Vive Ensemble

Arts Beat: Sharing the bravos – ‘Emilie,’ electrifies; ‘Montreal, White City,’ haunts

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bravo! BGSU this weekend was a major arts event, showcasing some, but by no means all that transpires here culturally. Like the food served at Bravo! this was just a taste, delicious to be sure, but a sampling. As the spring semester unwinds, it’s hard to keep up with everything going on. Yet there are events that bear documenting.   “Emilie” Among those performing at Bravo! BGSU was Hillary LaBonte, who with Caroline Kouma, reprised a duet from Mozart’s “Cosi Fan Tutte,” which was staged two weeks ago. That opera was a frothy entertainment. Just a couple days before Bravo! though, LaBonte had the stage to herself in a very different opera. Working with conductor Maria Mercedes Diaz Garcia and the Vive! Ensemble, which the conductor founded, she sang “Emilie,” a solo opera by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho and Lebanese author Amin Maalouf. Here LaBonte portrays leading 18th century French intellectual Emilie de Chatelet. We find de Chatelet in the process of writing a letter to her lover, the father of the child she carries. De Chatelet was a woman of great passions, both physical and intellectual, and all these weave together. She spills her heart into the letter. Her quill is amplified so that there’s a telegraphic urgency as she writes. That’s just one of the ways the composer uses electronics to expose Emilie’s inner life. Emilie is consumed by a sense of foreboding, about to give birth, she expects the worst. She speaks of her hopes for her child, hopes for a parent as loving and encouraging as her father. Rare for the time, de Chatelet received a full education in the sciences and arts. She played harpsichord. The instrument electronically amplified plays a prominent part in the orchestra. It tracks, even anticipates, her thoughts. She is devoted to astronomy, physics, mathematics, and philosophy. There is nothing cold about her calculations and observations. They burn like the sun, whose constitution she ponders. Emilie is at this point completing her translation into French from Latin of Newton’s “Principia.”…

Electric solo opera brings passions of intellectual woman to life

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Emilie de Chatelet defied the social gravity of her time, rising to prominence as an intellectual in the fields of physics, math, and philosophy in early 18th century France. She was a passionate woman, whose love life and intellectual life were woven together. She was married, and had affairs, including with French philosopher Voltaire. “Emilie,” a one-woman opera by composer Kaija Saariaho and her librettist author Amin Maalouf, depicts de Chatelet as she is completing her French translation of Isaac Newton’s seminal text “Principia” from Latin. Two women from Doctorate in Contemporary Music Program are teaming up to bring “Emilie” to the stage for a free performance Thursday, April 5, at 6 p.m. at Kobacker Hall on the Bowling Green State University. Soprano Hillary LaBonte will perform as the heroine in the one-person opera, and Maria Mercedes Diaz Garcia will conduct the VIVE! Ensemble. This is the first time the 2010 opera has been performed in the Midwest. LaBonte was looking for a contemporary opera featuring a strong female character. Diaz Garcia came upon the opera during her research into Saariaho’s work as part of her dissertation, which is about the way the Finnish composer’s manipulates time. The opera is small scale using a small orchestra, no choir, and one soloist, a soprano.  “I thought it was perfect. It was for the soprano we have in the program, for Hilary.” LaBonte is excited about portraying Emilie. “She is fascinating because she was exceptional, working at a time when women were not allowed in certain circles of intellectual society. Her father made sure she got a complete education, which was not normal at time. She dug into everything that was happening in intellectual society, blending science, language, math, philosophy.” When she was younger she couldn’t afford books, so she developed successful gambling strategies. “She met Voltaire, and they recognized each other as intellectual equals,” LaBonte said. The opera finds her in the late stages of pregnancy working on the translation of “Principia.” “She had this sense of foreboding that she…

One-woman opera “Emilie” celebrates female philosopher, physicist & mathematician

