Juilliard and New York Festival of Song Present "Cubans in Paris" on January 15, 2020, at 7:30pm in the Peter Jay Sharp Theater

Monday, Dec 16, 2019
Press Release
Share on:

NEW YORK –– Juilliard and New York Festival of Song (NYFOS) present “Cubans in Paris” on Wednesday, January 15, 2020, at 7:30pm in Juilliard’s Peter Jay Sharp Theater. Pianist and arranger Steven Blier, a Vocal Arts faculty member and artistic director of NYFOS, performs with the singers from Juilliard’s Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts.

Of programming the concert, Blier writes: “In the 1930s, Cuba was in the grip of a particularly violent political regime. Many of Cuba’s greatest musicians were forced to flee their homeland for Paris, where they found a special welcome. Soon Cuban music was taking the world by storm, and ‘Cubans in Paris’ shows us why. The repertoire straddles the concert hall, the night club, and the theater with music by Ernesto Lecuona, Moisés Simons, and many others. The program includes excerpts from Simons' operetta Toi c’est moi, the hit of the 1934 Paris season; art songs by Alejandro García Caturla; and an irresistible selection of midcentury Cuban popular song.”

The evening features sopranos Chea Young Kang and Jaylyn Simmons; mezzo-soprano Olivia Cosio; tenors Ian Matthew Castro, Cesar Andres Parreño, and Santiago Pizarro; and baritones Aaron Keeney and Kyle Miller. Stage direction is by Mary Birnbaum, and choreography is by Adam Cates. Joining Blier on percussion will be Leonardo Granados.

Tickets at $20 ($10 for full-time students with a valid ID) are available at juilliard.edu/calendar.

Juilliard’s Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts was established in 2010 by the generous support of Ellen and James S. Marcus.

Meet the Artists

In the summer of 2019, Mary Birnbaum’s new production of La bohème opened the season at the Santa Fe Opera and was the first new female-led production since 1997. Birnbaum’s passion for interdisciplinary art paired with her theater training has informed the variety of projects she has undertaken. Her work in opera includes pieces by composers from Purcell and Mozart to world premieres by Rene Orth/Hannah Moscovich and Kristen Kuster/Megan Levad. She has built new productions for Montclair Peak Performances, Juilliard, Opera Philadelphia, the Château de Versailles, Teatro Naçional in Costa Rica, Compañia Lirica in Guatemala, National Symphony Orchestra in Taiwan, Oregon Symphony, Pacific Coast Symphony, Virginia Arts Festival, the Ojai Festival, IVAI in Tel Aviv, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera Kentucky, Opera Columbus, CalPerformances Berkeley, Boston Baroque, New World Symphony, and Bard Summerscape.

Steven Blier is the artistic director and cofounder of the New York Festival of Song (NYFOS). As an accompanist and vocal coach, he has partnered with Renée Fleming, Cecilia Bartoli, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, and Susan Graham. Many of his former Juilliard students, including Paul Appleby, Sasha Cooke, and Julia Bullock, have gone on to be sought-after recitalists. A faculty member at Juilliard since 1992, Blier also mentors young singers at summer opera programs including Wolf Trap Opera, San Francisco Opera, and the Ravinia Festival’s Steans Music Institute. His discography includes the Grammy-winning recording of Leonard Bernstein’s Arias and Barcarolles (Koch International); his latest is Canción amorosa (GPR) with soprano Corinne Winters. Blier received a 2014 Musical America Professionals of the Year award and Classical Singer’s first coach of the year award, in 2006.

Tenor Ian Matthew Castro is a first-year master’s student from northern New Jersey studying under the guidance of Edith Wiens. He received his bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from Montclair State University. Boasting an extensive performance background, Castro has made recent appearances in Light Opera of New Jersey’s production of Così fan tutte as Ferrando, Music Academy International’s production of Alcina as Oronte, and Montclair State University’s The Rape of Lucretia as the Male Chorus. Castro has been recognized by Montclair State’s Benjamin Wilkes Scholarship and the College of the Arts Advisory Board. He also placed first in the National Association of Teachers of Singing New York Division Competition and has worked with programs such as Internationale Meistersinger Akademie, Lingua e Canto, and Respiro, NYC. Castro holds a Jerome L. Greene Fellowship.

