Peter Oundijan Leads the BSO and Baltimore Choral Arts Society in Beethoven’s Ninth, May 24 – 26

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Music Director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and newly appointed Music Director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra Peter Oundijan will lead the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Baltimore Choral Arts Society in Beethoven’s monumental Ninth Symphony on Thursday, May 24 at 8 p.m. and Friday, May 25 at 8 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and Saturday, May 26 at 8 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore.

Music Director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, and newly appointed Music Director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra Peter Oundijan will lead the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Baltimore Choral Arts Society in Beethoven’s monumental Ninth Symphony on Thursday, May 24 at 8 p.m. and Friday, May 25 at 8 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and Saturday, May 26 at 8 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore. Also on the program is Bruckner’s Te Deum; a setting of an early Christian hymn for orchestra, chorus and vocal soloists. This unique concert, dedicated to great choral masterpieces of the 19th century, will feature the talents of soprano Joyce El-Khoury, mezzo-soprano Mary Phillips, tenor Brandon Jovanovich and bass Morris Robinson. Please see below for complete program details.

The influence of Beethoven’s No. 9, “Choral,” is immeasurable. As the first symphony to include full chorus and orchestra, Beethoven’s Ninth brought the genre to a magnitude that had never been previously conceived, thereby radically changing the future of orchestral repertoire. With its uplifting text and its universal recognition, the finale of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony has been used to mark historic events, including the fall of the Berlin Wall, and now serves as the European Union’s anthem. The symphony was inspired by the writing of Friedrich Schiller, who in his poem An die Freude or “Ode to Joy” states that joy is found when “all men are made brothers.”

Expansive, operatic and passionate, Te Deum by Anton Bruckner is no doubt one of the many compositions inspired by Beethoven’s Ninth. Written as five interrelated movements, Bruckner’s Te Deum contains text from Psalms, as well as motets and masses associated with the Catholic Church. Although many settings of Te Deum throughout the ages have been tied to political events, Bruckner wrote out of his steadfast faith in God. According to musicologist Dr. Kern Holoman, Bruckner said that when he should meet his maker, “I will show him the score of my Te Deum, and he may judge me accordingly.”

Peter Oundjian, conductor
Toronto-born conductor Peter Oundjian, noted for his probing musicality, collaborative spirit and engaging personality, has been an instrumental figure in the rebirth of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra since his appointment as Music Director in 2004. In addition to conducting the orchestra in dynamic performances which have achieved outstanding artistic acclaim, he has been greatly involved in a variety of new initiatives which have strengthened the ensemble’s presence in the community and attracted a young and diverse audience. In 2004, he established an annual celebration of new music, showcasing new and premiering commissioned works. Now an audience favorite, the New Creations Festival celebrates the best in contemporary orchestral music and attracts celebrated contemporary composers.

In his tenure with the TSO, Mr. Oundjian has also released five recordings on the orchestra’s self produced record label, tsoLIVE. The award-winning documentary “Five Days In September: The Rebirth of An Orchestra,” chronicles Peter Oundjian’s first week as music director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

In addition to his post in Toronto, Peter Oundjian has been named music director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, starting in the 2012-13 season. Mr. Oundjian was principal guest conductor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra from 2006 to 2010 and played a major role at the Caramoor International Music Festival in New York between 1997 and 2007. He has served as a visiting professor at the Yale School of Music since 1981. In May 2009, Mr. Oundjian received an honorary doctorate from the San Francisco Conservatory.

Peter Oundjian was educated in England, where he studied the violin with Manoug Parikian. He then attended the Royal College of Music in London, where he was awarded the Gold Medal for Most Distinguished Student and Stoutzker Prize for excellence in violin playing. He completed his violin training at the Juilliard School in New York, where he studied with Ivan Galamian, Itzhak Perlman and Dorothy DeLay. Peter Oundjian was the first violinist of the renowned Tokyo String Quartet, a position he held for fourteen years.

Baltimore Choral Arts Society
The Baltimore Choral Arts Society, now in its 45th season, is one of Maryland's premier cultural institutions. The Symphonic Chorus, Full Chorus, Orchestra, and Chamber Chorus perform throughout the mid-Atlantic region, as well as in Washington, D.C., New York, and in Europe.

In the summer of 2007, Tom Hall led the Chorus in a successful, 3-city tour of France including sold-out performances in Paris and Aix-en-Provence, and the Chorus has also appeared at Spain’s prestigious Festival of the Costa del Sol.

