Posted: 9/08/11

Song on the Rio Grande Vocal Series Brings Master Classes to TAMIU Sept. 23-24



A new local vocal organization, Song on the Rio Grande, is initiating a Rio Grande Vocal Series that will provide master classes with some of the nation’s most well regarded vocal performers beginning September 23-24.

Suzanne Ramo-Gechter, Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) adjunct faculty member, said the group was formed in conjunction with Laredo Community College and TAMIU.

“We wanted to offer an opportunity for students at both LCC and TAMIU to participate in master classes, roundtable discussions and an opportunity to learn alongside some of the nation’s top vocal performers. Our first offering will be Sept. 23-24 and will feature tenor Jason Ferrante and soprano Twyla Robinson. In addition to TAMIU and LCC students, high school students from Laredo and the area are also encouraged to attend. Future offerings will also include recitals,” she explained.

Dana Crabtree, TAMIU vocal instructor assisting the effort, said the Rio Grande Vocal Series should also be appealing to audiences.

“This would be a great opportunity for music lovers to take a peek at how some of our nation’s most gifted vocalists share their legacy through education -- while also affording a chance to talented students who will take to the stage in local and area productions. Perhaps some may even be on the national stage some day,” Crabtree said.

There is no charge to attend the Vocal Series offerings and the public is welcome to attend and enjoy the sessions.

Ferrante will be featured on Friday, Sept. 23 with a master class beginning at 2 p.m. in the TAMIU Center for the Fine and Performing Arts’ (CFPA) Recital Hall.

Ferrante is recognized as one of the leading character singers of his generation. Praised by Opera News for “singing up a stylish storm” and for getting “the gold star for trills,” the American tenor sings both comedians and protagonists on the operatic stage, and in concert, a repertoire of a wide range of composers from Bach and Handel to John Musto and Lowell Liebermann.

He began the 2010-2011 season as Jacquino for his debut with Opera Boston in Thaddeus Strassberger's new production of Fidelio, and also appeared in his most frequently performed role, Goro in Madama Butterfly, for debuts at Opera Omaha and Kentucky Opera. He returned to the Jacksonville Symphony for performances of Handel's Messiah, and to Opera New Jersey as the Magician in The Consul. The upcoming 2011-2012 season sees him with Florida Grand Opera and the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra as Borsa in Rigoletto and Syracuse Opera for their production of Madama Butterfly. The Baltimore native now makes his home in Miami, FL and serves on the voice faculty of the New World School of the Arts.

On Saturday, Sept. 24, the Rio Grande Vocal Series will continue with Twyla Robinson, who will begin her master class at 12 noon, also in the CFPA Recital Hall. It will be followed by a roundtable discussion with the artist, affording students a chance to learn what’s it like to have a singing career.

Robinson has consistently earned tremendous praise for her consummate musicianship, dramatic sensibility, and ravishing vocal beauty. She has performed with many of the world’s leading orchestras, including London Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Staatskapelle, The Cleveland Orchestra, and Los Angeles Philharmonic, singing under such conductors as Bernard Haitink, Pierre Boulez, Franz Welser-Möst, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Michael Tilson Thomas. This season, Robinson will be heard in performance with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in “Der Rosenkavalier” with Donald Runnicles and makes her Opera Colorado debut as the Countess in “Le Nozze di Figaro.” She performed at the Shreveport Symphony’s Gala Concert and sang Brahms’ “Ein deutsches Requiem” at the Kennedy Center with Washington Choral Arts Society in honor of Norman Scribner’s final concert.

In the 2010–2011 season, Robinson made her debut with the New York Philharmonic in performances of Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” with Alan Gilbert and was heard in performance of Mahler’s “Symphony No. 2” with Edo de Waart and the Milwaukee Symphony. She debuted with San Diego Opera as the Marschallin in “Der Rosenkavalier”, was heard with the Atlanta Symphony and Robert Spano in performances of Janacek’s “Glagolitic Mass” in Atlanta and at Carnegie Hall and returned to the National Symphony for performances of Zemlinsky’s “Lyric Symphony” with Christoph Eschenbach. In high demand for concert performances, Robinson regularly performs with top orchestras in the United States and Europe.

Song on the Rio Grande is planning a recital in October, a February master class and two additional recitals later in 2012.

For additional information, contact Crabtree at 326.3040 or email dcrabtree@tamiu.edu. Contact Ramo-Gechter at 326.2654 or email suzanne.ramo@tamiu.edu

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