Green Guest Artist: Lawrence Brownlee, tenor, Green Center for the Performing Arts: Kresge Auditorium, Sexta, 21. Fevereiro 2020
Cycles of My Being
Cycles of My Being is a song cycle that centers on what it means to be an African American man living in America today. The cycle was composed by pianist-percussionist Tyshawn Sorey, with lyrics by the award-winning poet Terrance Hayes, both of whom are MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant Winners, and was co-commissioned by Opera Philadelphia, Carnegie Hall, and Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Lyric Unlimited.
Of the creation of the cycle, Brownlee said, “The idea started with the injustices we see on a daily basis. We’ve summed it up as being about ‘black male subjectivity.'” Brownlee went on, “It was important for me to do this. I’ve been 20 years as an artist, establishing a career. This was an opportunity to do more of a passion project."
Cycles of My Being had its world premiere on February 20, 2018 in Philadelphia with tenor Lawrence Brownlee, Randall Mitsuo Goosby (violin), Khari Joyner (cello), Alexander Laing (clarinet) Kevin J. Miller (piano), conducted by the composer, Tyshawn Sorey. A piano reduction version premiered in Chicago on February 22, 2018 with tenor Lawrence Brownlee and pianist Myra Huang. Brownlee then went on to tour the cycle at various venues across the United States with Huang, culminating in a performance at Carnegie Hall on April 24, 2018 with the original instrumentalists from the world premiere. Cycles of My Being had its Washington DC premiere on April 11, 2019 at the Kennedy Center, presented by Vocal Arts DC.
Named 2017 “Male Singer of the Year” by both the International Opera Awards and Bachtrack, American-born tenor Lawrence Brownlee has been hailed by The Guardian as “one of the world’s leading bel canto stars.” Brownlee captivates audiences and critics around the world, and his voice has been praised by NPR as “an instrument of great beauty and expression…perfectly suited to the early nineteenth century operas of Rossini and Donizetti,” ushering in “a new golden age in high male voices” (The New York Times). Brownlee also serves as Artistic Advisor at Opera Philadelphia, helping the company to expand their repertoire, diversity efforts and community initiatives.
Highlights from last season included returns to the Royal Opera House - Covent Garden, Opernhaus Zürich, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Bayerische Staatsoper, and Opéra national de Paris, as well as the world premiere and recital tour of a new song cycle, Cycles of My Being – composed by Tyshawn Sorey, with lyrics by Terrance Hayes. The Chicago Tribune praised how “Sorey’s music allows Brownlee to do what he does best — to soar effortlessly into the vocal stratosphere, nail perfectly placed high notes and invest them with expressive meaning.”One of the most in-demand singers around the world, Brownlee has performed with nearly every leading international opera house and festival, as well as major orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Boston Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, and the Bayerische Rundfunk Orchestra.
In addition, Brownlee has appeared on the stages of the top opera companies around the globe, including the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, the Bavarian State Opera, Royal Opera House - Covent Garden, The Vienna State Opera, Opéra national de Paris, Opernhaus Zürich, the Berlin State Opera, the Gran Teatre del Liceu Barcelona, Teatro Real Madrid, Théâtre Royale de la Monnaie, and the festivals of Salzburg and Baden Baden. Broadcasts of his operas and concerts—including his 2014 Bastille Day performance in Paris, attended by the French President and Prime Minister—have been enjoyed by millions.
Brownlee’s latest album, Allegro Io Son, received a Critic’s Choice from Opera News, among numerous other accolades, and followed his previous Grammy-nominated release on Delos Records, Virtuoso Rossini Arias, which prompted New Yorker critic Alex Ross to ask “is there a finer Rossini tenor than Lawrence Brownlee?” The rest of his critically acclaimed discography and videography is a testament to his broad impact across the classical music scene. His opera and concert recordings include Il barbiere di Siviglia with the Bayerische Rundfunk Orchestra, Armida at the Metropolitan Opera, Rossini’s Stabat Mater with Accademia di Santa Cecilia, and Carmina Burana with the Berlin Philharmonic. He also released a disc of African-American spirituals entitled Spiritual Sketches with pianist Damien Sneed, which the pair performed at Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series, and which NPR praised as an album of “soulful singing” that “sounds like it’s coming straight from his heart to yours.”
Brownlee is the fourth of six children and first discovered music when he learned to play bass, drums, and piano at his family’s church in Youngstown, Ohio. He was awarded a Masters of Music from Indiana University and went onto win a Grand Prize in the 2001 Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions. Alongside his singing career, Brownlee is an avid salsa dancer and an accomplished photographer, specializing in artist portraits of his on-stage colleagues. A die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers and Ohio State football fan, Brownlee has sung the National Anthem at numerous NFL games. He is a champion for autism awareness through the organization Autism Speaks, and he is a lifetime member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity Inc., a historically black fraternity committed to social action and empowerment.