The musical team of Joan Morris and William Bolcolm and renowned tenor Robert White present an evening focused on uplifting and reflective songs from the World War II era.
The composer/pianist William Bolcom was born in Seattle, Washington, in 1938. He began private composition studies at age 11 with John Verrall and piano lessons with Berthe Poncy Jacobson at the University of Washington. During this time he performed extensively in the Northwest and Seattle areas.
After he earned his B.A. from Washington University in 1958, he studied with Darius Milhaud at Mills College in California, and with Milhaud and Messiaen at the Paris Conservatoire de Musique in France. He returned to America to hold various university teaching positions and to develop his own interpretation of ragtime.
He joined the teaching staff of the University of Michigan in 1973. After earlier use of serialism, he developed his own particular musical idiom, influenced in good part by his interest in and performance of popular music-hall and parlor songs. His work is summarized in his monumental setting of William Blake's "Songs of Innocence and of Experience," written between 1956 and 1981.
William Bolcom, recipient of the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Music, has received commissions from the Vienna Philharmonic (Salzburg Mozarteum), Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Berlin Domaine Musical, Saarlandischer Rundfunk, American Composers Orchestra, Saint Louis, National, Pacific and Boston Symphonies, The MET Orchestra, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Mendelssohn Quartet, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman, mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne, and many others.
The mezzo-soprano Joan Morris, born in Portland, Oregon, attended Gonzaga University in Spokane prior to scholarship studies at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. She appeared in several off-Broadway and road productions as well as with the harpist Jay Miller at the Cafe Carlyle, the Waldorf-Astoria's Peacock Alley, and other Manhattan night spots. Since 1972 she has been concertizing with her husband and accompanist, William Bolcom. Together they perform American popular songs from the late nineteenth-century through the 1920s and 30s, the latest songs by Leiber and Stoller, and cabaret songs by Bolcom and his longtime collaborator, the poet-lyricist Arnold Weinstein. Performances have taken them throughout the United States, Canada and abroad to Lisbon, Florence, Istanbul, Cairo, London, and Moscow.
To date Bolcom and Morris have recorded over twenty albums; the first, "After the Ball," garnered a Grammy nomination for Joan Morris. Other albums include two collections of Bolcom and Weinstein's cabaret songs as well as anthologies of Gershwin, Berlin, Rodgers & Hart, Porter, Kern, and Youmans. Since 1981 Joan Morris has taught in the musical theater program at the University of Michigan.
Hazen Schumacher was the host of the NPR and WUOM radio show "Jazz Revisited" and is the author with John Stevens of A Golden Age of Jazz Revisited: 1939-1942.
Robert White's artistic versatility continues to be expressed in a vast range of song. He studied with Nadia Boulanger at Fontainebleau, and was soloist in Renaissance repertoire with Noah Greenberg's "New York Pro Musica." He went on to sing with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, as well as with the Monte Carlo Opera and many other major orchestras. He has recorded for RCA, Sony Classical, Angel-EMI, Virgin Classics, Hyperion, and Arabesque, with colleagues Yo-Yo Ma, Samuel Sanders, Placido Domingo, William Bolcom, and Graham Johnson in music ranging from Beethoven to Richard Rodgers; premiered works by John Corigliano, Gian Carlo Menotti, Sheldon Harnik, Paul Hindemith (under that composer's direction), and Milton Babbitt; appeared in England with flutist James Galway and hosted his own BBC series with orchestra. He has sung for six U.S. presidents -- Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and, most recently, President Clinton at the March 17, 2000 White House Salute to Ireland. He also sang for Britain's Queen Mother and Prince Charles, Monaco's Royal Family, and Pope John Paul II.
He won the September 2007 Award for Artistic Excellence, given by the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society. He was recently named William Schuman Scholars Chair in Literature and Materials of Music, 2008.