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Release Date: May 8, 2020
Catalog #: NV6282
Format: Digital & Physical

Who is Sylvia

Joseph Summer composer

Joseph Summer’s WHO IS SYLVIA, new from Navona Records, is a collection of Shakespeare’s works set to music that will make you question everything you thought you learned in high school English. Summer believes that the famous playwright’s true identity is not William Shakespeare but rather Edward De Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. Many of the songs found on WHO IS SYLVIA come from Summer’s aptly-named The Oxford Songs, a collection of scenes, sonnets, songs, and Summer’s original opera version of Hamlet. These are paired with music from the likes of Schubert and Schumann to create a dynamic and colorful musical experience worthy of the Bard himself.

The sharp, aggressive cello attacks of “Sycorax” opens the album, peppered with edgy dissonances. This piece by Summer is one of many world premieres on this record, recorded at Worcester’s legendary Mechanics Hall. Next comes three settings of Shakespeare’s song “Who is Silvia?” from The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Each one extracts a new layer of meaning from the tender, heartsick lyrics, the first employing mezzo-soprano and harp, the second featuring a downright bluesy violin and sung in German as composed by Adolphus Hailstork, and a third with music by Gerald Finzi. Just as Shakespeare was known for addressing the social and political situations of his day, Summer’s world premier piece “Come Thou Monarch of the Vine and Hearing Transcript” pairs Schubert’s setting from Antony and Cleopatra with words taken from the 2019 Brett Kavanaugh hearings. After a song cycle by Schumann and several other pieces from other composers, the album concludes with three Shakespeare settings by Summer.

Much like Shakespeare, Summer keeps his audience engaged by constantly exploding their expectations. From one track to the next, the listener can never be quite sure what they are going to hear, and this keeps the ear at rapt attention. Surely, this album offers something for every listener.

This release features the award-winning Ulysses Quartet, in residence at the Juilliard School of Music.


Hear the full album on YouTube

Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Invisible Women: Sycorax Joseph Summer Ulysses String Quartet | Christina Bouey, violin 1; Rhiannon Banerdt, violin 2; Colin Brookes, viola; Grace Ho, cello 5:27
02 Who Is Silvia? (1) Joseph Summer Thea Lobo, mezzo-soprano; Franziska Huhn, harp 3:32
03 Who Is Silvia? (2) Adolphus Hailstork Andrea Chenoweth, soprano; Christina Bouey, violin; Miroslav Sekera, piano 9:08
04 Let Us Garlands Bring, Op. 18: No. 2, Who Is Silvia? Gerald Finzi Vera Savage, mezzo-soprano; SangYoung Kim, piano 1:44
05 12 Humbert Wolfe Songs, Op. 48, H. 174: No. 6, The Floral Bandit Gustav Holst Omar Najmi, tenor; SangYoung Kim, piano 2:04
06 An Silvia, Op. 106 No. 4, D. 891 Franz Schubert Andrea Chenoweth, soprano; Tim Ribchester, piano 2:38
07 Come Thou Monarch of the Vine and Hearing Transcript (After Schubert's D. 888) Franz Schubert, Joseph Summer Ethan Bremner, tenor; Andrea Chenoweth, soprano; Andy Papas, baritone; Ulysses String Quartet | Christina Bouey, violin 1; Rhiannon Banerdt, violin 2; Colin Brookes, viola; Grace Ho, cello; Miroslav Sekera, piano 2:23
08 6 Gesänge, Op. 107 (Arr. A. Reimann for Voice & String Quartet): No. 1, Herzeleid Robert Schumann Arr. Aribert Reimann Andrea Chenoweth, soprano; Ulysses String Quartet | Christina Bouey, violin 1; Rhiannon Banerdt, violin 2; Colin Brookes viola; Grace Ho, cello 1:38
09 6 Gesänge, Op. 107 (Arr. A. Reimann for Voice & String Quartet): No. 2, Die Fensterscheibe Robert Schumann Arr. Aribert Reimann Andrea Chenoweth, soprano; Ulysses String Quartet | Christina Bouey, violin 1; Rhiannon Banerdt, violin 2; Colin Brookes viola; Grace Ho, cello 2:04
10 6 Gesänge, Op. 107 (Arr. A. Reimann for Voice & String Quartet): No. 3, Der Gärtner Robert Schumann Arr. Aribert Reimann Andrea Chenoweth, soprano; Ulysses String Quartet | Christina Bouey, violin 1; Rhiannon Banerdt, violin 2; Colin Brookes viola; Grace Ho, cello 1:25
11 6 Gesänge, Op. 107 (Arr. A. Reimann for Voice & String Quartet): No. 4, Die Spinnerin Robert Schumann Arr. Aribert Reimann Andrea Chenoweth, soprano; Ulysses String Quartet | Christina Bouey, violin 1; Rhiannon Banerdt, violin 2; Colin Brookes viola; Grace Ho, cello 1:10
12 6 Gesänge, Op. 107 (Arr. A. Reimann for Voice & String Quartet): No. 5, Im Wald Robert Schumann Arr. Aribert Reimann Andrea Chenoweth, soprano; Ulysses String Quartet | Christina Bouey, violin 1; Rhiannon Banerdt, violin 2; Colin Brookes viola; Grace Ho, cello 2:15
13 6 Gesänge, Op. 107 (Arr. A. Reimann for Voice & String Quartet): No. 6, Abendlied Robert Schumann Arr. Aribert Reimann Andrea Chenoweth, soprano; Ulysses String Quartet | Christina Bouey, violin 1; Rhiannon Banerdt, violin 2; Colin Brookes viola; Grace Ho, cello 2:30
14 Songs, Op. 25: No. 4, Arab Love Song Roger Quilter Ethan Bremner, tenor; Tim Ribchester, piano 1:28
15 Let Us Garlands Bring, Op. 18: No. 4, O Mistress Mine Gerald Finzi Ethan Bremner, tenor; Tim Ribchester, piano 1:45
16 Fancy, FP 174 Francis Poulenc Julia Cavallaro, mezzo-soprano; Tim Ribchester, piano 1:24
17 The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strained Joseph Summer Ryu-Kyung Kim, mezzo-soprano; SangYoung Kim, piano 5:52
18 Hath Not a Jew Eyes Joseph Summer Andy Papas, baritone; Ethan Bremner, tenor; Miroslav Sekera, piano; Ulysses String Quartet | Christina Bouey, violin 1; Rhiannon Banerdt, violin 2; Colin Brookes, viola; Grace Ho, cello; Pascale Delache-Feldman, double bass 7:22
19 The Dumbshow Joseph Summer Miroslav Sekera, piano 17:43

Who Is Silvia? (1)
Text by William Shakespeare; from The Two Gentlemen of Verona (IV, 2)

Who Is Silvia? (2)
Text by William Shakespeare; from The Two Gentlemen of Verona (IV, 2)

Let Us Garlands Bring, Op. 18: No. 2, Who Is Silvia?
Text by William Shakespeare; from “Let us garlands bring” from Five Shakespeare Songs for voice and piano

12 Humbert Wolfe Songs, Op. 48, H. 174: No. 6, The Floral Bandit
Text by Humbert Wolfe; from 12 Humbert Wolfe Songs, Opus 48

An Silvia, Op. 106 No. 4, D. 891
Text by William Shakespeare; from The Two Gentlemen of Verona (IV, 2)

Come Thou Monarch of the Vine and Hearing Transcript (After Schubert's D. 888)
Text by William Shakespeare (aka Edward DeVere) and various

Sechs Gesänge, Opus 107
Text by Titus Ulrich, Eduard Mörike, Paul Heyse, (Johann) Gottfried Kinkel, and (Karl) Wolfgang Müller von Königswinter

Songs, Op. 25: No. 4, Arab Love Song
Text by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Let Us Garlands Bring, Op. 18: No. 4, O Mistress Mine
Text by William Shakespeare; from The Twelfth Night (II, 3)

Fancy, FP 174
Text by William Shakespeare; from The Merchant of Venice (III, 2)

The Quality of Mercy Is Not Strained
Text by William Shakespeare; from The Merchant of Venice (IV, 1)

Hath Not a Jew Eyes
Text by William Shakespeare; From The Merchant of Venice (III, 1)

The Dumbshow
Text by William Shakespeare; from Hamlet (III, 2)

All Tracks recorded April 10, 2017, April 29-30, 2018, April 8-10 & October 1, 2019 at Mechanics Hall in Worcester MA
Producer Joseph Summer
Recording Engineer Joseph Chilorio

Music Directors:
Brett Hodgdon (1, 2, 4, 5)
Tim Ribchester (3, 6-13)
John McGinn (14)

Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R Sam Renshaw
A&R Director Brandon MacNeil

VP, Audio Production Jeff LeRoy
Audio Director Lucas Paquette
Mastering Shaun Michaud

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Patrick Niland, Sara Warner

Artist Information

Joseph Summer


Joseph Summer began playing French horn at the age of 7. While attending the Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina at age 14 he studied composition with the eminent Czech composer Karel Husa. At age 15 he was accepted at Oberlin Conservatory, studied with Richard Hoffmann, Schönberg’s amanuensis, and graduated with a B.M. in Music Composition in 1976. Recruited by Robert Page, Dean of the Music Department at Carnegie Mellon University, Summer taught music theory at CMU before leaving to pursue composition full time.

