World-renowned operatic singer DeAndre Simmons performs Franz Schubert’s epic song cycle Die Winterreise alongside pianist Robert Cassidy Sunday, March 19, at 4 p.m., at Castleton in Performance (CiP). Simmons, a Castleton Festival alum, has performed for seven U.S. presidents, Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden, Pope John Paul II, and Nelson Mandela. Cassidy, who has previously played accompaniment to Simmons’ vocals, has received widespread acclaim for his performances and recordings of both solo piano repertoire and chamber music. The two musicians will perform arguably one of the most beautiful song cycles ever written, a masterpiece by Schubert about a man’s reflections on his lost love during a journey through a wintery night. Tickets for this CiP 20th Anniversary concert range from $20 to $40, and the performance will be held in an intimate, state-of-the-art 140-seat proscenium theatre in Castleon, Va.
“DeAndre’s unforgettable performance in Die Winterreise brings to life the pain and sorrow of the song cycle’s narrator, first told two hundred years ago,” said Burnett Thompson, director of CiP. “We are honored to have DeAndre and Robert’s incredible talent on stage for our audience.”
“We are honored to have DeAndre and Robert continue the 2017 CiP year with Schubert’s most beautiful work,” said Castleton CEO and Artistic Director Dietlinde Maazel. In 1997, she and her husband, Maestro Lorin Maazel, converted the once-overlooked chicken house into today’s Castleton Theatre House, one of the most exquisite performance spaces in the world.
Austrian-born Schubert (1797-1828) bridged the Classical and Romantic musical periods, although the subject matter of Die Winterreise is certainly romantic in its melancholy nature. The cycle contains 24 songs for male voice and piano. The music is set to lyrics by German poet Wilhelm Müller, which tell the story of a young man who, devastated when his love marries another, begins a journey on foot into the coldest winter night. The work, “Winter’s Journey,” was published posthumously, after Schubert’s early death at the age of 31.
Simmons has been hailed by The Los Angeles Times and continues to gain recognition for his beautifully velvet voice, incisive musicianship, and captivating stage presence. He has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Opera Philadelphia, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Opera Panama, Pacific Opera Victoria, Castleton Festival, London Philharmonic, and others. Simmons has sung in the premiers of several works, including the West Coast premiere of A Wedding by William Bolcom, the Canadian premier of Regina by Marc Blitzstein, and the East Coast premiere of Margaret Garner by Richard Danielpour, with a libretto by Toni Morrison. Having performed in all 50 states, Canada, the United Kingdom, and throughout Europe, South America, and Africa, Simmons will perform Die Winterreise in California, Ohio, Massachusetts, and at Castleton. Simmons is an alumnus of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and a three-time fellow of the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Cassidy has appeared in concert as a soloist and chamber musician, most recently on a solo recital tour in Cleveland, New York, and Vienna, and in a chamber performance at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara. He has premiered solo piano works by American composers David Noon and Keith Fitch. From 2008-2016, Cassidy was the pianist in the Cleveland-based Almeda Trio, with whom he concertized and recorded. He also has performed chamber music with members of the Cleveland Orchestra, Mari Sato of the Cavani String Quartet, and cellist Ani Aznavoorian. Having taught piano throughout the United States, Cassidy originally received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in piano performance from the Manhattan School of Music. Later, he earned his doctorate’s degree in piano chamber music and accompanying/piano performance from Ball State University.
The grounds of Castleton Farms have been home to a prestigious performance series since 1997, when the late Maestro Lorin Maazel inaugurated the Theatre House (a former chicken coop for 15,000 hens converted into a “mini-Globe” European-style pocket theatre with unparalleled acoustics) together with his renowned friends, cellist Mstislav Rostropovich and pianist Yefim Bronfman. Since then, CiP has given audiences in Rappahannock County multicultural experiences of the highest caliber bringing internationally acclaimed artists into our own backyard. Artists have included Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Itzhak Perlman, José Carreras, Emanuel Ax, Sir James Galway, Gil Shaham, the Paris Piano Trio, Mariachi Los Camperos Group, Chinese traditional soloists Wu Man and Ma Xiaohui, classical guitarists Pepe Romero and Berta Rojas, Indian dance companies, and famous actors such as Alec Baldwin and Claire Bloom.
In 2009 Maestro Maazel and his wife Dietlinde Turban Maazel established the Castleton Festival, a combination of music festival and summer academy for young artists. During this period, Dietlinde developed a wildly popular acting training studio for opera singers. Ranked by The New York Times as one of the top 10 festivals in the country, the Castleton Festival formed an educational partnership with Wynton Marsalis, his Summer Jazz Academy, in 2015. The monthly CiP (Castleton in Performance) events continue throughout the year as well as the Educational Community Outreach programming that furthers Castleton’s mission of nurturing the arts in the lives of children through in-school programs.