Debussy tribute, Russell Oberlin and Choral Collage at URI


A tribute concert honoring Debussy’s 150th birthday anniversary, a free lecture by famed counter-tenor Russell Oberlin, and a Choral Collage concert featuring the top three vocal ensembles at the University of Rhode Island will offer a variety of musical opportunities to the public on Nov. 2 and 3. Both concerts will be held in the URI Fine Arts Center Concert Hall, and the session with Russell Oberlin will take place in the Rehearsal Hall, Room C100, at 105 Upper College Road, Kingston. Admission for the concerts is $10 general public, $5 students, with tickets available at the box office starting 45 minutes before the concert.

“Happy Birthday, Claude!” on Friday evening Nov. 2 at 8 p.m. will offer piano and vocal music celebrating 150 years since Debussy's birth, performed by students (chosen by audition) and faculty. One or more pieces from Preludes, Images, Estampes and the Children's Corner, representing much of the composer’s output for solo piano, will be performed including the popular “The Girl with the Flaxen Hair” and “Claire de Lune,” as well as several art songs including "Ballade des femmes de Paris." Faculty performers will be Rene de la Garza and Manabu Takasawa. Many of the vocal students will be accompanied by URI piano students who have been coached by Grace Urrico and Takasawa. Poster sessions on the topic of Debussy's music will take place in the lobby during the concert. The research and the creation of posters will be done by students overseen by graduate piano student Justin Kisch.

Famed counter-tenor Russell Oberlin, a founder of the New York Pro-Musica Antiqua, will offer a lecture followed by a question and answer session on Saturday, Nov. 3 from 2-4 p.m. This program is free and open to the public. Topics to be covered include counter-tenor singing, career development for all types of singers, Oberlin's work as a founder and performer with New York Pro-Musica including The Play of Daniel, and aspects of his career, including working with Leonard Bernstein, singing at Covent Garden, recording with Robert Shaw. For more information, contact Margaret Frazier at or 874-7033.

Oberlin, born in Ohio, began singing professionally at the age of six. After graduating from Juilliard in 1951, he became a founding member of the legendary New York Pro Musica Antiqua, beginning his long association with the revival of early period music. In 1960 he sang the role of Oberon in the premiere of Benjamin Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream at Covent Garden London. He recorded extensively, gave recitals and appeared as soloist with leading orchestras in the US and abroad, becoming known for a range that is higher than that of a tenor.

A guest on many of Leonard Bernstein's television music specials and also a performer in the theater, on radio, and in film, Oberlin retired from performing at the age of 36 and concentrated on teaching, becoming professor of music at Hunter College 1966-1994. In 1995, Oberlin appeared before a packed house at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City for a memorable onstage interview with music critic Tim Page, featuring filmed and recorded highlights of his career. Since the reissue of his landmark 'Experience Anonymes' recordings on the Lyrichord Early Music Series, Oberlin has been a guest on many radio programs including Performance Today, Millenium of Music and others featuring interviews about his life and work in music.

URI’s three top vocal ensembles will offer a “Choral Collage” combined concert on Saturday, Nov. 3 at 8 p.m. The concert will feature the URI Concert Choir and the chamber ensemble Lively Experiment, both directed by Mark Conley, and the University Chorus, directed by Andrew Howell, offering a variety of choral works.

For more information, contact the URI Department of Music, 874-2431 or check the website


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