Argentinian composer Osvaldo Golijov has a muse, and it’s five-time Grammy Award-winning soprano Dawn Upshaw.
“I sort of sit back and wait and see what he comes up with,” Upshaw said.
Upshaw joins the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra at 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater for an evening that marks the third and final “Into the Music” concert of the season. A project of newly appointed Music Director Rossen Milanov, the concert series aims to make orchestral music accessible and appealing to new audiences.
Tonight’s concert features Upshaw in a performance of Osvaldo Golijov’s “Three Songs,” and “Last Round,” as well as “Dances of Galánta” by Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály. Per usual, the “Into the Music” concert will be followed by a talkback where audiences may engage in dialogue with the maestro and performers.
“Three Songs,” like other Golijov works, was composed with Upshaw in mind. The piece sets music from a diverse range of sources and instrumentations for full orchestra.
Departing from European composers and introducing a vocal soloist, tonight serves as a counterbalance to previous “Into the Music” concerts featuring Mozart and Mussorgsky. The goal of the program is to draw the audience in, which, Upshaw said, should be attainable considering the accessible nature of Golijov’s work.
“The music that we’ve worked on together all seems of a very honest type,” she said. “It speaks very directly to me. I don’t feel like it’s difficult to get to the core of the music because it is so open and generous — I’m really drawn to that.”
Arriving straight from Tanglewood Music Festival in Stockbridge and Lenox, Massachusetts, Upshaw said the turnaround for her Amp performance may be her fastest ever, with only a single rehearsal. But she said these situations feed her performance.
“I enjoy the unknown — the spontaneity — of working with new musicians, and it’s kind of like getting to know somebody, meeting someone new in an intensive period when you understand your own musical personas as best as you can to put a nice performance together,” Upshaw said. “I enjoy that process.”
But, she added, it’s not all about her, nor is it about the CSO. Performing creates an electricity that transcends the performers, Upshaw said.
“We talk about what’s going on on the stage, but there’s something going on as a group experience out in the audience that I find fascinating,” she said.
That communion between however many people pack the Amp tonight, Upshaw said, is the truly valuable aspect of performance. As a singer, she said she hopes her voice is something that everyone can connect with, even if they have never come near an orchestra.
“It’s something that we all have in common, in terms of our own musical history and singing songs as children,” she said. “That’s the greatest common denominator — the human voice and using it in music.”
And if someone does fall into that category of symphony virgins, Upshaw said she urges everyone to embark on an adventure to the Amp and into the music.
“To take adventures is one of the greatest gifts we have in life — remaining in one place just sounds unfortunate,” she said. “Enjoy all the adventures that one could take, and hear new music.”