About BECOMING AMERICA
The Wollman - Brea - Baitel Trio comes together for a recording project, to be released in conjunction with the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, that will explore the disconnect between the rhetoric of the United States and the lived experience of many of its citizens and residents. We talk about the American dream being accessible to anyone if they work hard enough, we talk about America as a melting pot and a country of immigrants, we talk about the land of the free. This is in direct contradiction to the lived experience of many Americans, who face racism, economic discrimination, violence, incarceration, and marginalization, often for the entire course of their family history in the United States. The oppression comes from individuals as well as governmental policies and members of governmental organizations. This creates a lack of generational wealth, the inability to buy property (a key component of the American Dream), poor health and prejudiced health care, pollution in communities, mistrust of the government, etc., etc., etc.
Rose Wollman began thinking about this topic because of her own family history. Her maternal grandmother was a Daughter of the American Revolution, she is Jewish from her dad's side, and her relatives came to the U.S. from all over Europe in many waves of immigration. She married an immigrant from Brazil and their daughter is a second generation Latinx Jew who can trace her roots back to the American Revolution. Her family's story is both unique and very mundane in this country, which is one of the great strengths of the U.S., if we are able to embrace it.
This program will commission five works for viola, soprano, and piano trio, each by a composer from an ethnic, racial or religious group that continues to be marginalized in today's American society. The composers are Nailah Nombeko with text by Mary McCallum (African American), Rene Orth (Asian American), Cris Derksen (Indigenous, Cree), Tamuz Nissim (Jewish), and Francisco Cortes Alvarez (Latin American). Their work will explore themes of immigration, assimilation, cultural beauty, personal relationships, uncomfortable history, and family, with musical influences including art song, opera, electronic music, traditional songs, and jazz. This is by no means a comprehensive list of groups that have been marginalized by mainstream American society, and no individual can claim to represent their demographic. Instead, it is a way to start a conversation about the ongoing prejudice faced by many Americans today. My hope is that we can take a hard look at ourselves as a society, and learn to live up to our lofty ideals.
About the Wollman-Brea-Baitel Trio
Hailed as “innovative” and “stylish” by the Chicago Classical Review, violist Rose Wollman has performed in venues around the world including Carnegie Hall, the Krannert Center and Constitution Hall (US), Suntory Hall (Japan), and KKL (Switzerland). Rose is a champion of new music as well as a fledgling composer. She has spent her career commissioning and performing new pieces, working with groundbreaking composers such as Pierre Boulez, Augusta Read Thomas, Garth Knox, Atar Arad, David Dzubay, Gabriela Ortiz, Mario Lavista, and Don Freund. Rose’s recent compositions include Wanderlust which is a companion piece to Facsar from Ligeti’s Sonata for Viola Solo and Domenico Gabrielli’s Ricercar No. 1 for Solo Cello; and a commission for a project with violist Atar Arad.
Rose’s solo album Loop: Ligeti’s Inspiration & Legacy, was released in 2022 by Acis to critical acclaim. It is an exploration of Ligeti’s Sonata for Viola Solo through the lens of baroque and newly composed music, and celebrates Ligeti’s 100th anniversary. Rose was the founding violist of the Petar Jankovic Ensemble and the Larchmere String Quartet with whom she released albums, including a premiere recording of Stephan Krehl’s String Quartet for the NAXOS label. Rose has performed with the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra, the Pacific Music Festival Orchestra, the Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, and the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. She served as principal violist of the Evansville Philharmonic and the Cape Cod Symphony.
Rose likes to explore different genres of music, particularly tango. Recent engagements include performances with Orquesta Tipica Loca. Rose has collaborated with diverse artists such as Atar Arad, Michael Kannen, James Dunham, Rachel Barton Pine, choreographer Elizabeth Shea, tango pianist and composer Julián Peralta, tango bassist Pablo Aslan, and Latin jazz percussionist Michael Spiro.
Rose currently teaches at Saint Mary's College and the University of Notre Dame and serves on the board of the American Viola Soceity. She holds a D.M. from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music as well as degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music and the University of Illinois. Her primary teachers are Atar Arad, Carol Rodland, Masumi Rostad, Rudolf Haken, and Julia Adams.
Maria Brea, soprano, is one of Venezuela's most acclaimed opera singers. Praised for being a "very classy Venezuelan soprano" by The Arts Desk, ”versatile soprano” by Tampa Bay and “luxurious soprano" by Opera Wire and as Micaela; “her lush tones and thrilling diminuendos were warmly received” by The Brooklyn Reporter. Ms. Brea’s signature roles include: Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto, Micaëla in Bizet’s Carmen, Nedda in Leoncavallo's Pagliacci, Musetta in Puccini's La Bohème, Agrippina by Handel, Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Elena in Giménez's El Barbero de Sevilla where she was awarded Best Musical Actress given by the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors. Ms. Brea is a fine recitalist and promoter of art song as well as an avid Oratorio singer. Maria has performed throughout the world, from Cardiff to Paris, stunning her audiences with her exciting renditions, sparkling clarity and dazzling range.
Ms. Brea starts her 2023-2024 season reprising one of her most performed roles, Micaëla in Bizet's Carmen at the Hogfish Festival in Maine with a star rising cast. In the fall of 2023 she will be perfoming the role of Clomiri in Handel's adaptation of Imeneo with Opera Essentia in New York City with a baroque specialized 415 ensemble. She returns to the University of Notre Dame to sing a recital accompanied by Israeli pianist Dror Baitel. In December 2023, Maria makes her awaited debut with the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra singing Handel's Messiah, an adaptation in Spanish under the baton of Maestro Tito Muñoz. In January 2024 you will hear her with Vero Beach Opera in her return to the role of Donna Anna with a stellar cast. Maria makes her Canadian debut performing Odaline Martinez: Four Afro-Cuban poems with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra.
Dr. Dror Baitel, a collaborative pianist, coach and conductor has established himself as a leading talent through his virtuosity and versatility across diverse musical genres. Feeling at home both in classical music and musical theater, Baitel has worked on Broadway and Off-Broadway. Baitel was on the original music team of Lin Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, as well as a pianist-conductor for the hit Dear Evan Hansen. Most recently, Baitel conducted the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and finished a one-year visiting position of music director of opera at the Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis. Additional credits include Mary Poppins (Broadway debut), Matilda, and The King and I. His scholarly interests include the history of the American Musical Theater, the Golden Age of Musicals, Stephen Sondheim, and romantic operas.