts Festival. Her particular research includes the songs of Louise Reichardt, César Franck, and Louis Vierne.

As a soprano, Pfrimmer has sung across the US, Europe, and Canada in opera, concert, and recital and is a 2019 Winner of the American Prize Chicago Oratorio Award. Notable engagements include the London Symphony Orchestra, Staatsphilharmonie Rheinland-Pfalz, Baltimore Choral Arts, Montréal Opera, New Orleans Opera, Bulgarian State Opera-Stara Zagora, Illinois Symphony, Santa Barbara Symphony, Florida Grand Opera, Mississippi Opera, Atlanta Symphony, United States Marine Corps and Navy Bands, New Orleans Chamber Orchestra, and Virginia Symphony. Favorite operatic roles include The Merry Widow, Violetta, Mimi and Musetta, Cio-Cio San, Nedda, Amahl’s Mother, and Rosalinda. Her concert repertoire ranges from Schönberg's Pierrot Lunaire, to Poulenc’s Gloria, Händel’s Messiah to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Notably, she collaborated frequently with the late pianist/composer Dave Brubeck in his Mass, To Hope! A Celebration, and La Fiesta de la Posada. She also soloed across the US with conductor Keith Brion’s New Sousa Band.

As a teaching artist, Pfrimmer is sought after as an adjudicator and for her high energy, interactive university and young artist program master classes. Her awards include Tulane University's Crest Award for Outstanding Faculty, Louisiana Division of the Arts Fellowship, Metropolitan Opera Education Fund, NATS Foundation’s Emerging Leaders Award, Florida Grand Opera’s Gilbert Artist of the Year, and early in her career, Amy was a Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions national finalist.

Souvenance: Mélodies of César Franck

This lecture recital will explore well-known composer César Franck’s seldom-heard mélodies that share the rich harmonic language and chromaticism of his larger scale works in miniature song form. Divided into three distinct style periods, Franck utilized an expansive tonal palette, harmonic language and chromaticism first explored by Franz Liszt and Richard Wagner; however, with Franck’s music, that language included a French sense of refinement that influenced an entire generation of later French Romantic composers.

While César Franck’s compositional output was substantial, he wrote only eighteen mélodies. This recital will undertake demonstration of Franck’s three distinct song style periods (early, middle and mature/late), which are enhanced by and feature texts of such beloved and respected literary figures as Victor Hugo, Alfred de Musset, and Sully Prudhomme. Franck’s songs are miniature forms that take one on compressed emotional journeys indicating harmonic progressions of larger scale works for which Franck is most renowned. Considering both his overall musical output and his stature as a musical leader, I advocate that Franck’s songs remain a beautiful and important part of the melodies’ history.

Franck’s early songs, such as Robin Gray and Souvenance, are reminiscent of and influenced by the expressive, sentimental French romance, and by German Lieder, particularly those of Franz Schubert, Franck’s favorite composer. His middle style period offers such lovely, uncomplicated mélodies as Le mariage des roses and S’il est un charmant gazon. Furthermore, his later songs display richer, more complicated harmonies, and more developed late-style chromaticism.

There were substantial political and social upheavals in 1870s Paris that contributed to a variety of new aesthetic trends. Franck is often seen as having played a role in restoring the French taste for ‘pure music’ and exemplifying ‘serious’ French musical ideals (Regan) that influenced later composers such as Debussy, Ravel, and Messiaen. Franck’s mature style period offers somewhat improved text setting and the chromatically adventurous harmonic writing increasingly found in his late songs via La vase brisé and Nocturne. La Procession and Nocturne also demonstrate a rich harmonic language and late-style chromaticism found in his large-scale works.

ROSE Alissa

The Manhattan Contemporary Chamber Ensemble is a chamber group dedicated to the performing and recording of American music. The ensemble has presented hundreds of world premieres, more than forty CD recordings, and has been featured on public broadcasting throughout the United States.

Composer, conductor, violinist, and violist Richard Auldon Clark is Artistic Director and Conductor of the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, Manhattan Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, and the Finger Lakes Chamber Music Festival.  A strong proponent of American music, Mr. Clark has performed and/or recorded hundreds of world premieres. With more than twenty chamber works to his credit, Mr. Clark has premiered six new compositions in the past three years at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, and his opera Happy Birthday, Wanda June, with a libretto by Kurt Vonnegut, was premiered by Indianapolis Opera.  Currently, Mr. Clark is Professor of Music at Butler University where he conducts the Butler Symphony Orchestra and Butler Ballet. 

Soprano Alissa Rose, a Professor of Voice at Mansfield University of PA, has performed in operatic and concert engagements around the United States, Europe, and Israel, singing with the American Composers Orchestra, the Manhattan Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, the State Theaters of Bielefeld, Osnabrück, and Münster, BachWorks, the Billings Symphony, Rimrock Opera, and the West German Radio Chorus, among others. Dr. Rose particularly enjoys contemporary music, and has premiered several operatic roles, song cycles, and concert works, including Kristin Kuster’s Myrrha and Soon and Richard Aulden Clark’s Early Frost.

Christine Fish Moulton is Associate Professor of Flute at Mansfield University of PA. She is a member of the Manhattan Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra and the annual Finger Lakes Chamber Music Festival, and is secretary of the Marcel Moyse Society.

