Performance Tuesday, March 29, 2011 | 7:30 PM

Jessica Rivera
Molly Morkoski

Zankel Hall
Rivera is a “stylish and radiant” soprano who's best known for the “luminous” presence she brings to roles in contemporary operas such as Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar and John Adams’s Doctor Atomic, says The New York Times. With the Ensemble Meme and pianist Morkoski, she performs music by Mark Grey and also sings a Schumann song cycle.


  • Ensemble Meme
    Donato Cabrera, Conductor
  • Jessica Rivera, Soprano
  • Molly Morkoski, Piano


  • SCHUMANN Frauenliebe und -leben, Op. 42
    ·· Seit ich ihn gesehen
    ·· Er, der Herrlichste von allen
    ·· Ich kann’s nicht fassen, nicht glauben
    ·· Du Ring an meinem Finger
    ·· Helft mir, ihr Schwestern
    ·· Süsser Freund, du blickest
    ·· An meinem Herzen, an meiner Brust
    ·· Nun hast du mir den ersten Schmerz getan
  • DEBUSSY Ariettes oubliées
    ·· C’est l’extase
    ·· Il pleure dans mon coeur
    ·· L’ombre des arbres
    ·· Chevaux de bois
    ·· Green
    ·· Spleen
  • MARK GREY Atash Sorushan (Fire Angels) for Soprano, Piano and Chamber Orchestra (World Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall) Original libretto by Niloufar Talebi


  • Ensemble Meme

    Founded in 2009, Ensemble Meme comprises chamber musicians who perform innovative, wide-ranging programs, bringing to the stage current ideas in contemporary music, paired with and informed by music of the past. Meme artists have performed in Zankel Hall, Weill Recital Hall, Merkin Hall, Symphony Space, Cooper Union, Columbia University's Miller Theatre, and The Juilliard School, as well as Jordan Hall, Gardner Museum, Harvard and Boston universities, and New England Conservatory. Festival performances include Lucerne, Aspen, FOCUS!, and Vermont Mozart. The musicians also have performed as part of Jupiter Symphony Chamber Players, Lark Quartet, Ensemble Pi, and in duo and trio recitals. As noted interpreters of contemporary music, Meme artists have worked with such leading composers as John Adams, Gerald Barry, George Benjamin, Pierre Boulez, Elliott Carter, John Corigliano, John Harbison, Aaron Jay Kernis, Oliver Knussen, George Perle, Steven Stucky, Andrew Waggoner, and Anna Weesner.

    Donato Cabrera

    Resident Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony and Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, Donato Cabrera made his San Francisco Symphony debut in April 2009, conducting the orchestra in a program of Mozart and Ravel. In 2002, he was a Herbert von Karajan conducting fellow at the Salzburg Festival. From 2005 to 2008, he was associate conductor of the San Francisco Opera, participating in the world premiere of John Adams's Doctor Atomic and conducting performances of Die Fledermaus, Don Giovanni, Tannhäuser, and Die Zauberflöte. He has also assisted in productions at the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and has served as an assistant conductor at the Ravinia, Spoleto (Italy), and Aspen music festivals, as well as the Music Academy of the West.

    In April 2010, Mr. Cabrera made his debut with The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and he made his South American debut in 2008 with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Concepción in Chile. He has worked with the young artist programs of the San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Portland Opera. This past February, he was recognized as a Luminary by the Friends of Mexico Honorary Committee for his contributions to promoting and developing the presence of the Mexican community in the Bay Area. Mr. Cabrera holds music degrees from the University of Nevada and the University of Illinois, and pursued graduate studies at Indiana University and Manhattan School of Music.
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  • Jessica Rivera

    Jessica Rivera is established as one of the most creatively inspired vocal artists before the public today, having collaborated with many celebrated living composers-including John Adams, Osvaldo Golijov, and Nico Muhly-as well as such conductors as Bernard Haitink, Sir Simon Rattle, David Robertson, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Robert Spano, and Michael Tilson Thomas.

    Ms. Rivera was heralded in the world premiere of Adams's newest opera, A Flowering Tree, in a production directed by Peter Sellars in Vienna, and has since performed the work with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle and, under the composer's baton, with the San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Orchestra of St. Luke's at Lincoln Center, and London Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican Centre. She made her European operatic debut as Kitty Oppenheimer in Adams's Doctor Atomic with the Netherlands Opera, a role that also served for her debut at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

    Engagements in the 2010-2011 season include performances of Adams's El Niño under the composer's baton at the San Francisco Symphony, and at the Edinburgh International Festival with James Conlon and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; Britten's Spring Symphony with Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra; and Mahler's Fourth Symphony with Franz Welser-Möst for her debut with The Cleveland Orchestra. Ms. Rivera returns to the Metropolitan Opera for Nixon in China, and joins the Grammy Award-winning Beninoise singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo for the world premiere of Jonathan Leshnoff's Hope: An Oratorio with the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia conducted by Roberto Minczuk.