For the past 15 years, WMAR Television, the ABC network affiliate in Maryland, has featured Choral Arts in an hour-long special, 'Christmas with Choral Arts," which won an Emmy Award in 2006. Mr. Hall and the chorus were also featured in a PBS documentary called "Jews and Christians: A Journey of Faith," broadcast nationwide, and on National Public Radio in 2001. On local radio, Mr. Hall is the host of "Choral Arts Classics," a monthly program on WYPR that features the Choral Arts Chorus and Orchestra, and he is the Culture Editor on WYPR’s "Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast."

Baltimore Choral Arts' latest CD is "Christmas at America's First Cathedral," released on Gothic Records in September 2010. A recording with Dave Brubeck, featuring Brubeck’s oratorio, "The Gates of Justice," was released internationally on the NAXOS label in 2004. Choral Arts has two other recordings in current release: "Christmas with Choral Arts" and a live recording of the Rachmaninoff "All-Night Vigil." Mr. Hall produced "Let Freedom Ring!," a highly successful recording for Gothic Records featuring the Washington Men’s Camerata, as well the soundtracks for "Legends" on the Learning Channel.

Choral Arts has appeared with the National Symphony, and has made regular appearances with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Acclaimed artists collaborating with Choral Arts have included Chanticleer, Dave Brubeck, the King’s Singers, Peter Schickele, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Anonymous 4, and others. Tom Hall’s innovative programs often feature both choral and orchestral music, stage and theater works.

Tom Hall, director
Tom Hall is one of the most highly regarded performers in choral music today. Appointed Music Director in 1982, Mr. Hall has added more than 100 new works to the BCAS repertoire, and he has premiered works by contemporary composers including Peter Schickele, Libby Larsen, Robert Sirota, James Lee III, Rosephanye Dunn Powell, and many other internationally acclaimed composers.

In addition to his position with BCAS, Mr. Hall is active as a guest conductor in the United States and in Europe including appearances with the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston, the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia, the Berkshire Choral Festival, Musica Sacra in New York, and Britten Sinfonia in Canterbury, England. His 2005 concert with Orchestre de Chambre de Paris was broadcast on French television. Mr. Hall has prepared choruses for Leonard Bernstein, Robert Shaw, Helmuth Rilling, and others, and he served for ten years as the Chorus Master of the Baltimore Opera Company.

Mr. Hall is also a well known teacher, lecturer, and writer. He has served as the President of Chorus America, a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, and he has been an Artist in Residence at Indiana University, the Eastman School of Music, the University of Cincinnati, Temple University, and Syracuse University. He has been the Director of Choral Activities at Goucher College for 25 years, and has also taught at the Peabody Conservatory, the University of Baltimore, Towson University, Morgan State University, and the Johns Hopkins University.

Joyce El-Khoury, soprano
Soprano Joyce El-Khoury is a 2011 graduate of the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. Also a graduate of the Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA) in Philadelphia, Miss El-Khoury performed the roles of Tatyana in Eugene Onegin, the title role in Massenet’s Manon, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, the title role in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut (Act II) and Violetta in La Traviata.

She has performed as the soprano soloist in Rossini’s Stabat Mater, and Mendelssohn’s Elijah, also with AVA. Miss El-Khoury spent the summers of 2006 and 2008 at the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program, where she covered First Lady in Die Zauberflöte and Alice in Verdi’s Falstaff. Other recent engagements have included Nedda in Pagliacci at the Crested Butte Music Festival and with Knoxville Opera, Marguerite in Faust with Opera Camerata of Washington, D.C., the soprano soloist for Mozart’s Requiem and Vesperae de Dominica with Coro Vivo Ottawa; and the soprano soloist in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Riverside Symphonia.

She is a First Prize winner of the Opera Index Competition, First Prize winner of the George London Foundation, Second Prize winner in the Gerda Lissner International Voice Competition and International Semi-Finalist in Plácido Domingo’s Operalia Competition. She was also the First Prize winner in the Mario Lanza Vocal Competition, First Prize winner and WRTI Radio audience favorite in the Giargiari Bel Canto Competition.

Mary Phillips, mezzo-soprano
Internationally acclaimed mezzo-soprano Mary Phillips is particularly in demand in the repertoire of Wagner, Verdi, Beethoven, and Mahler. In 2010–11 she appeared at the Metropolitan Opera as Schwertleite in Wagner's Ring. She has sung Fricka and Waltraute in Die Walküre and Waltraute in Götterdämmerung at Canadian Opera; Erda for Scottish Opera, and Wellgunde and Rossweise with Seattle Opera. Also hailed for her Verdi, she has sung Eboli in Don Carlo for Canadian Opera and Azucena in Il Trovatore at Seattle Opera. She is perhaps best known for her Amneris in Aida, which she will reprise in 2012 with the Hawaii Opera Theatre.

