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Brewer opens Spivey Hall's concert series

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Celebrated American soprano, Christine Brewer, will be the first of many international performers to grace the stage at Spivey Hall during its 2009/2010 Spivey Series.

Brewer, who will be performing her first Atlanta-area recital, will kick off the concert series on Saturday Oct. 10, at 8:15 p.m. Spivey Hall Executive Director Sam Dixon said this year's Spivey Series will consist of 28 concerts between Oct. 10, 2009 and May 16, 2010. He said the series will feature world-renown artists from the genres of vocal, classical, jazz, and world music.

"The Spivey Series is our primary concert offering every year," Dixon said. "There are outstanding string quartets, the best pianists, vocal recitalists, outstanding jazz ensembles, world music. Our concerts are really unique to the Southeast ... not just Atlanta."

Brewer, a native of Grand Tower, Ill., is a regular performer at The Metropolitan Opera in New York, and has performed several times with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. She will make her Spivey Hall debut, performing alongside pianist, Craig Rutenberg.

"I'm very excited and honored and really looking for to it," said Brewer. "My pianist has played there [at Spivey Hall] before, and he says it's one of the finest halls in America."

"She has an extraordinary sound, but she also has a wonderful personality and very refined nuance to her singing," said Dixon, commenting on Brewer's style. "She's one of the leading dramatic sopranos of the entire world, and I've long wanted her to sing here. She is performing at Carnegie Hall next week, so we are in good company."

Among the works Brewer will perform are: Richard Wagner's "Wesendonck-Lieder," five songs composed while Wagner was creating the opera "Tristan and Isolde;" Richard Strauss' "Befreit," a love song to a dying lover; Benjamin Britten's "Cabaret Songs," a series of witty, insightful tunes with jazz and gospel influences; and "Echoes of Nightingales," a collection of traditional American songs from the early 20th Century.

Brewer, who is a student of the famous Swedish, Wagnerian singer, Birgit Nilsson, said she hopes Saturday's concert will introduce people, especially students, to opera's wide range of styles.

"I've been really happy to see students in my recitals," she said. "I always program songs that mean something to me. I hope they will find this an interesting and inspiring program."

Other artists featured in the Spivey Series later this year include the popular English male a cappella group "The King Singers," on Nov. 7; jazz pianist and Wynton Marsalis prodigy, Eric Reed, on Nov. 13; Spanish guitarist Pepe Romero on Feb. 6, and violinist Joshua Bell on Feb. 13.

"It's going to be fantastic," Dixon said. "We have strived to maintain, as always, an extremely high level of artistic excellence. We have a slightly less number of concerts in the Spivey Series this year, due to the economic downturn last year, but the main thing is that the quality has remained consistently high."

For more information about concert times and prices, call (678) 466-4200, or visit www.spiveyhall.org.