May 17, 2014
Westover Church - 8:00pm
About the conductor:
Nathaniel Beversluis is the Resident Conductor of the Greensboro Symphony and the Music Director of the Greensboro Symphony Youth Orchestra. A native of Indianapolis, Nathaniel began writing music and playing piano and violin at a young age. He refused to practice Hanon exercises, hymns, or anything by Edward MacDowell. Confounding one piano teacher after another, he began learning music by reading and playing from scores, listening to records, composing, and staying hours after school to extract wisdom from his school orchestra conductor, Dick Dennis.
He holds a Bachelor of Music from the Indiana University School of Music and Masters of Music in Orchestral Conducting from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. He studied conducting with Mark Gibson, Xian Zhang and Roger Grodsky, and served as pianist and Associate Conductor for CCM Musical Theater. He has worked for the Opera Theater and Music Festival of Lucca (Lucca, Italy), University of Central Florida Conservatory Theatre (Orlando and Daytona Beach, FL), Seaside Music Theater(Daytona Beach, FL), and Tri-Cities Opera (Binghamton, NY).
He received two composition fellowships to the Henry Mancini Institute in Los Angeles and recently conducted the Netherlands Metropole Orchestra (Hilversum, NL) on a radio broadcast as part of a conductor's workshop. He has studied piano with Phil DeGreg, Lynne Arriale, Mike Lucas and Luke Gillespie, and his compositions have won awards from ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.). His interests as a composer involve combining the traditions and approaches of classical with jazz musicians.
About the guest artists:
Emily Rozek has been a professional Broadway performer for the past 10 years. She was most recently seen starring as Glinda in the Los Angeles production of Wicked. Upon her graduation from the Boston
Conservatory she made her professional debut as the principle role of Winnie Tate in Annie Get Your Gun starring Bernadette Peters. She went on to understudy and perform the lead roles of Millie Dillmount and Miss Dorothy in Broadway’s Thoroughly Modern Millie. She has also been on National Broadway tours such as Sunset Boulevard as Mary and South Pacific as the Nellie Forbush understudy. Regional Credits include Marta in Company, staring with acclaimed and award winning actress Donna Mckechnie, Maggie in Chorus Line, Lizzie in Baby and, most recently, Polly in Crazy for You.
She has spent the past 4 years in Los Angeles making appearances in various concerts such as Two’s Company, a tribute to the great composers, Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz. She was also featured in the Ford Theatre’s Broadway Unplugged Concert.
Doug LaBrecque thrilled theatre audiences as The Phantom and Raoul in the Harold Prince production of The Phantom of the Opera. In addition, Mr. LaBrecque has starred on Broadway as Ravenal in the Hal Prince revival of Showboat, a role he also performed in Canada and Chicago. He was featured in Oscar Hammerstein’s 100th Birthday Celebration on Broadway at The Gershwin Theatre, and toured nationally with Les Miserables. Regionally, Mr. LaBrecque has performed leading roles in Candide, A Chorus Line, Man of LaMancha among many others. A graduate of University of Michigan he was also featured in the world premiere of A Wonderful Life, written by Sheldon Harnick and Joe Raposo, and starred in the premiere revival of Kurt Weill and Alan Jay Lerner’s Love Life.
One of the most prolific concert performers of his generation Mr. LaBrecque has been a soloist with some of the world’s finest symphony orchestras including The National Symphony, The Israel Philharmonic (Tel Aviv), The Chicago Symphony, The Cleveland Orchestra, The Atlanta Symphony, The San Francisco Symphony, among many others. In the last few years, Mr. LaBrecque’s U.S. appearances have included Minnesota Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony, Houston Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Dallas Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, The Utah Symphony and with Marvin Hamlisch both at the Ravinia Festival with The Chicago Symphony, and with The Pittsburgh Symphony.