From VIVE! ENSEMBLE VIVE! Ensemble, conducted by Maria Mercedes Diaz Garcia, will perform the Midwest American premiere of the opera “Emilie,” by Kaija Saariaho, on Thursday April 5, 2018 at 6 p.m. at Kobacker Hall, Bowling Green State University. Soprano Hillary LaBonte will star and sing the role of Emilie. The renowned opera Emilie is based on Emilie de Chatelet, a French philosopher, mathematician, physicist, and female author who was born in France and lived in the early 18th century. Her most recognized achievement is the translation of and commentary on Isaac Newton’s book “Principia,” work that contains the well-known laws of physics. Based in Paris, France, Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho sets her music to the libretto by Lebanese author Amin Maalouf in this 90-minute monodrama for soprano, chamber orchestra and electronics composed in 2010. The work explores the last moments of Emilie’s life prior to her death due to childbirth during the period that she is writing the translation of Newton’s book. VIVE! Ensemble, founded by conductor Maria Mercedes Diaz Garcia, is a collective of performers and guest artists dedicated to bringing new compositions and revived versions of standard repertory works to broader audiences. Since its inception in 2015 the ensemble has performed chamber versions of the “Rite of Spring,” “Afternoon of a Faun,” and Mahler’s “Das Lied von der Erde” amongst many other works. They are engaged for a tour this coming spring and summer to perform a program of premieres of emerging American composers in Cincinnati, Nashville, and Dallas.  

Arts beat: VIVE! has right stuff in performance of orchestral masterpieces

Ed.  Note: This is the first is a series of commentary and observations on area arts events. This will supplement, not replace, the coverage BG Independent news already provides. By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Usually when Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun” or Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” are performed, the size of the orchestra approaches 100. On Sunday (Oct. 8) VIVE! Ensemble conducted by Maria Mercedes Diaz Garcia took on those early 20th Century masterworks with a dozen musicians on each. The performance in the Toledo Museum of Art’s Great Gallery, was stellar. What the pieces might have missed in orchestral heft they gained in translucent textures with subtleties of voicing ringing out through the ensemble. Diaz, a student in Bowling Green State University’s Doctorate in Contemporary Music program as are a number of the other musicians in the ensemble, shaped these pieces with clarity and a sure sense of form. As the “Rite” roared to a finish, two sets of timpani and a bass drum provided enough boom to drive the piece home. But the three percussionists on the “Rite” never overwhelmed the rest of the ensemble. Instead it was the audience that was overwhelmed and moved by the performance. A few more observations: * Both pieces open with signature solos, and Kenneth Cox on flute on “Prelude” and Joshua Hart on bassoon on “Rite” did justice to their solos. The smaller ensemble meant that all the solo parts stood in greater relief. The ensemble benefits from having such strong musicianship throughout its ranks. * The picturesque “Prelude” seemed perfect for an art museum, almost like a painting come to life. In the Wolfe Gallery, visitors could see Picasso’s rendering of a faun as part of the special exhibit “Drawn from Classicism: Modern Artists’ Books.” * The ensemble and the audience combined took up about as much space as just the orchestra would in a traditional performance of these pieces. * Cox and clarinetist Derek Emch were called on to do some balancing. Each had to play multiple versions of their…

Warm Sounds for a Cold Clime featured in Perrysburg concert

Warm Sounds for a Cold Climate is the first concert of 2016 presented by St. Tim’s Discovers, an outreach of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, , the concert will be held Sunday at 3 p.m. in the sanctuary of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, 871 East Boundary Street, Perrysburg. Featuring orchestral music from Spain and Latin America, the special guest artists comprise the Vive Ensemble, a chamber orchestra from Bowling Green State University. Led by BGSU doctoral student Maria Mercedes Diaz Garcia, the repertoire will include Mariel by Osvaldo Golijov, a feature for marimba and cello, de Falla’s Suite Popular Espanola, “La Oracion del Torero” composed by Turina, and “Retablo” with soprano soloist.Ms. Diaz Garcia comes to northwest Ohio after an illustrious career, including conducting stints throughout North and South America and Europe. Her musical career began as an oboist and pianist, receiving degrees on both instruments. At the age of 19, Diaz Garcia was awarded a tenured position to teach oboe in the National Conservatories of Spain, one of the youngest people ever to achieve such a position. Currently, she serves as a Conducting Fellow at the College of Musical Arts, BGSU and is pursuing a doctorate in Contemporary Music. The Sunday recital will feature many talented soloists, including Hillary LaBonte, soprano; Henrique Medeiros Batista, marimba; Aleks Tengesdal, cello; and Octavian Moldovean, flute. St. Tim’s Discovers is dedicated to bringing classical music to communities throughout Northwest Ohio. The performance is free and open to the public; doors open at 2:30 PM.  St. Timothy’s is fully accessible with plenty of convenient parking.Information on all upcoming events in the series is available at