LAURIE RUBIN - "DO YOU DREAM IN COLOR?"
Concert Presented by the Jewish Music Commission of Los Angeles and Valley Beth Shalom To Feature
A New Work By Composer Bruce Adolphe With Text By Rubin
Which Illustrates Rubin's Life As An Artist Who Happens To Be Blind
The Los Angeles Jewish Music Commission and Valley Beth Shalom present celebrated mezzo-soprano Laurie Rubin in concert to mark the launch of her new CD, "Do You Dream in Color?" released this month on the Bridge Records Label. The concert will include works by Franz Schubert, Gabriel Faure, Joaquin Rodrigo, Aminadav Aloni, and features a performance of the album’s title track composed by composer Bruce Adolphe, a setting of Rubin's poem about her rich life as a blind artist who intuits color without the use of her eyes. Rubin will be joined by pianist Marija Stroke and clarinetist Jennifer Taira.
Ms. Rubin will be returning to the synagogue at which she was a Bat Mitzvah to celebrate the releaseof her CD, which is a musical portrait of Rubin's identity as a Jewish artist who happens to be blind. The CD features two original works written for Rubin, including "In the Mountains of Jerusalem" by Israeli composer Noam Sivan with texts by Israeli poet Leah Goldberg, and the title track, "Do You Dream in Color?," a collaboration between Bruce Adolphe and Rubin which answers the question in four different ways, revealing many different insights about Rubin's life. Rubin's poem paints a picture of how colors have shaped her understanding of the world, in spite of never having seen them. The poem will also appear in Laurie Rubin's memoir, also entitled "Do You Dream in Color?" to be published by Seven Stories Pressin October of this year.
"When I first heard Laurie Rubin sing, I immediately realized we had a world class talent here," says Adolphe. "What I wanted was for her to express in words what being blind is about, and what it means to her."
Blind since birth, mezzo-soprano Laurie Rubin has concertized nationally and internationally, performing at such venues as Carnegie Hall in New York, the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, Wigmore Hall in London, and the Parcol Auditorium della Musica in Rome. She has sung duet concerts with world-famous mezzo-soprano Frederica Von Stade, and has performed under the baton of John Williams. She has appeared in lead roles on many opera stages, including the title role in Rossini's "La Cenerentola" (Cinderella), and the role of Karen in Gordon Beeferman's "The Rat Land" at New York City Opera. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Ms. Rubin was embraced by the local Jewish community, and at the tender age of 10, she was asked to perform at many United Jewish Fund, Anti-Defamation League, and Hadassah events honoring such luminaries as former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and actor/comedian George Burns.
Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door, and can be purchased by calling (818) 788-6000. Reservations close at noon on Friday, March 9, 2012.
CD's will be available for purchase at the concert.
Read John Rabe's interview with Laurie Rubin on NPR - click on Download to hear it.
Read Naomi Pffeferman's article in the Jewish Journal
Read Mark Swed's review in the Los Angeles Times
The Lopaty Chapel was almost full to capacity with a spellbound audience who responded with enthusiasm and delight to each part of the program. They were reluctant to leave after the program, engaging Laurie and Bruce in searching questions, admiring the brilliant piano vituosity of Maria Stroke, and speaking with Laurie's parents and brother about the impact this has had on the family. Trudi Behar was the excellent page turner for Marija.
"Thank you so much for bringing such a marvelous, enriching and
soul-satisfying experience to our community last Saturday night.
Bruce, your composition heightened Laurie's moving poem to new levels, and
your remarks let us know how this work evolved into the great piece that it
is. Someone in the audience later said to me that this could well evolve
into an opera.
Marija, your intense musical partnership with Laurie was so apparent and
the two of you were as one, as it should be. The brilliance of your
playing in the entire program was there for all of us to marvel. Mark Swed
got it just right when he wrote, 'The crystalline piano part was
excellently played by Adolphe’s wife, Marija Stroke.' "
From Bruce Adolphe -
DO YOU DREAM IN COLOR?
