Schwab Vocal Rising Stars©Gabe Palacio

Schwab Vocal Rising Stars

The Art of Pleasure

Sun, March 15, 2020, 3:00pm


Due to our efforts to proactively provide a safe environment for our audience, artists, and staff, this performance has been canceled.

Our Schwab Vocal Rising Stars will still perform and you will be able to watch a livestream of the entire program beginning at 3:00pm.

If you have purchased tickets to this event, your tickets will automatically have their value credited to your Caramoor account. At your convenience, you may contact the Box Office at 914.232.1252 or [email protected] to use your credit to purchase tickets to a future performance or donate the value of your credit as a tax-deductible contribution.
Watch the livestream below

With music by Rachmaninoff, Bernstein, Tom Lehrer, John Musto, and many others, this program will feature four young singers and a pianist selected by Artistic Director Steven Blier for a weeklong residency at Caramoor. Assisted by Michael Barrett, Associate Director of the New York Festival of Song (NYFOS), and developed in conjunction with NYFOS, the week will include daily coaching, rehearsals and workshops, and culminate in this Music Room performance exploring the wealth and breadth of song repertoire.


Schwab Vocal Rising Stars
Elaine Daiber, soprano
Siena Licht Miller, mezzo-soprano
Terrence Chin-Loy, tenor
Thomas West, baritone
Shawn Chang, pianoMentors
Steven Blier, Artistic Director
Michael Barrett, coach and piano


Oceanside in the SummerDebussy Petite suite: En bateauMontsalvatge Cançó amorosaToldrà “Cançó de grumet” from A l’ombra del lledonerToldrà MaigTosti MarechiareSleepJ.S. Brahms “Ruhe, Süßliebchen” from Die schöne MageloneRachmaninoff Sleep, Op. 38, No. 5

RomanceLeoncavallo Sérénade napolitaineLehár “Schön wie die blaue Sommernacht” from GiudittaJohn Musto Calypso— Intermission —The Down-lowPiazzolla Fuga y misterio (arr. Pablo Ziegler)
Jonathan Dove “Between Your Sheets” from Five Am’rous SighsBernstein It’s Gotta Be Bad to Be GoodThe Kinks LolaGuilty PleasuresTom Lehrer Poisoning Pigeons in the ParkLeiber and Stoller Humphrey BogartKahane “Opera Scene” from CraigslistliederPeaceSaint-Saëns Aimons-nousMichael John Lachiusa “Heaven” from Hotel C’est L’AmourTraditional How Can I Keep From Singing (arr. David Krane)

View the Program Book     Texts and Translations


Vocal Rising Stars: Steven Blier

Steven Blier, Artistic Director, coach, piano, arrangements

Steven Blier is the Artistic Director of the New York Festival of Song (NYFOS), which he co-founded in 1988 with Michael Barrett. Since the Festival’s inception, he has programmed, performed, translated, and annotated more than 140 vocal recitals with repertoire spanning the entire range of American song, art song from Schubert to Szymanowski, and popular song from early vaudeville to Lennon-McCartney. NYFOS has also made in-depth explorations of music from Spain, Latin America, Scandinavia, and Russia. New York Magazine gave NYFOS its award for Best Classical Programming, while Opera News proclaimed Blier “the coolest dude in town.”

Mr. Blier enjoys an eminent career as an accompanist and vocal coach. His recital partners have included Renée Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli, Samuel Ramey, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Susan Graham, Jessye Norman, and José van Dam, in venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to La Scala. He is also on the faculty of The Juilliard School and has been active in encouraging young recitalists at summer programs, including the Wolf Trap Opera Company, Santa Fe Opera, and the San Francisco Opera Center. Many of his former students, including Stephanie Blythe, Joseph Kaiser, Sasha Cooke, Paul Appleby, Dina Kuznetsova, Corinne Winters, and Kate Lindsey, have gone on to be valued recital colleagues and sought-after stars on the opera and concert stage.

In keeping the traditions of American music alive, he has brought back to the stage many of the rarely heard songs of George Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Kurt Weill, and Cole Porter. He has also played ragtime, blues, and stride piano evenings with John Musto. A champion of American art song, he has premiered works of John Corigliano, Paul Moravec, Ned Rorem, William Bolcom, Mark Adamo, John Musto, Richard Danielpour, Tobias Picker, Robert Beaser, Lowell Liebermann, Harold Meltzer, and Lee Hoiby, many of which were commissioned by NYFOS.