Rhiannon Banerdt


Violinist Rhiannon Banerdt made her solo debut at age 14 with the New England Symphonic Ensemble in Johannesburg, South Africa. She has since made solo and chamber music appearances at Philadelphia's Kimmel Center, New York's Weill Hall at Carnegie, and Boston's Jordan Hall, among others, with performances hailed by Edith Eisler of Strings Magazine as “real music-making–concentrated and deeply felt."

Banerdt is a founding member of the Ulysses String Quartet, winners of the First Prize at the 2018 Schoenfeld International Chamber Music Competition, Grand Prize at the 2016 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, First Prize at the 2017 American Prize Chamber Ensemble, and Silver Medal at the 2017 Osaka International Chamber Music Competition. Beginning September 2019, Ulysses has been named the Graduate String Quartet in Residence at the Juilliard School.

A recipient of the 2012 Borromeo String Quartet Guest Artist Award, Banerdt was invited to perform with the quartet in Jordan Hall. Other collaborations have included performances with the Chiara Quartet, Kim Kashkashian, Paul Biss, and Frans Helmerson. Banerdt has participated in numerous eminent chamber music festivals including La Jolla Summerfest, Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute, Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival, Taos School of Music, and the Castleman Quartet Program.

Banerdt holds the position of Assistant Concertmaster with the Cape Symphony. She was one of two Violin Fellowships for the 2013-2015 seasons with the flagship music education organization Community MusicWorks in Providence RI, where she taught individual lessons and group classes for disadvantaged youth and performed regularly with the Fellowship Quartet and Community MusicWorks Players. Banerdt is currently a member of the violin faculty at the Bloomingdale School of Music on New York City’s Upper West Side and a Graduate Teaching Fellow at CUNY's School of Professional Studies.

A native of Los Angeles, Banerdt attended the New England Conservatory, where she received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees with honors as a student of Lucy Chapman and Paul Biss, and is currently pursuing doctoral studies at the CUNY Graduate Center studying with Mark Steinberg.

Christina Bouey


Canadian violinist, Christina Bouey, is hailed by the New York Times for playing “beautifully,” by the New York Post, “When violinist Christina Bouey spun out that shimmering tune, I thought I died and went to heaven,” and by Opera News, for playing “with exquisite, quivering beauty.”

Among her awards and prizes include the 1st Prize at the Schoenfeld International Competition in the chamber division, Grand Prize at the Fischoff Competition, Osaka International Chamber Competition, American Prize, Hugo Kortchak Award for outstanding achievement in chamber music, Heida Hermann International, Canadian National Music Festival, Queens Concerto Competition, and the Balsam Duo Competition.

Bouey has performed as soloist with the Greenwich Symphony, Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, Salina Symphony, River Cities Symphony, Tonkünstler Ensemble, Symphony of the Mountains, Metro Chamber Orchestra, Bergen Symphony, Prince Edward Island Symphony, Banff Orchestra, Shattered Glass and the Hemenway Strings. Her solo and chamber credits include Carnegie Hall, Esterházy Palace, Yamaha Center Auditorium, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Schneider Series, Rockefeller Tri Noon Series, Dame Myra Hess series, La Jolla SummerFest, Kneisel Hall Festival, Emilia Romagna Festival, Harvard Club of New York, Montreal Chamber Festival, Debut Atlantic, Kansas International Music Festival, L'Archet Concert Group, and the Indian River Festival. She has also been featured on WQXR New York.

Bouey has collaborated with artists such as David Chan, Jeremy Denk, Paul Coletti, Lynn Chang, Robert DeMaine, Steven Doane, Rosemary Elliott, David Geber, Clive Greensmith, Toby Hoffman, Chee-Yun Kim, Yura Lee, Cho-Liang Lin, and Bright Sheng.

Bouey graduated from Manhattan School of Music in 2013 with a Professional Studies Certificate in Orchestral Performance, studying with Glenn Dicterow and Lisa Kim as a full scholarship student, (2012) with a Professional Studies Certificate, studying with Laurie Smukler, and in 2011 she received a Master of Music, while studying with Nicholas Mann. Her Bachelor of Music (magna cum laude) is from The Boston Conservatory, where she studied with Irina Muresanu as a full-scholarship student.

In June 2014, as part of the 150 year celebrations on PEI, professional dancers from Ballet Jazz de Montreal performed a modern dance to her first compositional commission for solo violin, with Bouey playing it on the violin. Bouey is currently serving as concertmaster of the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, is a member/founder of the Ulysses String Quartet, and plays in a duo with pianist Tatiana Tessman. She plays an 1820 Pressenda on generous loan from the Canada Council Instrument Bank.

Ethan Bremner


Since his arrival in Boston, Ethan Bremner has become one of the city’s most sought-after tenors. He made his local debut with Boston Opera Collaborative in 2006 as Achilles in Gluck’s Iphigenie en Aulide, and then sang with the company as Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème.

He also had an auspicious debut as Cavaradossi in Puccini’s Tosca, Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’elisir D’amore, Don Jose in Carmen, and Lt. Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly with Longwood Opera. He performed the premier performance of Odyssey Opera of Boston as Baroncelli in Wagner’s Rienzi, Sir Robert Shallow in Sir John in Love with Odyssey Opera, and Manrico in Windham Orchestra's Production of Il Trovatore. Bremner was a Finalist in the 2010 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions (New England Region) and earned his Master of Music in 2006 from the University of Wisconsin.

Thea Lobo


Hailed as "excellent", "impeccable", "limpidly beautiful", "impressive", "stunning", and "Boston's best", Grammy-nominated mezzo-soprano Thea Lobo's recent appearances include concerts with The Peregrine Consort, The Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra, The Spectrum Singers, Great Music in a Great Space Series, MassOpera, USF New Music Festival, True Concord, The Sarasota-Manatee Bach Festival, Classical Revolution St. Petersburg, EnsembleNewSrq, and many more.

Lobo has performed under conductors Gunther Schuller, Harry Christophers, Stephen Stubbs, Joshua Rifkin, Martin Pearlman, and Andris Nelsons, and has been featured by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Firebird Ensemble, Boston Baroque, Naples Philharmonic, Handel + Haydn Society, Boston Early Music Festival, Artist Series of Sarasota, and Europäisches Musikfest Stuttgart. Her dedication to new music, art song, and early music has seen her featured on True Concord's 2016 GRAMMY-winning recording of Stephen Paulus's Prayers & Remembrances, invited to the Carmel Bach Festival as an Adams Fellow, and become a prizewinner at the Bach Vocal Competition for American Singers and a grant recipient of the Julian Autrey Song Foundation. She has won the St. Botolph Club Emerging Artist Award, premiere-recorded new roles with Guerilla Opera, created the duo “Songeaters” and initiative “Indictus Project” with pianist Eunmi Ko, and performed as a soloist under the direction of composers Steve Reich, Vinko Globokar, Fred Lerdahl, Nicholas Vines, Christian Wolff, and Louis Andriessen. Lobo is a graduate of New England Conservatory and Boston University, and represented by Vocal Artists Management.

Colin Brookes


Praised as a “master of the strong lines”, concert violist Colin Brookes is a native of Pittsburgh PA, where he made his solo debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony at the age of 17. A founding member of the award-winning Ulysses Quartet, Brookes has taught in the Pre-College Division of the Juilliard School, and the undergraduate programs of Yale University and SUNY Stony Brook.

As a freelance musician, Brookes performs with The Knights, A Far Cry, and many others. Festival appearances include Geneva Music Festival, Kneisel Hall, Manchester Summer Chamber Music, and Tanglewood. In June 2013 he gave a solo recital with pianist Euntaek Kim for the St. Gaudens Concert Series in Cornish NH.

