Great Artists Series '23: J'Nai Bridges, mezzo-soprano and Howard Watkins, piano

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$35-40 general admission
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Program:
TBA

“Her voice is a rich blanket of plush sound, capacious and flexible, with a panoply of colors and weights”  - OPERA NEWS

Biography:

American mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, known for her “plush-voiced mezzo-soprano” (The New York Times), and “calmly commanding stage presence” (The New Yorker) has been heralded as “a rising star” (Los Angeles Times), gracing the world’s top opera and concert stages.

Ms. Bridges’ 2021 – 2022 season is highlighted by her participation in numerous world premiere engagements, and as a guest artist at The Kennedy Center’s 50th Anniversary Season. The first Kennedy Center performance is with the all Black and Latinx Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, followed by Written in Stone, a Washington National Opera program of new music including the world premiere of a piece written for her by Carlos Simon. Ms. Bridges’ time in Washington D.C. continues as a soloist with The National Philharmonic in the world premiere of Adolphus Hailstork’s A Knee on the Neck, and Mozart’s Requiem. She continues her collaboration with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, giving a recital as part of their Power to the People! festival. She also appears with Amarillo Symphony as a guest artist in a world premiere piece by Chris Rogerson entitled Sacred Earth, sing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 for Houston Symphony’s season finale performance, and will give a solo recital at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, NJ. Operatic engagements include the title role in Carmen with Palm Beach Opera, and Jocasta in Oedipus Rex with the San Francisco Symphony.

In the midst of the worldwide pandemic, she emerged as a leading figure in classical music’s shift toward conversations of inclusion and racial justice in the performing arts. Bridges led a highly successful panel on race and inequality in opera with the Los Angeles Opera that drew international acclaim for being a “conversation of striking scope and candor” (The New York Times). In early 2021, Ms. Bridges was featured in the Converse shoe brand’s All Stars Campaign for its Breaking Down Barriers collection. Bridges also performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel for two episodes of the digital SOUND/STAGE series, and as part of the Global Citizen movement’s Global Goal campaign, a program which also included Coldplay, Shakira, Usher and more. The pandemic also forced the cancellation of Ms. Bridges’ numerous debuts during the 2020-2021 season including the title role of Carmen at The Metropolitan Opera and Canadian Opera Company. Bridges’ 2019 – 2020 season included her highly-acclaimed debut at The Metropolitan Opera as Nefertiti in a sold-out run of Philip Glass’ opera Akhnaten, as well as a house and role debut with Washington National Opera as Dalila in Samson et Dalila.

Other recent highlights include the 2021 Grammy AwardTM-winning recording of Richard Danielpour’s oratorio The Passion of Yeshua with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, her sold-out Carnegie Hall Recital debut, her role debut of Kasturbai in Satyagraha at LA Opera, and her debuts at Dutch National Opera and the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. Ms. Bridges also created the role of Josefa Segovia in the world premiere of John Adams’ Girls of the Golden West at San Francisco Opera, and performed in the world premiere of Bel Canto at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, an opera by Jimmy Lopez based on the novel by Ann Patchett.

Bridges is a recipient of the prestigious 2018 Sphinx Medal of Excellence Award, a 2016 Richard Tucker Career Grant, first prize winner at the 2016 Francisco Viñas International Competition, first prize winner at the 2015 Gerda Lissner Competition, a recipient of the 2013 Sullivan Foundation Award, a 2012 Marian Anderson award winner, the recipient of the 2011 Sara Tucker Study Grant, the recipient of the 2009 Richard F. Gold Grant from The Shoshana Foundation, and the winner of the 2008 Leontyne Price Foundation Competition. J’Nai completed a three-year residency with the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago, represented the United States at the prestigious BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, and was a Young Artist at the Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, New York.

A native of Tacoma, Washington, she earned her Master of Music degree from Curtis Institute of Music, and her Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from the Manhattan School of Music.

jnaibridgesmezzo.com


American pianist Howard Watkins is a frequent associate of some of the world’s leading musicians on the concert stage; he’s also an assistant conductor at the Metropolitan Opera. His appearances throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia, Russia, and Israel have included collaborations with Joyce DiDonato, Diana Damrau, Kathleen Battle, Grace Bumbry, Mariusz Kwiecień, Anna Netrebko, and Matthew Polenzani as well as violinists Xiang Gao and Sarah Chang at such venues as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Spivey Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Pierpont Morgan Library, the United States Supreme Court, Alice Tully Hall with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the three stages of Carnegie Hall, and the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. He has accompanied the classes of legendary artists Renata Scotto, Frederica von Stade, Régine Crespin, Birgit Nilsson, Sherrill Milnes, and George Shirley. Watkins has served on the faculties of the Tanglewood Music Center, the Aspen Music Festival, the Mannes School of Music, the North Carolina School of the Arts, the International Vocal Arts Institute (Israel, Japan, and China), IIVA in Italy, the Brancaleoni Music Festival in Italy, the Tokyo International Vocal Arts Academy (TIVAA), and VOICExperience in Orlando, Tampa, and Savannah. He has also worked on the music staffs of Palm Beach Opera, the Washington National Opera, and the Los Angeles Opera. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Watkins completed his Doctor of Musical Arts in accompanying and chamber Music at the University of Michigan. In 2004, he received the Paul C. Boylan award from the University of Michigan for his outstanding contributions to the field of music, and a special achievement award from the National Alumni Association of the University of Dayton. He is a resident of New York City.

**All programs subject to change

Co-sponsored by:


Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity

Additional financial assistance for this project has been provided by the The Missouri Arts Council and the Robert H. Orchard Fund

 

 

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