Renowned Ice­landic so­prano Dísella Làrus­dót­tir to ap­pear at Le­high

The Morning Call - - CLASSICAL - By Steve Siegel

The fi­nal of three Septem­ber art song recitals in honor of the cen­ten­nial of the Korean Amer­i­can com­poser Earl Kim takes place Sun­day, Sept. 29 at the Zoell­ner Arts Cen­ter in Beth­le­hem.

Fea­tured soloist is the renowned Ice­landic so­prano Dísella Làrus­dót­tir, de­scribed by The New York Times as “re­li­ably breath­tak­ing,” and by Opera News as hav­ing a voice of “be­witch­ing beauty and pres­ence.”

Làrus­dót­tir will be joined by pi­anist Steven Beck and spe­cial guest vi­o­lin­ist Michael Jor­gensen, mu­sic fac­ulty mem­ber at Le­high Univer­sity. Pre­sented by the Le­high Univer­sity Very Mod­ern En­sem­ble (LUVME), the pro­gram fea­tures set­tings by Le­high mu­sic pro­fes­sor and com­poser Paul Salerni on po­ems by Ir­ish poet Sea­mus Heany, along with mu­sic from Ice­land, Ger­many, and other North­ern climes.

If you want to get a fla­vor of Làrus­dót­tir’s vo­cal prowess, not to men­tion her mes­mer­iz­ing phys­i­cal de­liv­ery, run her name through Google and check out her YouTube clip of her singing Bern­stein’s “Glit­ter and be Gay” in 2016. Want more? Watch the clip in which she sings a glitzy tango by Sveinn Ru­nar Sig­urds­son in the Ice­landic semi­fi­nals of the 2006 Euro­vi­sion Song Con­test.

Làrus­dót­tir is a rel­a­tively late starter as a clas­si­cal vo­cal­ist, ini­tially con­cen­trat­ing on buoy­ant Euro­pean pop. But fol­low­ing her crit­i­cally ac­claimed per­for­mance in the Metropoli­tan Opera’s 2007 Na­tional Coun­cil Au­di­tions, Lárus­dót­tir be­gan an im­por­tant re­la­tion­ship with the opera world. In the Met’s 2015-2016 sea­son, she cov­ered the ti­tle role of Wil­liam Ken­tridge’s new pro­duc­tion of Berg’s “Lulu,” and made her Euro­pean de­but in the same pro­duc­tion at Teatro dell‘Opera di Roma in May 2017.

Equally in de­mand on the con­cert plat­form, Lárus­dót­tir gave her New York City recital de­but at Merkin Con­cert Hall in 2008, where she was praised by The New York Times for “de­ploy­ing her high, bright, and clear voice with a strik­ing ease and con­sis­tency” and her “al­most star­tling dra­matic power.” She has also per­formed in Philadel­phia’s Kim­mel Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts, Stern Au­di­to­rium in Carnegie Hall in New York City, and Walt Dis­ney Con­cert Hall in Los An­ge­les, among oth­ers. Last sea­son, Lárus­dót­tir par­tic­i­pated in two pro­duc­tions at the Metropoli­tan Opera: Nico Muhly’s new opera, “Marnie,” as well as Mozart’s “La Cle­menza di Tito.”

Al­though en­ti­tled “From North­ern Climes,” Sun­day’s pro­gram will def­i­nitely warm the heart – and yes, “Glit­ter and be Gay” is on the pro­gram. In ad­di­tion to Dan­ish and Nor­we­gian songs by Grieg, and Ger­man lieder by Schu­bert, Schu­mann, and Strauss, there will be a trio of Ice­landic songs, and a suite of five Ir­ish songs Salerni set to the po­ems of Heany.

That cy­cle of five po­ems, “Ar­rivals,” was first heard in pub­lic at a Memo­rial Trib­ute to Heaney at Emory Univer­sity in 2014. ‘

“I first en­coun­tered the po­etry of Sea­mus Heaney in the fall of 1977 in a four-per­son room in a pen­sione in Florence, Italy,” Salerni says. “One of my room­mates had stud­ied with Heaney and in­tro­duced me to a poem of his called ‘Rite of Spring.’ I be­lieve I wrote a pre­lim­i­nary set­ting of that poem dur­ing that fel­low­ship year in Italy. It oc­curred to me to give that first-en­counter Heaney poem an­other shot, this time scored for so­prano, vi­o­lin, and pi­ano. That turned out well enough for me to search for other po­ems, po­ems that shared the sense of ar­rival that one gets from ‘Rite of Spring.’”

Le­high Univer­sity Very Mod­ern En­sem­ble, 3 p.m. Sun­day, Sept. 29, Baker Hall, Zoell­ner Arts Cen­ter, Beth­le­hem. Tick­ets: $10. 610-758-2787, www.zoell­ner­arts­cen­ter.org

Al­len­town Band at St. John’s Church

On Sun­day, Sept. 29, the Al­len­town Band re­turns to St. John’s Lutheran Church in Al­len­town for a high-spir­ited pro­gram of mu­sic for so­prano, trum­pet and or­gan. Fea­tured is a trio of star soloists, who in

CLAIRE MCA­DAMS/CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

Renowned Ice­landic so­prano Dísella Làrus­dót­tir is fea­tured soloist in the fi­nal Septem­ber art song con­cert at Zoell­ner Arts Cen­ter on Sun­day, Sept. 29.

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