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