Mr. Blier’s extensive discography includes the premiere recording of Leonard Bernstein’s Arias and Barcarolles (Koch International), which won a Grammy Award; Spanish Love Songs (Bridge Records), recorded live at the Caramoor Music Festival with Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Joseph Kaiser, and Michael Barrett; the world premiere recording of Bastianello (John Musto) and Lucrezia(William Bolcom), a double bill of oneact comic operas set to librettos by Mark Campbell; and Quiet Please, an album of jazz standards with vocalist Darius de Haas. His latest release is Canción amorosa, a CD of Spanish songs with soprano Corinne Winters on the GRP label.

His writings on opera have been featured in Opera News and the Yale Review. A native New Yorker, he received a Bachelor’s Degree with Honors in English Literature at Yale University, where he studied piano with Alexander Farkas. He completed his musical studies in New York with Martin Isepp and Paul Jacobs.


Rising Stars

Elaine Daiber

Elaine Daiber, soprano

Heralded for her “spectacular vocalism” (Hudson Housatonic Arts) soprano Elaine Daiber’s “golden voice, which roams from below the staff to atmospheric heights with ease,” has garnered much acclaim on the operatic, concert and recital stages.

This past summer, Daiber joined the Bard Music Festival in a recital celebrating composer Erich Korngold with pianist Kayo Iwama and appeared with the New York Festival of Song (NYFOS) as an Emerging Artist in [email protected] for the concert, “Ports of Call.”

In the 2019–2020 season, engagements include role debuts as Ilia in Mozart’s Idomeneo in Boston’s Jordan Hall and Lady in Waiting in Britten’s Gloriana with Odyssey Opera, in addition to concert performances as soprano soloist in Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 in Boston’s Symphony Hall, soprano soloist in Bach’s Magnificat with Counterpoint Concerts in Chattanooga, TN, and a Boston Symphony Orchestra Prelude Concert of Helen Grime’s Bright Travellers.

Highlights from the 18/19 season include the role of Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, conducted by Robert Tweten, soprano soloist in Orff’s Carmina Burana and Dvorak’s Te Deum with Symphony Pro Musica, two residencies with Collaborative Arts Ensemble, and the principal role of Dede in a new production of Leonard Bernstein’s A Quiet Place at the Tanglewood Music Center.

A graduate of the Bard Conservatory Vocal Arts Program, she is currently pursuing an Artist Diploma in Opera Studies at the New England Conservatory.


Siena Licht Miller

Siena Licht Miller, mezzo-soprano

Artist Website

German American mezzo-soprano Siena Licht Miller’s unique path through opera and song is fueled by a deep desire to bring life to music that spans centuries to audiences of today.

The 2019–2020 season began with a return to Opera Philadelphia as Katya in the world premiere of Philip Venables’ Denis & Katya, which The New York Times called “an intimate, haunting triumph.” Additional engagements include debuts with Boise Philharmonic, Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, and Reno Philharmonic, and return performances with Columbus Symphony, Oregon Symphony, and Grant Park Symphony Orchestra.

In recital, she tours throughout the U.S. with the Ravinia Music Festival, concluding in a recital at the Tucson Song Festival. She joined the New York City Ballet in their 2019 season as a soloist in Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzer, and she was invited by Marilyn Horne to participate in the legendary mezzo’s final year of leading The Song Continues series at Carnegie Hall.

Licht Miller is an alumna of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program, Gerdine Young Artist Program at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Chautauqua Institute, and the Aspen Music Festival.

Originally from Portland, Oregon, she entered the Curtis Institute of Music in 2016. She is generously supported by the Bagby Foundation and is a recipient of a Gerda Lissner Foundation grant. Licht Miller will join the International Opera Studio at Opernhaus Zürich in the fall of 2020.


Terrence Chin-Loy

Terrence Chin-Loy, tenor

Artist Website

Jamaican-American tenor Terrence Chin-Loy pairs passionate performance with a full, sweet sound. The 2019–2020 season saw Chin-Loy in his first engagement at the Metropolitan Opera as Mingo (cover) in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, reprising Younger Thompson in Cipullo’s Glory Denied, and singing Messiah with the U.S. Navy Orchestra at the U.S. Naval Academy.

