NEW PALTZ – The State University of New York at New Paltz Department of Music presents Songs for New Journeys on April 3 at 6:00 p.m. in the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art located on the college campus. The concert features songs for the theatre, composed by Stephen Kitsakos, arranged for piano, clarinet and voice. Clarinetist Osiris J. Molina, assistant professor of music at the University of Alabama and former student of Professor Kitsakos, will play the clarinet. Richard Mogavero, a member of the piano faculty at Vassar College, will provide the piano accompaniment.
Commissioned by the Episcopal Diocese of New York to create a song cycle based on a sacred text, Kitsakos, inspired by the spirituality of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Songs of Travel, composed Songs for New Journeys. Two New Paltz Theatre Arts alumni, tenor Owen M. Smith (‘04), and lyric soprano Cate Fricke (‘06), will be the featured vocalists. They will also sing selections from The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertolt Brecht, composed for a production in McKenna Theatre in 2005.
Special guest Dr. Joël Evans, assistant professor of music at New Paltz, will be the oboist for an instrumental piece, New Hampshire Suite, based on Kitsakos’ themes from Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. Additionally, Molina and Mogavero will perform the Streetcar Suite, based on themes composed for a production of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire.
A performance of The Shores of St. Laurent (2001), commissioned for The Woodstock Cycle, that interprets contemporary settings of sacred stories, will conclude the concert. With text and music by Kitsakos, the piece is a dramatization of a miracle that occurred in French Canada in the late 1800s with an intercession by St. Anne du Beaupre. Current Theatre Arts students Kevin Berger (‘12) and Jenna Kate Karn (‘14) will perform these songs.
Kitsakos is a theatre composer, lyricist, and opera librettist whose works have been performed throughout the United States and in Latin and South America. He is also an assistant chair of the Department of Theatre Arts at New Paltz. His work as a liturgical – composer has brought him a series of commissions from the Episcopal Diocese of New York as well as theatre and opera commissions from the Catskill Watershed Alliance, Fourth Wall Theatre, BMI Foundation, Fordham University at Lincoln Center, University of Connecticut and the Smithsonian Institution. A writer member of ASCAP, Kitsakos studied at New York University, the BMI Lehman Engel theatre-writing program, and, among others, with the distinguished American composer, Sheila Silver, his mentor and frequent collaborator. He has created original scores for many theatre productions including The Alchemist, The Second Shepherds Play, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, A Streetcar Named Desire, Traffic, The Hairy Ape, Our Town, King Lear, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry IV, Parts 1 & 2, The Importance of Being Earnest, Blood Wedding, and Eugenia.
Molina is an assistant professor of clarinet at The University of Alabama. He has considerable experience as a soloist, chamber and orchestral musician. Professional accomplishments include a concerto with the Beijing Wind Orchestra at the 2009 Beijing International Band Festival in China, where he served as a judge for the festival woodwind competition, and a return engagement at the National Arts Center in Beijing in 2010. In 2009, he was the featured soloist in Scott McAllister’s Black Dog at the Mid-West Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago with Alabama’s Hillcrest High School Wind Ensemble. Dr. Molina has also performed concerti with The University of Alabama Wind Ensemble.
Mogavero, a collaborative pianist and voice coach at Vassar College, coaches students in the performance of vocal literature, accompanies voice lessons and student recitals, and has a varied background in both music and theatre. He has also served in various roles, including music, stage and artistic directors, for Off-Broadway productions, regional theatre, summer stock and academia.
Evans, oboist and solo English hornist with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, has been a familiar musical voice in the valley for many years. He is oboist with the Poné Ensemble for New Music and teaches at New Paltz where he serves as an assistant professor of music, directing Symphonic Band, Collegium Musicum and lecturing in music history.
Tickets for Songs for New Journeys will be available at the door one half-hour prior to the performance. Prices are $8 general admission, $6 seniors, New Paltz faculty/staff, $3 students. For additional information call 845-257-3844.