SFGC Opens 40th Anniversary Season with Nicholas Phan


San Francisco, CA – September 24, 2018 - The San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC) and Artistic Director Valérie Sainte-Agathe open the organization’s 40thanniversary concert season on Thursday, October 18 at 7:30 p.m. at Herbst Theatre with Mademoiselle: An American Inspiration. Saluting the influence of French composer Nadia Boulanger on some of the most important composers in American history, the program will showcase works by Nadia and the music of Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Samuel Barber, Virgil Thompson, David Conte and Louise Talma. Also featured is a selection of works by her sister, Lili Boulanger, in honor of the centennial anniversary of her tragic death. Lyric tenor Nicholas Phan makes his SFGC debut performing songs by Nadia and Lili Boulanger, Copland and Bernstein.
A highly sought-after pedagogue, Nadia Boulanger encouraged her protégés to harness their individuality and to each develop their own unique compositional style. The evening’s program provides a rich tapestry of diverse voices heard in American masterworks throughout the 20thcentury and beyond. Featured works by former Boulanger students include Aaron Copland’s An Immorality; Samuel Barber’s The Virgin Martyrs and A Nun Takes the Veil; Leonard Bernstein’s I Hate Music!; Virgil Thomson Seven Choruses from the Medea of Euripides; and Louise Talma’s Three Madrigals.

Lauded by Opera News as “one of the most beautiful young lyric voices around,” Nicholas Phan makes his SFGC debut with excerpts from Lili Boulanger’s Clairières dans le ciel. Work for this two part song cycle began in 1913, the same year that Lili became the first woman to be awarded the prestigious Prix de Rome, and was completed in 1918 two years before her death. In a recent performance of this work, San Francisco Classical Voicestated: “…it was Phan’s interpretive authority and finesse that gave the evening its shaded colors, nuance and overall dramatic presence. Again and again he delivered a sense of present-tense musical meaning to the lines.” Phan will also perform excerpts from Nadia Boulanger’s Les Heures Claires and Cantique, selections from Copland’s Old American Songs and Simple Song from Bernstein’s Mass.
Valérie Sainte-Agathe says, “This season encompasses a breadth of remarkable works by prominent women composers and we are proud to launch our 40th anniversary with a salute to two of the most important yet often overlooked composers of the 20th century, Nadia and Lili Boulanger. Throughout our entire organization, we strive to promote empowerment and diversity and our opening performance encapsulates this philosophy perfectly.”
Tickets for Mademoiselle: An American Inspiration are $28 and $38, and can be purchased through sfgirlschorus.org or by phone at (415) 392-4400. $10 student tickets can be purchased in-person with valid student ID.

San Francisco Girls Chorus Presents
Mademoiselle: An American Inspiration

Thursday, October 18, 2018, 7:30 p.m., Herbst Theatre, San Francisco

Valérie Sainte-Agathe, conductor
Nicholas Phan, tenor
Nadia Boulanger: Excerpts from Les Heures Claires
Nadia Boulanger: Cantique
Lili Boulanger: Excerpts from Clairières dans le ciel
Leonard Bernstein: Simple Song from Mass
Aaron Copland: Selections from Old American Songs
            Nicholas Phan, tenor
Lili Boulanger: Les Sirènes
David Conte: In Praise of Music
Aaron Copland: An Immorality
Virgil Thomson: Seven Choruses from the Medea of Euripides
Samuel Barber: The Virgin Martyrs
Samuel Barber: A Nun Takes the Veil
Louise Talma: Three Madrigals
Leonard Bernstein: I Hate Music!
Single tickets range in price from $10 to $38 and can be purchased through City Box Office: http://www.cityboxofice.com and (415) 392-4400. 
For more information, please visit sfgirlschorus.org.
Described by the Boston Globe as “one of the world’s most remarkable singers,” American tenor Nicholas Phan is increasingly recognized as an artist of distinction. An artist with an incredibly diverse repertoire that ranges from Claudio Monteverdi to Nico Muhly and beyond, he performs regularly with the world’s leading orchestras and opera companies. Phan is also an avid recitalist and a passionate advocate for art song and vocal chamber music; in 2010, Phan co-founded Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago, an organization devoted to promoting this underserved repertoire.
Phan once again launches his new season in Chicago, curating CAIC’s seventh annual Collaborative Arts Festival. Other highlights of his 2018-19 season are two role debuts: Eumolpus in Stravinsky’s Perséphone, with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony; and the title role in Handel’s Jephtha, with Boston Baroque and Martin Pearlman. The title role in Bernstein’s Candide, with Marin Alsop and the Israel Philharmonic, will mark his debut in Israel. In addition to three programs with the San Francisco Symphony, he will return to major orchestras across the country including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. A celebrated recording artist, Phan will be heard on two forthcoming albums this season: Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette with Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony and Handel’s Joseph and His Brethren with Nicholas McGegan and Philharmonia Baroque.
Phan's most recent solo album, Illuminations, was released on Avie Records in April 2018. His previous solo album, Gods and Monsters, was nominated for the 2017 Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Solo Album. His other previous solo albums, A Painted TaleStill Fall the Rain and Winter Words, made many "best of" lists, including those of the New York TimesNew YorkerChicago Tribune and Boston Globe. Phan's growing discography also includes a Grammy-nominated recording of Stravinsky's Pulcinella with Pierre Boulez and the Chicago Symphony, the opera L'Olimpiade with the Venice Baroque Orchestra, Scarlatti's La gloria di primavera with Philharmonia Baroque, an album of Bach’s secular cantatas with Masaaki Suzuki and Bach Collegium Japan, Bach's St. John Passion (in which he sings both the Evangelist and the tenor arias) with Apollo's Fire, and the world premiere recordings of two orchestral song cycles: The Old Burying Ground by Evan Chambers and Elliott Carter's A Sunbeam's Architecture.

