The Aeneid Series World Premiere
WE DID IT!
After fifteen years of composing, a year and a half of planning, and three weeks of hard-core practicing and coordinating schedule, we pulled off the world premiere of The Aeneid Series.
My dear Dido Diva, Hannah Dixon McConnell, who performed The Dido Series with me fourteen years ago at St. Olaf College during their National Classics Convention, came back to play the role of Dido. In a crazy sequence of coincidences, we were back together again at St. Olaf College, performing in the middle of the National Classics Convention, and seeing the same professors who cheered us on years ago,
Christian Sanders came on board to perform the role of Aeneas alongside Hannah and myself, with a mere three weeks of preparing. The blessing of performing with professionals is that we were able to meet the night before the performance and rehearse, easily coordinating logistics within a couple hours' time.
The performance was a smashing hit, and everyone did a phenomenal job. I'm attaching the videos of the performance, as well as the program and bios of Hannah and Christian for you to enjoy.
After the amazing high of a fantastic performance and living out my dream of completing this song series, I'm now hungry for more performing. I'm also planning to work on a formal recording of the series for release in the near future. More on that later.
For now, I present to you, The Aeneid Series:
THE AENEID SERIES
Saturday, March 23, 2019
Eta Sigma Phi National Convention, St. Olaf College
Catherine Larsen Bryan, composer, piano
Hannah Dixon McConnell, soprano
Christian Sanders, tenor
1. Infandum regina
Book II: Lines 3-13 / 707-711 / 725-729 / 795-804
Aeneas sorrowfully shares the fall of Troy to Dido.
2. Anna soror
Book IV: Lines 9-19
Aeneas’ story sends Dido into a sleepless night; she’s in love.
3. Arma parent
Book IV: Line 290
As if awakened out of a sleep, thanks to Mercury’s loud announcement, Aeneas quietly tells his crew to prepare to set sail for Italy. He says nothing to Dido.
4. Dissimulare etiam sperasti
Book IV: Lines 305-330
Dido believes there is something amiss; she finds out Aeneas was preparing to leave without saying good-bye. The wrath of Dido ensues.
5. Italiam non sponte sequor
Book IV: Lines 333-336 / 360-361
Aeneas poignantly confesses his love for Dido, but sails for Italy against his own will. It is the will of the gods, he says.
6. Sub umbras
Book IV: Lines 651-660
Dido’s departure under the shades.
7. Quem fugis
Book VI: Lines 456-466
Aeneas travels to the underworld and finds Dido, but she refuses to acknowledge his existence. Aeneas frantically calls out to her; she responds with silence.
Hannah Dixon McConnell hails from Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan, and now calls Evanston, Illinois, her home. Next month, Hannah serves as the chorus master and as a soprano soloist for Bach's St. Matthew Passion with the Calyx Ensembles & friends at the First Presbyterian Church of Evanston, bringing musicians from many groups together to share Bach's masterwork with the Evanston community.
As a soprano, Hannah sings regularly with the Grant Park Chorus, the Music of the Baroque Chorus, and the Chicago Symphony Chorus, where she was the soprano cover in Haydn's The Creation (Eve) and in Schubert's Mass in A-flat Major. She has sung with Philadelphia's Crossing Choir, most recently in the world premiere of Julia Wolfe’s Fire in My Mouth with the New York Philharmonic, and with Chicago’s Bach Project Chorus. As a Young Artist at Glimmerglass Opera in Cooperstown, NY, she has covered Belinda in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, and, as a Young Artist at Chicago Opera Theater, has covered Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni and Angelica in Orlando.
As a choral conductor, Hannah serves as the Choir Director, the Director of Music & Worship, and the First Kids Choir and Chimes Director at the First Presbyterian Church of Evanston; the co-conductor of Evanston’s “Sounds Good!” Choir (previously Encore Choir), Chicago’s fastest-growing choral organization for older adults; and ad hoc projects with the Calyx Ensemble including a solo quartet program at the resonant St. James’ Chapel, conductor for the choral recital “we have no more fire,” and chorus master for Bach’s St. John Passion.
Nine years after completing the MM in Voice Performance and Literature at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University, studying with Sunny Joy Langton, Hannah completed the MM in Choral Conducting from her alma mater, studying with Dr. Donald Nally. While at NU, she served as the assistant conductor of the freshman University Singers and the University Chorale. She completed the Bachelor of Arts in piano performance at Hillsdale College, studying piano with Susan Flaskerud-Rathmell and studying voice with Melissa Osmond, and was pleased to engage in the Liberal Arts curriculum by studying Latin for two years with Dr. David Jones and Dr. Joseph Garnjobst.
While pausing from musicking, Hannah bicycles to work and improvises in her kitchen on the theme of soup.
Christian Sanders has been hailed as a “…voice whose color belies his age. Someone to watch!” (Bill Eadie, SanDiego.com)
Mr. Sanders’ operatic repertoire encompasses the roles of Tom Rakewell in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, Albert Herring in Britten’s Albert Herring, Rodolfo in La Bohème, Fenton in Verdi’s Falstaff, Laurie in Adamo’s Little Women, Tamino in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Rinuccio in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi, and Prince Charmant in Cendrillon by Massenet. Mr. Sanders has appeared as the Prison Chaplain in the world premiere of Theodore Morrison’s Oscar with the Santa Fe Opera. In the summer of 2015 Mr. Sanders sang the title role of Dorian Gray in The Picture of Dorian Gray at the Aspen Music Festival and School in Aspen, Colorado. While working with Utah Opera, as a member of the Resident Artist Program, Christian performed the roles of Il Messaggero in Aïda, Don Curzio in Le Nozze di Figaro, Remendado in Carmen, the Padre in Man of La Mancha, Normanno in Lucia di Lammermoor, and Castleman in Beck’s The Long Walk. In addition to these opportunities, Mr. Sanders has had the honor of being a part of Des Moines Metro Opera’s Apprentice Artist program. His roles with this company include the Novice in Billy Budd and Mr. Erlanson in A Little Night Music in the summer of 2017. Christian joined the Young Artist Program at The Glimmerglass Festival for the 2018 season singing Jonathan Dale in the Pulitzer prize-winning opera Silent Night. He also stepped in as Tony in West Side Story during that same season under the baton of Maestro David Charles Abell. Christian rejoins The Glimmerglass Festival this summer singing the role of Bégearss in the Ghosts of Versailles by Corigliano. He will also be singing the same role in November 2019 with Château de Versailles Spectacles in France. This past season Christian joined the Minnesota Opera Resident Artist Program singing Prunier in La Rondine and Jonathan Dale in the original production of Kevin Puts’ Silent Night. This production was recorded by Pentatone and will be released in the near future for Grammy consideration. Next season, Christian will be performing the roles of Bill in Jonathan Dove’s Flight and the Young Servant in Strauss’ Elektra.
Mr. Sanders has received his Masters degree in Operatic Performance from Rice University in Houston on the full-tuition Edward J. and Frances Bing Memorial Scholarship. He holds a Bachelors of Arts Magna Cum Laude in Music with a minor in Cell and Molecular Biology from Point Loma Nazarene University and currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.