J’Nai Bridges, Mezzo-Soprano
Mark Markham, Piano
J’Nai Bridges, Mezzo-Soprano
Mark Markham, Piano
FISCHER "I Love to Tell the Story" (arr. J'Nai Bridges and Mark Markham)
RICHARD DANIELPOUR "Margaret's Lullaby" from Margaret Garner
TRAD. "To Be Baptised" (arr. Undine Smith Moore)
SHAWN OKPEBHOLO "Oh, Glory"
TRAD. "Plenty Good Room" (arr. Roland Hayes)
BONDS "Minstrel Man"
J. CARTER Toccata: "Ride on King Jesus" from Cantata
BIZET "L'amour est un oiseau rebelle" (Habanera) from Carmen
At a Glance
This evening’s program begins and ends with songs, spirituals, and lullabies by American composers. In between these groups are two European song cycles—one German and one French—whose themes on slavery and the death of children align with the themes of the songs that surround them.
The popular Christian hymn “I Love to Tell the Story” opens the program, followed by two cradle songs, one by early–20th-century iconoclast Charles Ives and the other by eminent contemporary composer Richard Danielpour. “Margaret’s Lullaby” is an extract from Danielpour’s opera Margaret Garner, which tells the true story of a slave who killed her daughter rather than allow her to be returned to slavery. A granddaughter of slaves, Undine S. Moore arranged the spiritual “To Be Baptized.”
Early–19th-century poet Friedrich Rückert tried to exorcize his grief over the loss of his two young children in more than 400 poems. In the first years of the 20th century, Gustav Mahler chose five of these poems for his searing song cycle Kindertotenlieder (Songs on the Death of Children). A youthful Maurice Ravel both acknowledges his debt to Debussy and establishes his own style in his song cycle Shéhérazade, which was born of the Middle Eastern folk tale collection One Thousand and One Nights.
A newly composed spiritual by Shawn Okpebholo, a setting of Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes by Margaret Bonds, a traditional spiritual, and a rousing final number from John D. Carter’s Cantata complete the program with emphatic expressions of spiritual joy and glory.
Known for her “rich, dark, exciting sound” (Opera News), American mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges is becoming one of opera’s fastest-rising talents. Her 2018–2019 season includes her Carnegie Hall recital debut this evening, as well as two highly anticipated international operatic debuts at Dutch National Opera and Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu.
Ms. Bridges’s 2018–2019 season began with her Los Angeles Master Chorale debut in a performance of Mozart’s Requiem, followed by a return to LA Opera for her role debut as Kasturbai in Philip Glass’s Satyagraha, and her debut at the Amarillo Symphony singing Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder. This season also sees her debut with the American Modern Opera Company in the premiere of the chamber version of John Adams’s El Niño, a performance at Charleston’s Gaillard Center, and a return to San Francisco Opera for her house role debut as the titular character in Carmen. International operatic engagements include her house debut at Dutch National Opera for another run of John Adams’s highly acclaimed Girls of the Golden West, as well as a house and role debut at the Gran Teatre del Liceu as Federica in Verdi’s Luisa Miller.
Performance highlights include creating the role of Josefa Segovia in the world premiere of Girls of the Golden West at San Francisco Opera, creating the role of Carmen in the world premiere of Bel Canto at Lyric Opera of Chicago, and performances as the mezzo-soprano soloist in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel. Ms. Bridges has performed at the Zurich Opera House, Bayerische Staatsoper, Vancouver Opera, and San Diego Opera, and with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, and The Philadelphia Orchestra, among others. She also has performed with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center.
A recipient of the 2018 Sphinx Medal of Excellence, Ms. Bridges earned her master of music degree from the Curtis Institute of Music and her bachelor of music degree in vocal performance from the Manhattan School of Music.
Pianist Mark Markham is considered one of the finest artists of his generation. The breadth of his repertoire is unrivaled. Equally at home as a soloist, collaborator with great singers, chamber musician, jazz pianist, or vocal coach, his interpretations have been praised by the public and press alike. His international career encompasses performances in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The artistry of his playing has been described as “brilliant,” “exquisitely detailed,” and “in full service to the music.”
Mr. Markham began the 2018–2019 season with a solo recital at the Lexington Bach Festival entitled Bach and the Art of Improvisation, followed by a recital with mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong at the Kennedy Center. He appeared in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall for a performance with soprano Leah Crocetto, and returns for this evening’s performance with mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges. Mr. Markham also performs with Ms. Bridges on the Spire Series in Baltimore. In February, he music directs a program to celebrate the music of Kurt Weill and George Gershwin entitled Mack the Knife Is The Man I Love at Lyric Opera of Kansas City. In March, he returns to New York City for a solo recital, My Songs without Words, on the Sacred Music in a Sacred Space series.
As the recipient of the 2016 Distinguished Alumnus Award from Johns Hopkins University, Mr. Markham opened the 2017–2018 season with a solo recital at the Peabody Institute. Other performances included Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto with the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, a vocal recital with Ms. Crocetto and baritone Zachary Nelson at the Morgan Library & Museum, Ravel’s Piano Concerto with the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, a solo recital for Market Square Concerts in Harrisburg, and a performance of Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto with Lincoln’s Symphony Orchestra. The summer of 2017 saw the launch of the first season of his vocal workshop Singing in Sicily, a nonprofit intensive training program for talented young singers from around the world.
Beginning in 1995, Mr. Markham was the recital partner of Jessye Norman for 20 seasons. Together they have given nearly 300 performances in 30 countries, including recitals at Carnegie Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, Berlin’s Philharmonie, Vienna’s Musikverein, London’s Royal Festival Hall, Tokyo’s Bunka Kaikan, Tel Aviv’s Mann Auditorium, Palau de la Música Catalana, Salzburg Festival, the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus in Greece, and the Baalbeck International Festival at the Temple of Bacchus in Lebanon. Mr. Markham and Miss Norman also performed together at the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony in Oslo for President Jimmy Carter.