Laura Ward, Lyric Fest, Randall Scarlata, Sarah Shafer, Devony Smith

Biographie Laura Ward, Lyric Fest, Randall Scarlata, Sarah Shafer, Devony Smith

Laura Ward
is pianist and Co-Artistic Director of Lyric Fest. As a distinguished collaborative pianist she is known for both her technical ability and vast knowledge of repertoire and styles. Concert engagements have taken her to Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Spoleto Festival (Italy) and the Colmar International Music Festival and Saint Denis Festival in France. She has served on the faculty of The CoOPERAtive Program at Westminster Choir College, The Academy of Vocal Arts, Temple University, Ravinia Festival Stean’s Institute, Washington Opera, University of Maryland and The Music Academy of the West. Ward’s discography includes Lineage with GRAMMY-nominated Baritone, Randall Scarlata, In This Blue Room, Lyric Fest performs Songs of Kile Smith, Daron Hagen 21st Century Song Cycles, and most recently, Hat er mir Rosen Gebracht: Songs of Joseph Marx, with KendraColton (Soprano).

Ward is also a recording artist and editor of song accompaniments for publisher Hal Leonard, having co-edited Richard Strauss: 40 Songs, Gabriel Fauré: 50 Songs, and Johannes Brahms: 75 Songs, and recorded over 2000 song accompaniments for Hal Leonard Publishing. These volumes help countless singers and pianists experience, learn, and enjoy the art song repertoire and also help introduce a world of art song to many who have had little exposure to classical songs. A native of Texas, Ward received her Bachelor in Music degree from Baylor University, holds a Masters in Collaborative Piano at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and a Doctorate In Collaborative Piano from the University of Michigan where she was a student of Martin Katz.

Lyric Fest
has been hailed in the press as “An irresistible mix of high art and humane feeling…as entertaining as a well-managed party.” (Tom Purdom, Broad Street Review) It was founded in 2003 with the goal of celebrating and revitalizing the song tradition, and is the only performing arts organization in the Mid-Atlantic region with a primary focus on song and art song in all its varied expression. Now in its 20th season, LF is run by its co-founding artistic directors, Suzanne DuPlantis and Laura Ward. LF has produced and presented over 100 distinctly crafted and curated concert programs featuring more than 250 local, regional and national performing artists. LF has brought programs to Washington DC, Moorestown NJ, Wilmington DE, New Orleans LA, Pittsburgh PA, New York City NY, San Jose CA, and Brooklyn NY. Commissioning and performing new works has become an integral part of LF’s mission and programming philosophy. Since its founding, LF has commissioned and premiered over 60 new works (solo songs, full cycles and arrangements) by local, regional, and nationally recognized composers. LF generates and facilitates partnership with composers, providing them opportunities for creating and mounting performances of their work.

Randall Scarlata
Known for his versatility and consummate musicianship, Randall Scarlata’s repertoire spans five centuries and 16 languages. A sought-after interpreter of new music, he has given world premieres of works by George Crumb, Paul Moravec, Richard Danielpour, Ned Rorem, Benjamin CS Boyle, Lori Laitman, Thea Musgrave, Samuel Adler, Hilda Paredes, Daron Hagen, Wolfram Wagner, and Christopher Theofanidis. He regularly performs the major German song cycles with pianists such as Cameron Stowe, Gilbert Kalish, Jeremy Denk, Jonathan Biss, Inon Barnatan, Peter Frankl, and Laura Ward. He is a regular guest with Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Lyric Fest, Chamber Music Northwest, the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, Kneisel Hall Festival, the Skaneateles Chamber Music Festival, among many others. In addition, Scarlata’s extensive recording catalog appears on the Chandos, Naxos, CRI, Gasparo, Arabesque, Bridge, Albany and Sono Luminus labels. His recording of Schubert’s Winterreise with pianist Gilbert Kalish was honored with a Grammy nomination for Best Classical Vocal Solo.

Sarah Shafer
Praised by the New York Times for her “luminous voice” and “intensely expressive interpretations,” and named “remarkable, artistically mature” and “a singer to watch” by Opera News, American soprano Sarah Shafer performs with opera companies including The Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Glyndebourne, Opera Philadelphia, San Diego Opera, Cincinnati Opera, and Tulsa Opera. Equally at home in standard and contemporary repertoire, she has created leading roles in world premiere productions with San Francisco Opera, and debuted works by renowned composers Richard Danielpour, John Harbison, and Poul Ruders.

She has appeared in concert with many orchestras including the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the San Antonio Symphony, the Utah Symphony, the National Orchestra of Mexico, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. An avid chamber musician and recitalist, she regularly collaborates with pianist Richard Goode at venues including Carnegie Hall and Atlanta’s Spivey Hall, and sings at prominent festivals throughout the United States and abroad, including the Oregon Bach Festival, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago, Bard Music Festival, and the Liszt Academy in Budapest, Hungary. Shafer was a 2014 Astral Artists winner. She spent five summers as a resident artist at the Marlboro Music Festival. Recordings include the debut of Richard Danielpour’s chamber work, Talking to Aphrodite with Naxos Records, Poul Ruder’s opera The Thirteenth Child with Bridge Records, and the world premiere recording of Jennifer Higdon’s Love Sweet with the Lysander Piano Trio with First Hand Records.

Devony Smith
American mezzo soprano Devony Smith is an artist with deep and profound roots in the concert hall. Featured formerly by the Brooklyn Art Song Society in previous seasons in repertoire from Schubert to Canteloube, she was most recently chosen by the company to present a world premiere song cycle by Eve Beglarian. This season she will also appear in a concert of world premieres with Lyric Fest Philadelphia, where she will perform several world premieres including new songs by GRAMMY Award winning Jennifer Higdon.

After two seasons as a Stern Fellow and Sorel fellow at the prestigious Songfest Festival, Smith was invited by Yehuda Gilad to be featured as the soloist in Mahler’s 4th Symphony with the Colburn Symphony Orchestra. There are few American concert halls where Smith is not an active proponent of new and exciting works. From the Ravinia Steans Musical Institute to the Caramoor Center for the Arts as a Schwab Rising Star, to the Marilyn Horne Song Continues Workshop and Carnegie Citywide concerts, Smith’s commitment to new American works is palpable. This extends to the operatic stage, where she has held a long-standing relationship with the works of Pulitzer Prize finalist Kate Soper, notably touring her work Here be Sirens, and working to premiere her latest operatic work, The Romance of the Rose.

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