Brookes holds a Bachelor of Music from the Juilliard School and a Master of Music and Artist Diploma from Yale University. His mentors include Ettore Causa, Heidi Castleman, Misha Amory, Marylene Gingras-Roy, Roger Chase, Jeffrey Irvine, and Carolyn Hills. He currently plays a 19th-century Italian viola and modern bow, generously on loan from the Maestro Foundation.

Julia Soojin Cavallaro


Julia Soojin Cavallaro, mezzo-soprano, enjoys a richly varied career in opera, oratorio, recital, and chamber music. Critics have praised her “round, chocolaty tone” (Boston Classical Review) and her “warm mezzo, perfect diction, and easy phrasing” (New York Classical Review).

Her rendition of Schumann’s Frauenliebe und -leben with Boston Opera Collaborative was selected by Boston Classical Review as one of its “Top Ten Performances of 2017.”

Born and raised in the Boston area, Cavallaro grew up in an Italian/Korean American household filled with music and art. A graduate of Harvard College and Boston University, she has since gone on to sing with many of the leading ensembles in New England, including the Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Early Music Festival, Boston Landmarks Orchestra, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Boston Opera Collaborative, Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras, and New Camerata Opera in New York City. Her opera roles include Cupid in John Blow’s Venus & Adonis, the Sorceress in Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas, and Madame de Volanges in Conrad Susa’s The Dangerous Liaisons. Frequently heard as an oratorio soloist, her recent concert highlights include Bach’s Magnificat, Mass in B minor, and Christmas Oratorio; Handel’s Messiah; and Mozart’s Requiem and Vespers.

Cavallaro is an active chamber musician and recitalist, and is particularly passionate about early music, art song, and contemporary repertoire. She collaborates frequently with composer and pianist Rodney Lister, with whom she has performed works by Babbitt, Brahms, Fauré, Finzi, Lister, Poulenc, and others. In addition to her career as a vocalist, Cavallaro composes for voice, piano, and chamber ensemble, having studied with John McDonald at Tufts University. Her music has been premiered in the United States and Canada. She currently resides in New Haven CT, where she is a member of the professional choir of Christ Church.

Andrea Chenoweth


Andrea Chenoweth, soprano, is a two-time regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions. She has appeared with orchestras and opera companies throughout the United States, including regular appearances with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, Cleveland Opera, and Dayton Opera.

Career highlights include her Carnegie Hall debut singing Verdi’s Requiem and touring Japan with Maestro Neal Gittleman and the Telemann Chamber Orchestra. She has sung numerous operatic roles, including Fiordiligi in Mozart's Così fan tutte, Atalanta in Handel's Xerxes, the First Lady in Mozart’s Magic Flute, Kitty Hart in Heggie’s Dead Man Walking, and the Foreign Woman in Menotti’s The Consul. Chenoweth concertizes frequently and is is a frequent soloist with The Shakespeare Concerts. A proponent of new music, Chenoweth has worked with many living composers including Joseph Summer, Libby Larsen, Jack Perla, Jonathon Sheffer, and Monica Houghton. Chenoweth earned her Doctorate in Music at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, her Masters of Music degree in Voice from The Cleveland Institute of Music, and her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Dayton. Her teachers include Kenneth Shaw, Ruth Golden, George Vassos, Ellen Shade, and Linda Snyder. Chenoweth is an Artist-in-Residence at the University of Dayton, where she teaches voice, aural skills, opera, and a course of her own design: Music and Faith on Stage.

Pascale Delache-Feldman

Double Bass

French double bassist Pascale Delache-Feldman was a prizewinner at the Prague International Chamber Music Competition and was hailed by the New Music Connoisseur as having “technical certainty and musical imagination” and by the Phoenix as “a gifted colorist.”

She has collaborated with violinists Midori and Joel Smirnoff, pianists Virginia Eskin and Randall Hodgkinson, the Borromeo, Lark and St. Petersburg String Quartets, and soprano Dawn Upshaw. She has soloed with the Merrimack Valley Philharmonic, North Shore Philharmonic, Nashua Chamber Orchestra, Greensboro Festival Orchestra, and has recorded on Albany, Archetype, Arsis, AFKA and CRI. Co-founder of Cello e Basso with cellist Emmanuel Feldman, they have concertized in the United States and Europe; and have premiered works by composers such as John Harbison, Daniel Pinkham, and John McDonald. Delache-Feldman has performed with the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Boston Pops, Toulouse Capitole National Orchestra (France), and as principal bassist with Metamorphosen Chamber Orchestra. A second-generation bassist, she studied with her father Jean-Claude Delache at the Toulouse Conservatory, later studying with Jacques Cazauran and Frédéric Stochl at the Paris Conservatory where she earned a first prize with honors. Founder and artistic director of the Boston Bass Bash, an international festival dedicated to the double bass, she is on the bass faculty at the Longy School of Music of Bard College, New England Conservatory, and Tufts University.

Adolphus Hailstork


Adolphus Hailstork received his doctorate in composition from Michigan State University, where he was a student of H. Owen Reed. He completed earlier studies at the Manhattan School of Music, under Vittorio Giannini and David Diamond, the American Institute at Fontainebleau with Nadia Boulanger, and Howard University with Mark Fax.

Adolphus Hailstork received his doctorate in composition from Michigan State University, where he was a student of H. Owen Reed. He completed earlier studies at the Manhattan School of Music, under Vittorio Giannini and David Diamond, the American Institute at Fontainebleau with Nadia Boulanger, and Howard University with Mark Fax.

Hailstork has written in a variety of genres, producing works for chorus, solo voice, piano, organ, various chamber ensembles, band, and orchestra. His early compositions include Celebration, recorded by the Detroit Symphony in 1976; and two works for band (Out of the Depths, 1977, and American Guernica, 1983), both of which won national competitions. Consort Piece (1995), commissioned by the Norfolk Chamber Ensemble, was awarded first prize by the University of Delaware Festival of Contemporary Music.

Hailstork's works have been performed by such prestigious ensembles as the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, and the New York Philharmonic, under the batons of leading conductors such as James DePreist, Daniel Barenboim, Kurt Masur, and Lorin Maazel.

1999 saw the premieres of Hailstork's Second Symphony, commissioned by the Detroit Symphony, as well as his second opera, Joshua's Boots, commissioned by the Opera Theatre of St. Louis and the Kansas City Lyric Opera. Hailstork's second and third symphonies were recently recorded by the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra, under David Lockington, on a Naxos label disc released in January 2007.

Recent commissions include Earthrise, a new large scale choral work premiered by James Conlon and the 2006 Cincinnati May Festival, Three Studies on Chant Melodies for the American Guild of Organists 2006 National Convention, and Whitman's Journey, a cantata for chorus and orchestra, premiered by the Master Chorale of Washington, D.C. (under Donald McCullough) at the Kennedy Center in April 2006. Rise for Freedom, an opera about the Underground Railroad, was premiered in the fall of 2007 by the Cincinnati Opera Company. Other premieres in spring of 2008 included Serenade for chorus and orchestra, commissioned by Michigan State University, and Set Me on a Rock, also for chorus and orchestra, commissioned by the Houston Choral Society.

Hailstork, who has received honorary doctorates from Michigan State University and the College of William and Mary, resides in Virginia Beach VA and serves as Professor of Music and Eminent Scholar at Old Dominion University in Norfolk.

Grace Ho


Taiwanese-American cellist Grace Ho is an active cello soloist and chamber musician in the United States and Asia. Ho has appeared as a soloist with orchestras including the Xiamen Philharmonic Orchestra, Evergreen Symphony Orchestra, Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra, Ho Chi Minh City Symphony Orchestra, Sun Taipei Philharmonic, Vienna Ensemble, Lewisville Lake Symphony Orchestra, Manhattan School of Music Philharmonic Orchestra, Kansas Wesleyan Orchestra, and University of North Texas Chamber Orchestra.

Ho has achieved numerous awards including First Prize in the Manhattan School of Music Eisenberg-Fried Concerto Competition, winner in the University of North Texas Concerto Competition, and Silver Medal in the Crescendo Music Awards. Ho has performed in prestigious concert halls such as Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium, Weill Recital Hall, and Zankel Hall, Meyerson Symphony Center, Taiwan National Concert and Recital Halls, and the Opera Houses in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City as the soloist in the 2018 Toyota Tour in Vietnam.

Ho is a founding member of the Ulysses Quartet, the Principal Cellist of the Miami Symphony Orchestra, and a board member of the International Chamber Players.

Ho has participated in numerous festivals include Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, ENCORE School for Strings, Boston University Tanglewood Institute, Manchester Music Festival, Texas Music Festival, International Festival Institute at Round Top, and Teaching Assistant at Manhattan in the Mountains in 2013.

