Kathleen Battle, voice
Cyrus Chestnut, piano
Soprano Kathleen Battle's luminous voice has been called "...without qualification, one of the very few most beautiful in the world" (The Washington Post). Yet beyond the glory of her singing, in a career filled with countless accolades, honors, and major milestones, what has perhaps distinguished her most is her almost magical ability to create an unwavering emotional bond between herself, her music, and her audience.
The range of Battle's repertoire spans three centuries, from the Baroque era to contemporary works. She has enjoyed some of her greatest successes in the opera house, singing repertoire ranging from Handel to Richard Strauss. She has similarly distinguished herself as one of our generation's finest interpreters of Mozart, as well as the bel canto operas of Rossini and Donizetti. In the words of critic Tim Page, "Miss Battle's natural territory is music of sweetness, serenity, and girlish ecstasy. Within this repertoire she is all but unequaled."
In recital, Battle, the winner of five Grammy Awards, has mesmerized audiences around the globe with her unique artistry and vocal beauty. Her gifts as a singer extend beyond the realm of classical music. Her work as a great interpreter of spirituals is documented on Spirituals in Concert, a live recording of a 1990 joint recital with Jessye Norman. She also drew considerable attention with the world premiere of Honey and Rue, a song cycle with music by Oscar- and Grammy-winning composer André Previn and lyrics by Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, commissioned for Battle by Carnegie Hall to commemorate its 100th anniversary.
Although Cyrus Chestnut first began studying piano at age five, he took his time professionally, working with a number of top-notch musicians (Jon Hendricks, Betty Carter, Terence Blanchard, and Donald Harrison) before finally recording his first solo CD at the age of 30. Chestnut enjoys mixing styles and resists being typecast in any one niche, though his gospel sound is apparent on a number of his recordings, including his self-titled release (1998) and his subsequent albums Tribute to Duke Ellington (1999), Charlie Brown Christmas (2000), Soul Food (2001), You Are My Sunshine (2003), Genuine Chestnut (2006), Cyrus Plays Elvis (2007), Black Nile (2008), Spirit (2009), and Plenty of Swing (2010). His most recent release, Journeys, came out in 2010.
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