Concert highlights include Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the New York Philharmonic, Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with the Atlanta Symphony (recorded for Telarc), the Los Angeles Philharmonic and in Beijing as part of the 2008 Summer Olympics festivities. Her many performances of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 include the Boston Symphony Orchestra under James Levine and the Philadelphia Orchestra under Charles Dutoit, Utah Symphony and Opera, the National Symphony and the Hong Kong Philharmonic. She has recorded Beethoven’s Opferlied and Symphony No. 9 with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra.

Brandon Jovanovich, tenor
Winner of the 2007 Richard Tucker Award, Brandon Jovanovich is renowned for his passionate stage portrayals in French, Italian, German and Slavic operas. Acclaimed for a multitude of roles, The San Francisco Examiner proclaimed his Pinkerton “hit with the force of a revelation. Tall, blond and ridiculously handsome… his vocal performance, delivered with plenty of effortless power and deep, baritonal colors.”

In the 2011-12 season, Mr. Jovanovich appears as Don José with Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Bayerische Staatsoper, as Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos with Lyric Opera of Chicago, as Cavaradossi in Tosca with Oper Köln and Canadian Opera Company, and as the title role in Don Carlos with Houston Grand Opera. In concert he appears at the Hollywood Bowl performing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Choral Fantasy, both with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well as with the Gürzenich Orchester Köln performing Mahler’s Eighth Symphony.

Comfortable in a variety of repertoire, next season will see Mr. Jovanovich sing the title role of Lohengrin with San Francisco Opera. Mr. Jovanovich will also reprise one of his signature roles of Pinkerton in a new production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly with LA Opera. Highlights of previous seasons include Froh in Das Rheingold and Siegmund in Die Walküre at San Francisco Opera and Don Jose in Carmen with The Metropolitan Opera.

Mr. Jovanovich trained at Northern Arizona University and Manhattan School of Music. He is a founding member of the Seattle Young Artists program and was a member of the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice program, where he was given the Anna Mackay Case Award. He won the Crawley Award from the Young Patronesses of the Opera/Florida Grand Opera Voice Competition and in 2004 he was given the prestigious ARIA Award.

Morris Robinson, bass
Morris Robinson is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the most interesting and sought after basses performing today.

A graduate of the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program, Mr. Robinson made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in their production of Fidelio. He has since appeared there as Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte (both in the original production and in a new children’s English version), the King in Aida and in roles in Nabucco, Tannhäuser and the new productions of Les Troyens and Salome. He has also appeared at the Dallas Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Seattle Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Opera Theater of St. Louis, the Wolf Trap Opera and the Aix-en-Provence Festival. His many roles include Sarastro in Die Zauberflöte, Osmin in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Ramfis in Aida, Sparafucile in Rigoletto, Commendatore in Don Giovanni, Grand Inquisitor in Don Carlos, Timur in Turandot, the Bonze in Madama Butterfly, Padre Guardiano in La Forza del Destino, Ferrando in Il Trovatore and Fasolt in Das Rheingold.

Also a prolific concert singer, Mr. Robinson has appeared with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (in Chicago and at the Ravinia Festival), Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Ft. Worth Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, Met Chamber Orchestra, Nashville Symphony Orchestra, São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, New England String Ensemble, and at the Ravinia, Mostly Mozart, Tanglewood, Cincinnati May, Verbier and Aspen festivals. He also appeared in Carnegie Hall as part of Jessye Norman’s HONOR! Festival. In recital he has been presented by Spivey Hall in Atlanta, the Savannah Music Festival, the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

BSO Classical Concert: Beethoven’s Ninth
Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 8 p.m. – Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall (JMSH)
Friday, May 25, 2012 at 8 p.m. – JMSH
Saturday, May 26, 2012 at 8 p.m. – Music Center at Strathmore

Peter Oundjian, conductor
Joyce El-Khoury, soprano BSO DEBUT
Mary Phillips, mezzo-soprano
Brandon Jovanovich, tenor BSO DEBUT
Morris Robinson, bass
Baltimore Choral Arts Society
    Tom Hall, director

Bruckner: Te Deum
Beethoven: Symphony No. 9, "Choral"

Tickets range from $34 to $68 and are available through the BSO Ticket Office, 410.783.8000 or


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Alyssa Porambo
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
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