October 5, 2015

The Raven – Press Release


Media Contact
Lari Robling
215 978 6933

Experience Edgar Allan Poe as you never have before
with settings for solo voice, string quartet, and narration.



In a co­-production with Dumbarton Concerts in Washington, DC, Lyric Fest presents a program celebrating the works and life of Philadelphia poet Edgar Allan Poe on Saturday November 7, at 8 PM at Dumbarton, followed by the area premiere of Nicholas White’s The Raven November 8 at 3 PM at The Academy of Vocal Arts 1920 Spruce Street, Philadelphia. White’s The Raven is scored for five solo voices, string quartet and piano. In addition, the concert includes solo song settings of Poe’s poetic works, and readings from Poe’s prose fiction.

White was commissioned by Dumbarton in the Fall of 2011 to set The Raven.Catherine Payling, administrator for Dumbarton Concerts, wanted to reprise the work, Poe. Lyric Fest was invited to partner in the project and decided to feature song settings of Poe’s poetical works but also include an actor to read from Poe’s well known stories.

Says founding artistic director Suzanne DuPlantis, “Not only was this an opportunity to take Lyric Fest to Washington, but also a great opportunity to create a rich, multi­layered, musical and literary happening, just the kind of thing we like to do. We’ll be premiering two new settings of Poe, one of which we commissioned and premiering this latest version of The Raven, as well.”

For White there were challenges setting the original piece, The Raven.

“How does one set such a long poem that dwells on sadness, despair, longing and gloom throughout its eighteen verses,” said White. “It was not long before I was thinking along the lines of a very presentational, theatrically inspired piece, most definitely divided into several movements. And thus this cantata in eight movements was born.”

White notes that this new all­-Poe focus of this program adds a new dimension. He has added a fifth voice and with Laura Ward at the piano he is able to step out front and conduct.

Said White, “It will create a different focus for me and hopefully improve the precision of the performance. I’m very excited about that. I should also mention I wrote a setting of Poe’s A Dream that Roger Isaacs will sing to function as prologue.”

Both performances feature singers Emily Noël, Roger Isaacs, James Reese, Steven Combs, and Suzanne DuPlantis with pianist Laura Ward, conductor Nicholas White, and narrator Duncan Wu. Three of the singers were in the first version premiere, all but James Reese, which features a vocal quartet that uses countertenor instead of mezzo.

Tickets are $20 for advanced purchase on the secure website and $25 at the door. Special student tickets are $5 cash at the door with ID.
About Lyric Fest
“Compulsively enterprising…” (David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer)

Lyric Fest was founded in January 2003 as a 501 c.3 and is currently led by two of its founders, Artistic Directors Suzanne DuPlantis and Laura Ward. Dedicated exclusively to the voice recital, Lyric Fest occupies a singular place in the Philadelphia artscape and expands the definition of the song recital by jointly featuring regional and internationally recognized artists. Together they produce a happening that is more than just a concert of songs. The mission of Lyric Fest is “to bring people together through the shared experience of song by offering to diverse audiences lively, theme­oriented voice recitals designed to edify, educate, stimulate dialogue, and foster community.”

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