FELIX MENDELSSOHN Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64
ROBERT SCHUMANN Requiem, Op. 148
Shunske Sato, violin
Rowan Pierce, soprano
Hongni Wu, mezzo-soprano
Joshua Blue, tenor
Ashley Riches, bass-baritone
Richard Egarr, conductor
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
Philharmonia Chorale, Valérie Sainte-Agathe, director
About This Concert
Mendelssohn’s ever-popular violin concerto, full of drama and exquisite melody, here accompanies a real rarity—Schumann’s hauntingly beautiful Requiem. Written after he had committed himself to an asylum, it’s a fantastic showcase for the rich, resonant sound of the Philharmonia Chorale. A feast for lovers of the romantic era of music and a suitably dramatic way to finish our season.
“The Requiem is quite simply a masterpiece.”Richard Egarr
With his superlative technique, musicality and insightfulness, Shunske Sato has established himself as one of the most noted violinists of the young generation, and continues to perform as soloist and chamber musician throughout the world. Actively developing and confirming his keen interest in historically informed performance in recent years, Shunske has begun to perform regularly on the baroque violin as well, and is distinguished as a versatile and historically conscious musician.
In addition to regular appearances with all the major orchestras in Japan, he has worked with leading European orchestras including the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Bavarian Radio Philharmonic, Frankfurt Radio, NDR Radio Philharmonic Hannover, Hamburg Symphony, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Gulbenkian Orchestra, State Symphony Orchestra of Russia, Mariinsky Theater Orchestra and St. Petersburg Symphony. Since his American debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the age of 10, he has performed with renowned American orchestras such as the Baltimore Symphony, National Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic and the Syracuse Symphony.
Collaborations with many distinguished conductors have enriched Shunske´s musical experience, particularly those with Kazuyoshi Akiyama, Gary Bertini, Myung-Whun Chung, Sergiu Comissiona, Valery Gerghiev, Christopher Hogwood, Hiroyuki Iwaki, Zdenek Macal, Ingo Metzmacher, Eiji Oue, Yuri Temirkanov, and David Zinman.
Shunske launched his recording debut in 2005 with Eugène Ysaÿe´s Six Sonatas for solo violin (Live Notes, 2005), which was met with an uncommon unity of laudations from the Japanese press, including those from major newspapers as the Asahi, Yomiuri, and Mainichi. Further recordings include an album of short pieces, “Preludes” (Live Notes, 2006), and Edvard Grieg’s complete sonatas for violin and piano (Live Notes, 2007), which was awarded the Grand Prize of the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan. Most recently, Shunske became the first violinist ever to issue a recording of Niccolò Paganini’s Twenty-Four Caprices for solo violin (UCJ Japan, 2009) from a historically informed perspective, using pure gut strings and a late eighteenth-century style bow.
A recipient of numerous awards, he made his New York debut under the auspices of Young Concert Artists, and has most recently received the S and R Washington Award in 2006, and the Idemitsu Award in 2005.
Born in Tokyo in 1984, Shunske began the violin at the age of two, immigrating to America with his family two years later. Studying with Chin Kim before coming under the tutelage of Dorothy DeLay and Masao Kawasaki at the Juilliard School of New York, he then pursued his studies with Gérard Poulet in Paris, France. Since October 2009, Shunske has been living in Munich, Germany, studying baroque violin under Mary Utiger at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater München.
A long-term recipient of instruments generously provided by the Nippon Music Foundation, Shunske currently plays on violins – modern and baroque – made by Stephan von Baehr (Paris, 2007 & 2009).
Yorkshire born soprano Rowan Pierce was awarded the President’s Award by HRH Prince of Wales at the Royal College of Music in 2017. She won both the Song Prize and First Prize at the inaugural Grange Festival International Singing Competition in 2017, the first Schubert Society Singer Prize in 2014 and the Van Someren Godfery Prize at the RCM. She was a Britten Pears young artist, a Rising Star of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and a Harewood Artist at English National Opera.
Rowan has appeared in concert throughout the UK, Europe, North and South America. She performs regularly with ensembles including the Academy of Ancient Music, Dunedin Consort, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Gabrieli Consort, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Royal Northern Sinfonia.
Rowan made her BBC Proms debut at the Royal Albert Hall in 2017 with the OAE and returned in 2019 for Handel Jephtha with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. She made her Wigmore Hall debut with the London Handel Players and has subsequently appeared with many other chamber ensembles in repertoire including Bach and Wolf.
