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Nigel Potts & Sarah Rose Taylor: Elgar Sea Pictures & Wagner Transcriptions
September 13, 2015 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
From the Program Notes for the CD (available here):
The coupling of Elgar with Wagner on this recording is as natural as the combining of bread with butter, or gin with tonic. Elgar was passionate about Wagner’s music and as Peter Dennison pointed out in an article in Music and Letters (April 1985) Elgar, like Strauss and Mahler, made an eager distillation of Wagner’s styles and techniques in such a manner that his own artistic voice was enriched by them rather than enfeebled in mere imitation. More specifically in relation to Wagner’s Tristan Prelude (included here) and Liebestod, Elgar wrote in his programme of a Wagner memorial concert at which he was present less than a month after Wagner’s death “this is the finest thing of Wagner’s that I have heard up to the present. I shall never forget this.” And written into his vocal score of the opera he wrote: “this book contains the Height, – the Depth, – the Breadth, – the sweetness, – the sorrow, – the Best and the whole of the Best of this world and the Next.” A passionate endorsement of everything he felt and a reminder, too, of those heartfelt words he used about his own Dream of Gerontius writing at the conclusion of The Angel’s Farewell (also included here) “this is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept and loved and hated, like another; my life was as the vapour and is not; but this I saw and knew: this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory”.
Mezzo-soprano Sarah Rose Taylor is in demand for the warmth and beauty of her voice, and compelling musicianship. A highly versatile artist, taylor maintains an active schedule, performing across the United States, including solo engagements in New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C., as well as in Arizona, Arkansas, Pennsylvania and Texas. she has also appeared in France, Germany, Italy and the Bahamas.
Her wide ranging oratorio repertoire includes performances of J.S. Bach’s Mass in B minor, Handel’s Messiah and Judas Maccabaeus, Haydn’s Mass in Time of War, Debussy’s La Damoiselle Elue and Arvo Pärt’s Passio. On the operatic stage, Taylor’s roles have included Marcellina in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Third Lady in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, La Badessa in Puccini’s Suor Angelica, Sally in Barber’s A Hand of Bridge and Francisco in the world premiere performance of Bruce Saylor’s The Image Maker.
In 2014, she performed her Weill Carnegie Hall solo debut singing selections from Elgar’s Sea Pictures with pianist Nigel Potts and harpist Grace Cloutier and the following season was invited to sing in the Tallis Scholars’ Spem in Alium Project at Carnegie Hall with Peter Phillips and the Tallis Scholars. In 2015, she was selected as a finalist in the Peter Elvins Vocal Competition.
Born in England, Sarah Rose Taylor grew up in a rich musical choral tradition, singing in many of England’s Cathedrals with the Royal School of Church Music’s Southern Cathedral Singers. She has a Master’s Degree and an Artist Diploma in Vocal Performance from the Aaron Copland School of Music, where she studied with Sherry Overholt. She continues private study with Neil Semer and coaches with former Metropolitan opera conductor Steven Crawford and Baroque specialist Rufus Müller. [www.sarahrosetaylor.com]
Organist Nigel Potts is respected worldwide for his expressive, assured and tasteful performances, always communicating and placing the music at the forefront. Potts has performed recitals across four continents, including distinguished venues in London, Cambridge, Paris, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, as well as in Austria, Iceland, Taiwan, New Zealand, the Bahamas and extensively across North America. A proponent of orchestral transcriptions, he has recorded an all-transcription program on the Wanamaker organ in Philadelphia for WRTI-FM, has performed his orchestral reductions of Rachmaninoff’s First and Second Piano Concertos with pianist Jeremy Filsell, and his transcriptions of Elgar and Wagner with Sarah Rose Taylor.
Potts studied organ with Thomas Murray at Yale University where he graduated with a Master’s Degree. He also holds diplomas from the Conservatorium of Music in Wellington and the Trinity College of Music in London. While living in London, he studied Church Music at the Royal Academy of Music and organ with Jeremy Filsell and John Scott. A recipient of the Gillian Weir Waitangi Foundation Scholarship, Potts has held Cathedral organ scholarships in England and New Zealand. He is currently organist and Choirmaster of Christ & Saint Stephen’s Episcopal Church in New York City, where he oversaw the installation of their Schoenstein organ in 2008, and is also a member of the music staff at the Saint Thomas Choir School.