    San Francisco Performances welcomes Ms. Rivera to its artist residency program during the 2010-2011 season. She conducts workshops in classroom and community settings throughout the Bay Area, encouraging young people to open their minds to the beauty and power of music, as well as to the poetry and spirit behind the art of song.

    Ms. Rivera has recorded for Deutsche Grammophon, Telarc, BBC/Opus Arte, CSO-Resound, and Urtext. Visit for further information.
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  • Molly Morkoski

    Pianist Molly Morkoski has performed as a soloist and collaborative artist throughout the US, Europe, and Japan. In June 2007, she made her solo debut in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage, playing Beethoven's Bagatelles, Op. 126. In 2003, she was invited to perform at the inaugural concert of Zankel Hall under the direction of John Adams, and has since been a featured soloist in the Hall's Making Music series. Additional appearances include performances in Weill Recital Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, Miller Theatre, (Le) Poisson Rouge, Conservatoire de Strasbourg, the US Embassies in Paris and Nice, and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. She has appeared as soloist at the Tanglewood, Bang on a Can, and Pacific Rim festivals, and has performed as soloist with the Asheville Symphony; the Raleigh, UNC, and Tuscaloosa symphony orchestras; and the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra.

    An avid chamber musician, Ms. Morkoski has performed at the Aspen, Norfolk, and Tanglewood festivals; is a member of the Zankel Band and the Open End and Meme ensembles; and has collaborated with the New York Philharmonic Chamber Players, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, St. Louis Symphony Chamber Players, New World Symphony, Speculum Musicae, Brooklyn Chamber Music Society, and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. A champion of new music, Ms. Morkoski has worked with such composers as John Adams, Louis Andriessen, Gerald Barry, William Bolcom, John Corigliano, David Del Tredici, Lukas Foss, John Harbison, Aaron Jay Kernis, David Lang, Oliver Knussen, George Perle, Steve Reich, and Charles Wuorinen.

    Ms. Morkoski's first solo disc will be released in 2011, and she is also working on two additional discs, both for Albany Records, featuring works by Gabriela Lena Frank and Martin Kennedy. Ms. Morkoski was a Fulbright Scholar in Paris, where she was apprentice with the Ensemble intercontemporain, and is a recipient of the Teresa Sterne Career Grant and the Thayer-Ross Award.

    Ms. Morkoski holds degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Indiana University, and SUNY-Stony Brook. She resides in New York City, where she is Associate Professor at CUNY's Lehman College in the Bronx.
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Spohr Songs (6) with Clarinet obbligato, Op. 103 - 6 Lieder, Op. 103 (VI. Wach auf)
Jessica Rivera, Soprano / Eleanor Weingartner, Clarinet / L. Mark Carver, Piano

At a Glance

The year 1840 was Robert Schumann’s Liederjahr (“year of song”) and one of three so-called “miracle years” in the history of German song (Schubert’s 1815 and Hugo Wolf’s 1888 are the others). Although Schumann wrote individual songs as well, he gravitated to the composition of cycles, including Frauenliebe und-leben (A Woman’s Love and Life) to words by a French aristocrat brought up in Germany after the French Revolution. In the year of his marriage to the great pianist and composer Clara Wieck, Schumann created richly expressive music for Adelbert von Chamisso’s poems in which a woman tells the tale of how she fell in love, married, bore a child, and was widowed.

There are few more felicitous pairings of poet and composer in all of music history than that of the poet Paul Verlaine and Claude Debussy, who would forever alter the course of French music to make it independent from the great German repertory. We hear six of his Verlaine mélodies from the mid-to-late 1880s, revised and republished in 1903. Here, the poet’s art of evocation/suggestion/nuance finds its perfect expression in music that is thoroughly French: sophisticated, exquisitely crafted, and filled with new sonorities and textures.

Finally, we end with the world premiere of a work co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of 9/11. The theater artist and translator Niloufar Talebi, who is of Iranian ancestry, has collaborated with American composer Mark Grey to produce a work of extraordinary power and gravity.

Program Notes
This concert and the Pure Voice series are sponsored by the Jean & Jula Goldwurm Memorial Foundation in memory of Jula Goldwurm.