Academy of Sacred Drama
Sunday, February 23, 2020, 4 p.m.
Corpus Christi Church
Jeremy Rhizor, director and violin
Three singers and seven instrumentalists
The Victim of Love: Oratorio by Antonio Gianettini
Jeremy Rhizor’s mission is to create a comprehensive and totally original listening experience for his audience. He combines a fervent 17th-century oratorio, Gianettini’s La vittima d’amore, ossia La morte di Cristo in a modern-day premiere, a lecture at its midpoint, and a reception after the performance. The oratorio’s text is melancholy: it expresses the pain of Mary and St. John as they accept the necessary sacrifice of Jesus.
Mid-concert lecture and post-concert dessert reception
“A group of four silken-toned string players shared in the melodic bounty, and a continuo … wove ever-changing textures in support. In fact, the whole performance seemed tailored to the present moment, as it breathed melodious life into a dusty manuscript that had waited 300 years to be so up-to-date.” —New York Classical Review
Estimated run time: 140 minutes, including one mid-concert lecture and one intermission.
Artist Bios and Program
The Academy of Sacred Drama seeks to revive one of humanity’s great art forms, present in rituals, in liturgy, and on stage: the sacred drama. The Academy approaches this task as a membership organization of volunteers, supporters, and professionals dedicated to research, education, and the performance of sacred drama. This approach has enabled unusually ambitious projects such as the production of an open-license journal devoted to sacred drama.
The Academy’s creation of editions and translations of little-known baroque oratorios and cantatas has enabled the frequent presentation of modern and American premieres of these works, paired with lectures and receptions. The Academy’s 2019–2020 season features the work of Antonio Gianettini (1648 – 1721): the once-celebrated composer of Baroque oratorio and opera whose name is now almost entirely forgotten in the world of music. It also marks the Academy’s first Westchester season with performances at the Church House at White Plains Presbyterian Church.
Noted for playing “virtuosically but with fluid grace” by the New York Times, violinist Jeremy Rhizor is the founder and director of the Academy of Sacred Drama. He is a specialist in 17th-century oratorio and is exploring ways to extend historical performance practices to performance contexts. He has led the modern-day and American premieres of Baroque oratorios by Bassani, Draghi (at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music), Freschi, Gianettini, de Grandis, and Pasquini as well as rarely heard works by Stradella, Scarlatti, and Charpentier. He is a member of the Canadian early-music ensemble Aureas Voces and plays orchestral music at the Lakes Area Music Festival in Brainerd, MN each summer. jeremyrhizor.com
Tony Lopresti is Mime Director of the Festival Musica sull’Acqua on Italy’s Lake Como. He co-founded MuMoMusement—a new fusion of music and movement—with Festival Artistic Director and Italian violinist Francesco Senese. Tony and Francesco created Apocalypse Man, a solo physical interpretation of Bela Bartók’s Sonata for Solo Violin, which premiered in L’Aquila, Italy, and later at the Mantova International Chamber Music Festival. Tony was a principal performer with the New York Pantomime Theatre under the direction of Moni and Mina Yakin.
Charles Weaver is on the faculty of the Juilliard School, where he teaches Historically Informed Performance on Plucked Instruments. He was music director for Cavalli’s La Calisto with New York’s Dell’Arte Opera in summer 2017. Charles has served as assistant conductor for Juilliard Opera, and accompanied operas with the Yale Baroque Opera Project and the Boston Early Music Festival. He is associate director of music at St. Mary’s Church in Norwalk, Connecticut, where he specializes in Renaissance polyphony and Gregorian chant.
British singer Andrew Leslie Cooper enjoys a multifaceted and multinational career as a countertenor, conductor, and keyboardist. The 2019-20 season represents his first as the new second countertenor in the acclaimed early music group, The Gesualdo Six. Other recent and upcoming ensemble engagements include appearances with Tenebrae, Gallicantus, Sansara, Ex Cathedra, and the Voces8 Foundation Choir, to name a few. Also active as a soloist, Andrew’s voice has been heard with the Academy of Ancient Music, Academy of Sacred Drama, Cleveland’s Bach Ensemble (Ohio), and several choral societies around Kent, England.
Praised by the Washington Post for her “gorgeous singing” in her Kennedy Center debut, “silken-voiced” (Cleveland Plain Dealer) soprano Madeline Apple Healey is a soloist and chamber musician based in New York City. Recent and upcoming engagements include appearances with The Clarion Choir, Choral Arts Society of Washington, Amherst Early Music Festival, Baldwin Wallace Symphonic Wind Ensemble, and Gare St. Lazare Ireland at The White Light Festival at Lincoln Center. Madeline founded AMPERSAND, a vocally-centric and project-based ensemble, with longtime friend and colleague Anna Lenti.
Corey Shotwell is a tenor specializing in the performance of music from the fifteenth through eighteenth centuries. His St. John Passion Evangelist has been praised as being sung with “dramatic involvement and seeming ease” and whose “involvement in the text and its declamation was total” (ClevelandClassical.com). He also sang the role of the Evangelist in the modern-era premiere of C.P.E. Bach’s St. Luke Passion (1775). Recent concert engagements include performing Handel’s Alexander’s Feast with Masaaki Suzuki in New York City and appearances with Apollo’s Fire: The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra, Yale Philharmonia Orchestra, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, The Newberry Consort, and The Thirteen.