Other recent highlights include performances with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Freiburg Baroque, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, La Nuova Musica, Polyphony, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Early Opera Company and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. Visits to the US in 2019 included appearances with the OAE at the Lincoln Center in New York, with the Academy of Ancient Music in San Francisco and at the Disney Hall in Los Angeles. She also gave a recital at the Kennedy Center, Washington with Richard Egarr and William Carter in January 2020. Recent and future engagements include Mahler 4 with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales / Martyn Brabbins, Belinda in Dido and Aeneas with the Early Opera Company and Dame Sarah Connolly as Dido, Israel in Egypt and Bach B minor mass with the SCO, appearances at the Wigmore Hall with the London Handel Players and Florilegium, Christmas Oratorio with the Britten Sinfonia, Oberto in concert performances with Les Violins du Roy, Messiah with the Hallé and the Budapest Festival Orchestra, Schumann Requiem with Philharmonia Baroque and Handel Ode for St Cecilia’s Day with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Handel Nine German Arias and Italian Cantatas with Les Arts Florissants / William Christie.
Rowan has performed Drusilla in Monteverdi’s L’incoronazione di Poppea as a Britten Pears Young Artist, and roles as a Samling Artist included Susanna in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Miss Wordsworth in Britten’s Albert Herring and Princess in Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges.
Nominated for The Time Sky Arts Award for opera in 2020 her operatic roles have included Galatea / Acis & Galatea, Iris / Semele, Dorinda / Orlando, Belinda / Dido and Aeneas, Elsie / Yeoman of the Guard. As a Harewood Artist she has performed Tiny / Paul Bunyan, Papagena / The Magic Flute and Barbarina / The Marriage of Figaro. In 2019 Rowan made her debut at the Buxton Festival in the role of Papiria / Lucio Papirio Dittatore by Caldara with La Serenissima and performed the roles of Quivera and Orazia / The Indian Queen with Opéra de Lille under Emmanuelle Haïm, Recent and future engagements include various roles in performances of both Purcell’s King Arthur and the Fairy Queen with the Gabrieli Consort and also with Ensemble Alia Mens in France, Oberto / Alcina for the Staatstheater Stuttgart, more performances of the Indian Queen with Opéra de Luxembourg, Opéra de Caen and Antwerp Opera and her Glyndebourne Festival debut singing Oberto. In 2022/23 she will make her Covent Garden début singing Papagena.
Festival and recital performances have included collaborations with Sir Thomas Allen and Christopher Glynn in the Ryedale Festival, Dame Ann Murray, Sholto Kynoch and Malcolm Martineau in the Oxford Lieder Festival and Roger Vignoles in the Leeds Lieder Festival. 2019 saw her appear in a staged production of the Wolf Italian Songbook at the Barbican, Chiltern and Ryedale Festivals as well as a shared recital with Roderick Williams and Christopher Glynn at the Swaledale Festival. She appeared in the 2019 Edinburgh International Festival with the English Concert as Amore / Gluck’s Orfeo and returned to the festival in 2021 with the RSNO, she also gave a recital with Philharmonia Baroque at the Ryedale Festival in 2022. Future festival appearances include Lully’s Phaeton with the Early Opera Company at the Buxton Festival and in 2023/24 she will give a Wigmore Hall recital with Richard Egarr.
Although Rowan has been much acclaimed for her interpretation of Baroque and Early Music she has also been applauded for her performances of a wider repertoire including English song and Lieder by composers such as Mahler, Richard Strauss, Vaughan Williams and Britten. She has also premiered works by composers including Iain Bell and Julian Philps.
Her discography includes Purcell ‘The Cares of Lovers’ with Richard Egarr and William Carter (Linn Records), 2019 BBC Music Magazine Opera Award winner Acis and Galatea with the Early Opera Company / Christian Curnyn (Chandos), An English Coronation and King Arthur (BBC Music Magazine Opera Award nominee 2020) with the Gabrieli Consort / McCreesh (Signum), Vaughan Williams Symphony No 7 ‘Antartica’ with the RLPO / Manze (Onyx). She was the voice of the singer Siena Rosso in the Neflix series Bridgerton. Future plans include a disc of Schubert songs with Roderick Williams and Christopher Glynn.
Photo by Gerard Collett
Mezzo-soprano Hongni Wu joined the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden’s Jette Parker Young Artists Programme in the 2018/19 season, subsequently making her house debut as Flora in Richard Eyre’s popular production of La traviata under Antonello Manacorda. Further roles on the main stage included Mercédès in Barrie Kosky’s acclaimed production of Carmen, Zweite Dame in Die Zauberflöte, Siébel in Gounod’s Faust and, in the Young Artists Summer Showcase, scenes from Pelléas et Mélisande and Il barbiere di Siviglia. In the Linbury Theatre, she received strong praise for her portrayal of Hans Werner Henze’s Phaedra – “Wu is particularly impressive in the title role, singing this hugely difficult music with great skill and acting the role with great passion” (The Express).
