The featured Oratorio A Melancholy Beauty tells the story of how the Bulgarian citizens saved 49,000 Bulgarian Jews from deportation to Nazi concentration camps. Scored for a narrator with brief introductory text before each movement, soloists, choirs (including a children’s choir and a Bulgarian female folk choir) join with authentic Bulgarian folk instruments to create sounds composed of fundamental, yet subtle layers within the total sonority of this intricately conceived and confidently composed masterpiece.
Maestro Donald Portnoy
Donald Portnoy is universally recognized as one of America’s dynamic and inspiring symphony orchestra conductors. He brings to music a unique awareness and appreciation for the audience and a refreshing sensitivity toward the musicians with whom he works. As a guest conductor, he has earned fame with the major orchestras of Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Buffalo, and with other major regional orchestras throughout the United States, Argentina, Brazil, China, England, France, Germany, Poland, Russia, Taiwan, South Korea, Italy and Switzerland.
Neli Atanasova Andreeva, Soprano
Since 1995, Neli Andreeva has been a soloist for the Philip Kutev National Folklore Ensemble, the world-renowned performance group that presents the rich heritage of Bulgaria through the integration of traditional folk songs and dances with contemporary Western harmony. Owing to her remarkable talent and dedication, Neli has produced multiple recording and has toured extensively in Europe, Asia, and the United States appearing in many of the world’s most prestigious halls – the Royal Albert Hall in London, UK; the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC; and the Symphony Hall in Osaka, Japan, to name a few.
Walter Cuttino, Tenor
Mr. Cuttino has performed over 500 concerts, including a concert tour with the late Leonard Bernstein, to London and Moscow. Since the fall of 1996, Mr. Cuttino has been a member of the voice faculty, which he now chairs, at the University of South Carolina where he performs regularly, and in addition, continues to perform on American and European stages. He is also artistic director of the Palmetto Opera, conductor of the Palmetto Mastersingers and director of Music at Lake Murray Presbyterian Church.
Jacob Will, Bass-baritone
Bass-baritone Jacob Will made his New York Philharmonic debut as soloist in the American premiere of the “Messa per Rossini,” a performance televised live nationwide. An experienced concert artist, Mr. Will has appeared with the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Vladamir Ashkenazy and with the Cabrillo Festival under the baton of Dennis Russell Davies. Mr. Will has sung for many years with the Zürich Opera.
Philip Kutev National Folklore Ensemble, Bulgaria
The world-renowned Philip Kutev National Folklore Ensemble was founded in 1951 by the eminent Bulgarian composer Philip Kutev (1903-1982) whose lifelong dream was to bring his country’s folklore tradition to the stage. He established the ensemble with the goal to integrate the rich heritage of Bulgarian folk songs for vocal singers and the traditional dance with its harmonies and arrangements that would highlight their beautiful timbres and irregular rhythms.
University of Florida Chamber Choir
The choral program, headed by Dr. Will Kesling, consists of the University Chamber Choir, the University Concert Choir, the University Choral Union, the Women’s Chorale, the Men’s Glee Club, Paenzi Sauti (African Choir) and the Gospel Choir. The University Chamber Choir is comprised of dedicated student musicians, usually at the graduate level and upper undergraduate level, performing a wide range of choral styles from various historical artistic periods and numerous world cultures.
Bach Festival Youth Choir
The Bach Festival Youth Choir (BFYC) serves the Central Florida community by providing quality music education with the goal of developing the highest level of artistic excellence in choral music performance. The choir is comprised of a homogenous blend of public, private and home-schooled students ages 9-18. The choir strives to enrich the lives of children from all religious, ethnic, cultural and economic backgrounds.
South Carolina Symphony Orchestra
The University of South Carolina Symphony and Chamber Orchestras are in the best tradition of a great university. Many talented and dedicated young people from all regions of the world work diligently to become members of these polished ensembles. They perform a broad repertoire with enormous skill and brilliance. Many of these young performers will become teachers. A few will pursue careers as professional musicians. Others will enjoy music as an avocation while engaged in other careers. All will leave USC with the satisfaction of having been important components of quality musical organizations.