Works by Jake Heggie, Rene Orth, Nailah Nombeko and Steve Rouse
Lexicon Classics: April 28, 2023
On March 24, Albrink releases single “Now I See You” from the album’s title track song cycle, Force of Nature, composed by Jake Heggie with text by Albrink and pianist Kathleen Kelly
“What a total joy and privilege to create new songs with Emily Albrink, an extraordinary artist with a glorious soprano voice and an exuberant sense of curiosity. Our new song cycle and this album are in tribute to her late mother, but speak broadly to all of us. In pursuing new, contemporary expressions of this timeless relationship, she has created something exciting and deeply touching, featuring illuminating and fresh perspectives. What a privilege to be her colleague and friend.” –Jake Heggie
On April 28, the “delightful and vocally strong and versatile” (New York Times) soprano Emily Albrink will release her solo debut album, Force of Nature on Lexicon Classics, with collaborative pianist Kathleen Kelly. The album of world premiere song cycles by composers Jake Heggie, Rene Orth, Nailah Nombeko and Steve Rouse is dedicated to Emily’s late mother, pianist Nancy Albrink. The program explores a wide range of emotions seen through a female lens including stories of insecurity, body image issues, risk-taking, poor decisions, abuse, gossip, and modern motherhood, and is anchored by the title track Force of Nature, written by Jake Heggie with text by Emily Albrink and Kathleen Kelly. On March 24, Albrink will release the final piece in the Force of Nature cycle, “Now I See You” on all digital platforms.
Emily Albrink was five weeks pregnant with her second child when her mother, pianist and teacher Nancy Albrink, suddenly passed away. Emily felt “compelled to honor her in an impactful and lasting way,” and so Force of Nature was set in motion. “For centuries, the canon of classical song has not reflected the female experience – particularly of mothers – with the same breadth and variety of expression that it has granted the experience of men,” says Emily, who commissioned these four new song cycles from composers Jake Heggie, Rene Orth, Nailah Nombeko and Steve Rouse. “I hope this album resonates with listeners and captures the essence and authenticity of contemporary womanhood.”
Emily Albrink talks about her new solo debut CD and performs “Now I See You” from the title song cycle, "Force of Nature."
The opening cycle heard on the album is Rene Orth’s Weave Me a Name. Named the winner of the 2023 NATS Art Song Composition Award, this seven-song cycle is set to poetry by Jeanne Minahan that traces the tumultuous and transformational story of the poet’s grandmother. The other newly commissioned cycles from the album include Many Facets of Womanhood by Nailah Nombeko with text by Mary McCallum, a cycle addressing the mental and emotional toll of modern motherhood; Morreale Monologues by Steve Rouse with text by Vin Morreale, Jr., a series of monologues about love, loss, and sometimes needing to roll down the car windows and sing at the top of your lungs; and Heggie’s Force of Nature, a direct tribute to Nancy Albrink with the three songs’ texts co-authored by Emily Albrink and Kathleen Kelly.
Albrink and Kelly will premiere the program live at the University of Louisville on March 24. The two will bring the recital to its international debut at France’s Les Jardins de Sardy on July 20.
“Like her daughter Emily, Nancy Albrink was a performer, a teacher, a wife, a mother, and a friend,” writes
Kathleen Kelly. “Throughout these four new works also runs the strong thread of legacy: of passing experience, wisdom, and care from one generation to the next. This is the story of Nancy and Emily, and of mothers and children everywhere. How grateful I am for the chance to perform and teach these new works, and for more rich voices to tell these complex stories of fragility, power, and love.”
Weave me a Name
Rene Orth | Jeanne Minahan
2. One Of Nine Children, Your (Wild) Grandmother
3. The Return
4. The Plaits
5. Your Turn
6. The Single Mother
Many Facets of Womanhood
Nailah Nombeko | Mary McCallum
8. Be brave, be bold, be free!
9. Time to take this Leap!
10. How do I keep it all together?
Steve Rouse | Vin Morreale, Jr.
11. I Know I Look Good
12. Thank You
13. Can You Keep a Secret?
14. Rest Now
15. I Love This Song
Force of Nature
Jake Heggie | Emily Albrink and Kathleen Kelly
16. Force of Nature
17. Space Mountain
18. Now I See You
ABOUT EMILY ALBRINK
Soprano Emily Albrink's career has been graced by collaborations with such conductors as Robert Spano and Marin Alsop and composers such as Jake Heggie, Ned Rorem and John Musto. Lauded by the New York Times as "delightful and vocally strong and versatile," Emily Albrink has appeared in leading roles with Kentucky Opera, Charlottesville Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Opera Boston, Indianapolis Opera, and Chicago Opera Theater. She has been a featured soloist with the Orchestra of St. Luke's, Boston Symphony, the Chicago Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Phoenix Symphony, and the Louisville Orchestra. Emily maintains an active performing schedule and can be heard in a wide array of operatic roles, concert works, and recital repertoire across the country.
Emily holds a Master of Music degree and a Professional Studies Certificate from the Manhattan School of Music and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre from the University of Michigan. She currently resides in Louisville, KY where she is an Assistant Professor of Voice at the University of Louisville School of Music. She and her husband, David, have two small boys.
ABOUT KATHLEEN KELLY
Kathleen Kelly’s projects and repertoire are wide-ranging and diverse. She is both deeply experienced in the classical vocal canon and engaged in new creation. Recent notable projects include collaborating on Force of Nature, a CD and recital tour of four world premiere song cycles, with soprano Emily Albrink; leading the world premiere of Matt Bohler’s opera Fat Pig, composed for activist soprano Tracy Cox; and co-starring with soprano Jennifer Cresswell in the filmed opera Interstate, composed by Kamala Sankaram, directed by Tonya McKinny, and produced by Minnesota Opera and Helio Arts.
Kathleen has appeared in recital collaborations with many singers, most recently Jamie Barton, Elena Villalon, Ryan McKinny, and Caitlin Lynch. She has performed internationally, including at Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Spivey Hall, and Vienna’s Musikverein. She is a published poet and essayist and has written several English adaptations of operas as well as several librettos. She has worked with many opera companies, including the San Francisco, Metropolitan, Houston Grand, and Vienna State Operas, and she is regularly invited to speak and write on women’s issues in the industry. Recently relocated to Texas, she is the founding artistic director of Lone Star Songs.
ABOUT LEXICON CLASSICS
Lexicon Classics is a new independent classical music label that was built by artists, for artists. We embrace recordings that are unique, musicians that have something to say and projects that are truly collaborative.
We believe that creating an album should be an exciting and invigorating part of an artists' career. At Lexicon Classics, we can facilitate every aspect of album creation including recording, artwork, distribution, digital promotion and more so that the artist can spend their valuable time on what matters most - the music.