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Six hands - one piano

  • One virtuoso pianist - everybody has seen and enjoyed them.
  • Virtuoso duet - a lot of people have seen and enjoyed them.
  • You can be one of very few people who will see and enjoy trio of virtuoso performers playing at the same piano!

According to Wikipedia, there are only four groups of its kind in the whole world. One of them, Trio Philagrande, will be performing live next Thursday, December 18 at Glen Foerd on Delaware in the beautiful Glen Foerd Mansion decorated for Christmas!

Just for this performance only they are adding a couple of surprises.

Information and tickets

See the short preview of their rare act here

3 years ago |
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Piffaro’s annual holiday concert takes listeners back in time to the 16th century Kingdom of Naples. Renowned as the “conservatory of Europe,” the city boasted an abundance of talented composers and players to supply music to accompany Nativity plays, crèche scenes, and feasts. 

Piffaro’s program will mirror the variety of music enjoyed by these Renaissance revelers: Spanish and Italian, contemplative and rowdy, divine and earthy.

Piffaro's musicians, all experts in period wind instruments, will also introduce local audiences to a distinctive sound that evokes “Christmas” to Neapolitan ears like no other – Zampogna (Italian Renaissance bagpipes) and ciaramella (folk shawm). Legend holds that the bagpipe was the instrument played by shepherds abiding in the fields on Christmas Eve, and it’s still a tradition in Italy for shepherds to play zampogna and parade through town around the Christmas season.

According to artistic co-director Robert Wiemken, “the concert will highlight Spanish music including motets by Guerrero (O magnum mysterium; Pastor, quien madre Virgen, etc), instrumental ricercars by Ortiz, rousing songs and villancicos for the season from the Cançionero Musical de Uppsala (e.g. Riu, riu, chiu; Dadme albriçias), and more. From the Italian side, selections will be drawn from the collections of solo cantatas and instrumental canzonas by the likes of Giovanni Gabrieli, Claudio Monteverdi, and others. Naples itself will supply an amalgam of the two in the works of Giovanni de Macque, Giovanni Maria Trabaci and infamous Carlo Gesualdo, all of whom were adept at the new chromatic compositional style that took Europe by storm in the later half of the 16th century, used very expressively to convey the ‘mystery’ of divine intervention in the Christmas story.”

Listen to Que benito nino chiquito.

If these names don’t ring a bell, never fear. Many of the tunes will sound surprisingly familiar. Quanno nascette ninno is a famous Neapolitan Christmas carol used by Handel in the Annunciaion to the Shepherds scene in the Messiah, and the villancico Riu, riu, chiu has been “covered” by performers as disparate as the Boston Camerata, the Kingston Trio, The Monkees and may be one of the most well known pieces of Renaissance music.

Watch The Monkees perform Riu riu chiu.

Mediterranean Holiday

December 19, 2014 at 8PM at Trinity Center for Urban Life, 22nd & Spruce Streets, Philadelphia

December 20, 2014 at 8PM at Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, 8855 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia

December 21, 2014 at 3PM at Sts Andrew & Matthew Episcopal Church, 719 Shipley Street, Wilmington




3 years ago |
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You inch down a narrow side street

of a windy winter

in an eastern European city

and into a dark recording studio,

it is 1928

and you sing--no, better!

you hold forth like a soaring eagle--

you will be dead

in just a handful of years.

Now eighty years later

--much longer than how long you lived--

on the eastern coast

of the New World,

I take your CD out on the deck

in summer sunshine

where winds bring only refreshment,

where you make the birds

in their praising pause.

3 years ago |
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Musa Ngqungwana, bass-baritone and ’14 AVA alumnus has had an eventful couple of months. Not only has Musa been vigorously preparing for his now-ended and successful run as Colline in Washington National Opera’s La bohème, but he has also been busy publishing his autobiography, Odyssey of an African Opera Singer: From Zwinde Township to the World Stage.

How many budding opera stars can say that?

Since he only just graduated from AVA in May 2014, Musa described the summer after his four-year rigorous training as a healthy break.

“From May until July I did not sing one note,” he remembers.

Already slated to perform the philosopher Colline in Washington National Opera’s La bohème in November 2014, Musa had some time to himself. During this resting period, he found himself unable to quell thoughts of writing of his background, confessing to being “a nerd at heart” for his love of reading and writing.

After one unexpectedly productive morning between the hours of 3:00am and 6:00am in which Musa churned out what would later become four chapters of writing, he had found the need to detail the accounts of his life and had quickly established a writing process. What had started out as an early morning writing session soon grew into a workable writing process for Musa, and when he felt he had enough material, he shared the “skeleton” of the piece to then Marketing Director, Amanda Edelman, who encouraged his work and served as a shadow editor.

The publishing process was somewhat more involved, Musa recalls. He reached out to CEO of Hospital University of Pennsylvania, Delores Brisbon who actively encouraged him to publish his work. Musa, hesitant at first, mentions that he only wanted his “family, friends, and fans to see my work and that the autobiography not be sold for profit.” Encouraged by Brisbon however, Musa found that he could publish his work on and own the rights himself.

