Eastman School of Music in the Greene Space

(top left to right) Jazmine Saunders, Jeongmin Oak, Minghang Wang, Ava Linvog (bottom left to right) Hailey McAvoy, Nicole Cabell, Adam Holthaus, Alison d'Amato


Lee Koonce: Hello, everyone, I'm Lee Koonce and today I have the pleasure of showcasing talented vocalists from the prestigious Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, here on the Young Artists Showcase.


Lee Koonce: Since 1978, the Harold W McGraw Jr. Family Foundation has generously supported the Young Artists Showcase. In this episode, I'm delighted to feature selections from a concert of five singers and three pianists that recently took place in WQXR's Greene Space. The concert showcased students and alumni from the Eastman School of Music and was generously supported by the Gerda Lissner Foundation, a charitable organization whose mission is to provide encouragement and financial support to young singers as they pursue careers in opera. This was the first of three concerts underwritten by the foundation this year which will all be held in WQXR's Greene Space.

We are fortunate that three of the five singers are able to join us in the studio to talk about their selections, their careers, and their plans for the future. We'll begin our show with a beautiful rendition of Come Paride Vezzoso from the Donizetti's opera The Elixir of Love, performed by third-year baritone Minghang Wang and pianist Jeongmin Oak.

[MUSIC - Donizetti: Come paride vezzoso from L’Elisir d’amore - Minghang Wang and Jeongmin Oak]


Lee Koonce: What an extraordinary voice and from a third-year student at Eastman. That was baritone Minghang Wang and pianist Jeongmin Oak performing Gaetano Donizetti's Come Paride Vezzoso from the opera The Elixir of Love. Next, we'll hear Eastman alumna, mezzo-soprano Hailey McAvoy, and pianist Dr. Alison d'Amato, an associate professor of vocal coaching at Eastman. They're performing Mozart's Implacabili Torments from the opera Cosi fan tutte.

[MUSIC - Mozart: Smanie implacabili from Cosi fan tutte - Hailey McAvoy and Dr. Alison d'Amato]


Lee Koonce: That was Mozart's Implacabili Torments from Così fan tutte performed by mezzo-soprano Hailey McAvoy and pianist Alison d'Amato. Next up, I'm pleased to welcome tenor Adam Holthaus, a recent graduate of the Eastman School of Music, and pianist Jeongmin Oak. They'll be performing two pieces by Hugo Wolf, Anakreon’s Grab, based on poetry by Goethe, and Der Musikant, based on poetry by Eichendorff.

[MUSIC - Wolf: Anakreon’s Grab & Der Musikant - Adam Holthaus and Jeongmin Oak]


Lee Koonce: What beautiful selections Adam. That was tenor, Adam Holthouse and pianist Jeongmin Oak performing Anakreon’s Grab & Der Musikant by composer Hugo Wolf. I am Lee Koonce and this is The Young Artist Showcase. I'm delighted to have an opportunity to speak with several of the artists from an extraordinary concert that took place in WQXR's Greene Space and that was presented by The Gerda Lissner Foundation. I'm pleased to welcome to the show today, tenor Adam Holthouse, a recent Eastman School of Music graduate, and mezzo-soprano Hailey McAvoy, a 2017 graduate of the Eastman School of Music, and a 2020 graduate of Bard College Conservatory. Welcome Adam and welcome Hailey.

Adam Holthouse: Thank you.

Hailey McAvoy: Thank you.

Lee Koonce: First, let me begin with you, Adam. Your selections today include really different styles from the vocal repertoire. Can you tell me a little bit about each of your pieces and what drew you to those pieces?

Adam Holthouse: Yes, of course. We have two Wolf selections. These two pieces that I sang I think could not be more different. For me, the Anakreon’s Grab symbolizes the joy and bliss of death in the sense that you can stumble upon a famous figure's grave. For example, in this instance, it's Anakreon's grave, Anakreon’s Grab, and yet you don't have to feel sorrow for what's lost. You can appreciate rather the contributions that that person has made to the world and to the arts and to whatever. I think that that's a powerful message.

Of course then there's a lot more of a lighthearted side to Der Musikant, which is just about a traveling bard who doesn't care to be wed, doesn't care that all of these women seem to be swooning over him and rather just wants to have his music. Then I'm rounding it out with Hell in Texas.

Lee Koonce: [laughs] Say that name again, Hell in Texas.

Adam Holthouse: Hell in Texas. That art song, well, it's hard to call it an art song. It's kind of a cross-genre thing. Folk song arranged by Steven Mark Kohn. I have loved finding these pieces. These folk songs arrangements are really special to me. Specifically this piece I think really crosses a lot of boundaries in the sense of music. You have the folk song attribute of the melody, and then you have expansive, almost cadenza like figures for the piano, and then you also pair that with an almost musical theater delivery of the text.

Lee Koonce: It's a great way to end a program. It's really fun.

Adam Holthouse: Absolutely.

Lee Koonce: Hailey, again, welcome. I'm going to ask you a very similar question. You've got two selections on the program and they're also from very different styles. Can you briefly tell us about those pieces and, and what drew you to them? What attracted you to those pieces?

Hailey McAvoy: I most certainly can. The first piece that I sang on tonight's program is Smanie implacabili, which, of course, is like one of the cornerstone, Mozart's opera obvious from Mezzo. At the time when I learned, it was a little bit of a stretch, not vocally but because this character is pitching a fit. She is going nuts.

Lee Koonce: A tantrum, yes. [laughs]

Hailey McAvoy: Yes, and I was a pretty buttoned-up, self-contained kind of person. It was a big ask for me to go that far in the drama of it, but I have grown over the years and it has grown with me, and now I find a very special kind of delight in being very poised and very serious-looking, and then just suddenly exploding into this character that for me, she's inspired by Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory of like, "Daddy, I want it now." [laughter] I find that pretty funny.

