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Bolivian Baroque in Concert

Americas Society

April 30, 2013


Image: Wikimedia Commons

In collaboration with:

Admission is free and open to the public, no reservations required. Seating is on a first come, first served basis.

For the closing concert of the GEMAS concert series, presented by Americas Society and Gotham Early Music Scene, Meridionalis teams up with The Clarion Society in a concert of music written in the Jesuit missions of eastern Bolivia. The concert features Bolivian soprano Katia Escalera, a specialist in the mission repertoire and a cast of distinguished singers and instrumentalists. Missionary activity in the region started in the late seventeenth century and continued in earnest until the expulsion of the order from Spanish territory in 1767. Among other things, the experience left behind an extensive repertoire of sacred music of great sophistication and unique sound that includes locally composed and European pieces. 

Click here for a .pdf version of the printed program.

Guest Soloist

Katia Escalera, soprano


Elizabeth Baber, Jolle Greenleaf, Estelí Gomez


Corey-James Crawford, Tim Parsons, Kirsten Sollek


Marc Day, Steven Fox, James Kennerly, Steven Soph

Instrumental Ensemble

Cynthia Roberts, violin, Myron Lutzke, cello, Motomi Igarashi, bass Avi Stein, organ, David Walker, baroque guitar

Steven Fox, Sebastian Zubieta, conductors

Bolivian Baroque - Florilegium and Bolivian soloists

The Clarion Society is one of the country’s leading period instrument orchestras and professional vocal ensembles. Clarion was founded in 1957 by musicologist Newell Jenkins, who conducted its concert series until 1996.

In 2006, Clarion was reborn under the artistic directorship of young American conductor Steven Fox and quickly rose to prominence as a fresh and innovative force in the international early music scene. Since the start of Fox's tenure, the Clarion Orchestra and the Clarion Choir have performed at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Miller Theatre at Columbia University, the Morgan Library, the Aston Magna Festival, and the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in conjunction with its Sacred Music in a Sacred Space series. Clarion received critical acclaim in The New York Times, The Wall Street JournalThe New YorkerBBC Music MagazineMusical America, and the American Record Guide, among others.

Praised by The New York Times for its “beautifully blended readings,” Meridionalis is Americas Society’s vocal ensemble, dedicated to the performance of choral music from Latin America conducted by Americas Society Music Director Sebastian Zubieta. It has performed at Music of the Americas, Symphony Space, the Raritan River Music Festival, and the Look and Listen festivals.

Katia Escalera, soprano, has won critical acclaim worldwide for her vocal beauty and versatility, musical sensitivity, and natural stage presence on the operatic and concert stage. Her international career includes performances in world eminent halls such as Teatro Colón, War Memorial San Francisco Opera House, Concertgebouw, Wigmore Hall, Hagia Sophia, to mention a few. She has sung under the baton of distinguished conductors such as Richard Bonynge, Charles Dutoit, Donald Runnicles, and Helmut Rilling, amongst others.

Bolivia's La Prensa wrote of her interpretation of Liù: “It was soprano Katia Escalera (Liù, the slave) who stole the show…Escalera, a privileged soprano, not only was able to melt the frozen heart of Princess Turandot, but also did so to the spectators who rose in standing ovation by the beauty of the fragment she honored.” Opera News remarked "[Katia Escalera] made the most of it, singing and acting with confidence and panache," in her performance of The Tsar’s Bride with San Francisco Opera.Of her rendition of Brahms repertoire in her Schwabacher Concert Series debut, San Francisco Classical Voice noted that “Katia Escalera…has it all: voice, projection, diction, looks, presence. She will go far.” 