A SONG RECITAL BY LAURIE RUBIN
MARCH 10, 2012
Laurie Rubin, mezzo-soprano
with Marija Stroke, piano
and Jennifer Taira, clarinet
Joaquin Rodrigo (1901-99)
Cancion del Grumete
Esta niña se lleva la flor
Gabriel Faure (1845-1924)
Claire de Lune
Bruce Adolphe (B. 1955)
Do You Dream in Color?(poem by Laurie Rubin)
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
Der Hirt auf dem Felsen (The Shepherd on the Rock)
Aminadav Aloni (1928-1999)
Set Me as a Seal
George Gershwin (1898-1937)
Someone to Watch Over Me
Music by Abraham Ellstein (1907-63)
Lyrics by Molly Picon (1898-1992)
Oi Mamme, Mazel, and Abi Gezunt
Autobiography of Laurie Rubin
When my parents and Valley Beth Shalom members, Arnold and Lilly Rubin, found out that their 3-month-old daughter was blind with no foreseeable treatment or cure, they realized that they were in store for a bunch of firsts. They had never known anyone who was blind or who had a blind child, and they also knew that most of their friends and family in their immediate circle would be confronting blindness for the first time. Even though the first time dealing with any situation can be daunting, it can also be a lot of fuNeal Schnall, who was the principal of VBS Hebrew School, took on the challenge of integrating me seamlessly into classes with sighted kids with a great deal of enthusiasm. It was he who found the Jewish Braille Institute in New York City which sent me all text books, Siddurim, and other materials I needed in Braille. Because VBS had welcomed me and the unique challenge I posed for them, I gave them one of their firsts in return. I became the first congregation member to be Bat Mitzvah there. I will never forget the butterflies in my stomach as I placed my large Braille books containing my Torah portion, roughly the size of a volume of the Britannica Encyclopedia, on top of the unfurled Torah scroll, and the sense of triumph and relief as I made it through yet another bit of the chanting without messing up. I also remember a disturbance that took place in the middle of the service, and heard people talking in whispers followed by the unmistakable sound of furniture being moved. I thought nothing of it at the time, but I soon learned that the synagogue had received an unprecedented number of congregation members entering the main sanctuary that day, so much so that they had to add row upon row of folding chairs to accommodate everyone. There was nothing particularly special about the way I chanted the prayers or Torah portion, nor any particular pearls of wisdom I had to offer that would motivate people far and wide from all nooks and crannies of the San Fernando Valley to show up. What compelled them to come was a sheer curiosity. How does a blind person read? How does Braille work? How is she able to lead an entire service?? It was the first time I had ever thought about the fact that I educate people by example, and that my simple existence was enlightening people about how different people can accomplish day-to-day tasks.
It was the Jewish community that provided some of the very memorable first experiences for me. Friends of my parents who chaired local divisions of the UJF and ADL asked me to sing at their benefit dinner soon after I started singing, thus providing the very first gigs I would ever have as a singer performing for the public. It was because of the Jewish community that I got to sing my first National Anthem on TV. Because Mayoral candidate Richard Riordan wanted to get into the good graces of the various communities in Los Angeles, he happened to be at a Yad B’Yad dinner at which I happened to be singing the National Anthem, and he then asked me, at age 14, to ring in his inauguration with the National Anthem which, much to my great bewilderment at the time, was broadcast on every single local channel imaginable.
I proceeded to become the first blind student to attend and then graduate from Oakwood School, a small college preparatory school in North Hollywood, and then went to Oberlin College and Conservatory in Ohio where I studied voice. For the very first time, I was not the first blind student to attend a school. Though being a trail blazer has its perks, it was wonderful to reap the benefits of a place that had seen other blind people be successful before, with teachers who were more laid back about my presence and were confident that I would do well without my having to put so much effort into proving myselfAlas, the safety and protection of a university does not last forever, but it gave me a confidence to tackle the real world that I would be thrust into after graduation. After receiving my Master of Music degree from Yale University, I moved to New York and began to find my place in the classical music world. Like most young people in New York, I felt lost and frustrated for a couple years. For me, it wasn't only that I was a singer whom nobody had heard of, but I had one missing piece to the package that any opera company takes for granted. I had no way of seeing the stage, and I was a liability. Fortunately, we all are lucky enough in life to have those who believe in our abilities unconditionally. Luckily for me, some of those people were recital presenters, opera directors, and conductors of orchestras, thus landing me some amazing gigs singing at Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall in London, the Parco Auditorium della Musica in Rome, and a handful of lead opera roles, including Rossini's "La Cenerentola" (Cinderella).
My CD, which was just released, entitled, "Do You Dream in Color" represents many aspects of who I am. The title track is a collaboration between me and the composer Bruce Adolphe which takes listeners on a tour of my life as an artist who happens to be blind. The CD also contains a cycle of four songs in Hebrew, setting the poetry of the late poet Leah Goldberg, and those pieces contain a deep cry that Jews around the world recognize in one another, making us all family.
In just a few months, my autobiography, also entitled "Do You Dream in Color," will be published by Seven Stories Press. The book details my life of firsts from the rite of passage of becoming a Jewish woman with Hebrew Braille texts laid out on the Torah, to the emotional growing pains of being a teen made more traumatic by being the only blind student at my school, to the struggles and triumphs of coming into my own as an adult and an artist who happens to be blind.
I am always an open book for my audiences, both in the way I share music, and in the way Ioffer my life story to people. For it may be the first time they will see a blind opera singer onstage, and I certainly hope it will not be the last.
