Friday, January 25, 2013

The Collegiate Chorale presents Philip Glass - Symphony No. 7 "Toltec" Osvaldo Golijov – Oceana featuring Venezuelan vocalist Biella Da Costa

The Collegiate Chorale announces the New York Premieres of two works by major composers:Symphony No. 7 "Toltec" by Philip Glass and Oceana by Osvaldo Golijov, featuring international jazz vocalist Biella Da Costa and the American Symphony Orchestra on Wednesday, February 27, 2013 at 7pm at Carnegie Hall, 881 7th Avenue, NYC. The Collegiate Chorale's Music Director James Bagwell will conduct.  Tickets are $20-115 and are available at

In this pairing of contemporary choral compositions by Osvaldo Golijov and Philip Glass, The Chorale turns its attention towards Latin America with the New York premieres of Symphony No. 7 "Toltec" and Oceana.  Composed in 2004, Symphony No. 7 - A Toltec Symphony is Philip Glass's personal homage to the ancient traditions and beliefs of the peoples of Mesoamerica, circa 700-1100 BCE.  Although often cited for their accomplishments in mathematics, calendar making, building and architecture, Glass is concerned with Toltec personal spiritual development: "The Toltecs emphasized the relationship with the forces of the natural world (the sun, earth, water, fire and wind) in developing their own wisdom traditions."  In his symphony, scored for full orchestra and large chorus, Glass does not use any of his trademark electric keyboard sounds, but instead explores musical textures and phrases within the realm of a strictly acoustic, natural world.  In using pure, natural acoustic instruments, he gets closer spiritually to the natural world the Toltec culture worships.  This musical exploration results in extended yet constantly changing harmonies, textures, and rhythms. 

Commissioned by the Oregon Bach Festival in 1996, Golijov wrote Oceana in the spirit of a Bach cantata but with a Latin American musical style that features a jazz/pop vocalist, percussion, and guitars.  Set to the poetry of Pablo Neruda, Oceana, in Golijov's words, is the "transmutation of passion into geometry".  He describes his work such that "water and longing, light and hope, the immensity of South America's nature and pain, are here transmuted into pure musical symbols, which nevertheless should be more liquid than the sea and deeper than the yearning that they represent."  Golijov juxtaposes rolling, cascading arcs of sound (giant rain sticks in the percussion, choral and orchestral writing that sweeps forward and back in extended phrases) and the unique sound of Brazilian jazz with the technical precision of classical oratorio and symphonic structure.  The result is an astounding and exciting rush of sound, drama and emotion; waves of text overlapping waves of sound; jazz merging with classical; and cinematic cascades of texture upon texture.  Popular Venezuelan Jazz vocalist and Golijov specialist Biella Da Costa joins The Chorale in the performance of this powerful musical work.

"The Chorale has been privileged to work with Philip Glass several times in the past few years, and so it is with great pleasure that we present the NY premiere of his Toltec Symphony," said James Bagwell, Music Director of The Collegiate Chorale. "Philip wrote this work in 2005, but it has not been heard in New York - we want to rectify that." He continued, "Osvaldo Golijov is a wonderful and deservedly celebrated composer of today. His music is evocative, powerful, and sensual; and an exciting, deeply satisfying amalgam of the musical styles of his own experience - Argentinian, Latin, Israeli, Hebrew, American, classical, and jazz. We are thrilled to be able to present the NY premiere of his beautiful work, Oceana."

Biella Da Costa is one of Venezuela's most acclaimed vocalists. She was awarded the grand national "Premio Nacional del Artista" for "Best New Artist and "Best Female Vocalist by La Casa del Artista of Venezuela. She studied with Francisco Kraus at The Conservatorio Jose Angel Lamas, with Yoshiko Miki and Hilda Breer at the Escuela de Opera de Caracas, and privately with Irene Ebersteins. During the nineties Biella performed with various rock and Latin bands in Caracas until becoming lead vocalist for Casablanca, a popular rock band. Later she discovered the local jazz scene and subsequently formed a jazz band. Since then, Biella has shared the stage with internationally renowned artists such as Eric Clapton, Ray Charles, Blood Sweat & Tears, Caetano Veloso, David Sanborn, Chuck Mangione and many others. Biella performs extensively in Latin America and has appeared in prestigious jazz festivals and venues throughout Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Holland, Spain, Russia, the United States and Canada. In Venezuela she has performed with the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolivar on several occasions. Since November 2000 she has been performing Osvaldo Golijov's La Pasión Según San Marcos and, since 2006, Ayre andOceana. Biella has numerous recordings to her credit, "El Sueño" with Casablanca, "Solo Jazz," "Jazz & Blues" and "Biella Da Costa en Navidad", which includes several Venezuelan and international Christmas songs. Biella is also featured on "Monk in The Sun," a tribute to Thelonious Monk released in the U.S. in which she sings Monk's celebrated ballad "Round Midnight." In 2009 she recorded Osvaldo Golijov's La Pasión Según San Marcos. Biella currently teaches at Unearte (Universidad Nacional Experimental de las Artes) in Caracas.

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