Ho received her Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music from the Manhattan School of Music, her Bachelor of Music from the University of North Texas with full scholarships, and graduated with the Pablo Casals Award from her master’s degree. Former teachers include David Geber, Clive Greensmith, Eugene Osadchy, Chao-Fu Lin, Shih-San Lin, Tze-Ming Chen, and Shih-Hui Ho.

Brett Hodgdon

Music Director

Brett Hodgdon is a pianist, vocal coach, and conductor living in Boston MA. As a chamber musician and vocal collaborator, Hodgdon has performed for audiences at Merkin Concert Hall, Symphony Space, Jordan Hall, the Kennedy Center, Wolf Trap Opera Company, Tanglewood Music Center, and the Aspen Music Festival. He is a frequent performer in the Emmanuel Music Chamber Series in Boston.

An alumnus of the first class of Boston Lyric Opera Emerging Artists, Hodgdon has served on the company’s music staff since 2011, where he has played for over 20 productions and can be heard on the BIS label as piano soloist in BLO’s acclaimed 2013 production of Clemency/Hagar’s Lament.  Hodgdon was appointed Chorus Master for the company in 2018.

In addition to his work at BLO, Hodgdon has been a regular rehearsal pianist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra since 2008, having rehearsed and coached programs for BSO music director Andris Nelsons as well as many guest conductors. He has maintained frequent collaborations with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus and the Boston Symphony Children’s Chorus, both as pianist and rehearsal conductor.

Hodgdon has served on the opera faculties of the New England Conservatory of Music and the University of Connecticut. He spends his summers on the coaching faculty of Si Parla, Si Canta in Arona, Italy, where he made his international conducting debut with the Orchestra Sinfonica Carlo Coccia di Novara in 2019.

He received a D.M.A. in Collaborative Piano from New England Conservatory, as well as a M.M. in Accompanying and Chamber Music and a B.M. in Piano Performance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Brett Hodgdon appears by permission of Boston Lyric Opera.

Franziska Huhn


Harpist Franziska Huhn is a vibrant musical force as a soloist, chamber musician, pedagogue and orchestral performer. Huhn has given solo recitals throughout the United States and worldwide in Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Turkey, Georgia, Russia, Syria, Pakistan, and Germany, including performances for German presidents Johannes Rau and Horst Koehler at Schloss Bellevue.

Huhn has been featured in recital on WGBH’s “Live from Studio 1” and as part of New England Conservatory’s First Mondays performance series. In 2007 Huhn’s recording Harp Solo was released and features both contemporary and classical works for harp.

As a pedagogue Huhn holds faculty positions at New England Conservatory, Boston University, Longy School of Music of Bard College, and Wellesley College. Since 2003, Huhn has been the Assistant Director of the Harp Seminar at Boston University's Tanglewood Institute and has served on the faculty of the Connecticut Valley Harp Intensive since 2012.

Huhn established herself as an artist of distinction at a very young age, earning first prize in the prestigious Jugend Musiziert Competition in Germany at the age of 14. She was then invited to study on a full scholarship with Lucile Lawrence at Boston University and then continued her harp studies with Ann Hobson Pilot at New England Conservatory, where she became the first ever harpist to be awarded the Artist Diploma by the Conservatory in 2005. In 2007, she received an Artist Diploma from the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hamburg, Germany.

Ryu-Kyung Kim


Praised for her superb technique, innate musicality and powerful stage presence, Korean-American mezzo-soprano Ryu-Kyung Kim performs a wide range of music from Handel to Schöberg and has so far appeared in nine premier operas.

She has highlighted her recent seasons in the title role as Queen Lili'uokalani in Little Opera Theater of NY’s Better Gods, as featured artist in the Korea Now concert in Cairo, Egypt, in The Shakespeare Concert at Jordan Hall and Jewett Arts Center, and as Alto Solo in Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky with Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. Kim’s stage successes include her portrait of the role of Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, the title role in La Cenerentola, Maddalena in Rigoletto, Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier, Carmen in Carmen, Malika in Lakmé, Idamante in Idomeneo, Adalgisa in Norma, Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde, Emilia in Otello, and Carilda in Handel’s Arianna in Creta with Santa Fe Opera, Baltimore Opera, Cleveland Opera, Dayton Opera, El Paso Opera, Ash Lawn Opera Festival, Korean Symphony Orchestra, Beheme Opera New Jersey, Opera Orchestra of New York, Virginia Opera, Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Gotham Chamber Opera, and Caramoor Music Festival. As a demanded concert artist, Kim has appeared in numerous concerts in Isaac Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall and in both Avery Fisher Hall and Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, and collaborated with internationally claimed orchestras such as Korean Symphony Orchestra and Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra in Korea, Sapporo Symphony Orchestra in Japan, and Staatskapelle Halle and Frankfurter Sinfoniker in Germany. Kim earned her D.M.A. in Voice from State University of New York at Stony Brook and received her Artist’s Diploma in Opera from the Academy of Vocal Arts. She also received both M.M. and B.M. in Voice from Manhattan School of Music. She has been on the Voice faculty at the University of Dayton since 2013.

SangYoung Kim


Praised by the Cleveland Plain Dealer as a “Brilliant champion,” and by La Libre Belgique for her “poetic enchantment” and “epic performance,” internationally recognized pianist Sangyoung Kim has gained attention through numerous competitions and performances throughout South Korea, North America, Europe, and Israel. In May 2013, Kim became a Laureate of the Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition.

Since her orchestra debut at age 9 with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Kim has appeared as a soloist with the Yewon Orchestra and won numerous prizes in Korea. After coming to the United States in 2002, Kim has continued to meet with success in competitions such as the NEC Concerto Competition and the Heida Hermanns International Music Competition, San Marino International Piano Competition, and obtained not only the Gold Medal but also the Russian and Chopin etude Prizes from the Usasu Bösendorfer International Piano Competition.

Kim has appeared as soloist with the NEC Philharmonia Orchestra, Concord Orchestra, Phoenix Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Royal de Chambre de Wallonie in Belgium, and the National Orchestra of Belgium. Other featured performances include recitals at Chopin Hall, Kumho Gallery and Kumho Art Hall in Korea, Norris Cultural Center in Illinois, Williams Hall and Jordan Hall in Boston, Cleveland Play House Bolton Theater in Ohio, Eckhardt-Gramatte Hall and Roza Centre in Calgary, Canada, the Courchevel Music Festival and Music Academy of Villecroze in France, Tel Aviv Museum of Art in Israel, Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Belgium, and the Paderewski Piano Academy in Poland. In 2009, Kim performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington. D.C as the part of the Millennium Stage Concert series.

As an active chamber musician, Kim’s chamber performances have been frequently heard in Jordan Hall, Fraser Performance Studio at WGBH Radio, and Harvard University. Kim participated in an extensive tour of the Boston area, playing Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire with other musicians including flutist Paula Robison as the narrator. She also collaborated with composer Michael Gandolfi in a performance of his Resin in Resonance (2008) which was broadcast by WGBH. Kim’s commercial recordings of David Owens’ Piano Sonata for Two Pianos were released by Albany Records in July 2014, and her recordings with Joseph Summer’s compositions including “You May Think of Art” and his cello sonata were released by PARMA Recordings in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 as parts of the Shakespeare Concert Series.

Kim taught at Bucknell University as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Piano and joined as a faculty member at the New England Conservatory Preparatory School, after earning a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the New England Conservatory under the guidance of Wha Kyung Byun and Russell Sherman.

Omar Najmi


Praised for his “luxuriously Italianate voice” and “soaring upper register,” tenor Omar Najmi’s career has spanned a diverse repertoire of operatic and concert works. Najmi performs regularly with the Boston Lyric Opera, where his roles have included Beppe in I Pagliacci, Flavio in Norma, Nick in The Handmaid’s Tale, Vanya Kudrjas in Katya Kabanova, Reverend Harrington in Lizzie Borden, and the title role in the workshop of Joseph Summer’s Hamlet.

In the 2016/2017 season Najmi completed a residency with Opera Colorado in which he had his role debut as Edgardo in the Lucia di Lamermoor Student Matinee. Najmi has spent several summers with San Diego’s Opera NEO, performing the roles of Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Arbace in Idomeneo, and Camille de Rossillon in The Merry Widow. Najmi has additionally worked with Chautauqua Opera, Annapolis Opera, Opera Saratoga, Opera North, Odyssey Opera, Opera Fayetteville, and the American Lyric Theater.