In the summer of 2020, he will premiere a new piece by Daniel Bernard Roumain at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival on the topic of the shooting of Philando Castile.

As a Resident Artist with Pittsburgh Opera in the 2018–2019 season, Chin-Loy was seen as Idomeneo in Idomeneo: afterWARds, director David Paul’s retelling of Mozart’s masterpiece featuring the composer’s original music, and as Younger Thompson in Tom Cipullo’s Glory Denied. In addition to these engagements, he made his Carnegie Hall debut in Handel’s Messiah.

Other favorite roles have included George Bailey in Jake Heggie’s It’s a Wonderful Life and Edgardo in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, both at Indiana University, Brighella in Ariadne auf Naxos at Santa Fe Opera, Ferrando in Così fan tutte, and Count Alberto in Rossini’s L’occasione fa il ladro, the latter operas with Opera Theatre of Yale College. While at Yale, he was also a frequent performer with the Yale Baroque Opera Project, with which he performed major roles in La Calisto (Cavalli), Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (Monteverdi), and Scipione affricano (Cavalli).

He is a 2018 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions National Semifinalist.


Thomas West

Thomas West, baritone

Artist Website

Baritone Thomas West, originally from Chattanooga, TN, is an artist and entrepreneur whose work expands across disciplines.

West’s 2019–2020 season will see solo debuts with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra in Winnipeg, Canada and the Kennett Symphony in Kennett Square, PA. In 2018–2019, West covered Silvio in Pagliacci with Opera San Jose and made his role debut as Morales in Carmen with the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera. West was also named a finalist in the Joy in Singing Competition and the James Toland Vocal Arts Competition in 2019.

Recent career highlights include Bill in Bernstein’s A Quiet Place at the Tanglewood Music Festival, Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem with the Mississippi Symphony, and the world premiere of Wayne Oquin’s Meditation in Alice Tully Hall. In 2014, President Obama named West a Presidential Scholar in the Arts.

West is a graduate of The Juilliard School where he was named a Career Advancement Fellow and an ambassador to the National Artist as Citizen Conference. He is the Executive Director of The Peace Studio, a non-profit organization advancing an action-oriented, innovative peace movement for today’s world through community advocacy, education, dialogue, and the arts.


Shawn Chang

Shawn Chang, piano

Artist Website

Taiwanese-Canadian pianist and composer Shawn Chang has created for himself an international career of distinction. As a solo pianist, he has given recitals in numerous venues in the United States, Canada, and Taipei, Taiwan, including at Carnegie Weill Recital Hall and the Taipei National Music Hall.

In October 2019, Chang appeared as a soloist with The Orchestra of The Bronx in a performance of Beethoven’s Emperor Piano Concerto No. 5. As a collaborative pianist, he has worked with opera companies such as The Bronx Opera and the Garden State Opera. He recently appeared with Steve Blier, performing Cuban music in a New York Festival Of Songs concert at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre.

As a composer, Chang’s compositions have been premiered by the Chromatic Voice Exchange and Schola Sine Nomine choruses, and the aTonal Hits Duo, among others. He is currently pursuing a Master of Music degree in Collaborative Piano at The Juilliard School under the tutelage of Lydia Brown.

About the Music.

The idea for this program came to me a few years ago over breakfast one morning. The gentle, rational voices of NPR’s morning announcers couldn’t disguise the sheer cruelty and greed detailed in the day’s news. My antipathy to the word “tweet” was ballooning and my blood pressure spiking. I needed a quick mental vacation, a fantasy trip to the seashore. And I soon realized I was not alone — everyone I knew needed a break, a reminder of the things that make life worth living. Bingo! A perfect program idea: we’d evoke the thrill of romance, the fascination of dreams. The deep pleasure of song could transport us to the beauty of summertime at the shore.

As the day wore on, I realized that there are other pleasures equally important, if less socially acceptable: guilty compulsions, louche love affairs we can’t tell anyone about, gratifications that fall outside the norm. However taboo, these pleasure have proved to be catnip to composers. They add a welcome touch of vinegar and salt to the sweetness and light. The smorgasbord was complete.

