Welcome to the Lyric Fest Newsletter!


February 2009
Story behind Music in the White House
Meet Takesha Meshé Kizart
Backstage Invitation!
Join Our Mailing List
 Saturday February 7 @ 8 PM
February 8 @ 3 PM
With special guest
Tracey Matisak
joined by 
Emily Bullock, 
Suzanne DuPlantis, Takesha Meshé Kizart, Kevin Langan, Randi Marrazzo, John Packard, Sally Wolf, The Chamber Singers of Haverford & Bryn Mawr Colleges(Thomas Lloyd, music director), with Laura Ward, piano.

Find out more!
Top1Dear Friends of Lyric Fest,  

Happy New Year and  

Welcome to the Lyric Fest Newsletter!   
We look forward to being in touch with you and hope you will enjoy the articles and interviews we will be featuring here.

As we are reaching out to more people and their communities through Song and Word, we hope that this newsletter will help us build long-lasting relationships with our present and future patrons so that the Lyric Fest family can grow, one program at a time. 

We also welcome your comments on how we can make this new forum more friendly, informative and inter-active, where you can ask questions and share new ideas. 

Our first newsletter previews an exciting upcoming program, Music in the White House, a timely look at the American Presidential History viewed through the stage door, hosted by award-winning NPR journalist Tracey Matisak. Catch it on February 7-8 at Haverford College on the Main Line and at The First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia.

Please  and invite them to join you at a concert!    

Lyric Fest founders: Laura Ward, Randi Marrazzo, Suzanne DuPlantisThank you!  

Laura Ward
Co-Founding Artistic Directors
a story behind the curtains…told by the participants
From Randi Marrazzo, soprano:
White House. Photo Daniel Kessler

About a year and a half ago Suzanne, Laura and I decided to include Music in the White House in our 2008-2009 concert season.  We were inspired by a book of the same title, Music at the White House by Elise K. Kirk, a music historian who painstakingly researched the topic.  She worked over a period of years, pouring over historic documents, 100 year old newspapers, presidential papers, White House receipts and even letters of presidential wives!   


We thought with the benefit of all this research, and following up with a bit of our own, that this would make a fabulous program, and timely too, if we scheduled it close to the Inauguration…  Well, the rest, as they say, is history!

And speaking of history, you will not want to miss this opportunity to brush up on your presidents, see how music figured in the development of our nation, and best of all, hear the glorious voices of our fabulous cast for this concert.

International opera stars Kevin LanganJohn PackardTakesha Meshé KizartSally Wolf and Emily Bullock join us for a fascinating concert of song and narrative by award-winning journalist Tracey Matisak on February 7 and 8!

White House Image by Daniel Kessler, artist.   

TraceyFrom Tracey Matisak, award-winning NPR journalist, host of Music in the White House:

Tracey Matisak
On the heels of an historic presidential election and on the eve of the 200th anniversary of President Lincoln’s birth, Lyric Fest’s Music in the White House comes at a perfect time. With the eyes of the nation and the world on the White House, it is a wonderful time to explore the significant role that music has played in the history of our country.
I am confident that audiences will find this program to be informative and entertaining, and that all who attend will leave with a greater understanding and appreciation of our nation and its rich musical history.

I have always had a great love of music, and am fascinated with American history. Music in the White House presented the perfect opportunity to combine these interests, and with the recent and historic election of Barack Obama as our 44th president, the timing  could not have been better.

I am most looking forward to hearing Lyric Fest’s world-class artists perform the selected pieces, which represent the evolution of music in America from George Washington to Barack Obama. It promises to be a very moving and enlightening experience!

From Professor Thomas Lloyd, Director of The Chamber Singers of Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges and a new Board Member of Lyric Fest:

