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Orpheus Chamber Orchestra will make its final visit of the season to Lafayette’s Williams Center for the Arts with two guest artists and an exploration of Classicism at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 21. The concert will feature soprano Lauren Skuce and French contralto Nathalie Stutzmann, and will cover the classical elegance of Haydn’s Symphony no. 98, the plaintive vocal beauties of Giovanni Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater, and the neo-classical charms of Ottorino Respighi’s Botticelli Triptych.

Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased by calling the box office, (610) 330-5009.

Orpheus will hold an open rehearsal, free to the public, at 6 p.m. before the concert.

Following its triumphant State Theatre concert with James Galway, Orpheus returns to the Williams Center with a rare choral work, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater of 1732. A liturgical fixture in Western sacred music, the text of the piece is inspired by the prayers of Mary during the crucifixion of Christ. The Italian theme extends into Resphigi’s neo-classical Botticelli Triptych, with its musical evocations of this master’s most famous paintings, including Adoration of the Magi, with quotations from Archangelo Corelli’s Christmas Concerto. Haydn’s Symphony no. 98 concludes the program, and brings down the curtain on another season of classical music at the Williams Center. The same program will be repeated at Carnegie Hall on March 24.

Skuce studies at the Juilliard School’s Opera Center. Her recent appearances include the Opera Theater of Saint Louis in Handel’s Radamisto and the San Francisco Opera Center’s Western Opera Theater as Adele in Die Fledermaus. Her many other operatic roles include Rosina in The Barber of Seville and the title roles in La Calisto and Lucia di Lammermoor. In addition to her operatic career, Ms. Skuce maintains an active chamber music and recital schedule. She has participated in the Marlboro Music Festival for two summers, where she has performed music from Caccini to Shostakovich with members of the Juilliard and Guarneri String Quartets. She has also appeared with the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and the New York Festival of Song, and has performed song repertory at such venues as Alice Tully Hall, the Library of Congress, the Museum of Modern Art, and Miller Theater at Columbia University. In addition to her Carnegie Hall debut in Stabat Mater with the Orpheus, Skuce’s 2000-2001 season includes Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and recitals in New York City, Syracuse, and Seoul, Korea. On the opera stage, she will portray Blanche in Dialogues of the Carmelites with the Juilliard Opera Center, as well as Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro and Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Wolftrap Opera.

Stutzmann has established an international career in the fields of opera, concert, recital, and recording. In concert and in recital, she performs in Paris, London, Vienna, Salzburg, Amsterdam, Brussels, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Tokyo, New York, Milan, Berlin, Tel Aviv, and other music centers of the world. On the opera stage, she has appeared with the companies of Zurich, Barcelona, Brussels, Florence, Venice, Bonn, Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Montpellier, Bordeaux, and Salzburg in repertory ranging from Handel, Gluck, Purcell, and Mozart to that of the romantic and modern eras. During recent seasons, she has assayed the title role of Handel’s Giulio Cesare for Bordeaux and appeared with the Cleveland Orchestra in L’Enfant et les Sortilèges under Boulez. At Carnegie Hall, she appeared in performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with Rattle and in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Ozawa.

Stutzmann continues her collaboration with Sir John Eliot Gardiner during the 2000-2001 season as alto soloist in numerous performances on the Bach Cantata Pilgrimage international tour, appearing with the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra. The present season also includes performances with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Salzburg Mozarteum Orchestra, Concerto Köln, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre National de Bordeaux, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, and the NHK Symphony Orchestra, and in solo recitals throughout France, Germany, and Scandinavia. Operatic engagements of the 2001-2002 season include the title role of Vivaldi’s Orlando Furioso and John Merrick, a role she creates for the world premiere of Petitgirard’s Elephant Man, both at the Prague National Opera. Stutzmann’s recording career includes discs for RCA/BMG, Erato, Philips, EMI, Deutsche Grammophon, Harmonia Mundi, Sony Classics, Virgin, and Delos. Her many awards include the Deutsche Schallplatten Kritik, Diapson d’Or, Japan Record Academy Award, and a Grammy Award.

Recognized internationally as one of the world’s great chamber orchestras, Orpheus celebrates its 28th season of concert activity spanning four continents, including appearances in the major cities of North and South America, Europe and Asia. The centerpiece of each Orpheus season is its five-concert series at Carnegie Hall. Accompanying the critical acclaim for the orchestra’s live appearances are numerous distinctions and awards, including three 1999 Grammy Awards for its jazz-inspired Ravel and Gershwin collaboration with Herbie Hancock, a 1998 Grammy nomination for its recording of Mozart piano concertos with Richard Goode, and the 1998 “Ensemble of the Year” award by Musical America.

Orpheus was founded in 1972 by cellist Julian Fifer and a group of fellow musicians who aspired to perform chamber orchestral repertory as chamber music through their own close collaborative efforts, and without a conductor. Orpheus developed its approach to the study and performance of this repertory by bringing to the orchestral setting the chamber music principles of personal involvement and mutual respect. Orpheus is a self-governing organization, making the repertory and interpretive decisions that are ordinarily assumed by a conductor. Members of Orpheus have received recognition for solo, chamber music and orchestral performances. Each brings a diversity of musical experience to the orchestra, which constantly enriches and nurtures the musical growth of the ensemble. Of the 17 string and ten wind players who comprise the core membership of Orpheus, many also hold teaching positions at prominent conservatories and universities in the New York and New England areas, including Juilliard, Manhattan School of Music, New England Conservatory, Mannes College of Music, Columbia University, and Yale University.

Orpheus has recorded extensively for Deutsche Grammophon. Included in the catalogue of over 50 recordings are several Haydn symphonies and Mozart serenades, the complete Mozart wind concertos with Orpheus members as soloists, romantic works by Grieg, Tchaikovsky, and others, and a number of 20th-century classics by Bartók, Prokofiev, Copland and Stravinsky. Recent collaborations include a series of recordings of Mozart piano concertos with Richard Goode (Nonesuch), recordings with cellist Mischa Maisky (DG), “Gershwin’s World” with pianist Herbie Hancock (Verve) and a series of Piazzolla works with tango pianist Pablo Ziegler (BMG).

For the past 13 seasons, Orpheus has appeared at the Williams Center for the Arts, presenting a wide variety of programs from its international touring and recording schedule. Audiences in Easton are often the first to hear programs that are later performed around the world, or works that are immediately recorded for subsequent release.

Orpheus is comprised of the following: violin — Ronnie Bauch, Dan Carlson, Bruno Eicher, Mayuki Fukuhara, Suzanne Gilman, Joanna Jenner, Renee Jolles, Min Young Kim, Todd Phillips, Richard Rood, and Michael Roth; viola — Sarah Adams, Sarah Clarke, Maureen Gallagher, and Nardo Poy; cello — Jason Lippmann, Melissa Meell, Wilhelmina Smith, and Alan Stepanski; bass — Don Palma and Stephen Saas; flute — Susan Palma-Nidel; oboe — Matthew Dine and Brian Greene; clarinet — David Singer; bassoon — Dennis Godburn and Cynde Iverson; horn — Jeff Lang and Karl Kramer; trumpet — Carl Albach and Louis Hanzlik; harpsichord/celesta/organ — Robert Wolinsky; piano — Margaret Kampmeier; harp — Barbara Allen; and timpani — Paul Hostetter.

The 2000-01 Performance Series at Lafayette is cosponsored, in part, by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Mid Atlantic Foundation for the Arts, and New England Foundation for the Arts.

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