The 2021/22 season sees Hongni Wu return to Covent Garden as Flora and makes two house debuts in the US: for San Francisco Opera as Bao Chai in Bright Sheng’s Dream of the Red Chamber, and for Santa Fe Opera as Comrade Chin and Shu Fung in the world premiere of Huang Ruo’s M. Butterfly. In concert, she adds Verdi’s Messa da Requiem to her repertoire with the Hangzhou Philharmonic Orchestra under Yang Yang, and returns to Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra conducted by Yu Long. On the recital platform, she debuts on the main stage of Guangzhou Opera House in a solo programme of Mahler and Strauss.
Recent highlights on the concert platform include Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with the Wuhan Philharmonic Orchestra, Das Lied von der Erde with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra under Tan Dun, Respighi’s Il tramonto at Shanghai Symphony Hall in a chamber programme with bass-baritone Shenyang and the Polaris Quartet, and a national tour of China in Tan Dun’s Buddha Passion conducted by the composer himself.
A 2018 winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Wu completed her Professional Studies and Master of Music Degree at the Manhattan School of Music (where she was recipient of the Stan Sesser Career Award), received her Bachelor of Music Degree from Xinghai Conservatory of Music, and participated in the Scuola di Bel Canto summer programme in Urbania, Italy. During her time at the Manhattan School of Music, Hongni Wu performed the roles of Angelina (La cenerentola), Sesto (La clemenza di Tito), and La libellule (L’enfant et les sortilèges), garnering praise from the New York Times for her “technical agility, warm colourings, and ample sound”. Further performing experience includes Cherubino (Le nozze di Figaro) with Opera Maine, Prince Orlofsky (Die Fledermaus) with the Martina Arroyo Foundation, the title role in Carmen with the Xinghai Conservatory of Music, and Mrs. Umeya in Qingling Song at Guangzhou Opera House.
During the 2022-23 season, British-American tenor Joshua Blue makes his Los Angeles Philharmonic debut as the tenor soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony #9 performed at the Hollywood Bowl with Eva Ollikainen on the podium. He also returns to both the Metropolitan Opera to sing the Royal Herald in David McVicar’s production of Don Carlo under the baton of Carlo Rizzi and cover Chevalier de la Force in John Dexter’s production of Dialogues des Carmélites led by Bertrand de Billy as well as Opera Philadelphia to make his role debut as Rodolfo in the Yuval Sharon production of La bohème, a role he later reprises at the Glimmerglass Festival in the summer. Carnegie Hall appearances feature Handel’s Messiah with Musica Sacra and Beethoven’s Symphony #9 for the United Nations General Assembly. Additional concert debuts include the Cincinnati May Festival for Mozart’s Requiem conducted by James Conlon and the American Symphony Orchestra performances of Ethel Smyth’s Mass in D led by Leon Botstein. Mr. Blue will also perform in the world-premiere of Another City, a new commission by Houston Grand Opera featuring composer Jeremy Howard Beck and librettist Stephanie Fleischmann.
Last season, Mr. Blue made multiple role and house debuts including the Metropolitan Opera as Peter in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess for a revival of the Grammy Award-winning cast including Denyce Graves, Angel Blue, and Eric Owens; Los Angeles Opera singing the Evangelist in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion conducted by James Conlon with members of the Hamburg Ballet choreographed by John Neumeier; Opera Philadelphia as the Duke of Mantua in the Lindy Hume production of Rigoletto led by music director Corrado Rovaris; Virginia Opera as Loge in the Jonathan Dove reduction of Das Rheingold directed by Mary Birnbaum and conducted by Adam Turner; Berkshire Opera Festival as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni led by Brian Garman; and the tenor soloist for Handel’s Messiah with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Beethoven’s Symphony #9 at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Mr. Blue also returned to Opera Theatre of Saint Louis as Tamino in The Magic Flute with stage direction by Omer Ben Seadia and conducted by Rory Macdonald. He also appeared at Carnegie Hall for The Ballad of the Brown King: A Christmas Cantata by Margaret Bonds with the Cecilia Chorus.