Adam Cates returns to Juilliard having previously choreographed The Magic Flute, The Rape of Lucretia, Eugene Onegin, and two additional NYFOS at Juilliard concerts. This past season, he choreographed La boheme for the Santa Fe Opera, Jeeves & Wooster in Perfect Nonsense for Hartford Stage, and The Little Mermaid for Pacific Conservatory Theatre. Other regional credits include: Arkansas Rep, Bard Music Festival, TUTS, Theatre Aspen, Gulfshore Playhouse, Anchorage Opera, Memphis Playhouse on the Square, Music Theatre Wichita, and others. He co-wrote the book for The World According to Snoopy, now licensed by Tams-Witmark/Concord. Cates was the associate choreographer for A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder and Anastasia on Broadway. This season, he will direct A Gentleman’s Guide… for Drayton Entertainment in Canada and Mamma Mia for Minnesota State University. He teaches on the faculty of Pace University.

Taiwanese-Canadian musician Shawn Chang is pursuing a master of music degree in collaborative piano at Juilliard under the tutelage of Lydia Brown. As a solo pianist, Chang has given recitals in the U.S. and Canada as well as in Taipei, Taiwan, where he was born, including Weill Recital Hall and the Taipei National Music Hall. Last October, Chang was a soloist with the Orchestra of the Bronx in a performance of Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto. As a collaborative pianist, he has worked for opera companies such as the Bronx Opera, Garden State Opera, and OperaRox. Chang’s compositions have been premiered by such ensembles as the Chromatic Voice Exchange, Schola Sine Nomine choruses, and aTonal Hits Duo.

Originally from San Francisco, mezzo-soprano Olivia Cosio is pursuing a master of music degree at Juilliard, where she studies with Elizabeth Bishop. This season, she performs Rosina in Opera Columbus' production of The Barber of Seville and will spend the summer with Opera Theatre of St. Louis as a Gerdine Young Artist, performing Mercedes in Carmen and Ms. Kohl in the world premiere of alumnus Tobias Picker’s Awakenings. Passionate about art song, Cosio has performed as an emerging artist with NYFOS in the Ports of Call program, and completed two summer vocal fellowships at the Tanglewood Music Center, where she performed Bach cantatas conducted by John Harbison, the role of Susie in Bernstein’s A Quiet Place, and two world premieres in Seiji Ozawa Hall. She holds a bachelor of music degree from the Oberlin Conservatory. At Juilliard, she holds Constance Gleason Furcolo, Ben Holt Memorial, and Anna Case Mackay scholarships.

Leonardo Granados was born in San Cristóbal, in the Venezuelan Andes, and studied music at the Pedro Antonio Ríos Reina School of Music founded by his father. Granados is known for his expertise as a bolero and tango singer, as well as a longtime player and connoisseur of the Venezuelan maracas. His latest recording, Live at Tokyo Opera House (Sony Japan), with Amelita Baltar and Ryota Komatsu, interprets the operita Maria de Buenos Aires by Astor Piazzolla. He has performed with artists such as Simón Diaz, Paquito D'Rivera, Janis Siegel, Marco Granados, Pablo Zinger, Edward Simon, Soledad Bravo, Steven Blier, Martin Rojas, Michael Barrett, Luisito Quintero, Carlos Capacho, among others. Granados is also a political activist and a music producer, dedicated to crafting and curating musical events to help create awareness on the deepest humanitarian crisis of the Americas in modern history with epicenter in Venezuela, and the five million displaced Venezuelan citizens suffering the scars of forced migration.

Soprano Chea Young Kang is an undergraduate student at Juilliard from Deokso, South Korea, in the studio of Marlena Malas. Kang has studied voice since she was 12, including with soprano Young Mi Kim for four years in Korea. She entered Sunhwa Arts Middle and High School at the top of the department and later attended Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan. She was the finalist in the 2016 YoungArts Competition and participated in the 2016 YoungArts week in Miami. She was also featured in an Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra Concert in 2017 after winning the Interlochen’s Concerto Competition. Last summer she participated in the Chautauqua Institution.

