Utah-based Melissa Heath and Christian Asplund will perform an eclectic mix of American, European, and Canadian works for soprano with piano at BYUâs Madsen Recital Hall with special guests.
The program will include both well-known and obscure delights by Ives, mysteriously lyrical songs by Ligeti and Lutoslawski, an early cycle by Messiaen, Aria 2 by Cage (with his Concert for Piano), charmingly laconic miniatures from Webernâs Op. 12 cycle, Sun Raâs Interstellar Low Ways, a Javanese tinged-song by Jarrad Powell, and sacred and secular sundries by Asplund.
Christian Asplund spent the â90s in Seattle as a kingpin of a burgeoning post-classical/post-jazz scene that that ran in tandem with the cityâs better-known grunge movement, often sharing performance venues and audiences. He was cofounder of Seattle Experimental Opera, Seattle Composers Salon, and Seattle Experimental Opera Cabaret. After floating around a bit, Asplund ended up in Provo, Utah where he is a Composer in Residence and Professor of Music at Brigham Young University. In his 17 years there, he has presided over a burgeoning experimental house concert circuit that includes the Avant GaRAWge, and Locust Salon which he created and curates.
Soprano Melissa Heath is a frequent soloist with the Utah Symphony, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and Utah Lyric Opera. They shared a love for the song cycles of Schumann and began a fruitful collaboration. Their performances are distinguished by the sometimes irreverent yet cohesive improvised interludes that connect songs, often of quite disparate style and era. They employ an eclectic mix of repertoire that includes lesser-known vocal works by well-known modern/postmodern composers as well as a fair amount of Asplundâs own inscrutable vocal works.
Christian Asplund is a Canadian-American composer-performer based in Utah where he teaches at Brigham Young University. His interests have included the intersections of text/music, improvisation/composition, and modular textures/forms. He has received awards and grants from Genesis Foundation, Barlow Endowment, Artistrust, King County, ASCAP, Alpert Foundation and Jack Straw Foundation. He has performed and recorded with Stuart Dempster, John Butcher, Malcolm Goldstein, Christian Wolff, Willy Winant, Eyvind Kang, Reggie Watts, Tim Young, etc. His teachers have included Thea Musgrave, Alvin Curran, Stuart Dempster, John Rahn, and Joel-Francois Durand and he has degrees in composition from University of Washington, Mills College, and Brigham Young University. His scores are published by Frog Peak Music. His articles and chapters and a book have appeared in Perspectives of New Music, American Music, Illinois University Press, and University of Washington Press. His recordings appear on Tzadik, Comprovised, Maritime Fist Gleeclub, Sparkling Beatnik, Present Sounds, etc. Press: âpassionâ, âpanoramic powerâ, âpure pointillistâ, âplaintiveâ, âpainstakingâ, ârhythmically toothyâ, ârockingâ, âremarkableâ, ârollickingâ, âsearingâ, âsubduedâ, âsoothingâ, âsubmersiveâ, âsplendidâ, âuniqueâ, âenjoyableâ, âetherealâ, âmesmerizingâ, âmind-blowingâ, âotherworldlyâ, âabsorbingâ, âintelligentâ, âidiosyncraticâ, âdistinctiveâ, âcaptivatingâ, âbewitchingâ. He teaches at Brigham Young University. Soprano Melissa Heath enjoys a varied career of opera, concert and recital work. Hailed as a âsoaring, sparkling sopranoâ with âvivacious stage presence,â recent opera roles include Countess in Mozartâs Le Nozze di Figaro and MicaÃ«la in Bizetâs Carmen. Recent concert work includes Vaughan Williamsâ Dona Nobis Pacem and both Mozartâs Requiem and Mass in c minor with the Temple Square Chorale and Orchestra at Temple Square, Handelâs Messiah with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and Mozartâs Exsultate, jubilate with Sinfonia Salt Lake. With Utah Symphony, Ms. Heath has performed both Nielsenâs Symphony no. 3 and Handelâs Messiah. Last fall she was the soprano soloist with Ballet West in choreographer Nicolo Fonteâs world premiere of Carl Orffâs Carmina Burana. This Spring Dr. Heath sang Schubert lieder and a Messiaen cycle on NOVA Chamber Music Seriesâ season finale concert. Ms. Heath was a district winner in the Metropolitan Operaâs National Council Auditions, and in 2012 and 2014 was a regional finalist in the National Association of Teachers of Singingâs biennial art song competition. Ms. Heath is an Assistant Professor of music and the Vocal Area Coordinator in the Department of Music at Utah Valley University. She holds a Bachelorâs Degree in voice from Brigham Young University, and her Master of Music and Doctorate of Musical Arts degrees in voice from the University of Utah. Diane Thueson Reich, soprano, is an Associate Professor of Voice, and Division Coordinator for Classical Voice at Brigham Young University. She has previously taught and been the Director of Opera at Central Washington University. She has earned doctoral and masterâs degrees from Indiana University.
