Mezzo-soprano Catherine Robbin launches Faculty Concert Series

Distinguished classical singer, mezzo-soprano Catherine Robbin will launch the Faculty Concert Series in York University’s Department of Music on Oct. 5. Guest artists, bass-baritone Daniel Lichti and pianist Leslie De’Ath will join Robbin onstage in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall in a program featuring selections from Hugo Wolf’s Italienisches Liederbuch (Italian Songbook). The concert celebrates the launch of their CD of the same title on the Analekta label.

The concert will take place Tuesday, Oct. 5, at 7:30pm in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall, Accolade East Building, Keele campus.

Right: From left, Leslie De’Ath, Daniel Lichti and Catherine Robbin

One of the great composers of the Romantic period, Wolf (1860 to 1903) was heavily inspired by the expressive, chromatic and dramatic musical innovations of Richard Wagner. The Italienisches Liederbuch, a suite of 46 songs set to poems translated from Italian by Paul von Heyse, was Wolf’s last major composition. Focusing on a wide array of male and female relationships, the rich emotional territory covered by the songs encompasses passion, anguish, sensuousness, humour, lightheartedness and frivolity. The composer considered them to be his finest works, asserting in a letter: “My Italian songs are the most original and artistically the most perfect of all my things.”

Robbin, Lichti and De’Ath previously performed several songs from Wolf’s renowned cycle as part of a widely toured duo recital program, Songs of Venus and Mars. To prolong the magic felt on the concert stage, they decided to record the entire collection and took advantage of the recording studio attached to the same York stage where they are performing their live CD release concert. Their repertoire on Oct. 5 will include more than 30 songs from Italienisches Liederbuch.

One of Canada’s best-known mezzos, Robbin has established an international reputation over her illustrious 30-year performance career. She has appeared with leading conductors, including John Eliot Gardiner, Bernard Labadie, Christopher Hogwood, Trevor Pinnock and Andrew Davis, in concert halls from Rome to Tokyo. Her extensive discography features more than 30 recordings, and she is the recipient of numerous awards and honours, including a Juno Award, a Grand Prix du Disque and a Grammy nomination. In 2002, she joined the faculty in York’s Music Department, where she heads the classical vocal studies program.

Acclaimed as one of Canada’s finest concert and oratorio singers, bass-baritone Daniel Lichti performs across North America and internationally with prominent orchestras and choral organizations. He has been heard frequently with Toronto’s Opera in Concert and in CBC, BBC and NPR broadcasts. He was nominated for a Juno Award for best classical album in 1992 for his recording Songs of Hugo Wolf.

Leslie De’Ath is a Canadian pianist, conductor, author, chamber player, vocal coach and accompanist, who enjoys a varied career as performer and pedagogue. He has shared the stage and recording studio with many of Canada’s finest singers.

Robbin’s recital is the first of five performances in the 2010-2011 Faculty Concert Series, spotlighting faculty artists in York’s Music Department. The series continues with the Al Henderson Quintet on Nov. 2; the Sundar Viswanathan Ensemble on Jan. 18; a classical trio featuring cellist Mark Chambers, violinist Jacques Israelievitch and pianist Christina Petrowska Quilico on Feb. 8; and the Ron Westray Ensemble on March 1.

Single tickets cost $15, or $5 for students and seniors. For a three-concert package, the cost is $30. To buy tickets, call the Box Office at 416-736-5888.