James Benjamin Rodgers
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Rodgers continues Weill’s story in San Francisco.
New York, U.S.A. – Thursday, April 24th, 2014
Tenor James Benjamin Rodgers presents Kurt Weill: The Man and His Music, a concert highlighting the career of Kurt Weill. First performed in New Zealand in 2012, the program received fantastic reviews from audiences and critics alike.
Rodgers’ ongoing association with Weill’s music began in 2007 when he won the Kurt Weill Foundation’s Lotte Lenya Competition. Since winning the competition his knowledge of and admiration for Weill’s work has only grown. James talks about his inspiration for the program:
“Weill’s compositional output was extraordinarily diverse. This makes him very hard to categorize and therefore extremely interesting. His music requires an operatic vocal ability whilst calling for the dramatic focus of the theater. It is certainly not pure bel canto, sometimes calling for ugly or brutal tone in support of the dramatic intention. However, if you don’t have a solid technique, you simply can’t sing what he wrote. In a way, he created his own genre which still doesn’t really have a definition today. That’s astounding to me, particularly given the complex musical landscape we live in.”
Having gained great success with The Threepenny Opera, Weill was forced to flee Germany in 1933 by the rise of Hitler and the Nazi’s. He would never return home and journeyed through France, ultimately settling in the United States. With these concerts Rodgers follows that journey, capturing the essence of Weill’s evolution as it relates to the events and geographical shifts in his life.
“Many people know the name Kurt Weill. They have certainly heard Mack the Knife, and they may know of Three Penny Opera. But there is so much more to him than that. It makes for a fascinating examination. Plus, the music is so just so good!”
This program is an augmentation of Rodgers’ recent digital release, Exiled: The Evolution of Kurt Weill, and marks the official release of the CD version of the album.
“As I started my research for the recording I realized that this program had to be presented live. There were just so many amazing moments and stories from Weill’s career that I couldn’t resist putting it together. After the success of the New Zealand performances and now having released the album, the time felt right to bring the program to the U.S.”
The first printing of the CD will go on sale and be available for advanced purchase when buying tickets for the performance.
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The location for this first U.S. presentation is also of huge significance.
“It was Barbara Winkelstein’s appreciation for my interpretation of Weill’s song Youkali that started this whole concept. Sadly Barbara passed away in 2011. It is one of my regrets, not having the chance to show her the finished product. She was a dear and generous friend and to return to her home with this program is very special. I am so grateful to Peter for allowing us the opportunity.”
Mr. Rodgers will be joined by his wife, pianist Jillian Zack who is a graduate of both the Manhattan School of Music and Juilliard.
“It is great fun working with Jillian on this program. In addition to her classical training, she has a big background in Musical Theatre so that gives her an ideal skill set to tackle the demands of this repertoire. She’s great! Of course I can’t pretend to be completely impartial.”
James Benjamin Rodgers is from Wellington, New Zealand. A graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, he participated in the Merola Opera Program in 2008 where he sang the title role in Albert Herring. He returned to San Francisco to perform a Schwabacher Debut Recital in 2009. Jillian Zack is a pianist from Boston, and is a graduate of the Juilliard School’s collaborative piano program. They reside in New York City.
Exiled: The Evolution of Kurt Weill
August 30th, 2014 at 4:00pm.
presented at the home of Peter Winkelstein
129 24th Avenue
San Francisco, CA, 94121-1220
Tickets are extremely limited.
Album Website: http://exiled.jamesbenjaminrodgers.com