Editor Mary Nelson from Des Moines then looked at Musa’s draft. She told Musa that he had “completed the skeleton and now it was time to paint the house.” The next three months involved four different proofreading sessions in which one draft was sent to AVA patron Warren Herbst, who was able to provide helpful insight to Musa thanks to his writing and proofreading background.

“The experience wasn’t always easy,” Musa mentions. There were professors who didn’t take his work seriously and those who only looked at him through a singer’s lens. Despite this, however, Musa was soothed by the writing process, saying it was “therapeutic” and that he had “managed to internally balance things and have more freedom to live life without regrets.”

Once his autobiography was published and the hardbound books themselves were printed and ready for purchase, Musa set up a book signing due to the overwhelmingly positive response his sneak peek chapters received.

The signing will take place at the church Musa used to sing for during his stay at AVA. On Saturday, November 22, 2014 at First Presbyterian Church at 21st and Walnut Streets between 2 – 4pm. Musa will read from selected chapters and do a question and answer session with fans.


Book signing location link:

Support AVA by using this link to buy Musa’s book at

Musa’s website:

3 years ago |
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Tempesta plays 2 Bachs & Telemann

orchestral music by the father, the son, and the godfather

Johann Sebastian Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and Georg Philipp Telemann—father, son and godfather—shared in lifelong personal and musical exchanges. The program showcases the musical relationships that reflect the father’s high baroque—albeit iconoclastic—traditionalism, the son’s embrace of modernity and the nascent classical style, and the godfather who kept pace with it all. Works include J.S. Bach’s Triple Concerto in A minor, CPE Bach’s Symphony in C, Telemann’s high baroque Flute Concerto in G, and his classical Divertimento for Strings in B-flat.


Friday, December 5, 2014, 8:00

American Philosophical Society

427 Chestnut Street

Discount parking at Ritz at the Bourse (4th St, between Market & Chestnut). Vouchers available for pick-up at will call.


Preferred: $34 limited availability

All others: $24

Full-time Students (with ID) and

Youth (4th grade and older) are free


Saturday, December 6, 2014, 8:00

Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill

8855 Germantown Avenue

free parking


Preferred: $34 limited availability

All others: $24

Full-time Students (with ID) and

Youth (4th grade and older) are free


3 years ago |
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When they enter

the brass gleams

like a miser's gaping mouth,

and as they tune up

the sound of a huge machine.

          Trumpet speaks with trombone

          French horn with trumpet,

          while tuba puffs and mumbles.

Yes, armies parade by

on wide boulevards and

emperors enter throne rooms,

but also wild horses

gallop and angels soar.

          Tones of gold coins shower,

          sometimes tender and sweet

          all instruments made of crystal.

Trumpet spangling birds at dawn

trombone undulating meadow

French horn rolling river

imagined by Dupre

Gabrielli, Ravel.

          At the conclusion of

          the concert the tuba

          samovar will brew tea.

3 years ago |
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This evening, AVA alumna, Kansas City native and celebrated mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato will 10714089_10152379341962441_7143215545560726269_operform the National Anthem during Game 7 of the World Series. DiDonato was selected by Major League Baseball to sing after an online voting campaign #letjoycesing went viral. The campaign followed an online poll on that Ms. DiDonato overwhelmingly won before MLB selected Trisha Yearwood and Phillip Phillips to sing the anthem before Games 1 and 2 in Kansas City.

This is certainly not the first time opera has entered the world of athletics. Opera has had a significant impact in sports, and some of the best performers in the world have offered their talents on the field.


This past year alone, three massive sporting events featured opera singers as some of the main stars.

Four-time Grammy award winner Renee Flemming performed a highly acclaimed National Anthem at the 2014 Super Bowl.

Placido Domingo also performed the National Anthem during the Dodgers’ Home Opener in 2011, as well as holding a performance during this year’s World Cup in Brazil. 

And Russian soprano Anna Netrebko performed a stunning rendition of the Olympic Anthem at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

10665956_10152816105204040_7918011595230609952_nSome opera singers have even become an integral part of a sports team. Baltimore native, AVA alumnus  and ‘America’s’ tenor Richard Troxell frequently performs the National Anthem for his beloved  Orioles, most recently during the American League Championship Series.

And of course, Philadelphia icon Kate Smith, the lucky charm of our hometown Philadelphia Flyers, continues to inspire hockey fans in Philadelphia with her rendition of “God Bless America ".

Smith's rendition of "God Bless America" is also played during the 7th-inning stretch of New York Yankees home games.

The Yankees also had a longtime association with another opera singer, Metropolitan Opera baritone Robert Merrill sang the opening day anthem for the team for over 30 years. Here he is before Game 3 of the 1976 World Series.

These operatic performances have captivated and moved sport’s audiences, and will continue to do so for years to come.