Today’s repertoire is a typical NYFOS mash-up of art song, operetta, musical theater, and folk music. Some of the composers are well-known masters who need only a bit of annotation to put them in context. Franz Lehár, who wrote The Merry Widow, gives us a sexy tango from his last operetta, Giuditta; Leonard Bernstein offers a rarity, a recently discovered torch song from the 1940s called “It’s Got to Be Bad to Be Good”; the iconic American satirist Tom Lehrer brings us the cheerful “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park”; Camille Saint-Saëns (Samson and Delilah, The Carnival of the Animals) stops time with one of his most beautiful art songs, “Aimons-nous”; and Johannes Brahms makes an all-too-rare NYFOS appearance with a breathtaking lullaby from Die schöne Magelone. While Brahms never wrote an opera, this massive narrative cycle, comprised of 15 aria-length songs plus narration, is as close as he ever came to a theatrical work.

We also hear from two icons of the late-Romantic era. The one-hit wonder Ruggiero Leoncavallo (of I Pagliacci fame) serves up a bracing jig en français whose tune is a guaranteed earworm, the enchanting “Sérénade napolitaine.” And there is a masterwork by Sergei Rachmaninoff: “Dream,” a hymn to the movie screen we visit every night in our sleep. I think it his most beautiful work for voice and piano (a very high bar), and it was among the last songs he ever wrote. After he emigrated to America in 1917, his only new vocal work was a set of three Russian folk song arrangements for chorus in 1927.

It makes me happy to include John Musto among the composers most likely to be familiar to a NYFOS audience. The music of this native New Yorker has graced our programs for decades, and his songs now get sung in recitals throughout the States and in Europe. He wrote “Calypso” for us in 1996 when we paired 10 commissioned pieces (for up-to-four voices and up-to-four hands) with the Brahms Liebeslieder Waltzes. John’s quartet was one of the best of the evening. He took a poem W. H. Auden had written as a lyric for the young Benjamin Britten, which Britten turned into a rangy, rapid-fire cabaret song. The poem makes it quite clear that the song is meant to be a calypso, but Britten’s music sidesteps the Jamaican rhythm of the words altogether. Musto latches onto Auden’s calypso and — in my opinion — outdoes his British colleague for humor, tunefulness, and character.

The other composers might be somewhat less well known, so I offer a footnote or two. Catalan music is one of my passions, and we have art songs by two of Catalonia’s leading musicians, Eduardo Toldrà and Xavier Montsalvatge. Given Catalonia’s proximity to southern France, it was natural for Barcelona’s musicians to temper Spanish passion with the gentle sensuality of French Impressionism. The result was a uniquely atmospheric musical language. Montsalvatge was one of Catalonia’s most adventurous artists, boldly drawing on lyrical and avant-garde elements from both sides of the Atlantic over the span of a 65-year career. I think of him as the Picasso of Spanish music, constantly experimenting and absorbing new ideas. Eduardo Toldrà is a more typical Catalan voice: elegant, yielding, and wistful. While more conservative than Montsalvatge, he is capable of casting a musical spell which you’ll hear in his magical songs “Maig” and “Canço de grumet.” Even at his tenderest (as in “Canço amorosa”), Montsalvatge shows off his swarthy masculinity, while Toldrá (even at his most aggressive) always affirms the patrician power of sweetness.

Francesco Paolo Tosti was the king of the salon song back when live after-dinner entertainment was de rigueur in the best houses. He came from a humble background, but from a young age he developed a knack for finding patrons of wealth and influence. His catchy tunes ultimately ingratiated him to Queen Victoria, and in 1880 he was hired as the resident singing master to the Royal Family. He rapidly became a European superstar. “Marechiare,” a jaunty hymn to a seaside neighborhood in Naples, celebrates the town where Tosti attended conservatory. Leading off the section called “The Down-Low” is a song by the English composer Jonathan Dove (b. 1959). His operas are making their way into the American repertory, particularly his airport dramedy Flight. Dove’s music embraces a broad spectrum of styles. He’s got a wicked sense of  humor and the timing of a Broadway pro, as evidenced by his comic opera The Enchanted Pig. But his palette also includes minimalism and romanticism, rhythmic drive and stark stasis. For today’s concert we’re presenting the first of his Five Am’rous Sighs, in which a piano ostinato provides a hypnotic background for a secret confession of lesbian attraction.

