Brian Asawa in LEIDER ALIVE!’s “Songs of Schubert and Strauss”

 

Brian Asawa performs with San Francisco Conservatory's Kevin Korth for LIEDER ALIVE!'s "Im Abendrot - Songs of Schubert and Strauss" on September 7th, 2014.

Brian Asawa performs with San Francisco Conservatory’s Kevin Korth for LIEDER ALIVE!’s “Im Abendrot – Songs of Schubert and Strauss” on September 7th, 2014.

 

San Francisco - Countertenor Brian Asawa returns to San Francisco in early September to perform Im Abendrot – Songs of Schubert and Strauss with San Francisco Conservatory’s Kevin Korth on piano. Asawa and Korth’s engagement launches LIEDER ALIVE!’s 2014/15 Liederabend Series of recitals at Salle Pianos’ Music Salon in San Francisco’s Mid Market.

Founded in 2007, LIEDER ALIVE!’s annual Liederabend Series has featured such artists such as Kirk Eichelberger, Kindra Scharich, Katharine Tier, John Parr, Heidi Moss and Paul Yarbrough.

LIEDER ALIVE!’s Founder and Director, Maxine Bernstein, herself a soprano and “devoted advocate for opera and lieder”, expressed the following regarding Asawa’s upcoming lieder performance: “Brian has an expansiveness in his soul and in his innate musicality (which) is at the heart of this music..he really is deeply romantic by nature.”

Asawa offered a small anecdote regarding the name of his upcoming collaboration: “Executive Director Maxine Bernstein and I came up with the idea for Im Abendrot…both Schubert and Strauss wrote lieder by this name, which literally means “evening red”, referring to dusk or sunset, when the sky is often glowing with hues of different, gorgeous shades of color. As our event takes place at 5pm, we thought Im Abendrot was the perfect choice for our recital title. Maxine sees Strauss lieder as an exciting, new vehicle for my voice and Schubert is certainly one of my favorite composers, so we went all in. Our recital is lovingly dedicated to both composers.”

Pianist Kevin Korth emailed these Im Abendrot thoughts: “For me, these pieces are all about atmosphere.  The opening prelude to Nacht und Träume, for example, may look deceptively simple on the page.  But what is not indicated in the score, and only becomes clear upon immersing oneself in the poem, is the quality of stillness and spaciousness that the music requires.  If the pianist can lull the audience into that meditative state during the introduction, then the soft, heavenly entrance of the voice becomes one of the most ecstatic moments.  Brian’s instrument is so sensitive and flexible, and he is such an intuitive musician, that these moments seem to just naturally happen again and again in rehearsal, even on the first run-through.  Just a simple glance at each other and a slight nod of the head, and I can tell we’ve shared the same experience.”

Im Abendrot – Songs of Schubert and Strauss with Brian Asawa and Kevin Korth | Sunday September 7, 2014 5pm (doors at 4:30 pm) | The Music Salon at Salle Pianos | 1632C Market Street, San Francisco (between Franklin and Gough) | $35-$75 via Eventbrite

 

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VIDEO: Brian Asawa performs “Split My Heart” with Composer Kurt Erickson

"Split My Heart" performed by countertenor Brian Asawa with composer Kurt Erickson on piano at the Napa Music Festival, June 15, 2014.

“Split My Heart” performed by countertenor Brian Asawa with composer Kurt Erickson on piano at the Napa Music Festival, June 15, 2014.

Los Angeles - Countertenor Brian Asawa is featured in a video released by California-based composer Kurt Erickson. Asawa performs “Split My Heart”, one of Erickson’s Four Andalusian Love Songs, compositions inspired by ancient Arabic texts whose translations Erickson’s partner, soprano Heidi Moss, uncovered in a bookstore. San Francisco Classical Voice‘s Jason Serinus called these songs “tailor-made for the drama that is one of Asawa’s fortes” after a San Francisco Calvary Presbyterian Church recital in early 2014.

This summer’s Napa Music Festival is the latest venue where Asawa has performed Four Andalusian Love Songs, which he world-premiered during a series of recitals in late 2013.  Huffington Post contributor Rodney Punt detailed these Los Angeles-area engagements, noting the following on composer Erickson’s pieces: “Erickson’s songs form a mini-cycle of medieval Arab poems from Spain’s Andalusia region dating from 900 to 1100 AD. Their poets — with lapidary names like Ibn Hazm, Al-Asad Ibrahim Ibn Billitah from Toledo, Yusf Ibn Harun Al-Remedi from Cordoba, and Bakr Al-Tartushi from Eastern Andalusia — are near-lost identities from Islam’s Golden Age. In their confessional humanism and indulgent humor, these epigrammatic songs reveal an Arabic sensibility far removed from the religion-drenched dogmas of today’s Middle East and North Africa. Their sinewy vocal lines, ably conveyed by Asawa, have clever onomatopoeic counterparts in the piano’s atmospherics…”

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WATCH Brian Asawa perform “Split My Heart” with Composer Kurt Erickson on piano. Napa Music Festival, June 15, 2014.