Bruce Adolphe, Composer (b. 1955)
Recently named Composer-in-Residence at the Brain and Creativity Institute at USC, Bruce Adolphe has composed music for some of the world’s greatest musicians, including Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, Sylvia McNair, the Beaux Arts Trio, the Brentano String Quartet, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Miami Quartet, Chicago Chamber Musicians, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center.
A key figure at The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center since 1992, Mr. Adolphe is currently the Society's resident lecturer and director of family concerts. His lectures are filmed and available on the Internet from The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. He has appeared weekly on public radio's Performance Today since 2002, performing his Piano Puzzlers. The program, hosted by Fred Child, was originally broadcast by National Public Radio, and is now produced by American Public Media has over 175,000 podcast subscribers.
Mr. Adolphe has been a featured commentator in nationally broadcast Live from Lincoln Center television programs. From 2001 to 2005 he was a lecturer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. His lecture series at Lincoln Center, Inside Chamber Music, is now in its 19th season.
Mr. Adolphe has received numerous commissions in the United States and Europe, including the Washington Performing Arts Society to compose a one-act opera about Marian Anderson with a libretto by novelist Carolivia Herron, and the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence to compose a work based on texts and paintings by Bronzino in conjunction with exhibitions at both the Palazzo Strozzi and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The work, Of Art and Onions: Homage to Bronzino, was premiered at both institutions in 2010.
In the 2011-12 season, Adolphe’s cantata about social justice and civil liberties —Reach Out, Raise Hope, Change Society — was premiered by the Chamber Choir and musicians of the School of Music of the University of Michigan conducted by Jerry Blackstone. It was commissioned to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the School of Social Work.
Recordings of Adolphe’s music have been produced by the Telarc, Delos, CRI, Summit, Koch, Naxos, Albany, and PollyRhythm labels. A recording of Mr. Adolphe's music produced by The Milken Archives of Jewish Music on the Naxos “American Classics” label won a Grammy for producer David Frost in 2005. Adolphe’s film scores include the permanent documentary at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.
Pianist Marija Stroke has performed in chamber music and solo recitals throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Russia and Hong Kong. Described by the New York Times as “delightfully extroverted, Ms. Stroke’s playing was splendid,” Ms. Stroke performs at such music festivals as Caramoor, the City of London Festival, Soirées des Junies in France, Chamber Music Virginia, the Moab Festival in Utah, La Jolla Summerfest, Juneau Jazz and Classics, and Chamber Music Northwest. She has made concerto appearances in the United States, France, Germany and Austria.
The Apollo Trio, in which Ms. Stroke plays with violinist Curtis Macomber and cellist Michael Kannen, has performed to critical acclaim in the United States and in Europe. In addition to frequent appearances at American music festivals – from the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York to Chamber Music Northwest in Portland, Oregon (most recently with the world premiere of David Schiff’s Borscht Belt Follies, written for the Apollo Trio, David Krakauer, Dave Taylor and Michael Sarin) and on chamber music series throughout the United States – the trio has also performed at prominent New York venues, including Caramoor, Bargemusic, Avery Fisher Hall, Weill Hall at Carnegie, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Ms. Stroke is also co-artistic director with Bruce Adolphe of the Garden City Chamber Music Society.
Marija Stroke is married to composer Bruce Adolphe and they live in New York City with their daughter Katja and their opera and jazz singing parrot Polly Rhythm.
Jennifer Taira has performed extensively throughout the United States as a clarinetist and collaborative pianist. Recent performances include concerts at Carnegie Hall, the Greenwich Music Festival, National Press Club, State Department and French Embassy in Washington D.C., Ruth Eckard Hall in Tampa, Florida, West Chester University, and Zipper Hall in Los Angeles, California.
She is co- founder of Musique à la Mode Chamber Music Ensemble and the Music at the Bowery Series in Manhattans East Village. She has performed with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, New Britain Symphony, and the Royal Hawaiian Band. She has been the recipient of many awards and scholarships, including a full fellowship to study at the Kent/Blossom Music Festival, winner of the Winnetka Music Club Scholarship, and prize winner in the Evanston Music Club Scholarship Competition.
Jennifer is one of the founders of Ohana Arts, an exciting new performing arts festival and school in Honolulu, Hawaii where she serves as Artistic Director. She is music director for the Ohana Arts Summer Musical Theater Workshop for youth ages 8-18, and conductor of the culminating productions pit orchestra.
Jennifer is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she received a Bachelor of Music degree and studied with Russell Dagon. She received a Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music, where she studied with David Shifrin and Lawrence McDonald, and was a recipient of the Keith Wilson Scholarship.
Jennifer is also a multimedia artist, and in her spare time runs her own multimedia production company, Studio Cloud Nine.