Dove’s sweetly ecstatic song gives way to Bernstein’s down-and-dirty blues in praise of kinky sex, a song he tossed off in the early 1940s which has only recently seen the light of day. And since we’re talking about kinks, how about a song by…The Kinks? This iconic rock group flourished in the mid-‘60s, peaked in the early ‘70s, and managed to remained active well into the ‘90s. Few rock ’n roll songs are suitable to the recital format — they’re usually guitar-oriented, noisy, and sweatily in-your-face. When baritone Johnathan McCullough suggested this song for an earlier version of this program, I admit I was skeptical. But “Lola” turned out to have a well-written lyric that told a good story, and chord progressions that fell graciously under my hands. Blessings on McCullough for introducing me to a song everyone but me already knew — although few seemed to have understood what it was actually about.

It’s just a hop, skip, and jump from bedroom kinks to behavioral aberrations of an obsessive nature. We’ve paired Tom Lehrer’s evergreen classic “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park” with two more American songs in praise of compulsion. “Humphrey Bogart,” the first of them, is by the songwriting team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, best known for the rock ‘n roll hits they wrote in the 1950s — “Love Potion #9,” “Hound Dog,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Stand By Me,” and a host of others. In the mid-1970s the songwriting duo began to write arty cabaret-style material, often with a political message. Peggy Lee’s 1975 album Mirrors was devoted entirely to these Kurt Weill-ish songs, and soon after that William Bolcom and his wife Joan Morris released their own piano-and-voice LP with more Leiber and Stoller gems. That is where I first heard “Humphrey Bogart,” which we include as a tribute to a modern vice: binge-watching.

The NYFOS audience may remember Gabriel Kahane’s Craiglistlieder from our 2010 program The Newest Deal. Kahane’s 2007 song cycle became his calling card — indeed, I first met him when a mutual friend, Charlotte Dobbs, brought Gabe over to my place where he sat down at my piano and performed the entire 20-minute work for me. I was bowled over by his pianistic skills, his vocal acrobatics, and his sheer chuztpah. It’s no surprise that Craigslistlieder, whose lyrics are lifted from personal ads on the Internet, has become an instant classic since its premiere. It functions on so many levels simultaneously: the songs are LOL funny but also strangely touching, completely modern in their texts while hewing closely to the values of great songwriters of the past. In the cycle’s finale, “Opera Scene,” Gabe honors — and parodies —Bernstein, Stravinsky, Wolf, Handel, and Rossini, transforming them into a unique brew of ironic beauty and serious comedy.

I’ve reserved the deepest pleasures for last: the warmth of love, the life-giving energy of faith, and the power of song to lead us out of darkness. Saint-Saëns’ pristine “Aimons-nous et dormons” is a prelude to a song by Michael John LaChiusa, “Heaven,” originally written for an unproduced musical by this prolific composer/lyricist. LaChiusa has written a slew of off-Broadway shows, including First Lady Suite, Hello Again, and Queen of the Mist, as well as two that played on the Great White Way, Marie Christine and Wild Party. His work might be a bit too arty for the tourist crowd, but he is prized by some of our greatest exponents of musical theater including Audra McDonald and Mary Testa. It was the latter who brought me today’s song. Programming a recent gala in celebration of NYFOS’ 30th anniversary, I asked Mary to sing a modern song that she thought would still be sung in 30 years. “Heaven” was her suggestion, and I fell for it instantly. I shall play my part in keeping it alive for the next three decades.

The show ends with an American classic, as arranged by Broadway’s premier orchestrator David Krane. I had always assumed that “How Can I Keep from Singing” was a traditional Quaker tune, since it appears in hymnals and has become associated with Quaker services. But the melody is actually the handiwork of the 19th-century Baptist minister and hymn-composer Robert Lowry. (He didn’t claim credit for the lyrics, which seem to go farther back in history.) Pete Seeger was the first to bring this song to a mass audience during the folk music boom of the 1950s. He toned down some of the overtly religious imagery of the original, and he also included a modern verse written by his friend Doris Plenn — “When tyrants tremble, sick with fear…” This was a reference to the recent McCarthy trials where Seeger had been found guilty and was sentenced to a year in jail. Saved by a legal technicality, he never had to serve his time.

I am not naïve enough to think that song alone can protect us from tyrants, madmen, or tweeting narcissists. But it can coalesce us into meaningful action. It can give us comfort. It can provide a respite of beauty, a reminder of our shared humanity, and support for our appetites. The vibration of song is a ripple that can become a wave. May we all meet again in sweeter times, propelled and buoyed up by music!

— Steven Blier