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With major career accomplishments in a cappella song, elegant and inventive vocal sextet The Western Wind will offer a tour de force anthology of American music 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, at the Williams Center for the Arts.

The ensemble will present the program O Beautiful: American Music for the annual Dr. Aaron M. Litwak Concert. From 18th-century sacred music by Billings and Jeremiah Ingalls to contemporary works by Philip Glass, Meredith Monk, and Bobby McFerrin, and from show tunes by Rodgers and Hart to Barbara Morgan’s witty blending of “America the Beautiful,” “Route 66,” and West Side Story, The Western Wind will throw open the great American songbook.

Tickets are free for students, $4 for faculty and staff, and $15 for the public. They can be purchased by calling the Williams Center box office at (610) 330-5009.

Prior to the performance, The Western Wind will give a 4:15 p.m. presentation on a cappella singing for the College Choir and other interested singers in Williams Center for the Arts room 123.

Western Wind is Kristina Boerger and Laura Christian, sopranos; William Zukof, countertenor; Todd Frizzell and Richard Slade, tenors; and Elliot Z. Levine, baritone. Since 1969, the internationally acclaimed group has devoted itself to a cappella music. The ensemble’s repertoire reveals the diverse background of its members: from Renaissance motets to 1950s rock, from medieval carols to jazz standards, from complex works by avant-garde composers to the simplest folk melodies. In the United States, The Western Wind has appeared in many distinguished venues, including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, ArtPark, Ordway Theater, Metropolitan Museum, Frick Museum, Jewish Museum, Folger Shakespeare Library, Library of Congress, and Cleveland Museum of Art.

The ensemble has been a favorite of the American Choral Directors Association. In one year alone, the group was featured in two ACDA regional division conventions and through the years has performed for several ACDA state conventions as well as at the national convention. The Western Wind also sang for a New York State School Music Association convention.

In Europe, the sextet has appeared at Geneva Opera, performing two works it commissioned: Batéy by Tania León and Michel Camilo, and De Orishas by Tania León. Over several years, The Western Wind recorded early and contemporary American vocal music for West German National Radio at Cologne and made several tours of northern Italy, performing Italian Renaissance as well as American music. The group has appeared with RAI Orchestra and Chorus of Rome at Rome Opera and at Venice’s legendary opera house, La Fenice. The Western Wind premiered Cesar Franck’s opera, Stradella, for La Fenice in an outdoor Venetian setting. At the request of the State Department, The Western Wind has also performed American and Latin American music throughout East Asia.

The Western Wind has received the ASCAP-Chamber Music AmericaAward for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music. In addition to its many live performances, the unique sound of Western Wind may be heard on radio, television, film, and CD. A series of public radio holiday specials by The Western Wind has been broadcast nationwide since 1989, and the group has been televised on NBC’s “Today.” On film, the ensemble sang music by Philip Glass in the movies Koyaanisqatsi and Candyman.

The Western Wind’s award-winning recordings are distributed by several record labels. Leonard Nimoy is the featured narrator on The Birthday of The World: Music and Traditions of the High Holy Days, Parts I and II. Songs by David Darling, Tania León, and Michel Camilo are featured on Blessings and Batéy.

Berger received her formative musical training from pianist Annie Sherter and holds a D.M.A. in choral conducting and literature from University of Illinois. As founding director of AMASONG: Champaign-Urbana’s Premier Lesbian/Feminist Chorus, she conducted and produced two award-winning recordings and performed throughout the Midwest and the Czech Republic. Her leadership of this ensemble is the subject of an internationally acclaimed documentary that aired on PBS last year. Now artistic director of Manhattan’s Cerddorion Vocal Ensemble, Boerger also lectures in music history at Barnard College. A member of the Pomerium early music ensemble, she is featured on Early Music New York’s latest release, Medieval Love, and has recorded for Bobby McFerrin’s latest project. She has also appeared onstage and on disc with Rocky Maffit, Pan Morigan, and Urban Bush Women.