Written by Marketing & PR intern Camille Mola

Camille Mola is a Delaware County native and a recent Penn State University graduate, where she studied public relations. There, she was a member of the Delta Gamma sorority and was involved with the Penn State Dance Marathon (THON). She is excited to intern with AVA this season and to expand her love and knowledge of music. 

3 years ago |
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History of competition

Based on the love of Bel Canto, “beautiful singing” in Italian, opera devotee Raymond F. Giargiari created a live-audience based competition that would explore the unlimited wonders of the human voice. The competition was fashioned in memory of his late father and brother, both opera fans and AVA supporters. Thus, AVA’s Giargiari Bel Canto Competition was born.  This annual aria competition features Academy of Vocal Arts’ Resident Artists as they perform in front of an audience and esteemed panel of elite judges for the top prize and the equally prestigious audience favorite award. This annual competition is another platform from which the Academy of Vocal Arts launches its Resident Artists into the operatic spotlight.

Past Winners – Where are they now?

James Valenti, tenor (’06) – Internationally acclaimed and sought after tenor, Valenti has built a global reputation for his “Italianate lustre,” commanding stage presence, and elegant vocal style. After graduating from AVA, Valenti made his professional debut at the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma playing Rodolfo in Franco Zeffirelli’s production of La bohème. Since his debut, Valenti has triumphed role after role, won the 2010 Richard Tucker Award, and this January will perform a concert with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra in Saint Barthelemy, French West Indies. Valenti will follow this performance with his debut as Mario Cavaradossi in Puccini’s Tosca with Lyric Opera of Kansas City and Tosca in concert with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.


Stephen Costello, tenor (’07) – Philadelphia-born tenor and Richard Tucker Award winner, Costello came to national attention upon graduating from AVA when he made his Metropolitan Opera debut on the company’s season-opening night. Since his debut, Costello has appeared at many of the world’s most prestigious opera houses and music festivals in the United States and Europe. Most recently, Costello could be seen alongside wife Ailyn Pérez promoting their first debut album “Love Duets.” For the next two months, Costello will be performing with Houston Grand Opera’s Cos fan tutte and in December will perform in The Metropolitan Opera’s La traviata.


Angela Meade, soprano (’09) – No stranger to receiving awards, including the 2012 Beverly Sills Artist Award and the 2011 Richard Tucker Award, the Washington-born soprano began her professional career in 2008 when she substituted for an ill colleague on the Metropolitan Opera Stage in Verdi’s Ernani. Of Meade’s talent, the New Yorker stated, “Meade is astounding… she has exceptional dynamic control, able to move from floating pianissimos to sudden dramatic swells…” Meade has prevailed in countless roles and competitions and this season will be performing around Europe with the BBC Scottish Symphony and back in the US for Rossini’s Guglielmo Tell.


Michelle Johnson, soprano (‘12) – Praised for her “clean vocal lines and magnetic immediacy” by The Philadelphia Inquirer, Texas-born Johnson’s career trajectory took off since she became the 2011 Grand Prize Winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Debuting as the title role in last season’s Opera Philadelphia’s Manan Lescaut, Johnson prepares for a busy year performing with Kentucky Opera in Puccini’s La fanciulla del West and with Sarasota Opera in Verdi’s Don Carlos.


Diego Silva, tenor (’15) Currently a fourth-year Resident Artist at AVA, Mexican-born Silva is no stranger to competition. Last year, he was awarded Second Prize in the Gerda Lissner Foundation International Vocal Competition and was a National Semi-Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions both in 2014. Silva has performed leading roles in various AVA productions including Manon, Eugene Onegin, Il barbiere di Siviglia and L’elisir d’amore. He will graduate this year.

3 years ago |
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When the concerto starts

he raises his head in

transported vigor

a blind man inhaling

delicious aromas,

then he sits erectly

resembling a student

who waits for instruction

he sways from side to side

turns toward the orchestra

as if in humble

appreciation of

an exquisite passage,

next toward the audience

as if in thanks for

their attentiveness

he lifts the left hand

simulating conducting

to swiftly swipe a note

right hand grabs a bass note

like a subtle hat trick,

he strokes the tones into

a purring feline into

a magnificent mezzo.

3 years ago |
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I walk into a gigantic ear

I walk into a titanic cello

          of warm woods and

          burnished brass fixtures

to settle into a comfortable seat

          even with leg room

lights dim

the conductor strokes the air

and I float into another world

                    Muti's silken mane

                    Sawallisch's Old World bearing

                    Eschenbach's intensity

          now Yannick's buoyancy

concerts flow by like symphonic movements

so I can conjure my own chamber quartet:

                    Yoyo caressing cello

                    Yuja taming pano

                    Itzhak conversing with his violin

                    Evelyn stirring her kettledrum

a thousand years of scores

a cascade of music

          joyous sounds

                    and since the hall is not closed

                    still embryonic

                    greatly flourishing

                                                there is no ending . . .

3 years ago |
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