In a tribute to Richard Rodgers, Mr. LaBrecque recently made his Carnegie Hall debut as a soloist with the New York Pops, the same season he debuted with The Boston Pops. Alongside Jeff Tyzik, he appeared with both the St. Louis and Seattle Symphony’s for their Holiday Celebrations as well as numerous performances with the Naples Philharmonic. With Peter Nero he was featured in "Broadway Showstoppers" a live recording with My. Nero's Philly Pops. Other special engagements have included singing with Carole Bayer-Sager at Feinsteins’s in Manhattan and the Cinegrill in Los Angeles, performing alongside Broadway legend Jerry Herman with the Naples Philharmonic, and appearing onstage with Senators Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch(singing together!) at Hickory Hill, the legendary home of Ethel Kennedy.
International engagements have included The Korean National Symphony in Seoul, Korea, The Shanghai Radio Orchestra in China, The Hong Kong Philharmonic, The Vancouver and Calgary Symphonies in Canada, The Brazilian Symphony Orchestra in Rio De Janeiro, The Jerusalem Symphony, and numerous return engagements with the Israel Philharmonic. Mr. LaBrecque recently appeared in Alba Italy as the guest soloist in an all Bernstein concert, returned to the International Music Festival in The Czech Republic, and appeared alongside piano sensation Lang Lang in a concert broadcast on Chinese Television.
For Epic recording artist Morgan James, honing in on the ideal use for her stunningly powerful vocals took years of soul-searching and discovery. After joining a choir in junior high, James left her Northern California home at age 18 to study opera at the Juilliard School. While the rigorous conservatory training went a long way in refining her vocals and building her remarkable range, James ultimately abandoned opera and devoted her initial post-Juilliard years to working her way onto the stages of some of the city’s most legendary clubs—and into prominent roles on Broadway. Now, with her Epic debut album Morgan James Live, James offers up a selection of songs that show off her extraordinary voice and exquisite gift for merging soul, jazz, and R&B in a fresh and thrilling new way.
Recorded at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Morgan James Live features James’s stirring renditions from the repertoire of Nina Simone. Not only embracing Simone’s raw, heady passion, James channels the sparkling eclecticism that made the High Priestess of Soul a key influence in cultivating her own singing style. “For a long time I wasn’t sure what to do with the fact that I’ve got this gigantic voice that doesn’t quite match how I look, so I ended up trying out lots of different things to find my way,” says James. And in that ceaseless experimentation, she adds, James drew great inspiration from Simone’s unwavering artistic integrity. “Nina refused to be pigeon-holed into any one genre, and she wasn’t setting out to impress anyone,” says James. “That sort of purity and lack of showboating means so much to me as a musician.”
For James, it took weathering her first few years as a struggling musician in New York City to tune into the sorrow that instills so much of Simone’s work. “Honestly, I didn’t realize I could sing this way until I was lonely, jobless, and listening to a lot of incredibly sad music all the time,” she says. “I figured that since I wasn’t making money from my music yet, I should at least work in places where other people were playing music—places like Cafe Wha? and Prohibition,” recalls James. “After a while I started asking if I could sit in with the bands. Floored by her vocal chops, James’s impromptu collaborators encouraged her to broaden her body of music. “I started out by learning all the licks that Aretha and Nina did, but pretty soon I was on my way to developing my own style,” she says.
As she continued to advance her artistry and expand her vocal versatility, James eventually found her way to Broadway. Making her debut in The Addams Family, she went on to perform in Wonderland, the first-ever Broadway revival of Godspell and most recently in Motown: The Musical playing Teena Marie. At the same time, James nurtured her solo singing career by playing to sellout crowds at famed New York nightspots like Birdland Jazz Club, Le Poisson Rouge, Rockwood Music Hall, Joe’s Pub, 54 Below and Dizzy’s. “It’s pretty grueling, working all day and all night, but it’s really taught me the importance of stamina and taking care of my body and my instrument,” says James.
James is currently working on her first full-length studio effort (an album she envisions as “a more contemporary, pop/R&B record, but with its roots in blues and old-school soul”). James will continue to bring her astonishing vocals beyond the stages of New York City and turn a wider audience on to her enchanting sensibility as a musical interpreter.
“This woman is on fire.” – Stephen Holden/NY Times