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Countertenor Brian Asawa to make “Voices of Distinction” Debut

VoicesOfDistinction

Los Angeles - Brian Asawa will make his Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice debut in New York’s Hudson Valley on Thursday, July 31st.

Performing under the baton of Christine Gunmere and the Sinfonia New York, he will be joined by soprano Kelli Butler, mezzo Toby Newman, tenor Christopher Sokolowski, and baritone Darik Knudsen for Voices of Distinction: Baroque.

The Voices of Distinction series, Phoenicia’s fourth since the festival began in 2010, marries “great voices and masters of a particular vocal genre…with up-and-coming talent.”

Brian: “I’m well aware of former Voices of Distinction singers like sopranos Lauren Flanigan and Victoria Livengood, and so I was thrilled to learn that Phoenicia had decided to present an all Baroque concert. With my fellow performers, we’ll be presenting arias, duets, and ensembles of music by Purcell, Handel, Broschi and others.”

Considering Phoenicia’s 2014 event, Brian says, “I’m sure that audiences will enjoy the amazing array of performances…with concerts of Gospel music, Flamenco, popular Spanish and French music, Renaissance choral music, opera, and, of course, our Voices of Distinction: Baroque. There’s definitely something for everyone.”

Voices of Distinction: Baroque | Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice, 8pm, Festival Stage, July 31st. Tickets available here.

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Two Countertenors are Better Than One

 

Countertenors Brian Asawa and Albert Montañez working on their upcoming duet in Napa, CA. Photo Credit: David Senk, DS Network

Brian Asawa and Albert Montañez working on their upcoming duets in Napa, CA. on June 19, 2014.
Photo Credit: David Senk, DS Network

San Francisco, CA. – Colombian Countertenor Albert Montañez will be performing pieces by Handel and Purcell with acclaimed countertenor Brian Asawa at the ‘On Four Continents’ benefit concert this Thursday, June 26th.

This event joins two great talents: Asawa as the seasoned and globally lauded countertenor voice and Montañez as an up-and-coming Guildhall student who debuted at London’s prestigious Wigmore Hall in May 2014.

Montañez first heard Asawa sing at a 2001 Bogota, Colombia concert of Baroque arias, duets and cantatas with soprano Juanita Lascarro and harpsichordist and conductor Emmanuelle Häim. However, they didn’t actually meet each other until late 2012.

“I met Brian more than a year ago at Jane (Randolph)’s studio in Oakland,” says Montañez. “Since our meeting, Brian became interested in what I was doing professionally and we started talking about roles and repertoire that might suit my voice. We’ve been in contact ever since and he’s become a valued mentor.”

“After hearing my recording of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ with Sir Colin Davis,” Asawa recalls, “Albert became a fan and more recently, a friend. He started studying with my master teacher Jane Randolph, and I wanted to help mentor him towards a professional career as a countertenor with an extraordinary range.”

Both gentlemen agree that two countertenors are better than one; that the ability to share advice and experience with each other is invaluable. Montañez elaborates: “Brian understands my voice…he went through a similar process of discovering his voice and developing his technique. We talk about roles, music and vocal technique and the difficulties of this business. He’s a warm and approachable person, which is why it’s so important to have him perform with me for ‘On Four Continents’.”

Montañez has studied, worked and volunteered extensively in South America, Canada, Europe and Africa. He has been offered the opportunity to pursue a post-grad diploma at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with a partial scholarship. ‘On Four Continents” is a benefit to raise outstanding SFMC tuition; per Montañez, the United States provides the best study and performance opportunities.

Montañez has enlisted a talented circle of colleagues for ‘On Four Continents’, including Asawa as well as sopranos Raeeka Shehabi and Sofia Grella, pianist Kevin Korth, flautist Victoria Hauk and Colombian artist Jorge Bachmann. Together, they bring ‘On Four Continents’ to San Francisco’s Salle Pianos on June 26th at 6:30pm.

On performing with Asawa, Montañez says, “I’m very excited to sing Handel and Purcell with Brian. We decided on the duets together as they capture the essence of Baroque music and showcase our respective vocal abilities. I know this is the beginning of many collaborations.”

On Four Continents Benefit at 6:30 PM, Salle Pianos and Events, San Francisco.                                                               Tickets $15-$35 available at AlbertMontanez.com or via Eventbrite.com 

 

 

 

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