Now in its 37th year, the Schwabacher Recital Series returns on Wednesday, January 29, with performances at San Francisco’s Dianne and Tad Taube Atrium Theater that feature emerging artists from around the globe.
Presented by San Francisco Opera Center and Merola Opera Program, the annual Schwabacher Series consists of four Wednesday evening recitals, the last of which concludes on April 22.
The first-ever Schwabacher series was presented in December 1983, kicking off a decades-long San Francisco tradition of presenting rising international talent in the intimacy of a recital setting. The 2020 series will blend classics like Hector Berlioz’s Les Nuits d’Été with rarely performed 20th- and 21st-century works like Olivier Messiaen’s Harawi.
The series opens on January 29 with a set of performers recently seen as part of the Merola Opera Program: mezzo-soprano Alice Chung, baritone Laureano Quant and pianist
Twice named as a Merola artist—once in 2017 and again in 2019—Chung returns to the Bay Area for this recital, having been hailed as a “force of nature” by San Francisco Classical Voice (SFCV). She will tackle a range of works, from Colombian composer Luis Carlos Figueroa’s soothing lullaby “Berceuse” to cabaret-inspired works like William Bolcom’s “Over the Piano.
Quant, a 2019 Merola participant, joins Chung to perform Bolcom’s music, as well as select songs from Berlioz’s Les Nuits d’Été and Francesco Santoliquido’s I Canti della Sera. His singing earned him the attention of the San Francisco Chronicle, which dubbed him an “obvious standout” in the 2019 Merola Grand Finale.
In addition, Quant—who boasts a background as a composer in his native Colombia—will present original music. He named his composition Sombras, inspired by the words of landmark Colombian poet José Asunción Silva. The set is composed of two songs: “Las voces silenciosas,” representing the voices of the dead calling out from the underworld, and “Estrellas fijas,” about a love story told from the grave.
Transforming poetry into song for “Las voces silenciosas” proved to be particularly challenging for Quant. “Since it was my first attempt to write vocal music, it took me three months to really settle on how I wanted to set the poem,” Quant says. He has previously performed these works in Colombia.
Roehler, a colleague of Chung’s and Quant’s in the 2019 Merola Opera Program, brings an expertise in collaborative piano honed under the instruction of master pianist Martin Katz at the University of Michigan. He previously served as music staff for the Crane Opera Ensemble.