Guest Artist Concert: Thomas Cooley '91, tenor
“Longing, Dreams and Desire”
Thomas Cooley '91, tenor
with Erika Switzer, piano
Tuesday, March 13 • 7:30 p.m.
No tickets needed to this free event.
The stylistic and thematic threads that run through tenor Thomas Cooley’s concert encompass a wide range of styles and languages. Songs of Henry Purcell detail a sacred desire to both worship and take comfort in the arms of the Creator. Four works by Franz Schubert express a profound sense of longing — for safety, for a lover who is far away, for rest or perhaps death, and for the return of night and dreams — and similarly music by Tchaikovsky embodies a sense of yearning and loneliness in his beautiful melodies. Cooley’s song selections by Henri Duparc move from the mystical longing for an ideal land where one can live and love as one would choose, through the deluded dream of the unhappy lover in “Le manoir de Rosamonde,” and end in the dreamy, eroticism of “Phydilé.” The incredibly profound Holy Sonnets of John Donne, composed upon Benjamin Britten’s return following the end of World War II, have a darkness and terror within them, which perfectly capture Donne’s inner turmoil about his own desires, both earthly and heavenly. In their structure and sound world, echoes of both Schubert and Purcell can be heard.
"The clear stand-out among the soloists was Thomas Cooley....The tenor brought a commanding presence and storyteller’s sensibility to the title role of Judas Maccabaeus, injecting energy and expressiveness into every line. He possesses a distinctive, wonderfully natural voice with a lilting falsetto top and ample bottom as well as multifaceted, subtly delineated vocal timbres across his entire range."
— Kyle MacMillan, Classical Voice North America
About the Artists
THOMAS COOLEY is a singer of great versatility, expressiveness, and virtuosity, in demand internationally for a wide range of repertoire in concert, opera, and chamber music. Recent concert highlights include the world premiere and recording of Christopher Theofanidis’ Creation/Creator with Atlanta Symphony, Kodály’s Psalmus Hungaricus, Bruckner’s Te Deum, and his first foray into Wagner with an excerpt from Parsifal with the St. Louis Symphony. He performs regularly with major orchestras and festivals such as the Lincoln Center Mostly Mozart Festival; Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, National, Oregon, and Milwaukee Symphonies; the Minnesota Orchestra and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra; and Bavarian Radio Symphony. Particularly renowned for his agility and skill in Baroque music, Mr. Cooley is in demand as an interpreter of the works of Bach and Handel, especially in the role of the Evangelist in Bach’s Passions and in the great oratorios of Handel. He appears regularly with such historically informed groups as Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, Handel and Haydn Society, Music of the Baroque, Bethlehem Bach Choir, Akadamie für Alte Musik, Boston Baroque, the Carmel and Oregon Bach Festivals, Les Violons du Roy, and the Munich Bach Choir. As artist-in-residence for the 2015/16 season at Music of the Baroque in Chicago, he performed Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, a program of Bach cantatas, and the title role in Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus.
ERIKA SWITZER is an internationally active pianist, teacher, and arts administrator. Heard on the stages of New York’s Weill Hall (Carnegie) and Geffen Hall (Lincoln Center), at the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC, and the Bard Music Festival, she has also appeared across Canada at Vancouver’s Music on Main and Ottawa’s ChamberFest. During her seven-year sojourn in Germany, she performed at the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden and for the Munich Winners & Masters series, and won numerous awards, including best pianist prizes at the Robert Schumann, Hugo Wolf, and Wigmore Hall International Song Competitions. Devoted to the performance of new music, Erika has recorded works by Jocelyn Morlock and Andrew Staniland for Centrediscs. An upcoming release, English Songs à la française features her long-standing duo-partnership with baritone Tyler Duncan. Switzer is on the music faculty at Bard College and the Vocal Arts Program of the Bard Conservatory of Music, where her work centers on diction for singers, vocal coaching, and chamber music. She contributes to the future of art song performance through publication of The Art Song Magazine, presentation of the Casement Fund Song Series in NYC, and the commission of new works.