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Renée Fleming Returns!
Selections by Renée Fleming highlight the gala season finale, centered around four songs of a five-song cycle Richard Strauss never completed at the end of his illustrious life. The reflective farewell is touching and profound, enhanced by the sublime performance of Ms. Fleming. The program opens with a world premiere composed as a gift for Kleinhans Music Hall and your BPO, celebrating the city of Buffalo.
For more information or to purchase tickets for the BPO’s Gala Season Finale event, please visit bpo.org/gala.
JoAnn Falletta, conductor
Renée Fleming, soprano
WANG JIE The Winter that United Us
*Commissioned by the League of American Orchestras with the generous support of the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation, World Premiere by Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
R. STRAUSS Four Last Songs
III. Bein Schlafengehen
IV. Im Abendrot
DEBUSSY Clair de lune from Suite Bergamasque
MARIA SCHNEIDER Selections from Winter Morning Walks
Walking by Flashlight
Our Finch Feeder
My Wife and I Walk the Cold Road
LEONCAVALLO “Musette svaria sulla bocca viva” from La Bohème
CILÈA “Io son l’umile ancella” from Adriana Lecouvreur
MASCAGNI Intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana
WILLSON “Till There Was You” from The Music Man
BENJ PASEK & JUSTIN PAUL “So Big, So Small” from Dear Evan Hansen
ANDREW LIPPA The Diva
About Renée Fleming
Renée Fleming is one of the most highly acclaimed singers of our time, performing on the stages of the world’s greatest opera houses and concert halls. Honored with four Grammy® awards and the US National Medal of Arts, Renée has sung for momentous occasions from the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony to the Diamond Jubilee Concert for Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. In 2014, she brought her voice to vast new audience as the first classical artist ever to sing The Star-Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl. In 2008 Renée was the first woman in the 125-year history of the Metropolitan Opera to solo headline an opening night gala.
Known for bringing new audiences to classical music and opera, Renée has starred in and hosted an array of television and radio broadcasts, including The Met: Live in HD and Live from Lincoln Center. Her voice is featured on the soundtracks of Best Picture Oscar winners The Shape of Water and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. This seventeen-time Grammy nominated artist has recorded everything from complete operas and song recitals to jazz and indie rock. During the pandemic, Renée’s performances on digital platforms have included streamed online concerts for the Metropolitan Opera, the Kennedy Center, Lyric Opera of Chicago, LA Opera, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
In 2020, Renée launched Music and Mind LIVE, a weekly online interview show exploring the intersection of music and arts with human health and the brain. In 19 episodes, the show amassed more than 650,000 views, from 70 countries. Renée was inspired to launch the series by the Sound Health initiative she leads as Artistic Advisor to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in partnership with the NIH and the NEA. She has given presentations with scientists and practitioners on the connection of arts and health around the world, and is a leading advocate for research in this field, winning the 2020 Rosenfeld Award for Impact on Public Opinion.
In addition to her work with the Kennedy Center, Renée leads Song Studio at Carnegie Hall, an intensive program for young singers and pianists dedicated to the art of the song. She is Co-Director of the Aspen Opera Center and Vocal Arts at the Aspen Music Festival.
In 2019, Renée appeared opposite Ben Whishaw in Norma Jean Baker of Troy to open The Shed in New York City. Later that year, she performed world premieres by André Previn and Kevin Puts with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the London premiere of The Light in the Piazza, bringing the acclaimed production to Los Angeles and Chicago in the autumn. Renée earned a Tony Award nomination for her performance in the 2018 Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel.
Renée’s book, The Inner Voice, was published by Viking Penguin in 2004, and is now in its sixteenth printing. It is also published in France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Poland, Russia, and China.
Renée’s other awards include the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, Germany’s Cross of the Order of Merit, Sweden’s Polar Music Prize, France’s Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, and honorary doctorates from Yale, Northwestern, Harvard, Duke, and Carnegie Mellon Universities, and the University of Pennsylvania, the Eastman School of Music, and The Juilliard School.
About Wang Jie
Part cartoon character, part virtuoso, composer WANG JIE has spent the last two decades nudging classical music and its concert audiences into spectacular frontiers. One day she spins a few notes into a large symphony, the next she conjures a malevolent singing rat onto the opera stage. For the past three years running, Jie’s Symphony No. 1 has been the most-broadcast work on the most-listened-to classical music show in the country. During previous seasons, you might have heard about her pioneering opera “It Rained on Shakopee,” based on her mentoring experience at the Minnesota state prison. Unveiling beauty in this world, and paving new paths for greater public engagement with classical music are at the heart of her artistry.
Many consider Ms. Wang’s stylistic versatility a rare trait among today’s composers, but she comes by it naturally. There is a mile-long dossier on Jie’s outside-the-box incidents. It begins with a thrilling escape from a Chinese-military-run kindergarten at the age of four. Apparently it was a rehearsal. Jie will tell you that fighting for her beliefs has gotten her into trouble after trouble. But music critic Jay Nordlinger puts it this way: “Wang Jie is a clear communicator, whose love of music is obvious.”
Today, that same refusal of constraint sparks the glorious madness of Jie’s music; the skill, theatricality and method that once facilitated her youthful escape are now the engines for her appetite to “Engage • Explore • Play”. Jie credits her mentors at the Curtis Institute of Music and the Manhattan School of Music for giving her the tools to materialize her artistic vision. Her career is made possible by trailblazing folks at New York City Opera, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, American Composers Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, and Colorado Springs Philharmonic, etc. And she is continuously fueled by organizations that nodded at her endeavors, such as American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Koussevitzky Foundation in the Library of Congress, the McKnight Foundation, the V. Toulmin Foundation, to name a few. These lists are extensive, proof that the whole village must show up to bear witness as an artist struggles daily for her integrity. This daily practice, as James Baldwin says, must be considered as a metaphor for the universal struggle of all human beings to get to become human beings.
Since the pandemic, Jie is busy finishing her new symphony for the Colorado Music Festival, starting another for the Buffalo Philharmonic, and creating new works for the Apollo Chamber Players, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and half a dozen others. Off the composing clock, Jie is a mentor at the Curtis Institute, the City University of NY, and an unexpected student of Bharatanatyam, a classical dance form in South India. Along with her husband Fred Child, Jie enjoys endless rock climbing trips and occasional mountaineering feats.