The Mirror Visions Ensemble serves up a cuisine-themed vocal chamber music program
by Kirshbaum Demler & Associates for Vocal Area Network
Posted November 4, 2010

Mirror Visions EnsembleThe Mirror Visions Ensemble, a vocal trio featuring soprano Vira Slywotzky, tenor Scott Murphree and baritone Jesse Blumberg, presents "Concert à la carte" at Merkin Concert Hall, Kaufman Center on Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at 8:00 PM. The first half of the program explores food--ingredient selection, meal preparation (including recipes!) and the pleasure of dining--through familiar and obscure songs by American composers such as Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, William Bolcom, Cole Porter and Stephen Schwartz. The feast culminates with the world premiere of Richard Pearson Thomas's cantata know thy farmer, which sets to music a number of texts drawn from the menus of Blue Hill at Stone Barns Restaurant. The evening also includes an introduction from Blue Hill's executive chef and co-owner Dan Barber, a 2009 Time Magazine "Most Influential Person" and a two-time James Beard award recipient.

The ensemble serves up a delectable "Bread" from Stephen Schwartz's The Baker's Wife, a musical based on the book and French film La Femme du Boulanger; an appetizing "Tuna Supreme" from Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook (set by Richard Pearson Thomas); and the smooth sorbet flavors of the Parisian ice cream parlor Berthillon in Christopher Culpo's Tango du Dessert. The evening is bilingual--Mr. Murphree and Mr. Blumberg whip up a frenzied Rabbit at Top Speed according to Henri Dumont's directions that Leonard Bernstein plucked from La Bonne Cuisine Française. Daliah (a New York City grade school student) calls for seven chickens in Martin Hennessy's Daliah's Soup, simmered and sung by Ms. Slywotzky.

Dan Barber is at the forefront of a new frontier in food, with a philosophy that combines old-world farming wisdom with new agricultural technologies in order to create food that is at once delicious, innovative, healthy and environmentally responsible. Mr. Pearson Thomas writes, "It wasn't until Tobé [artistic director of The Mirror Visions Ensemble] sent me copies of menus from Blue Hill at Stone Barns that the idea for know thy farmer began to click…. The names of the plants and animals are poetry in and of themselves, and Chef Dan Barber transforms them into culinary poetry." Tickets for this event are priced at $25 ($15 for students) and may be purchased by calling 212-501-3330.

The Mirror Visions Ensemble was founded in 1992 by Tobé Malawista, Richard Lalli and Scott Murphree. The initial interest, which continues to this day, was the back-to-back performance of multiple settings of a single text. This led to programs built around favorite poets: Shakespeare, Verlaine, Dickinson and Heine, in particular. Commissioning rapidly became an integral part of the ensemble's mission, and, under Ms. Malawista's guidance, The Mirror Visions Ensemble has commissioned more than 70 vocal chamber music works from 14 composers including Christopher Berg, Tom Cipullo, Russell Platt, Richard Pearson Thomas, and Yehudi Wyner. Over time, museums have become a home for Mirror Visions programs. During 2002-2003 the ensemble gave eight performances at the Musée Carnavalet in Paris, featuring a cantata by Christopher Berg on the letters of Madame de Sévigné with subsequent portraits in music organized at the Musée Nissim de Camondo and most recently, in collaboration with an exhibit on the artistry of jeweler René Lalique at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. The generous support of the Florence Gould Foundation has been vital to Mirror Visions' success in France. In 2008, in recognition of her work with The Mirror Visions Ensemble, Artistic Director Tobé Malawista was named Chevalier of the Legion of Honor for her contributions to the culture of France, an award also presented to Steven Spielberg and Celine Dion.

The current singers of The Mirror Visions Ensemble are soprano Vira Slywotzky, tenor Scott Murphree and baritone Jesse Blumberg. Most recently the ensemble has appeared in France with the programs "Crossing the Channel: Songs of Benjamin Britten and Maurice Ravel" with MVE pianist Gary Chapman, and a program of two MVE commissions: From Noon to Starry Night -- a Walt Whitman Cantata by Russell Platt and A Visit with Emily by Tom Cipullo with MVE pianist Alan Darling. This program will be presented in January 2011 by Bargemusic, New York City's floating concert hall, at Fulton Ferry Landing in Brooklyn.

The month of May will find the ensemble at Weill Hall with a new program, "Night and Dreams," including two premieres by Tom Cipullo, as well as works by Scott Wheeler and Yehudi Wyner. The ensemble will be joined by MVE pianist Margaret Kampmeier and guest artist mezzo-soprano Krista River. For more information, visit www.mirrorvisions.org.

Kirshbaum Demler & Associates provides artist management and public relations services to an eminent roster of performing artists. This article is adapted from one of their press releases.
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