Baritone Aaron Keeney is a second-year master’s student at Juilliard, where he studies with Robert C. White Jr. Recently he performed Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with the Juilliard Lab Orchestra and covered Leporello in Juilliard’s production of Don Giovanni, and toured with Apollo’s Fire in its Christmas on Sugarloaf Mountain concert series. Last summer, Keeney covered Schaunard in La bohème at Des Moines Metro Opera. His recent awards include an encouragement award from the Gerda Lissner Foundation as well as the Nelson Eddy Scholarship. His favorite past roles include Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, Belcore in L’elisir d’amore, and both Count Almaviva and Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro. On the concert stage, he has been a soloist in Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Handel’s Messiah, and Mozart’s Requiem. He holds Leonie Rysanek and Lisa Della Casa, Salvatore T. Chiantia, and Philo Higley scholarships.

Originally from San Francisco, baritone Kyle Miller is pursuing a master of music degree at Juilliard, studying with Robert C. White Jr. Miller recently performed at Carnegie Hall as the baritone soloist in Stravinsky’s Les Noces and at Alice Tully Hall in Stravinsky’s Pribaoutki. He has sung Demetrius in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Moralès in Carmen with the Chautauqua Institution as well as Marquis de la Force in Dialogues des Carmélites, Conte Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro, and Vincenzo Biscroma in Donizetti’s Viva la Mamma! at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he received his bachelor’s degree. This season, he will sing the role of Chris the Citizen in The Mother of Us All in Juilliard’s collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the New York Philharmonic as well as singing Customhouse Sergeant and covering Marcello in Juilliard’s La bohème. He holds a Toulmin Foundation Scholarship.

A native of Guayaquil, Ecuador, tenor Cesar Andres Parreño is a third-year undergrad at Juilliard under the tutelage of Robert C. White Jr. Parreño started his voice studies with Ecuadorean opera singer Beatriz Parra and won first place in the International Classical Music Competition: Young Talents in Cuenca, Ecuador, and was also a soloist with the University of Cuenca Orchestra and with Guayaquil’s Symphonic Orchestra. Parreño was invited to the first and second international classical singing festival, Ciudad Santiago de Guayaquil. Last summer, he sang Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Chautauqua Institution; this spring, he will perform the role of Parpignol in Juilliard Opera’s La bohème.

Peruvian tenor Santiago Pizarro is a master of music student at Juilliard, where he studies with William Burden. While at Juilliard, Pizarro has commissioned four works by student composers. He was the first-prize winner of the 2017 National Classical Singing Competition of Radio Filarmonía in his native Lima. He has performed the roles of Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Nerone in L’incoronazione di Poppea, and Guglielmo in Viva la Mamma. Last summer, Pizarro toured with Juilliard Opera’s production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, performing at Opera Holland Park in London and L’opéra Royal in Versailles. He has worked with several internationally renowned opera singers, including Marilyn Horne, Juan Diego Flórez, and Luigi Alva. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the Oberlin Conservatory. He holds the Robert White Scholarship in Vocal Arts and the Anna Case Mackay Scholarship.

Jaylyn Simmons, from Baltimore, is an undergraduate soprano at Juilliard studying with Amy Burton. Simmons was a soloist in Orff’s Carmina Burana and has performed with conductor/composer and Juilliard alumnus John Williams and the Boston Pops. She was a featured soloist at the Kennedy Center and appeared in Hairspray as Little Inez with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at the Strathmore. She attended CLA France, where she gave eight concerts and participated in a master class with conductor Gaspard Brécourt and tenor Stéphane Sénéchal. Last year at Juilliard, she performed in NYFOS’ Kurt Weill’s Berlin and a showcase performance of The Turn of the Screw as Miles. In May 2020, Simmons will sing her first professional engagement as Flora for Illuminarts’ production of The Turn of the Screw in Miami. She holds Pauline and Arthur Feibush and Philo Higley scholarships and is supported by the New York Community Trust/Anna Schoen-Rene Fund.