Najmi made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2018 as the tenor soloist in Mark Hayes’ Gloria. Najmi has subsequently appeared there as the tenor soloist in Dan Forrest’s Requiem for the Living, and as a prizewinner in the Talents of the World Annual Voice Competition. Other concert appearances have included Rossini’s Stabat Mater with the Helena Symphony Orchestra, Mozart’s Requiem with the Savannah Philharmonic, Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang with the Greenwich Choral Society, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with Marywood University, Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings with Phoenix Ensemble, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Worcester Youth Symphony Orchestra, Handel’s Messiah with Phillips Academy, and Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle with the Metropolitan Chorale of Brookline. Najmi has joined the touring concert Video Games Live as a guest soloist several times, including performances with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. Also active as a composer, Najmi recently premiered his first original opera, En la ardiente oscuridadOmar Najmi appears by permission of Boston Lyric Opera.

Andy Papas


Native Bostonian Andy Papas leaves operatic and theatrical audiences in stitches from coast to coast. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel called him “delightfully ridiculous” as Don Magnifico (La Cenerentola) for Skylight Music Theatre, and The Albany Times-Union praised his “irresistible hijinks” as Baron Zeta (The Merry Widow) for Opera Saratoga.

2019 saw Papas in Alaska and Oklahoma as the hapless Doctor Bartolo (The Barber of Seville), in Vermont as Cinderella’s helpless father Pandolfe (Cendrillon), and in Washington State as the hardhearted dwarf Alberich (Der Ring am Eine Abend). He returned to the Boston Equity theater scene as Mr. Bumble in Oliver! with The New Repertory Theater in December 2019, and he rejoined Pacific Northwest Opera as the title role in Don Pasquale in Spring 2020. The first commercial recording of Marc Blitzstein’s The Cradle Will Rock, released in 2018 on Bridge Records, features Papas as the gangster “Bugs” in a live performance from Opera Saratoga, where he also covered the title role in Verdi’s Falstaff. St. Louis audiences have heard Papas twist his tongue as The Major General (The Pirates of Penzance), the heartbroken jester Jack Point (Yeoman of the Guard), and Ko-Ko in The Mikado. Other Pacific Northwest performances include Magnifico (La Cenerentola) and Spalanzani/Crespel (The Tales of Hoffmann) for PNO, Benoit/Alcindoro (La Bohème) for Vashon Opera, and the Baritone Soloist (Beethoven No. 9) with The Mid-Columbia Symphony. Recent hometown credits include The Threepenny Opera (Walt Dreary) for Boston Lyric Opera, My Fair Lady (George/Ensemble) with The Lyric Stage of Boston, The Little Mermaid (Chef Louis) at Fiddlehead Theater, Sir John in Love (Peter Simple) for Odyssey Opera, and La Bohème/Eugene Onegin with The Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra. Every one of Papas’s performances are dedicated to his family and his husband Chris.

Tim Ribchester

Music Director

Acclaimed for his “passionate commitment to the composer and score…” “elegant sense of shape…” “perfected technique [and] a personal aesthetic vision,” Tim Ribchester is expanding an international presence as an inspiring, versatile musical leader, particularly in the fields of baroque interpretation and composer collaboration.

At the Trentino Music Festival, Italy Ribchester has conducted all of the baroque operatic and concert repertoire for the past five seasons, including fully staged productions of Rinaldo, Alcina, L’incoronazione di Poppea, and Dido and Aeneas. In the Boston area he has collaborated regularly in concert and recording with composers Joseph Summer and Mary Bichner. Recent engagements include debuts with the Bacau Philharmonic in Romania and the Vidin Sinfonietta in Bulgaria, Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann in Berlin, cover conducting Das Rheingold and Eugene Onegin at North Carolina Opera, and a recurring residency as Coach/Conductor in Residence at Cape Town Opera in South Africa.

Ribchester trained at Oxford University, the Royal College of Music, London, La School Cantorum, Paris, and the Advanced Conducting Academy in Bacau, Romania, in addition to conducting apprenticeships as assistant to Christofer Macatsoris and Christopher Larkin. Formerly repetiteur and assistant conductor at the Academy of Vocal Arts and Opera Philadelphia, and Music Director of the Delaware County Symphony PA, Ribchester is currently based in Berlin where he appears as keyboardist with Neues Barockorchester Berlin, Opus XX Orchestra, and the Berlin Philharmonic’s Children’s Concert program, as well as maintaining a vocal coaching studio. Following intensive studies of tango performance practice in Buenos Aires he has led and collaborated on tango ensemble projects with the genre’s leading musicians on three continents. He is featured in Park Chan-Wook’s critically acclaimed 2016 feature film The Handmaiden, and in a duo with Cassia Harvey on the album The Russian Cello.

Vera Savage


American mezzo-soprano Vera Savage has earned praise from critics for her “thrilling power” and “rich, mellifluous, mezzo voice.” Savage’s singing has been described as “a dream; supple and powerful with a deep velvet shimmer” and “heart-stoppingly gorgeous."

Savage’s past season included a “cold and gleaming” (Opera News) portrayal of handmaid New Ofglen in Boston Lyric Opera’s highly acclaimed production of The Handmaid’s Tale, Salieri’s Requiem and the Kuhnau Magnificat with the Commonwealth Chorale, Leonard Bernstein’s Jeremiah Symphony and Arias and Barcarolles with the Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra, and the Verdi Requiem with the Metropolitan Chorale.

Savage recently made her debut at the Spoleto Festival USA as Bice in Donizetti’s rarely performed opera Pia de’ Tolomei, a revival of Amy Beach’s Grand Mass with the New England Philharmonic and Commonwealth Chorale, Mercédès in Bizet’s Carmen with the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, Meg Page in Verdi’s Falstaff with Opera Saratoga and Opera on the James, Madame Larina in Eugene Onegin with the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra, Tisbe in La Cenerentola at Opera Saratoga, Sesto in La Clemenza di Tito at Opera in the Heights, and a “thoroughly intimidating” Mrs. Baines in Elmer Gantry with Florentine Opera in Milwaukee WI.

Highlights of Savage’s upcoming season includes engagements with White Snake Projects, Commonwealth Chorale, Boston Lyric Opera, and the Shakespeare Projects. Please visit for more details.

Ulysses String Quartet


The Ulysses String Quartet has been praised for their “textural versatility,” “grave beauty,” and “gentle blanket of colour,” (The Strad) as well as “avid enthusiasm ... [with] chops to back up their passion” and a “vibrant sonority” (San Diego Story).

Founded in the summer of 2015, the group won first prize in the 2018 Schoenfeld International String Competition and the grand prize and gold medal in the senior string division of the 2016 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. Ulysses also finished first in the American Prize and won second prize at the Osaka International Chamber Music Competition in 2017. The quartet garnered a career development grant in the 2016 Banff International String Quartet Competition and were winners of the Vietnam International Music Competition this past August.

Consisting of Christina Bouey and Rhiannon Banerdt on violin, Colin Brookes on viola, and Grace Ho on cello, the Ulysses Quartet were appointed the Graduate Quartet in Residence at the Juilliard School in 2019.

Hailing from Canada, the United States, and Taiwan, the Ulysses String Quartet has performed in such prestigious halls such as the Harbin Grand Theatre, Carnegie Hall, and the Taiwan National Concert Hall. Performance highlights have included appearances at the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, La Jolla Music Society SummerFest, Bargemusic, and Premiere Performances Hong Kong, debuts at Jordan Hall and the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, and the Vietnam Connection Festival. As a special project, the group will record the quartets of composer Joseph Summer at Mechanics Hall in Worcester MA over the next several years.

The members of Ulysses hold degrees from the Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, New England Conservatory, and Yale University. The musicians perform on instruments and bows graciously on loan from the Canada Council of the Arts Instrument Bank and the Maestro Foundation.

Miroslav Sekera


Miroslav Sekera: In 2002 he won the International Brahms Competition in Portschach, Austria. He has already won awards in many major competitions in the Czech Republic and abroad, including: the F. Chopin competition in Mariánské Lázně, the competition organized by HAMU (YAMAHA scholarship), the international competition in Gaillard, France.

He has been playing the piano since he was three, when his outstanding talent was discovered by Professor Zdena Janžurová, an outstanding pedagogue. He began studying the violin at the same time as the piano. Thanks to the art of playing the piano and at the same time the violin, he was chosen to play the role of little Mozart in the Oscar-winning film Amadeus directed by Miloš Forman. He continued to play both instruments until he was admitted to the Prague Conservatory, where he decided to study the piano. He was admitted to the class of Professor Eva Boguni.

