Special Guests
Saturday, March 10, 2007

Renée Fleming

She was born in Indiana, Pennsylvania and grew up in Rochester, New York; her parents were voice teachers. While studying at the State University of New York she sang with a jazz trio and was discovered by jazz legend Illinois Jacquet, who invited her to tour with his band. Renée went to graduate school instead, where she focused on classical music at the Eastman School of Music and The Juilliard School. Renée Fleming's professional break came in 1988 when she was invited to sing the role of the Contessa in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro with the Houston Grand Opera, and in 1989 she made her New York City debut in La Bohème. She sang in London's Covent Garden and returned to New York in 1991 to make her Metropolitan Opera debut. Since then, the two-time Grammy award winner, who is recognized as a risk-taker in her field, has created many roles for the operatic stage and has premiered numerous songs written for her. She has performed throughout the world's most distinguished venues with today's foremost orchestras and conductors, and recorded numerous award winning discs. An exclusive recording artist with Decca since 1995, her recent recordings include Renée Fleming: Handel, the Grammy Award winning Bel Canto, and she is featured on the Warner Bros. Records Oscar-winning soundtrack to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. On May 10, Decca releases her newest CD, Haunted Heart; a personal journey through popular songs she loves, with jazz pianist Fred Hersch and guitarist Bill Frisell. In November 2004, Ms. Fleming's first book, The Inner Voice, was published in the United States by Viking Penguin; an intimate account of her career and the creative process, Ms. Fleming shares personal experiences learned throughout the course of her career.

Bryn Terfel

Bass-baritone Bryn Terfel made his opera debuts in 1991 at the Welsh National Opera as Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte and Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro. But he had learned public singing through a rich Welsh tradition called eisteddfod, weekly song competitions in front of local audiences. Born in the small North Wales village of Pantglas (Blue Gorge, in Welsh), Terfel as a young boy participated in the eisteddfod circuit, where he showed promise and-as a result-was awarded a scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. During his last year in school-1989-Terfel represented Wales in the Singer of the World compeition in Cardiff, where he won the lieder award and received an offer from the Welsh Opera to sing the two Mozart roles. In 1992, the British Critics Circle bestowed upon Terfel a new award, given to the person who has made the most outstanding contribution to musical life in Great Britain. The following year saw Terfel's U.S. operatic debut in the part of Donner in Das Rheingold with Chicago's Lyric Opera. In 1994, he made his first appearance, as Figaro, with the New York Metropolitan Opera. Terfel's recording Opera Arias, with James Levine and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, won a Grammy in 1997. His most recent recording is Handel Arias (Deutsche Grammaphon). Bryn Terfel performs an 8 p.m. concert tonight at Avery Fisher Hall with the New York Philharmonic. He will be singing the title role in Mendelssohn's Elijah. Joining Terfel on A Prairie Home Companion tonight is John Fisher (piano).

Susan Graham

Susan Graham is one of America's premier opera singers. Born in Roswell, New Mexico and raised in Midland, Texas, she studied at Texas Tech University and the Manhattan School of Music. She won the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and made her debut in 1991. She originated the role of Sister Helen Prejean in the operatic adaptation of the book Dead Man Walking in 2000. Graham has toured Europe and Canada, and made her solo recital debut at Carnegie Hall in 2003. She has also released numerous recordings, including cast albums and solo records. She was named Musical America's Vocalist of the Year in December 2003. Most recently, she sang the title role in the Metropolitan Opera's production of The Merry Widow.

Maria Jette

In addition to her 45-plus operatic roles, soprano Maria Jette has performed pop songs, chamber music, oratorio and more. She has appeared with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, New York Chamber Symphony, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Minnesota Orchestra, and with the Symphonies of Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Grand Rapids, Kansas City, Charlotte, Santa Rosa and Buffalo. She frequently collaborates with VocalEssence (formerly the Plymouth Music Series), the Handel Choir of Baltimore, the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Master Chorale. She has been a regular guest at the Oregon Bach, Victoria Bach and San Luis Obispo Mozart Festivals and the Oregon Festival of American Music. With the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Maria starred as the "Mrs." in the May 2002 premiere of Garrison Keillor's opera, Mr. and Mrs. Olson. She has performed her own production of Dr. Seuss and Robert Kapilow's Green Eggs & Ham for more than 25,000 kids coast to coast.

Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra

Boston's Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra was founded in 1978 by Harvard chaplain Larry Hill. It is one of only four cooperative orchestras in the United States. The organization is run by its musicians, some of whom also perform with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, the Boston Symphony, the Boston Ballet, Handel and Haydn Society, and the Boston Lyric Opera. The musicians, along with the conductor also choose the music the orchestra plays and whom to invite as guest artists. The orchestra often performs seldom-heard works by well-known composers, and is dedicated to making classical music available to the whole community.

Vern Sutton

Tenor Vern Sutton grew up in Oklahoma City. He remembers being applauded for the first time in first grade — for his performance in the role of Baby Bear in Goldilocks. From that day on, he was hooked on show business. Sutton first met Garrison Keillor when they both were students at the University of Minnesota. Sutton went on to spend 36 years as a faculty member at the U of M School of Music. He directed the opera program at the university, and he served as director of the School of Music. In addition to his work on campus, Sutton appeared with many major orchestras, opera companies, and musical groups and earned an international reputation for his work with the BBC, the New Opera Theatre of New York, the Wolf Trap Festival and other organizations. He has directed plays, operas and musicals all over the Midwest, including a 1993 tour of Aaron Copland's The Tender Land, which was performed on seven Midwestern working farms. Vern has made frequent appearances on A Prairie Home Companion for more than three decades. In fact, he was a guest on the very first show, in July of 1974.

Andy Stein

Andy Stein (violin, saxophone) definitely has far-flung musical leanings, He collaborated with Garrison Keillor to create the opera Mr. and Mrs. Olson, and he's performed with artists such as Itzhak Perlman, Eric Clapton, Smashing Pumpkins, Billy Joel, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles and Bob Dylan.






Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

Available now»

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