This Saturday October 17th at 8 pm in Stern Auditorium /Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall the fruition of a unique collaboration between Morristown based MidAtlantic Opera and Seton Hall University will bring to life the third installment of noted conductor Jason C. Tramm’s 2015 Peace Trilogy performances designed to underscore humanity's universal connection through music. “A Prayer for Peace” will feature works by classical composers of Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths, each of whom share a transcendent vision of peace and humanity despite their personal experience of tragedy and violence during the times in which they lived.
Tramm, who serves as Artistic Director and principal conductor of the MidAtlantic Opera and is Assistant Professor and Director of Choral Activities, College of Communication and the Arts, Seton Hall University will lead over 150 musicians who give voice to works of extraordinary beauty and power by Leonard Bernstein, Behzad Ranjbaran, Ahmed Adnan Saygun, and Ralph Vaughan Williams.
Headlining the concert are featured soloists Rochelle Bard, soprano; mezzo-soprano Sara Murphy; countertenor Ray Chenez; tenor Theodore Chletsos; bass-baritone Kevin Short and cellist Mihai Marica; performing with the MidAtlantic Opera Chorus and Orchestra and Seton Hall University Choir under the baton of Jason Tramm. The concert begins with the Elegy for Cello and Strings by Behzad Ranjbaran, and includes selections from Ahmed Adnan Saygun’s rarely performed Yunus Emre Oratorio; Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Dona Nobis Pacem. The Iranian born Behzad Ranjbaran, a faculty member of The Julliard School and Composer-in-Residence at Saratoga Performing Arts Center and the Philadelphia Orchestra, will be present at the concert.
Stephen Lasher MAO President and Seton Hall alumnus (Class of ’80) shared that the seeds for "A Prayer for Peace" were planted in conversations between him and Tramm shortly after MidAtlantic Opera's performance of Rigoletto in October, 2014. Tramm’s thoughts about violence in the news, and his conviction that “as artists we really need to think of ways we can add beauty to the world and get people thinking about these conflicts” not only inspired Lasher, but set in motion a series of discussions about using the power of opera soloists, full chorus and orchestra in conveying the music of peace. After all, the origins of opera began with the renaissance humanists, who wished to revive the secular art of the Ancient Greeks’ drama. This art, which served as a powerful means of uniting Greek society through what Aristotle described as 'catharsis' was believed by opera’s creators, to have been sung not spoken. “If the tools of opera could inspire the Risorgimento, propel the ideals of the Enlightenment, or engender compassion about the death sentence - why not engage their support in promoting peace and brotherhood among peoples?” Lasher said.
With the backing of Lasher and having conducted programs for The Sister Rose Thering Fund on Seton Hall University’s campus in support Jewish-Christian inter-faith dialogue, Tramm saw an opportunity to use the power of music to unite an audience of Christians, Jews and Muslims together in what would become “A Prayer for Peace”. Tramm’s vision drew the enthusiastic support from two Seton Hall Deans: Andrea Bartoli, Dean of Seton Hall's School of Diplomacy and International Relations and Deirdre Yates, Dean of the College of Communications and the Arts.
By mid-summer, The MidAtlantic Opera and Seton Hall University embarked on an open call auditions for the 100-voice chorus that would perform at Carnegie Hall, which yielded applicants from throughout the eastern seaboard and as far away as the Philippines. The MidAtlantic Opera began the casting process for the concert’s featured soloists – assembling a distinguished quintet who has merited both international and national acclaim.
Throughout September and October rehearsals taking place at Seton Hall have brought together the entire 165 member ensemble of musicians and singers - encompassing virtuosity and talent, students, emerging artists and internationally recognized performers, all united in “A Prayer for Peace.”
Following the heartbreaking news of the plight of Syrian refugees MidAtlantic Opera Board President Stephen Lasher announced that one-third of net proceeds from “A Prayer for Peace,” MAO’s inaugural concert on the Perelman Stage of the Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall will be donated to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for refugee relief. Dean Bartoli, an international conflict resolution expert who has served in key academic and diplomatic positions for more than two decades, strongly supported both the mission of the concert and the MAO’s decision to donate to the UNHRC. “Music is a gift of peace. Sharing in the proceedings of the first “Prayer for Peace” concert at Carnegie Hall is a gift of humanity.”
Looking back on the process of producing “A Prayer for Peace” and awaiting its performance Verona resident Stephen Lasher reflected “the concert with its varied religious and cultural complexities has been designed to bring disparate peoples together to collectively share a prayer for peace, and to move us to remember that we do indeed belong to each other. Each participant, from performer to sponsor to ticket buyer, will share equally in the impact the MidAtlantic Opera's donation will make on the lives refugees in need. Mother Theresa said, ‘If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.' MAO’s donation will ensure that long after the final note of Vaughan Williams' ‘Dona Nobis Pacem’ is sung on Oct. 17, one life may breathe easier. And we'll move closer to belonging to each other."
A PRAYER FOR PEACE Saturday, October 17, 2015 at 8 pm in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall. Ticket prices range from $10 - $90. Order tickets online at www.carnegiehall.org, by phone at CarnegieCharge (212-247-7800) or at the Carnegie Hall box office at 57th Street and 7th Avenue in New York City. Rush tickets, student and senior discounts are available at the box office only. Group ticket discounting is available to your organization by calling 212-903-9705 Monday-Friday, 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM or Online at firstname.lastname@example.org.