Escalera recently debuted in the title role of Suor Angelica with Asociacion Romanza in Lima, Peru. In 2009, she debuted in the title role of Tosca with Fort Collins Opera and participated in Cochabamba’s Bachfest, and sang a recital of Händel opera arias with the Orquesta de Univalle. She debuted in Teatro Colón of Buenos Aires, Argentina as Viclinda in I Lombardi alla Prima Crociata under the baton of Maestro Bonynge, and returned as Gerhilde in Die Walküre with Maestro Charles Dutoit where she also covered the title role of Manon Lescaut. Escalera has performed roles such as Countess in Le nozze di Figaro with Acadiana Symphony in Lafayette, Louisiana, under the baton of Maestro Mariusz Smolij. She has also sang Liù in Turandot and the title role of Carmen in La Paz, Bolivia; Laura in Luisa Miller, Karolka in Jenůfa, Glaša in Kat’a Kabanova, Polissena in Arshak II, Jade Boucher in Dead Man Walking (cover), Magdalene in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg (cover), Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier (cover), Valencienne in The Merry Widow (cover), and Blumenmädchen in Parsifal in the San Francisco Opera House; Nancy in Albert Herring, and Diana and Giove-in-Diana in Cavalli’s La Calisto with the San Francisco Opera Center Showcase; and Zerlina in Don Giovanni with the Western Opera Theatre Tour.

Oratorio and symphonic presentations include Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5 in Teatro Colón, Strauss’ Vier letzte Lieder, Mozart’s Requiem, C minor Mass, Coronation Mass, and Dominican Vespers, Handel’s Messiah, Fauré’s Requiem, Bach’s St. John’s Passion, Beethoven’s Mass in C, Verdi’s Requiem, Szymanowsky’s Stabat Mater, Vivaldi’s Gloria, and Duruflé Requiem, amongst others. Escalera has presented numerous concerts as a soloist in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Germany, Great Britain, Holland, Spain, Turkey, and the United States, singing repertoire from diverse periods and languages.

Since 2003, she has collaborated extensively with musicologist Piotr Nawrot and his remarkable discovery of baroque manuscripts in the Jesuit Missions of the Bolivian Amazons. Thus far, she has premiered many arias and motets of this repertoire around the world and recorded two CDs and one DVD of the Bolivian Baroque Music, Vol. 1 and Bolivian Baroque Music, Vol. 2 with European Baroque ensemble Florilegium recorded by Channel Classics. Her aria “In hac mensa” was nominated Editor’s Choice in Gramophon Magazine (June, 2005). She is scheduled to sing more arias in the Bolivian Baroque Music, Vol. 3 in 2010. In 2005, she recorded the CD of Solombra, a modern composition by Janis Mattox for voice, piano, violin, and cello based on poetry in Portuguese by Cecilia Mireilhes, with GoodSound Virtual Acoustics and sang the World Premiere concerts in San José, California.

Escalera won the AFE Audience Choice Award in the Classical Singer Convention 2009 in Chicago. She has received prizes and awards in several other international competitions as well. She was a semifinalist in the Neue-Stimmen Voice Competition of 2003 in Gütersloh, Germany, and she received first prize in the Aspen Summer Music Festival (1998) Concerto Competition and was winner of the Lotte Lenya Vocal Competition (1999). She debuted in Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Argentina as a finalist in the Nuevas Voces Líricas Competition 2004, and received second prize in the Kneisel Competition of Lieder in Rochester, NY (1998). She placed first in the National Voice Competition in Bolivia (1999) and was awarded “Outstanding and Excellent Bolivian Professional” in 2004 by the Human Development Foundation of Bolivia.

Escalera is currently managed by Robert Gilder. Her musical studies commenced in Instituto Eduardo Laredo in Cochabamba, Bolivia. She holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in vocal performance and literature from Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Escalera was a Merolini and Western Opera Theatre Tour participant (1999), later an Adler Fellow, resident of San Francisco Opera in California (2000-01) where she flourished from mezzo to soprano.

This concert is part of GEMAS, a project of Americas Society and Gotham Early Music Scene devoted to early music of the Americas with Nell Snaidas and Sebastián Zubieta as co-artistic directors.  

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

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