Ursula Kuhar, assistant professor of arts management at Sweet Briar College, will perform in a New York-themed recital at 8 p.m. Sunday, April 7, in Memorial Chapel. She will be accompanied by Sweet Briar piano instructor Anna Billias. The event is free and open to the public.
“New York Voices” focuses on music by New York composers, as well as songs inspired by the city — a natural choice for Kuhar, who directs the College’s arts management program.
“[I]n the arts world it is viewed as the center of the universe, a cultural mecca, and I’ve had so many memorable moments in the city: seeing a show on Broadway and an opera at the Metropolitan Opera for the first time, performing at Carnegie Hall, my first major audition season as a young artist, and my first New York trip last year with the Arts Management Program here at Sweet Briar,” she said.
“It’s a place near and dear to my heart and always will be.”
In addition, Kuhar says she loves programming innovative, thematic recitals rather than a “standard” of songs in various languages.
“It allows me to really flex my muscles as an artist.”
The contemporary repertoire includes John Corigliano’s “The Cloisters” (1969) and the Virginia premiere of “One Sweet Morning” (2011). Other highlights are songs by Ned Rorem, John Musto, Ricky Ian Gordon, Gene Scheer and Stephen Sondheim.
“All of the pieces are new to my repertoire, and without a doubt, some of the most challenging I have ever worked on — both musically and contextually — but most rewarding,” the mezzo-soprano said.
Rorem’s “A Visit to St. Elizabeth’s” is one such example. It was inspired by poets Elizabeth Bishop and Ezra Pound when Bishop visited Pound in a sanitarium.
“It’s extremely difficult on all facets: melodically, rhythmically and psychologically, and for these reasons it is not programmed frequently,” Kuhar explained.
Similarly, singing “One Sweet Morning” has been an “intense but worthwhile process,” she said. The piece was written in honor of the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
The creative theme and musical challenges aside, there’s another advantage to Kuhar’s repertoire: All of the composers are still living.
“I have been corresponding with them and [have had] some fabulous conversations, and [I] look forward to more as we progress,” Kuhar said.
For more information, call (434) 381-6350 or email [email protected].
More about Ursula Kuhar
Kuhar’s areas of expertise include Leonard Bernstein, contemporary American vocal literature, opera/orchestra management, cultural diplomacy and arts policy. She holds a B.S. in arts administration and a Master of Music in music education, both with honors from Butler University, where she was a Hampton Scholar and teaching fellow. Kuhar also earned a “Diplôme d’études en langue française” from the Université Paris-Sorbonne. In 2011, she graduated with a Doctor of Music in voice from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music.
Kuhar has been praised for her “ability to accurately convey emotion” (The Indianapolis Star) and her “charming characterization and fine musicianship” (WFIU). Featured in The New York Times, she most recently made her international debut in the title role of Händel’s Orlando at the Siena Music Festival in Siena, Italy. Kuhar has toured throughout Europe and South America. This March, she performed in Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” (2nd Lady) with Opera on the James in Lynchburg.