Soprano Marnie Breckenridge returns to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music this Saturday, January 19th at 8:00 p.m., with fellow alumna pianist Kristin Pankonin (’89) for an Alumni Series recital featuring songs by Barber, Strauss and numerous contemporary Bay Area composers.
The first half of the recital includes selections from Richard Strauss’ Brentano Lieder, Henry Mollicone’s Seven Songs and Samuel Barber’s celebrated idyll of southern nostalgia, Knoxville: Summer of 1915. Subtitled, “Her Journey: Bay Area composers lead us across a woman’s emotional landscape,” the program’s second half gathers songs from Kurt Erickson, Jake Heggie, Gordon Getty and Conservatory faculty composers David Conte and David Garner under thematic headings that progress from “Longing” to “Chaos” before concluding with “Transcendence.” Click here to order tickets on-line.
Asked about her inspiration in curating the program, Breckenridge notes that having worked “with many living composers in the Bay Area . . . it just kind of hit me that being able to check in with a living composer and understand what they meant the music to be was just such a delicious, amazing bonus.” But the singer also stresses the freshness of subject matter in contemporary vocal writing. “It’s important to me to tell more modern stories about the opening of consciousness for women’s rights and about women finding a better place in the world as they progress through history. Being able to express myself as an American girl in contemporary opera is just an obvious fit.”
Now in its second full season, the Conservatory’s Alumni Recital Series brings outstanding alumni artists back to their alma mater for command performances each year. Designed to strengthen the school’s alumni ties as well as expand local audiences, the series “is an ideal way to display to the general public the talent pool of our alumni community,” says Gary Rust, trustee and chair of the Conservatory’s Alumni Network Committee. In the spirit of goodwill, series performers generously donate their services.
A champion of contemporary music, Marnie Breckenridge recently sang Sierva Maria in Peter Eötvös’ Love and Other Demons at Glydebourne Festival Opera and made her Ravinia Festival debut in Jake Heggie’s To Hell and Back with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, co-staring Patti LuPone. She has performed under the baton of Lorin Maazel as Lucia in Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia and is a featured soloist on the excellent New World Records’ 2012 release, Victor Herbert: Collected Songs. Breckenridge was a student of Jane Randolph and Hermann Le Roux at the Conservatory.
Pianist Kristin Pankonin performs regularly throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and has appeared in numerous recitals across the United States, Canada and Europe. In recent seasons she has appeared in concert with such artists as vocalists Frederica von Stade, Zheng Cao, Catherine Cook, Susanne Mentzer, Linda Watson, Marie Plette, Christine Abraham and Lisa Delan, cellist Matt Haimovitz and many others. Audiences have heard her in various concert series including the Festival del Sole concerts in Napa, Carmel Music Society, San Diego’s Mainly Mozart Festival, the Tuscan Sun Festival in Cortona, Italy, the Shenson Recital Series at Stanford, Maestro Foundation Concerts, Mills College Concert Series, San Francisco Conservatory of Music Faculty Artist Series, Old First Church Concerts and Composers Inc. Committed to performing the music of contemporary composers, Pankonin is featured on two recordings on the PentaTone Classics label: And If the Song Be Worth a Smile, performing vocal works of living American composers; and Phenomenon, songs by Conservatory faculty composer David Garner with vocalists Delan, Mentzer, Francisco Araiza, William Stone and Stephanie Friede, cellist Haimovitz, and members of the San Francisco Symphony. Pankonin currently serves on the faculties of Mills College and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
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Light fare from Cáfe Crème is available one hour before performance and during intermission.