This month, as Susanna Phillips finishes her performances of Mozart's Idomeneo at Ravinia Festival (August 17 and 19), the soprano will immerse herself in chamber music at Twickenham Fest, the summer chamber music festival that she co-founded in her hometown of Huntsville, Alabama.
The festival's first concert this year, on August 24, is headlined by the world premiere of Speaking for the Afghan Woman, written for Phillips by the American composer William Harvey. Combining texts in the Afghan languages of Pashto and Dari (including traditional Pashto folk poems called Lundaye, letters from Afghan women, and the work of Afghan women poets), Harvey has created a song cycle that reflects on the lives and experiences of women in Afghanistan, where he lives and works.
Harvey's piece is only one contemporary work in Phillips's repertoirE. Phillips can also be heard performing the world premiere recording of a newly composed suite for soprano and orchestra from Dutch composer Poul Ruders. Just released on Bridge Records and based on material from Ruders' seminal opera, A Handmaid's Tale, "Offered Suite" has already drawn critical acclaim, including praise for Phillips from International Record Review: "[The piece is] eloquently realized by Susanna Phillips, a singer whose rich-toned soprano and impeccable diction are much in evidence throughout this memorable recording, not least in the poignant soliloquy that is "Ev'ry Moon'." The soprano will also be part of an upcoming disc from Delos featuring music by Philip Lasser, with Margo Garrett as pianist, that includes the song cycle In Colors of Feelings, of which Phillips gave the world premiere performance at Alice Tully Hall in 2009, as well as Nicolette et Aucassin, a duet cycle with soprano Elizabeth Futral. She will record an album of Mozart arias in the coming months, which will be released on Bridge Records as a follow up to her critically acclaimed debut solo album, Paysages, featured French mélodie by Messiaen, Fauré and Debussy.
Following her weekend of concerts at Twickenham Fest, all of which are free and open to the public, Phillips, who won the Metropolitan Opera's 2010 Beverly Sills Artist Award, launches a busy 2012-13 season that includes her return to the Met in Don Giovanni (November), as well as appearances with the Baltimore Symphony and St. Louis Symphony. She will embark on a recital tour with pianist Myra Huang in January, which will take her from her native Huntsville, Alabama to Sarasota, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and New York's Carnegie Hall. In April 2013, she will sing the role of Stella in André Previn's A Streetcar Named Desire with Renée Fleming in performances at Carnegie Hall and Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Additional information about Susanna Phillips is available at susannaphillips.com.