Christian relocated to the New York City area from Ann Arbor, Mich., to join The Western Wind. In Michigan she participated in a variety of musical genres, from small a cappella groups such as Cantori Amarylli and Vocal Arts Ensemble, to larger choral organizations such as University Musical Society Choral Union, large-chorus-in-residence of Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and Toledo Symphony. Christian also enjoys the operatic stage, and has appeared in principal roles in productions of The Marriage of Figaro, Camelot, The Magic Flute, and virtually all of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operettas. She has served in pit orchestras for opera productions in Ann Arbor as a cellist, and also as stage director, music director, choreographer, and costume designer.

Frizzell specialized in early music performance as singer/harpist with Early Music New York from 1995-2004. During that time he was featured on ABC’s “Nightline” and CBS’ “60 Minutes.” He has performed internationally with the ensemble, including featured solos on four of the group’s CDs, available through the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Frizzell serenaded Dame Judi Dench in June 2000 at Broadway’s Ethyl Barrymore Theater during a special performance honoring Dench’s receipt of the Golden Quill award. He was tenor soloist in Handel’s Israel in Egypt at Avery Fisher Hall with National Chorale, Bach’s B Minor Mass with Kalamazoo Bach Festival, and recently with American Symphony Orchestra at Alice Tully Hall. Frizzell has appeared at Bard College Festival and performed with New York Virtuoso Singers, San Francisco Opera Chorus, Opera Colorado, American Hawaii Cruises, Musica Antica at St. Bart’s, and New York Concert Singers. He also appeared on the regional musical theater stage and was featured on ABC’s “Nightline,” singing music from a mass written in the first millennium, which he performed in Limoges, France, in May 2001. Frizzell has performed as a resident artist with New York’s Ensemble for Early Music for the past five years, appearing in Sponsus: The Tale of the Wise and Foolish Virgins and as featured soloist on three of the group’s CDs.

Levine, a native New Yorker, has sung with The Western Wind since its inception in 1969. He holds a master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music and has taught at City College, Upsala College, Lighthouse Music School, and Hebrew Arts School. Levine has been a featured soloist with RAI Orchestra at Rome, Rome Opera, La Fenice, Musica Sacra, The Folger Consort, Mannes Camerata, and Ensemble for Early Music. Levine is cantor at Temple Emanuel in Great Neck, N.Y., and has been composer-in-residence at St. Thomas More Church in New York City. Many of his works have been performed and commissioned by choruses and solo artists around the country, and are published by Harold Flammer, E. Henry David, Willis, Plymouth Music, Colla Voce, and Shadow Press.

Slade has toured the United States and Europe, singing with New York City Opera, New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players, and the Yale Whiffenpoofs. He has sung Tamino in The Magic Flute across New York State, has been a regularly featured singer at Caramoor Festival, and has performed in rare revivals of important operatic works such as Donizetti’s Gianni di Parigi and Martin y Soler’s Una Cosa Rara, with Vineyard Opera. In concert, he has sung the title role in Händel’s Judas Maccabeus, Messiah, and many of Bach’s cantatas. With his wife, soprano Cynthia Reynolds, he performs a Gilbert & Sullivan cabaret, Oh Love, True Love! or The Lass That Lov’d a Tenor. In recital, Slade specializes in the parlor repertory of the Victorian era. He maintains a private voice studio, teaches at Concordia and Manhattanville Colleges, and directs both church and synagogue choirs.

Zukof is a founding member of The Western Wind. He was born in Manhattan and earned a B.A. from The City University of New York. He has appeared as a soloist with Roger Wagner Chorale, Gregg Smith Singers, Handel and Haydn Society of Boston, and Musica Sacra of New York. Zukof performed the Bach Magnificat under the direction of Leonard Bernstein at the Vatican in Rome. His operatic appearances include roles with Washington Opera, Eastern Opera Company, Eastman School, and University of California at Berkeley. He also is a stage director of opera and musical theater and executive producer for The Western Wind’s recordings.

The nationally recognized Performance Series at Lafayette attracts more than 10,000 people each season. It has been cited for performing excellence by the National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, Chamber Music America, Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Fund, Pennsylvania Arts and Humanities Councils, and Association of Performing Arts Presenters.

The 2005–2006 Performance Series is supported in part by gifts from Friends of the Williams Center for the Arts; by provisions of the Alan and Wendy Pesky Artist-in-Residence Program, the James Bradley Fund, and the Ed Brunswick Jazz Fund; and by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation, Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, the Dexter and Dorothy Baker Foundation, and New England Foundation for the Arts.

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