Stunning range, flexibility, drama, and power are among the hallmarks of the 40-year-old San Francisco Girls Chorus (SFGC), recognized as one of the world’s leading youth vocal ensembles. Led by Artistic Director Valérie Sainte-Agathe, SFGC has achieved an incomparable sound that underscores the unique clarity and force of impeccably trained treble voices.

During the 2018-2019 Season, SFGC will present a four-program Bay Area subscription series, with performances at Herbst Theatre, Davies Symphony Hall, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Mission Dolores Basilica, and First Congregational Church, Berkeley. SFGC will also be featured in performances of Stravinsky’s Persephone with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony and in a joint concert with Denmark’s leading girls chorus, the Copenhagen Girls Choir. In July 2019, SFGC will embark on a 10-day European tour, with performances in and around London and Paris.

Also, beginning this season, SFGC will perform exclusively in new custom concert outfits created for it by leading designer Yuka Uehara, Creative Director for San Francisco fashion brand, Tokyo Gamine.
Recent concert highlights include debut performances in February 2018 at Carnegie Hall with Philip Glass and at leading New York new music venue, Le Poisson Rouge; June 2018 performances of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas with Voices of Music for the Berkeley Festival & Exhibition; performances in consecutive seasons with the Kronos Quartet for the ensemble’s KRONOS FESTIVAL at SFJAZZ; an April 2017 debut performance at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with The Knights for SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras; a June 2016 appearance at the NYPHIL BIENNIAL festival at New York’s Lincoln Center; tours to the Nordic countries, Germany, Japan, and Cuba; and the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Praised by Gramophone Magazine as a “remarkable tapestry of teenage voices,” SFGC has been a champion of music of our time since its founding, having commissioned more than three dozen works by leading composers including Philip Glass, Richard Danielpour, Aaron Jay Kernis, Gabriel Kahane, Augusta Read Thomas, Lisa Bielawa, and Chen Yi. In August 2017, SFGC returned to the recording studio with the Kronos Quartet to record works by nine living composers, including Philip Glass, Lisa Bielawa, John Zorn, and Gabriel Kahane, for its album, Final Answer, which was released on the Orange Mountain Music label in February 2018 to critical acclaim.
SFGC has been recipient of numerous music industry awards, including five GRAMMY Awards, four ASCAP/Chorus America Awards for Adventurous Programming, and the Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence from Chorus America. Additionally, SFGC was voted Best Choral Group in the Bay Area in 2017 by the readers of San Francisco Classical Voice; and its June 2018 performances of Dido and Aeneas with Voices of Music was voted Best Opera Performance, Best Choral Performance, and Best Early Music/Baroque Performance of the 2017-2018 Bay Area concert season, also by readers of San Francisco Classical Voice.
SFGC is renowned as a regional center for choral music education and performance for girls and young women ages 5-18. Hundreds of singers from 46 Bay Area cities participate in this internationally-recognized six-level Chorus School, called “a model in the country for training girls’ voices” by the California Arts Council.
For more information, visit sfgirlschorus.org.
San Francisco Girls Chorus & Valérie Sainte-Agathe / Carlin Ma
Nicholas Phan / Henry Dombey
Brenden Guy
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