At home in the concert hall or opera stage, she has appeared in major operatic roles such as Marguerite in Faust, Anne Trulove in The Rakeâs Progress, the title role in Straussâ Arabella, Nanetta in Falstaff, Rosina in The Ghosts of Versailles, MimÃ¬ in La BohÃ¨me, Pamina in Die ZauberflÃ¶te, Valenncienne in The Merry Widow, and Antonia in The Tales of Hoffman. Dr. Reich has performed with professional opera and theater companies, including the Utah Festival Opera Company, Opera West, Indiana University Opera Theater, Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma City, and River City Players. She created the role of Rosamond in the world premiere of Michael Valentiâs opera, Beau Nash, performed with Portland Chamber Orchestra.
Dr. Reich has been a guest artist with Icicle Creek Music Festival, Third Angle Ensemble in Portland, OR; and also appeared with the Yakima and Walla Walla Symphonies, the Indianapolis Symphony, the Utah Chamber Orchestra, Indiana University Philharmonic, and Indiana State and Utah State University orchestras, as well as soloing in the northwest premiere of George Crumbâs Star Child in Seattleâs Benaroya Hall. She has performed as a featured soloist with Vietnam National Opera and Ballet Company in Hanoi, a guest soloist with the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic in Russia, sung several concerts throughout Vietnam and China, and been a featured guest recitalist and master teacher in Pescara, Italy.
A multiple Metropolitan Opera Audition winner in both the Utah and Indiana Districts, Dr. Reich also won first place in the Vera Scammon International S.O.S. Voice Competition, and was a finalist with The American Prize in Vocal PerformanceâFriedrich and Virginia Schorr Memorial Awards, in both the art song and opera/operetta divisions. She has been the recipient of numerous scholarship and academic awards as well. Dr. Reichâs research endeavors have led her to be a leading authority on the vocal music of contemporary composer Henry Mollicone.
Dr. Reichâs students have gone on to prestigious graduate programs with Indiana University, University of Houston, Arizona State University and University of Missouri-Kansas City. Students have also been accepted to participate in training programs throughout the world.
Monte Belknap has performed at the International Music Festival of the Adriatic in Italy, The George Enescu International Violin Competition in Romania, The Barge Music Series in NYC, and served as concertmaster of the Illinois Symphony and Chamber Orchestras. After a performance of the Barber Concerto with the BYU Philharmonic, critic, Ed Reichel stated:
âBelknap captured the eloquence of the music with his luxurious playing that embraced the lyricism fullyâ¦. Belknapâs fingers certainly flew up and down the fingerboard. And his dexterity was paired with a lightness that brought a shimmering quality to the music. It was a tour de force performance.â
In 2010, Professor Belknap was awarded âStudio Teacher of the Yearâ by the Utah State Chapter of the American String Teachers Association (ASTA). He studied with the world-renowned pedagogues Kurt Sassmannshaus and Dorothy DeLay at the University of Cincinnati, CollegeâConservatory of Music, and also served as a faculty member of the prestigious Starling Preparatory String Project and as an assistant of Mr. Sassmannshaus. He is enjoying his fifteenth year teaching at Brigham Young UniversityâSchool of Music. His students have won competitions across the United States, including seven performances in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York City in the last four years.
He currently serves as the concertmaster and soloist with the LA East recording studio and has been the featured violin soloist on many sound tracks including âThe Work and the Gloryâ movies, the âThe Iceland Saintsâ, the online video games âLord of the Ringsâ and âDungeons and Dragonsâ. He shared the stage, performing chamber music with international artists Jeffrey Solow, Scott Ballentyne, Steve Balderston, Mark Kosower, John Novacek, Denise Djokic, Menahim Pressler, and Miriam Fried.
In the summers, Belknap teaches and performs at Brigham Young Universityâs Summerfest Music Festival; the International Music Festival of the Adriatic in Duino, Italy; and at the Park City Beethoven Festival in Utah.
He performs on either of his two violins, made by Jordan Hess in Salt Lake City in 2016.
Kate Monson holds an MFA in choreography from Ohio State University (â99) where she studied under nationally and internationally known dancers such as Bebe Miller, Tere OâConnor and Susan Hadley. She holds a BA in dance from BYU (â96). Kate is co-producer with Kori Wakamatsu (Assistant Professor, BYU) of the On Sites: Mobile Dance Series, which presents concert quality dance in non-traditional spaces around Utah Valley. She is invested in the research of dance conditioning including a conditioning program she co-created with Amy Markgraf Jacobson (Associate Professor, Utah Valley University) for collegiate modern dancers. She is certified to teach Labanotation and has reconstructed works from score by Lester Horton, Bebe Miller, Yvonne Rainer, Anna Sokolow, and others.