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Alexandra fees, soprano

2014 finalist of Montgomery Symphony's Vann Vocal Institute, soprano Alexandra Fees' work has been described as "visionary" -- Her group A Closer Look with Jeanne Dorche, Phil Rashkin, and Vladimir Rumyantsev is the 2015 recipient of the Marin Alsop Entrepreneurial Award which launched their April 2015 residency in Huntsville, Alabama. Ms. Fees is also the artistic director of Opera Upper West, which produced Le nozze di Figaro as a real-time wedding in January 2015 to a sold-out audience. Ms. Fees graduated from Mannes College The New School for Music with her Bachelor’s of Music in Vocal Performance in 2012 and her Master’s of Music in Vocal Performance in 2014.

"Composer Arshak Andriasov's Opus 2 No. 1, "The Rose"..."

“Composer Arshak Andriasov’s Opus 2, No. 1, “The Rose”, and No. 5, “Here is the Evening”, for Soprano and Piano possess a mourning of life’s brevity and what it means to stand alone, looking into the vast space of existence, and finding beauty in the solitude.  Written at the fresh age of 17 years-old, Mr. Andriasov composed “The Rose” based on the poem by Alexander Pushkin whose life and work was defined by freedom of expression and politics, similar to that of Arshak’s father, celebrated composer Iosif Andriasov. The musical form of “The Rose” was influenced by Iosif Andriasov’s teachings and encouragement to Andriasov as a young composer, as he takes the first breaths of what now stand as his firm beliefs: to compose classical music that is aesthetically beautiful and explores the unexpected.  The silky simplicity in the piano contains a gentle wisdom and reluctance, like a mother explaining to her child for the first time the difficulties life will bring.  Pushkin’s text is the frustrated and pleading response of youth: “Where is the Rose, my friends? … Don’t say to me — Youth fades! Don’t say to me, Here is happiness, here is life!”   Arshak Andriasov’s melodic lines lift the confused questions higher and with more longing, and then gradually lay the answer down with acceptance: “Excuse me, I’m sorry—“Mr. Andriasov gently descends into Pushkin’s answer: And all we have to show are the lilies — death’s flower.


Arshak Andriasov’s later composition from Opus 2, No. 5 “Here is the Evening”, based upon the poetry of Sergei Esenin, boldly embraces a rich, reflective landscape in a rocking 3/4 in which the swaying, weaving of the piano’s Adagio triplets entrance into a hypnotic space.  Mr. Andriasov is delicate and true to the Russian text, which sings as easily as if whispered to oneself — “Here is the evening. The dew sparkles on the nettle. I stand near the road leaning towards the ivy.”  The isolation of the scene assimilates the experiences of a cabaret singer near closing time mixed with a man gazing up into the sky for the last time, each marveling sadly at the tenderness and vulnerability of being alone.  Mr. Andriasov gathers these anxieties into a fortissimo 6/4 in tempo on a high G5 sharp to allow the soprano to soar into the words: “From the moon comes enormous light”, and reminiscent of Opus 2, No. 1, Mr. Andriasov musically descends from the tumult “right on our very root”.  As a coda and stunning after-thought, Mr. Andriasov ends the cycle with Esenin’s line “Somewhere far away, I hear the song of the nightingale,” in which the singer is instructed to vocally fade away in listening for the bird, which in its literary context represents the Andriasov family: freedom, beauty, night, and immortality.


Arshak Andriasov’s Opus 2, No. 1 and 5 speak longingly for freedom, truth and beauty in both the musical and philosophical contexts.  Mr. Andriasov’s composition is accessible to all types of singers/musicians and can be successfully portrayed in a variety of styles.  In my performance of Mr. Andriasov’s Opus 2, No. 1 and 5, I carefully chose when to use a straight tone, or a fuller operatic sound.  Mr. Andriasov calls upon the soprano to find warmth and preciousness in the low B3 flat to G4 range and communicate the text as honestly as to a friend.  His play with sweet dissonances and naturally, speech-like flowing phrases intertwine playfully with the piano and lend the voice and piano to function as a duet, each accompanying one another.  In approaching this revolutionary style of composition, which in Mr. Andriasov’s words “ranges from Armenian folk music to Russian classical music, with certain elements of American jazz”.  Mr. Andriasov’s personal history with these compositions and poems give a unique depth to these songs, and his repertoire has the ability to give listeners new perspective on the realities of our world and to forge stronger and truer relationships with one another.”