During his studies he also attended the class of Professor Martin Ballý. He continued at the Music Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague under the lecturer Miroslav Langer. He completed his studies in 1999 as the most successful student.

In 2006 he was released a solo CD by Multisonic with the support of the Foundation of the Czech Music Fund with works by J.Brahms, D. Scarlatti, M. Moszkovsky. For the contemporary Boston composer Joseph Summer, he recorded three CDs in the US, released by Albany Records and Navona Records. In 2013 he recorded a CD for Supraphon with violinist Josef Špaček. He regularly cooperates with Czech Radio. For the second time he performed as a soloist with the FOK Symphony Orchestra under the conductor Jiří Kout. She regularly cooperates with mezzo-soprano Dagmar Pecková or hornist Radek Baborák.


As of this date, October 26, 2019, I am in the midst of the composition of two string quartets with the collective title: Invisible Women. The two quartets depict female characters in Shakespeare plays who never appear on stage, but play roles in their plots. Sycorax, one of the finished movements describes an Algerian sorceress, banished to the enchanted isle which serves as the setting for Shakespeare’s The Tempest, before Prospero’s arrival. Laying claim to the realm, imprisoning Ariel, and enslaving the indigenous “spirit” inhabitants, Sycorax rules with unstinting cruelty until her death. After her unexplained passing, Caliban, Sycorax’s monstrous son, expects to rule in her place, but when Prospero arrives –following his own banishment from Naples, accompanied solely by his infant daughter, Miranda– the deposed Duke of Milan turns the tables on Caliban, forcing the brute into servitude, himself. I find it odd that postcolonial interpretations of Sycorax portray her as representative of silenced African women, or as a symbol of repressed Islamic culture. Choosing Sycorax as the representative of oppressed indigenous people of the Caribbean as well rings hollow, as she herself was a cruel interloping despot who herself subjugated the original inhabitants of the island. If anything, she is a much more malefic colonizer than Prospero who frees Ariel from Sycorax’s arboreal prison after less than 20 years of –admittedly coercive– service. My portrayal of Sycorax is not postcolonial or revisionist. She is a pernicious demoness, and the mother of a rapacious miscreant.

In Shakespeare’s play, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Proteus and Valentine, two young Veronese gentlemen, and boon companions, fall in love with a Milanese duke’s daughter, Sylvia. Proteus, however, is already somewhat involved with a young woman, Julia, who follows Proteus to Verona, disguised as a man, to keep her eye on him. Let’s say that whereas Julia believes Proteus is intended for her, Proteus is at best ambivalent. When Julia arrives in Verona, she discovers Proteus, totally gaga over Sylvia. Proteus has employed a singer and some local musicians to serenade the apple of valentine’s eye with what I can only imagine is a composition of Proteus’s own devise: “Who is Sylvia?” Throughout the centuries composers have been drawn to the poem and set it with ardent love. The text is so mesmerizingly enchanting that none of us musical suitors seem to be aware that the progenitor of the lines, Proteus, is a monster. He betrays his best friend Valentine, and when he is rebuffed (repeatedly) by the virtuous Sylvia, he decides that there’s nothing to do but rape her.

“Nay, if the gentle spirit of moving words
Can no way change you to a milder form,
I’ll woo you like a soldier, at arms’ end,
And love you ’gainst the nature of love—force ye.”

[Assailing her] “I’ll force thee yield to my desire.”

During the attempted rape of Sylvia, Valentine arrives, rescues Sylvia, and briefly scolds Proteus for sexually assaulting his beloved. Proteus apologizes, in five lines of text. Instantly, Valentine forgives him, then offers Sylvia to his buddy Proteus as a token of gratitude for Proteus’s pithy apology. Apparently Valentine assumes he has the power to grant the rapist his desideratum as a reward for the quatrain plus one of remorse (in contrast to an earlier speech in this play about a smelly dog which takes more than two pages of soliloquy to adequately describe); but before Proteus can respond to Valentine’s moronically presumptuous gesture, Julia –still disguised as a man– faints; and then the duke of Milan shows up, and confers Sylvia upon Valentine. (This Duke of Milan is Sylvia’s father, and should not be confused with Prospero, the deposed duke of Milan from another play, nor with Antonio, the usurping duke of Milan, brother to Prospero.) Back to the action: Valentine in turn confers Julia, now that her identity has been revealed, upon Proteus. Also, a gang of bandits are all revealed to be gentlemen, in a scene which Arthur Sullivan would later ape in The Pirates of Penzance. The scene I wish Shakespeare had included would be the one after this final scene, in which both Sylvia and Julia realize their best course of action would be immediate flight away from the apes Proteus and Valentine. Perhaps the young ladies could find better matches within the newly pardoned gang of high-class highwaymen.

My 2008 setting of “Who Is Silvia?” completely ignores the depravity of Proteus. I chose a harp to represent the Milanese accompanist and a mezzo-soprano for the hired singer. In 2004, Adolphus Hailstork thought to deploy a solo violinist as a complement to a coloratura soprano, with piano serving as the Milanese third stream band. Sometime in 1929 (or shortly thereafter), British composer Gerald Finzi wrote his interpretation of Sylvia, and dedicated it to his friend, the British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. Gustavus Theodore von Holst, another British composer more familiarly known as Gustav Holst and most famous for The Planets, wrote extensively for voice, including a set of 12 songs written in 1929 and based on the poetry of Humbert Wolfe. Included in the dozen Wolfe songs is The Floral Bandit in which the poet references “Who is Sylvia.” Holst cleverly quotes the 1826 Schubert song, An Silvia, in the left hand of the piano when the tenor sings Humbert Wolfe’s query, “Who is this lady? What is she? the Sylvia all our swains adore?” The inspiration for Holst’s musical quotation is doubtless the most well known setting of the song from The Two Gentlemen of Verona by any composer.

Following Schubert’s untimely death, Anton Diabelli (remembered now for being the composer of a banal little waltz, which Beethoven employed in a masterful and transcendent set of variations; more so than his role as a music publisher and editor of  major significance) acquired the rights to much of Schubert’s oeuvre, including works that Schubert had not published, nor, in some cases, finished. One of the songs he collected was a brief setting of a drinking song from Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra. Schubert utilized an amended German translation of the verse by Eduard von Bauernfeld, (who crafted the translation Schubert employed in “An Silvia.”)  Diabelli found the short lied too brief to allow it to be published in its original form, so he enlisted Friedrich Reil to write a second verse, also in German, continuing the theme of drunken revelry. When I was contemplating programming the song for a Shakespeare Concert in 2019, I was also catching some of the Kavanaugh nomination hearing on television. I was struck by the ham-handed defense of intoxication by Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, and was inspired to add –perhaps as indefensibly as Diabelli– a portion of the exchange between Kavanaugh and his interrogator, Senator Amy Klobuchar, to the Schubert song, and, to take one step further, to alter Schubert’s music to reflect the besotted rationalizations of our newest justice. In addition to verbatim passages from the hearing, I added one of Kavanaugh’s yearbook quotations. Thus was Come Thou Monarch of the Vine and Hearing Transcript born: a tipsy amalgamation of four texts and two composers just for a couple of minutes of amusement.

I’m not alone in taking the music of my betters, as I did with the Schubert aria Come Thou Monarch, and repurposing it. Contemporary German composer Aribert Reimann (born 4 March 1936) is, like myself, a devotee of Shakespeare. He composed a German language version of King Lear, at the behest of the late, great baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Reimann arranged Schumann’s Sechs Gesänge, opus 107 for voice and string quartet, whose set begins with a lament about Shakespeare’s tragic heroine: Ophelia. Like the Holst “Floral Bandit,” the poem isn’t Shakespeare, but a poetic tribute to both Shakespeare and one of his inventions. The set of six songs captures Schumann’s brilliant lyricism, and Reimann’s reinterpretation of the original piano accompaniment for string quartet, in an unapologetically modern orchestration,  continues the tradition of composers appropriating their predecessors’ material, an homage similar in concept to the one penned by Titus Ulrich in the set’s opening Shakespearean influenced poem, Herzeleid.

Three settings of text from The Merchant of Venice and a pantomime for piano based on the dumb show from Hamlet’s play within a play “The Mousetrap” close the program, preceded by two brief arias, Arab Love Song, by mid-20th-century British composer Roger Quilter (another inveterate composer of Shakespearean material) based on a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley; and O Mistress Mine, another Shakespeare setting by Gerald Finzi, previously represented on this album with his Who is Silvia aria.