Prof. Thomas Lloyd When I came to Haverford and the Philadelphia area in 1996 to direct the choral and vocal studies program for Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges (as a music faculty member at Haverford) I brought Suzanne DuPlantis in to teach voice in our private study program.  As she began to develop the idea of Lyric Fest with Laura and Randi, she would often bounce ideas off me.  Then after the program got going, they were looking for venues to do second performances, and doing them at Haverford along with voice classes for our students was natural, especially with the thematic and contextual nature of their recital format.
I believe Lyric Fest has a wonderful, innovative concept in presenting song recitals and attracts a very high level of performers to their program.
The Chamber Singers, a chorus of 35 voices, will be performing several pieces that tie in directly to performances that took place in the White House.  We know that Mendelssohn choruses from his oratorios were sung at Lincoln’s funeral, so we’ll be singing How Lovely are the Messengers from the oratorio, St. Paul.
African-American Spirituals were also sung by numerous historical Black College choirs like the Fisk Jubilee Singers and Howard University Choir over the years (both of which our Haverford/Bryn Mawr Chamber Singers have recently performed with as well), so we’ll be performing the classic arrangement of Ain’t Got Time to Die by Hall Johnson, one of the early arrangers of the “concert Spiritual.”
We’ll also be joining the soloists in a quite rousing arrangement of America the Beautiful at the end of the program that should be lots of fun to sing!

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Takesha Meshé Kizart

Our pubclicist Inna Heasley interviewed Takesha Meshé Kizart who will be a featured soloist in Music in the White House.  

An emerging opera singer hailed by critics, media and public as “the next great Verdian Voice of her generation,” the grand-niece of Blues legend McKinley “Muddy Waters” Morganfield and a performer since the age of two, she has captured top prizes from numerous organizations and competitions throughout the world.

Q: What is your connection with Philadelphia?
 All of my connections to Philadelphia were via my association with The Academy of Vocal Arts and the Marian Anderson Historical Society.  I began my tenure at AVA in the Fall of 2004 and completed the Resident Artist program in the Spring of 2008.  MAHS and its founder, Ms. Blanche Burton-Lyles, have been particularly supportive by highlighting me in several concerts and assisting me in raising funds to support this ridiculously expensive career of being a vocal artist. God has truly blessed me with them.

Q: What venues in the Philadelphia region have you performed at?
 I have been blessed to perform several concerts at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, including the role of Anna in Puccini’s first opera, Le Villi and several opera scenes and arias as Leonora/Il Trovatore, Mathilde/Guillaume Tell, Magda/La Rondine, Maddalena/Andrea Chenier, Amelia/Un ballo in maschera, and Donna Leonora/La forza del destino.

I have also performed at Haverford’s Centennial Hall and numerous churches throughout the greater Philadelphia area.

Q: What is the significance of this particular theme to you as a singer and as a citizen?
 As a singer since the age of two, music has always spoken to me.  I believe its artistic form of expression has the ability to surpass all barriers and unite us as humanity.

As a US citizen… I was actually in Europe, performing the title role of Tosca with Opera North/UK, when Barak Obama was announced President-Elect.  I didn’t go to sleep until dawn! I felt so proud to know that we, as Americans, saw past the trivial “back-biting” and were able to focus on the real issues.  I constantly pray for his strength.  We, as in the entire UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and the world at-large, have loads of work ahead of us.  This “Yes, We Can” motto must never die.  I feel blessed to be a witness and participant to historical greatness.

Q: Being one of the featured soloists on the program, what are you looking forward to in this new collaboration?

TMK: Singing this fantastic repertoire! Also, the presence and importance of the recital format has receded over the years.  Specializing in opera doesn’t give me much opportunity for this more “intimate” performance platform.  I look forward to drawing in our audience to this genre of classical music.
Ms. Meshé Kizart will treat us to a diverse repertoire at Music in the White House ranging from Verdi and Strauss to Duke Ellington!

Learn more about this gifted singer here and listen to her performance on YouTube!  

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Lyric Fest Audience members

On this photo by Aaron Warkov: 
Kids and parents alike were spellbound at our family concert “A World of Friends” in November 2008.

There are many ways for you, our friends, to get involved actively with Lyric Fest. Here is your official Backstage invitation:

– Do you have a burning question for a Lyric Fest founding director or some of our program participants?  Ask us!  The most interesting questions and answers will be published in the next issues of this Newsletter.
– Did one of our programs make an impact on you or on someone you know? Tell us about it! 

– Do you have a topic/theme to suggest for a future Lyric Fest program?  We want to know! 

– Like or dislike this Newsletter? Share your comments.  We’ll listen and improve.

– Want to volunteer at one of our concerts and beyond? Please do let us know.

– Support Lyric Fest and its mission! Make a donation or become a sponsor. Thank you!

Contact us by email, by Phone 215.438.1702 or by Mail (1013 Westview St, 3rd Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19119).

and help Lyric Fest connect to new friends!

Lyric Fest…
~ bringing people together through the shared experience of song ~
Concerts designed to edify, educate, stimulate dialogue and build community.