This concert is made possible by The Ruth Morse Fund for Vocal Excellence.
Anna Lucia Richter hails from a family of professional musicians. Since age nine, she received singing lessons from her mother, Regina Dohmen, and was a member of the Girls Choir of the Cologne Cathedral. From 2004 to 2008, she received regular lessons with Kurt Widmer in Basel. Following her early studies with Klesie Kelly-Moog at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz in Cologne, she finished her advanced studies with first-class honors in the summer of 2013. Ms. Richter won prizes at the National Song Contest in Berlin, the Luitpold Prize at the Kissinger Sommer festival in 2011, and the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Prize in 2011. In 2012, she won the International Robert Schumann Contest in Zwickau, and in 2014, she received the promotional prize for young artists of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Ms. Richter has appeared with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony, MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, WDR Radio Orchestra, and Freiburger Barockorchester under notable conductors such as Markus Stenz, Paavo Järvi, Kristjan Järvi, Andrés Orozco-Estrada, Jonathan Cohen, Sir Roger Norrington, and Iván Fischer. On the opera stage, she has performed in Hänsel und Gretel, Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Monteverdi's L'Orfeo, among others. In the spring of 2017, she will sing in Henze's Elegie für junge Liebende at the Theater an der Wien.
Ms. Richter is a particularly enthusiastic lieder singer. She has built an extensive repertoire and has given guest performances at notable venues and festivals, including the Lucerne Festival, Kissinger Sommer, Heidelberg Spring, Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Schubertiade Schwarzenberg, and London's Wigmore Hall. She made her debut in the US with three recitals in New York's Park Avenue Armory, accompanied by Gerold Huber. Other piano partners include Michael Gees and Nicholas Rimmer, and she regularly performs with Sir András Schiff at his festival in Vicenza. Besides standard repertoire, Ms. Richter enjoys improvisation as well as contemporary music compositions, and has given world premieres of both Moritz Eggert's work Singet leise and Wolfgang Rihm's cycle Ophelia Sings, which was especially composed for her.
Michael Gees had an exceptional childhood; few others are able to claim to have a career already behind them by age 15. He was born in 1953 into a world of sound and music, as both of his parents were singers, and at age three, the piano was his favorite toy. He began formal piano lessons at five, went on to win the Steinway Competition at eight, and subsequently received a scholarship to the Mozarteum in Salzburg. The child prodigy further studied at conservatories in Vienna and Detmold, fast on his way to becoming an internationally acclaimed pianist.
Mr. Gees longed to explore the world of sound on his own terms-to experience the great masters' music in a carefree way instead of limiting himself to a technical practice regimen. He decided to flee the pressure of a predetermined competitive career at age 15, leaving behind his conservatory studies and supporting himself by working as an archeological assistant, while also becoming a sailor.
Chance led Mr. Gees back to the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hannover, where he resumed his compositional studies and eventually graduated. There, he also developed his technique on the piano and gained international renown as a lieder accompanist with Christoph Prégardien. Throughout his studies, he nurtured his preference for combining the music of past masters with the inspiration of current compositions, thereby creating innovative performances.
In 1989, Mr. Gees founded the Forum Kunstvereint and later the Consol Theater, which opened its doors in 2001, providing a place where children, youths, and adults alike are encouraged to realize their own artistic potential. Since 2008, Mr. Gees has recorded with the Netherlands label Challenge Classics. The 2009 release of Die Schöne Müllerin with Mr. Prégardien won the Midem Classical Award and became Recording of the Year. He has also given numerous solo recitals, where he enjoys breaking tradition with modernized lieder renditions, melodramas, and stage music. Since 2009, Mr. Gees has taught vocal improvisation at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz in Cologne.