Lee Koonce: That's awesome. As you're singing, I'm going to be thinking of that.


Hailey McAvoy: Perfect. The next piece is a song called Little Stream-

Lee Koonce: That's right.

Hailey McAvoy: -by a lesser-known composer named George Hubbard Miller. Actually, I came into contact with his music while I was at Eastman.

Lee Koonce: No kidding.

Hailey McAvoy: He was a really close friend of the woman who was my voice teacher at Eastman, Carol Webber. She introduced me to his music. When I heard four of his songs for the first time, I felt my world stop. I just was like, "[gasps] I could not believe it." Then when I found out that he had written the words as well, I was just like over the moon, I could not deal. I wound up adding a second major to my degree at Eastman and I wound up studying him and his music and I got a grant to fly out and meet his family and collect all these primary source materials about him and really get to know his world. I put together a big concert, celebrating him and his music.

I think especially because of the Eastman connection on this program, I just really wanted to share one of my favorite songs of his that it's a very simple text and simple melody and just straight from the heart, which I love.

Lee Koonce: That's terrific.

Hailey McAvoy: Happy to share.

Lee Koonce: Thank you so much, Hailey. Really thank you very much and thank you both. It's been a pleasure speaking with you.

Adam Holthouse: Thank you. The pleasure's mine.

Hailey McAvoy: Thank you.

Lee Koonce: We'll now welcome back baritone Minghang Wang and pianist Jeongmin Oak. They'll be performing Phidylê by Duparc.

[MUSIC - Duparc: Phidylê - Minghang Wang and Jeongmin]


Lee Koonce: That was Baritone Minghang Wang and Pianist Jeongmin Oak and they performed Phidylê by Henri Duparc. It's time for a quick break now, and when we return, we'll hear soprano Nicole Cabell on this edition of the McGraw Family's Young Artist Showcase. Welcome back, I'm Lee Koonce and on this edition of the McGraw Family's Young Artist Showcase, we are featuring students and alumni from the Eastman School of Music from a recent concert in WQXR's Greene Space sponsored by the Gerda Lissner Foundation.

It is a pleasure and honor to welcome American soprano, Nicole Cabell, to this episode of the McGraw Family's Young Artist Showcase. Nicole is an assistant professor at the Eastman School of Music. Nicole, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me.

Nicole Cabell: Thank you. It's a pleasure.

Lee Koonce: You've won awards, you've sung just about everywhere, and just a few years ago, you joined the faculty of the Eastman School of Music and added Professor to your long list of titles and accomplishments. With your active performance career, what led you to the Conservatory Teaching Studio?

Nicole Cabell: I actually started teaching years ago. I began in Chicago at the Roosevelt School, and then moved on to DePaul University. It's been almost a decade now in academia and juggling both a very active performance career and academia. I have a passion for teaching and I have learned so much and have had such incredible mentors that I feel it's a responsibility as well as a joy to pass it on to the next generation.

Lee Koonce: That's terrific. Here you are in New York performing as well. Tell me a little bit about what this amazing foundation, this Gerda Lissner Foundation means to young singers.

Nicole Cabell: Of course, I knew about the foundation many years ago and the name and the legacy is extremely important to be involved in this concert and these students to be involved in this concert. I know it means the world to them to not only have the support of the foundation but the exposure as well. Of course, we as educators are extremely grateful for everything the foundation does, what it stands for, and we just try to bring our A game-

Lee Koonce: Absolutely.

Nicole Cabell: -and we can participate. It's foundations like this and similar foundations that keep our art alive. If it wasn't for the Gerda Lissner Foundation we wouldn't continue to make music and find that as a part of our longevity and frankly a way to support ourselves.

Lee Koonce: It's been wonderful speaking with you, Nicole. Thank you so much.

Nicole Cabell: Thank you as always.

Lee Koonce: I'm excited to welcome back tenor Adam Holthaus and pianist Jeongmin Oak. They're performing Hell in Texas based on an American folk song by Steven Mark Kohn.

[MUSIC - Kohn: Hell in Texas (American Folk Song) - Adam Holthaus and Jeongmin]


Lee Koonce: What a fun and fascinating piece. That was tenor Adam Holthaus and pianist Jeongmin Oak performing Hell in Texas by Stephen Mark Kohn. To conclude this episode of the McGraw Family's Young Artist Showcase, we'll hear an outstanding performance of Giuseppe Verdi's E strano…Sempre libera from the Opera La Traviata. It will be performed by Eastman alumna soprano, Jazmine Saunders and pianist Ava Linvog.

[MUSIC - Verdi: E strano…Sempre libera from La Traviata - Jazmine Saunders and Ava Linvog]


Lee Koonce: Terrific performance and what a wonderful way to close the show. That was Giuseppe Verdi's E strano...Sempre libera from Opera La Traviata performed by Soprano Jazmine Saunders and Pianist Ava Linvog. Thank you for joining us on this edition of the Young Artist Showcase, which is generously underwritten on WQXR by The Harold W McGraw Jr. Family Foundation. Here are a few words from Terry McGraw.

Terry McGraw: There's nothing more satisfying than seeing some of the wonderful young musicians we introduce on Young Artist Showcase go on to become part of our musical mainstream. It happens all the time on this program. It shows we're not only on the right track, but leading the way towards a great American future in the arts. I hope you'll all join us again next week.

Lee Koonce: Thank you, Terry. Many thanks to WQXR program producers, Laura Boyman and Max Fine. Our generous program underwriter is The Harold W McGraw Jr. Family Foundation. I'm Lee Koonce. Until next time, good night.


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