The Merchant of Venice portion of the program begins with Francis Poulenc’s setting of “Tell me where is fancy bred,” which is, like “Who is Sylvia,” a song sung by a “Fifth Business” character,  an actor who is not a consequential character to the drama, but is merely dropped in to reveal a plot point. In The Two Gentlemen of Verona, the fifth business vocalist reveals to Julia Proteus’s infidelity to her and Valentine. In The Merchant of Venice the vocalist is there to assist Bassanio in apprehending the meaning of Portia’s three casket puzzle, and thereby win her hand in marriage. Written in 1959 for a children’s book of music, Fancy is Poulenc’s sole setting of Shakespeare.

I’ve been troubled often by the antisemitic tone of The Merchant of Venice, more so because I find the play so absolutely masterful, even in a set of other masterful, nonpareil plays by the greatest playwright the world has ever known: Edward DeVere, the 17th earl of Oxford, also known as William Shakespeare. I have no compassion for Portia’s crossdressing masquerade as an unbiased judge of Shylock and deliberately emphasized her lack of Christian caritas in her sinister success in a misprision of justice (if you will allow me to stretch her unlawful concealment of her interest in the case) by paying special attention to her shocking use of the word “Jew,” in The Quality of Mercy is Not Strained. My choice of a Chopin-like accompaniment during her plea for mercy is meant to hearken back to that great composer’s well known antisemitism (prevalent in his letters) and the more substantial betrayal of Poland, which prompted his contemporary, the national Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz to label him a “moral vampire.” Nevertheless, I love his music. In Hath Not a Jew Eyes I attempt to support Shylock’s impassioned plea to his persecutors to recognize his humanity, a plea which the merciless Portia denies.

I end the program with The Dumbshow from “The Mousetrap.” Though it portends a tragedy, the pantomime presents Hamlet’s snare with a theatrical distance. The analogous king and queen, the poisoner and his henchmen, are but actors. This isn’t a real murder, after all. It’s a play. The actors are fifth business, meant to deliver important information to the audience, both on the stage and beyond the fourth wall. Once they deliver Hamlet’s message, they, like the singers in The Two Gentlemen of Verona and The Merchant of Venice leave unmolested, unaffected by the violent intentions of Proteus, Portia, and the Prince of Denmark.

— Joseph Summer

Begun in 2003 with concerts in Massachusetts and the U.S. Virgin Islands, The Shakespeare Concerts presents music inspired by the immortal bard: from original English text settings to settings in translation by composers from the classical period to the 21st century. The mainstay of the series is the music of Joseph Summer, with premieres of more than a quarter of his nearly one hundred Oxford Songs; settings, primarily, of text by William Shakespeare. WHO IS SYLVIA features interpretations by several composers of the poem from Two Gentlemen of Verona, and as well, the debut recording appearance of the award winning string quartet: The Ulysses.

For further information about concerts and a catalog of available recordings, please visit:

This album was made possible thanks to a generous donation from the Mattina R. Proctor Foundation.


Text by William Shakespeare
From The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act IV, Scene 2

Who is Silvia? what is she?
That all our swains commend her?
Holy, fair, and wise is she;
The heaven such grace did lend her,
That she might admired be.

Is she kind as she is fair?
For beauty lives with kindness:
Love doth to her eyes repair,
To help him of his blindness;
And, being helped, inhabits there.

Then to Silvia let us sing,
That Silvia is excelling;
She excels each mortal thing
Upon the dull earth dwelling:
To her let us garlands bring.

Text by Humbert Wolfe
From 12 Humbert Wolfe Songs, Opus 48

Beyond the town - oh far! beyond it
she walks - that lady - have you seen her?
that thief of spring, that floral bandit
who leaves the grass she walks on greener.

And she can sing - the blackbirds hear her -
those little coals with throats of flame -
and they can find, alighting near her,
no sweeter practice than her name.

What is her name? O ask the linnet,
for human tongue would strive in vain
to speak the buds uncrumpling in it,
and the small language of the rain.

Who is this lady? What is she?
the Sylvia all our swains adore?
Yes, she is that unchangingly,
but she is also something more.

For buds at best are little green
keys on an old thin clavichord,
that only has the one high tune -
that, since the first, all springs have heard.

And all first love with the same sighing
tunes, though more sweetly touched, has lingered,
as though he were forever trying
toccatas Purcell might have fingered.

But no one knows her range nor can
guess half the phrases of her fiddle,
the lady who fore ev'ry man
breaks off her music in the middle.

Text by William Shakespeare
From The Two Gentlemen of Verona (IV, 2)
Translation by Eduard von Bauernfeld

Was ist Silvia, saget an,
Daß sie die weite Flur preist?
Schön und zart seh ich sie nahn,
Auf Himmelsgunst und Spur weist,
Daß ihr alles untertan.

Ist sie schön und gut dazu?
Reiz labt wie milde Kindheit;
Ihrem Aug’ eilt Amor zu,
Dort heilt er seine Blindheit
Und verweilt in süßer Ruh.

Darum Silvia, tön, o Sang,
Der holden Silvia Ehren;
Jeden Reiz besiegt sie lang,
Den Erde kann gewähren:
Kränze ihr und Saitenklang!

of the Vine and Transcript

Composed by Franz Schubert, and — subsequently — Joseph Summer. Text by William Shakespeare (aka Edward DeVere) from Antony and Cleopatra (II, 7). German translation by Eduard von Bauernfeld. German text for the Schubert lied translated by Friedrich Reil. Additional text culled from the September 27th 2018 confirmation hearing concerning the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States, and excerpts from Georgetown Preparatory School’s 1983 yearbook.

Bachus, feister Fürst des Weins,
Komm mit Augen hellen Scheins,
Uns're Sorg' ersäuf' dein Faß,
Und dein Laub uns krönen laß.
Füll' uns, bis die Welt sich dreht,
Füll' uns, bis die Welt sich dreht!

Come thou Monarch of the Vine,
Plumpie Bacchus, with pinke eyne:
In thy Fattes our Cares be drown'd,
With thy Grapes out haires be Crown'd.
Cup us till the world go round,
Cup us till the world go round

Unser Sang erschalle hoch!
Wein mit Sang schmeckt besser noch.
So entfliehet froh die Zeit,
wem's nicht mundet, fliege weit.
Hoch der edle Göttertrank!
Hoch der edle Göttertrank!

Amy Klobuchar: Drinking is one thing, but the concern is about the truthfulness. In your written testimony you said sometimes you had too many drinks.

Brett Kavanaugh: I drank beer with my friends. Sometimes I had too many beers. I liked beer. I liked beer. I still like beer. Hanging out.

Amy Klobuchar: Was there ever a time you had so many drinks you couldn’t remember what happened or part of what happened the night before.?

Brett Kavanaugh: You’ve probably had beer, right? You’ve probably had beer, right senator? You’ve probably had beer, right senator?

Amy Klobuchar: Personally, do you think that’s the best thing to do?

Brett Kavanaugh: They don’t reach conclusions! They just provide the Three Oh Twos. Hanging out and having some beers with friends. Ralph Club’s biggest contributor.

Text by Titus Ulrich (inspired by Hamlet)
Translation by Joseph Summer

Die Weiden lassen matt die Zweige hangen,
Und traurig zieh'n die Wasser hin:
Sie schaute starr hinab mit bleichen Wangen,
Die unglückselge Träumerin.
Und ihr entfiel ein Strauss von Immortellen,
Er war so schwer von Tränen ja,
Und leise warnend lispelten die Wellen:
Ophelia, Ophelia!

Descending the willow’s weak limbs,
Liquescent desolation flows
Down-stream. Pale cheeks and eyes
Down-cast; the hapless dreamer
From her hands lets drop a spray
Of immortelles, weighed down by heavy tears –
Softly, the waves whisper warning:
Ophelia, Ophelia!

Text by Titus Ulrich
Translation by Joseph Summer

Die Fenster klär' ich zum Feiertag,
Daß sich die Sonn' drin spiegeln mag,
Und klär' und denke gar mancherlei.
Da geht er stolz vorbei!

So sehr muss ich da erschrocken sein,
Daß ich gleich brach in die Scheiben hinein,
Und gleich auch kam das Blut gerannt
Rot über meine Hand.

Und mag sie auch bluten, meine Hand,
Und mag mich auch schmerzen der böse Brand,
Hast einen Blick doch herauf geschickt,
Als laut das Glas geknickt.

Und in die Augen dir hab' ich gesehn;
Ach Gott, wie lang ist es nicht geschehn!
Hast mich ja nicht einmal angeblickt,
Als leis mein Herz geknickt!

Washing the windows for the holiday,
That the sun would see its own reflection,
Thinking of this and that, scrubbing the pane,
And at that instant he walks by, prideful, haughty.

