Concert and Q&A: Boston Art Song Society Presents: Art Songs of Black American Composers
In this time of widespread racial violence and unrest, Boston Art Song Society, in collaboration with guest baritone Emery Stephens, explores the amplification of Black voices in the white-dominated classical music field. This event will include performances by pianists Ann Schaefer and Pierre-Nicolas Colombat and will conclude with a live Q&A session with the artists. Dr. Stephens’ Singing Down the Barriers project aims to empower and encourage singers, voice teachers, voice coaches, and researchers of all ethnicities to study and perform the historically rich vocal music of classically-trained African-American composers.
Baritone Emery Stephens has appeared with the Michigan Philharmonic, Abridged Opera of Ontario, Arbor Opera Theater, Ann Arbor Symphony, Ann Arbor Art Songfest, Boston Lyric Opera, Opera New England, Boston Opera Theatre, Janus 21 Chamber Ensemble, Longy Opera Theatre, Provincetown Concert Series, Prism Opera, Main Street Opera, Boston Early Music Festival, and the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra. Praised for his singing “with ringing suavity and articulate intelligence” by The Boston Phoenix, he was a soloist in a revival of Dave Brubeck’s The Gates of Justice by the Detroit Jazz Festival with renowned pianist Jason Moran and his trio, The Bandwagon.
Pianist Ann Schaefer enjoys an active performing career in the Boston area and abroad. As artistic director of Boston Art Song Society, she has established the organization as one of the leading presenters of art song in the country. In demand as an orchestral pianist and chamber musician, Schaefer has performed in such venues as the Kennedy Center and the DiMenna Center and has collaborated with celebrated violinist Sarah Chang and with members of the International Contemporary Ensemble, among others. Schaefer is an alumnus of both the New England Conservatory Preparatory School and the Walnut Hill School for the Arts. Delighted to have made her permanent musical home in Boston, she is currently a doctoral candidate at Boston University, where she is engaged in a study of early fortepiano pedal trends as they relate to the music of Ludwig van Beethoven.
As a young musician, Pierre-Nicolas Colombat’s gateway to more serious piano studies was through the music of Scott Joplin. Since then, he has continued his pianistic adventures studying in Chicago and Boston while his performances have taken him to France, Italy, Puerto Rico, and Canada. East Coast audiences regularly hear Colombat in his capacities as soloist as well as collaborator and he has performed in such venues as Jordan Hall, Carnegie Hall, and the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum.
While his repertoire is largely centered on classical western art music, Colombat performs a variety of styles from Ragtime, cabaret, and silent film music to the avant-garde repertoire of today. At the invitation of pianist and conductor Stephen Drury, Colombat performed in the Boston Symphony’s Prelude Series concerts. His work with Drury lead Colombat to work directly with composers such as Georg Friedrich Haas, Timo Andres, and Julian Anderson. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from DePaul University and a Master’s degree from the New England Conservatory. Colombat maintains an active teaching schedule, serves as staff pianist at the Boston Conservatory, and is currently completing his DMA at Boston University.
This program is supported in part by a grant from the Boston Cultural Council administered by the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture.