Here's what we Do
“An irresistible mix of high art and humane feeling…as entertaining as a well-managed party.”
Photograph by Lisa Schaffer
Singers, a pianist, the spoken word, and you for a satisfying and delightfully different concert experience…
Designed for the aficionado and novice alike, Lyric Fest is a unique musical offering in the city of Philadelphia. Equally noted for scholarship and entertainment, Lyric Fest presents artists of national and international stature, heard here in the intimate setting of song. Experience what critics have called “an irresistible mix of high art and humane feeling…as entertaining as a well managed party.”
We're re-invigorating the song recital by:
- Offering great art in the context of an intimate, informative and accessible atmosphere.
- Imaginative thematic programming,
featuring multiple singers on each program.
- Using the spoken word to share context, history, and personal story.
- Making unexpected connections.
- Introducing today’s audiences to new music.
We believe in and live by
Our Mission & Vision
Mission To bring people together through the shared experience of song and story.
Lyric Fest creates an intimate atmosphere for song and story to be experienced and shared. Occupying a unique place in the Philadelphia music-scape, Lyric Fest celebrates a world of song by creating programs that are meaningful, joyful, timeless and timely, accessible and welcoming, and are inclusive and diverse with consideration to programming, performers, and audiences.
Vision To make a substantial impact on the future of American Song by commissioning, and by recording the works we commission.
By commissioning new works from composers most outstanding in the field of American art song, Lyric Fest is partnering to create repertoire that we hope will enter the standard vocal repertory, representing the early part of the 21st century.
Let's tell you a bit about
Lyric Fest (LF) was founded in 2003 by three Philadelphia-area musicians: Suzanne DuPlantis, mezzo-soprano, Laura Ward, pianist, Randi Marrazzo, soprano. Currently LF is run by Artistic Directors and Founders, Suzanne DuPlantis and Laura Ward, and in January of 2020, brought in Ben Robinson as Managing Director. With the shared goal of celebrating and revitalizing the song tradition, LF to date has produced and presented 17 seasons of concerts.
Lyric Fest is one of a very few voice recital series of its kind in the area, and is known for excellence and innovation in creating rich, thematic, accessible concerts.
Almost since the beginning, commissioning and performing new works has been integral to LF’s mission and programming philosophy, and LF enjoys working in partnership with composers, to bring new works into being. Lyric Fest frequently collaborates with actors, poets, visual artists, and peer musical organizations. We've brought concerts to New York City and Brooklyn, NY; Pittsburgh, PA; Princeton and Moorestown, NJ, and Washington, DC.
LF remains committed to access through affordable ticket prices, to broadening its audience, and to expanding the area’s interest in and knowledge of song as an important and relevant art form.
Let us introduce to our staff
Our Founders & Staff
Suzanne DuPlantis, Founder and Artistic Director
SUZANNE DUPLANTIS is Founder and Artistic Director of Lyric Fest. With a passionate commitment to song, and a belief in its power to reach all listeners, Suzanne enjoys sharing this vision with Lyric Fest audiences in novel and dynamic ways: as a singer; in creative program curating; in writing program notes and scripts; through graphic design, and by creating song movies for Lyric Fest. Noted for her moving renditions of songs and her intimate way with an audience, “DuPlantis deeply imprints the music with her personality with great emotional underpinning” (The Philadelphia Inquirer). She made her New York debut in the at Alice Tully Hall with Musica Sacra and her Kimmel Center debut in Mahler’s ˆ with Orchestra 2001. Her career in opera has spanned debuts with companies across America in roles from Rossini’s heroines Rosina and Isabella, Carmen to Waltraute. In oratorio, chamber music and song, Suzanne has appeared with many of Philadelphia’s premiere music organizations including The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Philadelphia Chamber Ensemble, Bucks County Choral Society, Singing City, The Wister Quartet, and Orchestra 2001. She has premiered many new works written especially for her, including by Kile Smith, Andrea Clearfield, Robert Maggio, Roxanna Panufnik, Logan Skelton, Allen Krantz and Benjamin C.S. Boyle. She has recorded Brian Gaber’s Ancestral Waters for mezzo, orchestra and jazz trio, and has recently released her new CD of American Songbook Standards, Lazy Afternoon – Songs of Love and the South.
Laura Ward, Founder and Artistic Director
Laura Ward is pianist and Artistic Director of Lyric Fest, www.lyricfest.org, a unique vocal recital series in Philadelphia. As a distinguished collaborative pianist she is known for both her technical ability and vast knowledge of repertoire and styles. Concert engagements have taken her to Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Spoleto Festival (Italy) and the Colmar International Music Festival and Saint Denis Festival in France. She has served on the faculty of The CoOPERAtive Program at Westminster Choir College, The Academy of Vocal Arts, Temple University, Ravinia Festival Steans Institute, Washington Opera, University of Maryland and The Music Academy of the West. Laura’s discography includes Lineage with Grammy Nominated Baritone, Randall Scarlata, In This Blue Room, Lyric Fest performs Songs of Kile Smith, Daron Hagen 21st Century Song Cycles, Hat er mir Rosen Gebracht, Songs of Joseph Marx, with Kendra Colton, Soprano, Songs of Innocence and The Raven with The Raven Consort and most recently, Spirits in Bondage, Songs of Benjamin C.S. Boyle. Laura is also a recording artist and editor of song accompaniments for publisher Hal Leonard having co-edited: Richard Strauss: 40 Songs, Gabriel Fauré: 50 Songs, and Johannes Brahms: 75 Songs and recorded over 2000 song accompaniments for Hal Leonard Publishing. These volumes help countless singers and pianists experience, learn and enjoy the art song repertoire and also help introduce a world of art song to many who have had little exposure to classical song. A native of Texas, Laura received her Bachelor in Music degree from Baylor University, holds a Masters in Collaborative Piano at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and a Doctorate In Collaborative Piano from the University of Michigan where she was a student of Martin Katz.
Ben Robinson, Managing Director
BEN ROBINSON is the Managing Director of Lyric Fest, the Artistic Director of Opera Ithaca and Raylynmor Opera (New Hampshire). A critically acclaimed tenor, he works as a stage director, librettist, and educator. As a stage director, he has mounted numerous productions, highlighted by new productions for which he also wrote new English libretti: Madame Butterfly, Macbeth, Hansel and Gretel, The Barber of Seville, and Die Fledermaus. At Opera Ithaca, he recently penned a new English libretto for Pauline Viardot’s Cendrillon, which had its premiere on New Year’s Eve 2019. Other directing credits at Raylynmor include Gianni Schicchi, Amahl and the Night Visitors, and La Tragédie de Carmen. Upcoming projects for the 2020-2021 season include directing an original film production of Gianni Schicchi for Opera Ithaca along with a revival of his innovative production of Bon Appétit! | Hansel and Gretel. He will direct a filmed production of Pagliacci and stage direct Aida, as well as write a new English libretto for Mozart’s Bastien und Bastienne for Raylynmor.
Megnot Toggia, Administrative Coordinator
Soprano MEGNOT TOGGIA graduated with her B.M. and M.M. in Voice Performance from Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance. She has been seen in Opera Ithaca’s productions of Gianni Schicchi as La Ciesca and Hansel and Gretel as the Dew Fairy, Temple University Opera Theater’s production of Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore as Adina, and ENA Ensemble’s Fringe Festival production of Ganymede 5 as Rita.
Board of Directors
William Bosch, Chair
Mignon Groch, Vice-Chair
Marissa Lieb, Treasurer
Lauren Meyer, Secretary
Sue Gerace William L. Leonard
Jane Kamp, Chair Emerita