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Ensemble for These Times Announces 'The Cassandra Project: Women’s Prophetic Voices'

February 22, 2021 | By Brennan Stokes
E4TT Design & Marketing Assistant

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 18, 2021

Ensemble for These Times
Announces
The Cassandra Project: Women’s Prophetic Voices


With World Premieres by:
Hannah Lash, Jessica Rudman, Valerie Liu, and David Garner;
plus music by Mary Kouyoumadjian

 


Performed by

Soprano Nanette McGuinness, Season Guest Pianist Margaret Halbig,
and Guests Violinist Ilana Blumberg and Cellist Abigail Monroe

 


Saturday, April 17, 7:30 p.m.
Virtual Performance Live-Streamed from the Center for New Music, San Francisco

(Full calendar listing below)

San Francisco - In these extraordinary times, Ensemble for These Times continues its 2020/21 home season with a timely program about women’s prophetic voices, “The Cassandra  Project,”* a program of works inspired by the famed priestess in Greek mythology who was cursed to utter true prophecies that were never believed. E4TT’s annual commissions program, the concert will feature four World Premieres, two with visual elements, by composers Hannah Lash, Jessica Rudman, Valerie Liu, and E4TT co-founder David Garner, plus music by Mary Kouyoumdjian. “The Cassandra Project” will be live streamed for free (donations welcome) from the Center for New Music on Saturday, April 17, 2021 at 7:30 p.m., preceded by a live pre-concert composer talk. 

*This concert is supported by funds from The San Francisco Arts Commission and sponsored, in part, by a grant from the Ross McKee Foundation.

Why Cassandra?
At a time when it has become crystal clear how often women’s voices are stifled and ignoredand how much they should be heededthe mythical Greek prophetess Cassandra has seldom been more relevant. Which is why E4TT has chosen to base its 2021 commissions concert on her. Cassandra’s most famous prophecy, the one that has echoed through the centuries, was her devastatingly accurate vision of the Fall of Troy. And although an accurate seer, she was cursed never to be believed, a curse that in many tellings of the myth, came from her refusing to yield to the god Apollo’s desires. Through the ages, Cassandra has become an archetype, a symbol of women’s rebellion against patriarchal power and their warnings against war. Her visions were said to have driven her mad, and her fate after Troy fell was ugly.  Ancient history? Yes. Mythical? Certainly. Relevant and of these times? Definitely.

About The Cassandra Project: Women’s Prophetic Voices
E4TT’s 2020/21 commissions concert, “The Cassandra Project,” is inspired by the famed priestess in Greek mythology who was cursed to utter true prophecies, but never to be believed, a timely notion during the current pandemic (cue Dr. Fauci!). The concert will take place in San Francisco at The Center for New Music on April 17 and will feature four World Premieres about Cassandra and her fate: “Wild Sage”  for piano trio by  rising new music star, 2016 Academy of Arts and Letters Charles Ives Fellowship recipient Hannah Lash (b. 1981) (pictured left, top); “Cassandra, or Don’t Girls Love Horses?” a new monodrama, performed with visuals, for soprano, cello, and piano, by E4TT Call for Scores composer Jessica Rudman (b. 1982) (pictured left, bottom) to a new text by her regular collaborator, librettist Kendra Preston Leonard (b. 1974); “Cassandra Effect” for cello and piano by Bay Area composer and 2019 Ruth Crawford Seeger Award winner Valerie Liu (b. 1971) (pictured right, top); and “Die geflüsterte Zukunft” (The Whispered Future) for soprano and piano trio, performed with visuals, by E4TT co-founder David Garner (b. 1954), to a text by Friedrich Schiller (1759-1809). “Moerae” (The Fates, 2010) for piano trio by Armenian-American composer Mary Kouyoumdjian (b. 1983) (pictured right, bottom) rounds out the program. E4TT soprano Nanette McGuinness, and season guest pianist Margaret Halbig will be joined by guests violinist Ilana Blumberg and cellist Abigail Monroe. Composers  Lash, Rudman, Garner, Liu and Kouyoumdjian, plus librettist Leonard will join E4TT for a pre-concert composer talk and Q&A.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Violinist ILANA BLUMBERG has appeared across the United States and internationally, in solo appearances with the San Francisco Symphony, the Albany Symphony (NY), Symphony Napa Valley, and the Merced Symphony, as well as performances at the prestigious Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Marlboro Music Festival, the La Jolla Summerfest as a 'Rising Star', the Aspen Music Festival, and many others. She appears frequently throughout the Bay Area with the Marin, Silicon Valley, West Edge Opera, Berkeley, and California Symphonies, as well as with the Golden Gate String Quartet, eco ensemble, and Left Coast Chamber Ensemble.

Season guest pianist
MARGARET HALBIG is in high demand as a collaborative artist in both the instrumental and vocal fields. On staff at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music since 2011, she regularly performs recitals, masterclasses, and lessons and has collaborated with many of esteemed Bay Area musicians including mezzo-soprano Frederica Von Stade, San Francisco Symphony Principal Trombonist Timothy Higgins, and SF Symphony’s principal tubist Jeffrey Anderson. An advocate of new and contemporary music, Halbig is the pianist for Ninth Planet, a San Francisco-based new music collective and a member of the wind-and-piano sextet Frequency 49. Halbig was a Teaching fellow at Interlochen Arts in 2017 and 2018 in collaborative and solo piano.