So surprised by his sudden appearance,
I broke through the glass.
Blood poured out in crimson abundance.
Red hands; but what does that matter?

I don’t care about bleeding in his sight,
Nor do I regret the pain.
The sharp report of the cracking glass
Made you look up and take note.

I looked into your eyes, and you mine.
How long since my eyes reflected yours?
You didn’t even glance at me
When you softly broke my heart.

Text by Eduard Mörike
Translation by Joseph Summer

Auf ihrem Leibrößlein
So weiß wie der Schnee,
Die schönste Prinzessin
Reit't durch die Allee.

Der Weg, den das Rößlein
Hintanzet so hold,
Der Sand, den ich streute,
Er blinket wie Gold!

Du rosenfarb's Hütlein
Wohl auf und wohl ab,
O wirf eine Feder,
Verstohlen herab!

Und willst du dagegen
Eine Blüte von mir,
Nimm tausend für eine,
Nimm alle dafür!

Astride her dearest pony
White as snow,
the prettiest princess
rides down the boulevard.

On the path upon which
Her mount primly prances,
Glistens the golden sand
I have strewn before her.

You rosy little cap,
Bobbing up and down.
Toss a feather down
To me surreptitiously!

And would you like me
To tender a flower?
Nay! take a thousand.
Take them all. All!

Text by Paul Heyse
Translation by Joseph Summer

Auf dem Dorf in den Spinnstuben
Sind lustig die Mädchen.
Hat jedes seinen Herzbuben,
Wie flink geht das Rädchen!

Spinnt jedes am Brautschatz,
Daß der Liebste sich freut.
Nicht lange, so gibt es
Ein Hochzeitsgeläut!

Kein' Seel', die mir gut ist,
Kommt mit mir zu plaudern;
Gar schwül mir zu Mut ist,
Und die Hände zaudern.

Und die Tränen mir rinnen
Leis übers Gesicht.
Wofür soll ich spinnen,
Ich weiß es ja nicht!

In the village, in the spinning rooms,
My girlfriends are joyous.
Each one has her special boy.
The wheels whir with celerity.

Each spins to fill her hope chest
So that her beloved boy will be gay.
Soon the streets will ring
With the sounds of wedding bells

Not a single soul finds me fair
Enough to chat me up; so I am
Downcast and forlorn.
My little hands fail the loom.

Tears spill down
My overlooked face.
Why am I spinning?
I really have no idea.

Text by (Karl) Wolfgang Müller von Königswinter
Translation by Tom Schnauber

Ich zieh' so allein in den Wald hinein!
O sieh zwei Falter fliegen!
Sie tummeln sich durch die Luft,
Und wenn sie ruh'n, so wiegen
Sie sich in der Blumen Duft,
Und ich bin so allein, voll Pein!

Ich zieh' so allein in den Wald hinein!
O sieh zwei Vöglein erschrocken
Entstieben dem warmen Nest!
Doch singen und suchen und locken
Sie hoch sich im Geäst,
Und ich bin so allein, voll Pein!

Ich zieh' so allein in den Wald hinein!
O sieh zwei Rehe zieh'n
An der grünen Halde zumal!
Und wie sie mich seh'n, entflieh'n
Sie fern in Berg und Tal,
Und ich bin so allein, voll Pein!

I go, so alone, into the woods!
Oh, see two butterflies flutter!
They scuffle through the air,
And when they rest, they sway
Themselves in the flowers’ scent,
And I am so alone, full of hurt!

I go, so alone, into the woods!
Oh, see two small birds, startled,
Flap away from their warm nest!
Yet still they sing and search and entice
Themselves high in the branches,
And I am so alone, full of hurt!

I go, so alone, into the woods!
Oh, see two deer wander
Along the green slope!
And when they see me, they flee
To distant hill and dale,
And I am so alone, full of hurt!

Text by (Johann) Gottfried Kinkel
Translation by Joseph Summer

Es ist so still geworden,
Verrauscht des Abends Wehn,
Nun hört man aller Orten
Der Engel Füße gehn,
Rings in die Thale senket
Sich Finsterniß mit Macht --
Wirf ab, Herz, was dich kränket
Und was dir bange macht!

Es ruht die Welt im Schweigen,
Ihr Tosen ist vorbei,
Stumm ihrer Freude Reigen
Und stumm ihr Schmerzenschrei.
Hat Rosen sie geschenket,
Hat Dornen sie gebracht --
Wirf ab, Herz, was dich kränket
Und was dir bange macht!

Und hast du heut gefehlet,
O schaue nicht zurück;
Empfinde dich beseelet
Von freier Gnade Glück.
Auch des Verirrten denket
Der Hirt auf hoher Wacht --
Wirf ab, Herz, was dich kranket
Und was dir bange macht!

Nun stehn im Himmelskreise
Die Stern' in Majestät;
In gleichem festem Gleise
Der goldne Wagen geht.
Und gleich den Sternen lenket
Er deinen Weg durch Nacht --
Wirf ab, Herz, was dich kränket,
Und was dir bange macht!

It has grown still
Now that the zephyrs are departed.
No sound can be discerned except
The gentle tread of angels.
With might and majesty
Darkness descends into the valley -
Free yourself from ills, heart;
And do not dwell in worry!

In silence rests the world,
Its tumult is no more,
Mute is joy,
And mute is pain;
Be it roses,
Be it thorns -
Free yourself from ills, heart;
And do not dwell in worry!

And if today you mistook,
Don’t look back;
Let Fortune grace you
With freedom from care.
From high above, the shepherd
ponders the missing, the loss -
Free yourself from ills, heart;
And do not dwell in worry!

In the gyring firmament above
The majestic stars are fixed.
The glittery golden chariot
Travels its ancient track
Directing you, like the empyreal
Orbs through the night.
Free yourself from ills, heart;
And do not dwell in worry!

Text by Percy Bysshe Shelley

My faint spirit was sitting in the light
Of thy looks, my love;
It panted for thee like the hind at noon
For the brooks, my love.
Thy barb whose hoofs outspeed the tempest's flight
Bore thee far from me;
My heart, for my weak feet were weary soon,
Did companion thee.

Ah! fleeter far than fleetest storm or steed
Or the death they bear,
The heart which tender thought clothes like a dove
With the wings of care;
In the battle, in the darkness, in the need,
Shall mine cling to thee,
Nor claim one smile for all the comfort, love,
It may bring to thee.

Text by William Shakespeare
From The Twelfth Night (II, 3)

The Clown, singing

O Mistress mine, where are you roaming?
O stay and hear! your true-love’s coming
That can sing both high and low;
Trip no further, pretty sweeting,
Journeys end in lovers’ meeting—
Every wise man’s son doth know.

What is love? ’tis not hereafter;
Present mirth hath present laughter;
What’s to come is still unsure:
In delay there lies no plenty,—
Then come kiss me, Sweet-and-twenty,
Youth’s a stuff will not endure.

Text by William Shakespeare
From The Merchant of Venice (III, 2)

Tell me where is fancy bred,
Or in the heart or in the head?
How begot, how nourished?
Reply, reply.
It is engender'd in the eyes,
With gazing fed; and fancy dies
In the cradle where it lies.
Let us all ring fancy's knell:
I'll begin it, - Ding, dong, bell.

Text by William Shakespeare
From The Merchant of Venice (IV, 1)

PORTIA    The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
’Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The thronèd monarch better than his crown.
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings.
But mercy is above this sceptered sway;
It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings;
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That in the course of justice none of us
Should see salvation. We do pray for mercy,
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea,
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence ’gainst the merchant there.

Text by William Shakespeare
From The Merchant of Venice (III, 1)

SHYLOCK    I say, my daughter is my flesh and blood.
SALIERO  There is more difference between thy flesh and hers than between jet and ivory, more between your bloods than there is between red wine and Rhenish. But tell us, do you hear whether Antonio have had any loss at sea or no?
SHYLOCK  There I have another bad match! A bankrupt, a prodigal, who dare scarce show his head on the Rialto; a beggar, that was used to come so smug upon the mart! Let him look to his bond. He was wont to call me userer. Let him look to his bond. He was wont to lend money for a Christian courtesy. Let him look to his bond.
SALIERO    Why, I am sure, if he forfeit, thou wilt not take his flesh.What’s that good for?
SHYLOCK    To bait fish withal. If it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge. He hath disgraced me, and hindered me half a million, laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies; and what’s his reason? I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affec-tions, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we shall resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility? Revenge. If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example? Why, revenge. The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.