Additional career highlights include performing Act 1 of La bohème in concert with the National Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Gianandrea Noseda; Verdi’s Requiem with the Oratorio Society of New York at Carnegie Hall and the Cleveland Chamber Orchestra led by James Gaffigan; taking on the role of Tamino in the Maurice Sendak production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute with Washington National Opera and Eun Sun Kim on the podium; making his Kennedy Center debut as Alfredo in La Traviata directed by Francesca Zambello; traveling to Japan to cover the role of Monsieur Triquet in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin conducted by Fabio Luisi and directed by Peter McClintock at the Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival; joining conductor Michael Francis and The Florida Orchestra for Stravinsky’s opera-ballet Pulcinella which included projected paintings by Geff Strik and Tampa City Ballet dancers costumed by Veronique Carpio; returning to the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis to portray Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi directed by Seán Curran and accompanied by members of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra with conductor Leonard Slatkin at the helm; recording Jeanine Tesori’s Blue for the Washington National Opera with Roderick Cox taking the conducting duties; singing the role of Harlekin in Ullmann’s Der Kaiser von Atlantis conducted by Geoffrey McDonald at Wolf Trap Opera; premiering Paul Moravec’s “Caltagirone” from A Nation of Others and a quartet reduction of “Much to be Done” from the 2019 work STONEWALL, both works have librettos by Mark Campbell, with the New York Festival of Song; performing the American premiere of the rarely heard Franz Liszt opera Sardanapalo at the Library of Congress; taking part in the Opening Festival of The REACH with performances of Beethoven’s Symphony #9 with the National Symphony Orchestra; singing in the American premiere of Philip Glass’s The Trial at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis; and performing the roles of Scaramuccio in Ariadne auf Naxos with Austin Opera and Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore with the Music Academy of the West.
In 2022, Mr. Blue was awarded the prestigious gift of The Mabel Dorn Reeder Foundation Prize by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. He was the inaugural recipient of the Lotos Foundation’s James McCracken and Sandra Warfield Opera Prize in 2020; was a semi-finalist of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in 2018; received the Ellen Lopin Blair award for 1st place in the 2017 Oratorio Society of New York solo competition; and was noted as an Emerging Artist in the 2017 Opera Index Competition in New York City. Mr. Blue appears on the recording of Moravec’s Sanctuary Road which was nominated for a 2021 Grammy Award and he provided vocals for the 2018 Oscar-nominated short film My Nephew Emmett.
Mr. Blue earned his bachelor’s degree from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and graduated from The Juilliard School with a master’s degree, studying voice with Dr. Robert C. White, Jr. He is a former Apprentice Singer with Santa Fe Opera and is an alumnus of the Cafritz Young Artist program with the Washington National Opera.
Photo by Arielle Doneson
British bass-baritone Ashley Riches read English at the University of Cambridge where he was a member of the King’s College Choir under Stephen Cleobury. He studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
A former Jette Parker Young Artist, his roles for the Royal Opera House include Morales Carmen, Mandarin Turandot, Baron Douphol La Traviata and Officer Les Dialogues des Carmelites. For the English National Opera, he has sung Escamillo Carmen, Count Almaviva Le nozze di Figaro, Schaunard La Bohème and the Pirate King The Pirates of Penzance. Elsewhere, he has appeared as Brander Le damnation de Faust for the Glyndebourne Festival; Claudio Agrippina at the Grange Festival; Don Giovanni, Harasta The Cunning Little Vixen, and Ibn-Hakia Iolanta for Opera Holland Park; Simon Peter in Schubert’s Lazarus in a new Frederic Wake-Walker production at the Potsdamer Winteroper; and Count Almaviva in Tokyo. This season he sings Silvano in Cavalli’s La Calisto at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich.
Highlights on the concert platform include Berlioz’s Lélio with Sir John Eliot Gardiner in Carnegie Hall, Bernstein’s Wonderful Town with the Sir Simon Rattle/London Symphony Orchestra, a European tour of Giulio Cesare and Agrippina with Christophe Rousset /Les Talens Lyriques, and Creon Oedipus Rex with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. In the 2021/2022 season, Ashley sang repertoire ranging from J. S. Bach to Michael Tippett, with ensembles including the Academy of Ancient Music, Helsinki Baroque, London Philharmonic and Royal Concertgebouw orchestras, as well as a US tour with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and a European tour with the Basel Chamber Orchestra. In 2022/23 he sings Angelotti Tosca with Edward Gardner/Bergen Philharmonic, Messiaen’s St Francois d’Assise with Ryan Wigglesworth/BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Schumann’s Das Paradies und die Peri with Daniel Harding/Czech Philharmonic, Panthée in Berlioz’s Les Troyens on tour with John Eliot Gardiner/The Monteverdi Choir and Orchestras as well as concerts with Sir Andrew Davis/City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Stephen Layton/Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Harry Bicket/The English Concert, Paul McCreesh/Gabrieli Consort & Players/ and Sir Mark Elder/The Hallé.
An accomplished recitalist, and former BBC New Generation Artist 2016-2018, Ashley has collaborated with pianists including Graham Johnson, Iain Burnside, Julius Drake, Joseph Middleton, Anna Tilbrook, James Baillieu, Simon Lepper, Gary Matthewman and Sholto Kynoch.
He released his debut solo recital disc, A Musical Zoo, in 2021. His discography includes Purcell’s King Arthur with the Gabrieli Consort & Players under Paul McCreesh (BBC Music Magazine 2020 Recording of the Year), Wonderful Town with the London Symphony Orchestra under Rattle recorded for LSO Live and, most recently, Handel’s La Resurrezione with The English Concert under Harry Bicket.