Soprano and E4TT co-founder and Artistic Executive Director
NANETTE MCGUINNESS has performed in 12 languages on two continents in over 25 roles with the Silesian State (Czech Republic), Opera San Jose (Opera in the Schools), and West Bay, Pacific Repertory, Trinity Lyric, and Livermore Valley Operas, among others. Solo concert engagements include Mahler’s Fourth Symphony, as well as Shéhérézade (Ravel), Nuits d’étés (Berlioz), Stabat Mater (Rossini), Requiem (Fauré), Gloria (Vivaldi), Lord Nelson Mass (Haydn), Vesperae Solennes (Mozart), and Handel’s Messiah and Solomon. Her CD of music by 19th and 20th century women composers, Fabulous Femmes (Centaur)—which was called “perfect for the song recital lover” by Chamber Music Magazine—features several premiere recordings.

ABIGAIL MONROE is a New Mexico based performer and educator. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in cello performance under the instruction of Jennifer Culp. She has appeared as a soloist, chamber musician, and large ensemble musician in venues across the United States. As a San Francisco resident, Abigail performs frequently throughout the Bay Area as both a classical cellist. She has served as both Principal cellist of the SFCM Orchestra, as well as the Miami Summer Music Festival Symphony Orchestra. As the winner of the Jackie McGehee Young Artists Competition in 2019, Abigail was also featured as cello soloist performing Elgar’s Cello Concerto with the New Mexico Philharmonic.

ABOUT ENSEMBLE FOR THESE TIMES
Awarded second place in 2019 for Chamber Music Performance by The American Prize and 2019 Finalists for the Ernest Bacon Memorial Award for the Performance of American Music, E4TT consists of award-winning soprano and Artistic Executive Director Nanette McGuinness, cellist Anne Lerner, season guest pianist Margaret Halbig, and Artistic Advisor and 2015 American Prize-winning composer David Garner. The group focuses on 20th and 21st century music that is relevant, engaging, original and compelling—music that resonates with today and speaks to tomorrow, that harnesses the power of artistic beauty, intelligence, wit, lyricism, and irony to create a deep understanding of our times and the human condition. E4TT performed at the 2016 Krakow Culture Festival, at the Conservatorio Teresa Berganza in Madrid in 2017, was sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Budapest in 2014 for a four-city tour in Hungary, and made its international debut in Berlin. E4TT has performed locally at the German Consulate General, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Old First Concerts, JCC Peninsula, Trinity Chamber Concerts, and Noontime Concerts, among other venues, and has commissioned 25 works and two arrangements.

E4TT’s critically acclaimed debut CD,
Surviving: Women’s Words (Centaur, 2016) won a Silver Medal in the 2016 Global Music Award. Its second CD, The Hungarians: From Rózsa to Justus (Centaur, 2018) won a Gold Medal in the 2018 Global Music Awards in three categories: chamber music, ensemble, and album. The group released its third CD, Once/Memory/Night: Paul Celan, in June 2020; it was awarded a Silver Medal in the 2021 Global Music Awards and was chosen as the Center for New Music’s Album of the Week for July 17. Writes curator Kurt Rohde, “The members of Ensemble For These Times are longstanding, expert champions of forgotten work by those nearly lost to history, as well as bringing up new voices who have meaningful new work to share. Their newest recording, “Once/Memory/Night: Paul Celan,” released in June 2020 in honor of this seminal poet’s centennial, is further evidence of this mission.

CALENDAR LISTING
Saturday, April 17, 2021 at 7:30 p.m., San Francisco
“The Cassandra Project: Women’s Prophetic Voices”
Artists:
Soprano Nanette McGuinness,season guest pianist Margaret Halbig with guests violinist Ilana Blumberg and cellist Abigail Monroe
Repertoire: “Wild Sage” for piano trio, (World Premiere) by 2016 Academy of Arts and Letters Charles Ives Fellowship recipient Hannah Lash (b. 1981); “Cassandra” (World Premiere) for soprano, cello, and piano (performed with visuals), by E4TT Call for Scores composer Jessica Rudman (b. 1982) to a new text by her regular collaborator, librettist Kendra Preston Leonard (b.1974); “The Cassandra Effect” (World Premiere) for cello and piano by Bay Area composer and 2019 Ruth Crawford Seeger Award winner Valerie Liu (b. 1971); “Die geflüsterte Zukunft” (The Whispered Future) (World Premiere) for soprano and piano trio (performed with visuals) by E4TT co-founder David Garner (b. 1954), to a text by Friedrich Schiller (1759-1809); plus “Moerae” (The Fates, 2010)by Armenian-American Mary Kouyoumdjian (b. 1983).
Pre-concert programming: A virtual transcontinental composer talk with Lash, Rudman, Liu, Garner, Kouyoumdjian and librettist Leonard at 7:00 p.m.
Venue: Live-streamed on YouTube from the Center for New Music
RSVP: (FREE, donations welcome) https://cassandraproject.eventbrite.com
Info: www.E4TT.org/cassandra.html

For more information about E4TT’s 2020/21 Bay Area Home Season, please visit our
website.
High resolution jpgs are available for download
http://www.e4tt.org/presskit.html.

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