About New York Festival of Song

Now celebrating its 32nd season, New York Festival of Song (NYFOS) is dedicated to creating intimate song concerts of great beauty and originality. Weaving music, poetry, history, and humor into evenings of compelling theater, NYFOS fosters community among artists and audiences. Founded by pianists Michael Barrett and Steven Blier in 1988, NYFOS continues to produce NYFOS Mainstage, its flagship series of thematic song programs, drawing together rarely-heard songs of all kinds, overriding traditional distinctions between classical and popular performance genres, and exploring the character and language of other cultures. In 2010 NYFOS launched NYFOS Next, a concert series for new songs, hosted by guest composers in intimate venues. With an emphasis on spontaneity, novelty, and collaboration, NYFOS Next offers today’s song composers a forum to create a program of their work alongside that of their peers, students, and mentors. NYFOS is also passionate about nurturing the artistry and careers of young artists and through its NYFOS Emerging Artists program has developed professional training residencies around the country. These intensive programs train young artists in programming and translation, presentation and production, and research and musical style. NYFOS’ concert series, touring programs, radio broadcasts, recordings, and educational activities continue to spark new interest in the creative possibilities of the song program and have inspired the creation of thematic vocal series around the world.

About Juilliard’s Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts

One of America’s most prestigious programs for educating singers, Juilliard’s Ellen and James S. Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts offers young artists programs tailored to their talents and needs. From bachelor and master of music degrees to an advanced Artist Diploma in Opera Studies, Juilliard provides frequent performance opportunities featuring singers in its own recital halls, on Lincoln Center’s stages, and around New York City. Juilliard Opera has presented numerous premieres of new operas as well as works from the standard repertoire.

Juilliard graduates may be heard in opera houses and concert halls throughout the world; diverse alumni artists include well-known performers such as Leontyne Price, Renée Fleming, Risë Stevens, Tatiana Troyanos, Simon Estes, and Shirley Verrett. Recent alumni include Isabel Leonard, Susanna Phillips, Paul Appleby, Erin Morley, Sasha Cooke, and Julia Bullock.

# # #

Complete Program Listing:
Juilliard and New York Festival of Song Present
“Cubans in Paris”
Wednesday, January 15, 2020, 7:30pm, Peter Jay Sharp Theater
Tickets at $20 ($10 for full-time students with a valid ID) are available at juilliard.edu/calendar.

Chea Young Kang and Jaylyn Simmons, Sopranos
Olivia Cosio, Mezzo-Soprano
Ian Matthew Castro, Cesar Andres Parreño, and Santiago Pizarro, Tenors
Aaron Keeney and Kyle Miller, Baritones

Steven Blier, Pianist, Arranger, and Artistic Director of NYFOS
Mary Birnbaum, Stage Director
Adam Cates, Choreographer
Leonardo Granados, Percussion
Bénédicte Jourdois, French Language Preparation
Shawn Chang, Assistant Pianist


José White (1836-1918) “La bella cubana“
Eliseo Grenet (1893-1950) “Lamento esclavo“
Ernesto Lecuona (1895-1963) “Canción Karabalí“
Luis Casas Romero (1882-1950) “¡Si llego a besarte!“              


Grenet “Mi vida es cantar“ from La virgin morena
Lecuona “Yo viví soñando en un cuartico“ from Rosa la China
José Mauri (1855-1937) “Perdida para siempre la esperanza (Aria de Matilde)“ from La esclava


Alejandro García Caturla (1906-40) “Bito Manué“
“Juego santo“

IV: THE PARIS OPERETTA STAGE: Excerpts from Toi c’est moi by Moisés Simons
Moisés Simons (1889-1945) “Toi c’est moi”
“C’est ça la vie”
“Duo du rossignol”
"Entre copains“


Sindo Garay (1867-1968) “Guarina“
Simon “Palmira“
Jorge Anckermann (1877-1941) “Flor de Yumurí”
Lecuona “Como el arrullo de palmas”
“María la O“
Simons “La negra quirina“

New York Festival of Song and Juilliard singers
Juilliard and New York Festival of Song from 2019 (photo by Cherylynn Tsushima)