Gary Schultheis is simultaneously a psychiatrist and an active professional bassoonist, playing with the Westchester Symphony, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the One World Symphony, the Manhattan Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, and many other ensembles. An active chamber musician, he is regularly heard in concerts around the New York City area.

Early Frost by Richard Auldon Clark with the Manhattan Contemporary Chamber Ensemble

The proposed artistic presentation is a performance of the song cycle Early Frost by Richard Auldon Clark, for soprano, flute, bassoon, and viola, performed by the Manhattan Contemporary Chamber Ensemble. The performance will be approximately 18 minutes in length. A recording of a performance of this piece, by the same performers, is available for the selection committee upon request.

Early Frost is a setting of six poems by American writer Robert Frost. A trio comprised of flute, bassoon and viola accompany the soprano soloist. Three of the movements are set for solo voice and one solo instrument from the trio: “Nothing Gold Can Stay” (viola), “A Minor Bird” (flute) and “The Lockless Door” (bassoon). The other three settings are atmospheric tone poems, “Stopping by Woods On a Snowy Evening,” “In a Disused Graveyard,” and a satirical finale, “Fire and Ice,” predicting the end of the world. The poems were all published prior to 1923, and the original score was composed by Richard Auldon Clark in 2018.

WILLIAMS Jeffrey, McGUIRE Jennifer

Jeffrey WILLIAMS has been hailed by Baltimore Sun, as “very likable, a winning performance sung with much confidence, phrasing everything stylishly,” by Miami Herald as possessing a “commanding, sizeable, effortless, manly baritone” and by Opera News as a “versatile, fearless performer.” He has portrayed various characters like Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Lord Ruthven in Marschner’s Der Vampyr, and premiered the title role in Evan Mack’s Roscoe opposite Deborah Voigt. He appears on three world-premiere recordings, two with Albany Records, Thomas Sleeper’s series of mini-operas Einstein’s Inconsistency and Michael Dellaira’s The Death of Webern, with the latter being recognized as a Critic’s Choice and one of the Five Best New Works of 2016 by Opera News. The third recording, Heinrich Marschner: Songs for Baritone with pianist, Jennifer McGuire, appears on Centaur Records and was released in January 2021. 

Williams is currently Associate Professor of Voice at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee, as well as the Tennessee Chapter President of the National Association Teachers of Singing. He received his D.M.A. in Vocal Pedagogy and Performance from the University of Miami, Frost School of Music, his M.M. in Voice Performance from the Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University, and studied with some of the world’s finest teachers/singers – Tom Krause, Richard Zeller, Robynne Redmon, Dean Southern, Steven Rainbolt, William Sharp, and others.

Jennifer Quammen McGUIRE is a pianist, coach and conductor based in Nashville, Tennessee. She is Music Director/Conductor of the Vanderbilt Opera Theatre and Principal Senior Lecturer in Collaborative Piano at Vanderbilt University. McGuire maintains an active recital schedule in Nashville and across the world. She is a core member of the Atlantic Ensemble, a chamber group featured annually on the Accueil de St.-Merry concert series in Paris, France. She is also featured on the albums Irrational Exuberance (Beauport Classical) and Sursum (Navona Records). In addition to teaching at Vanderbilt, McGuire has worked for Cincinnati Opera, Dayton Opera, Opera Birmingham, Nashville Symphony Chorus, the AIMS Festival in Graz, Austria, the Seagle Music Colony, and the Boston Conservatory Summer Opera Intensive in Valencia, Spain.

Lecture Recital: The Lieder and Arias of Heinrich Marscher (1795-1861)

Heinrich Marschner (1795-1861) is recognized as the most important composer of German opera between Carl Maria von Weber and Richard Wagner, but he also wrote over 430 lieder in his lifetime. Very few, if any, of his art songs or opera arias are heard on today’s stages. Many of his songs could easily be confused for the lieder of more widely known composers - Beethoven, Loewe, Schubert, the Mendelssohns, or the Schumanns, all who lived during his lifetime.  The Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung (Leipzig) said of an early set of Marschner’s music, “The author certainly possesses an uncommon talent for discovering melodies always interesting and never ordinary. The harmony is full, though not overbearing.”  Marschner’s songs and arias give ample evidence of his dramatic flair, his progressive use of chromatic harmony for his day, and his expressive flexibility.  This lecture recital style presentation will discuss and perform Marschner’s lieder and arias with the hope of bringing them more into the contemporary consciousness of singers and voice teachers alike.  The author and co-author appear on Centaur Records with twenty Heinrich Marschner lieder making their world premiere on disc.  The songs and arias performed in this presentation will be a selection from the author's two newly published editions of Marschner's music. The author and co-author will discuss Marschner’s style, his choice of poets/librettists, pianistic considerations, and why many of Marschner’s compositions are great examples of the German Romantic style for lower male voices, especially.  His songs and arias feature the frequent use of triplets, a special brand of melodiousness, and the assurance that you are never far from a diminished chord.  While Marschner undeniably borrowed from Carl Maria von Weber and other greats, he had a compositional voice all his own.  Marschner deserves his place among respected nineteenth century German composers of vocal music and his works should be in greater circulation.  Marschner is a name you frequently see, but not music you frequently hear.  This presentation will allow attendees to give Marschner's music a fair listen while learning more about this significant, vocally-focused composer.