Onstage at Britt

Two long-time opera stars and a pianist with an eclectic approach to music will bring some star power this weekend as the Britt classical season continues in Jacksonville. Pianist Jeffrey Kahane will perform Friday night with the Britt Orchestra, and bass Samuel Ramey and mezzo soprano Frederica von Stade will take the stage with the orchestra Saturday.

Kahane will perform Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major, Op. 58. Ramey will sing pieces by Berlioz and Boito, and von Stade will perform works by Heggie, Thomas and Offenbach. The two singers will team up in the second half of Saturday's show to sing works by American composers.

Born in Los Angeles in 1956, Kahane began classical piano at age 5 and studied with renowned teachers Howard Weisel and Jakob Gimpel. He started playing folk and rock guitar at 10 and mixed classical piano and rock guitar in his teens. He left high school to attend the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, played in the San Francisco Symphony, played jazz, played for a touring Broadway musical and played three years in a choral festival led by the legendary Robert Shaw.

Now Music Director of the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, he is also Music Director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and Artistic Director of the Green Music Festival in Sonoma County.

He's also known as a soloist. When he became a finalist in the 1981 Van Cliburn Competition and won the 1983 Arthur Rubinstein Competition in Israel, his career as a pianist was launched.

Kahane's musical frame of reference hasn't shrunk over the years, as a recent tour with jazz pianist Fred Hersch testified. The two collaborated on both a Bach Double Concerto and a set of jazz standards.

Ramey, who lives in Chicago, has reigned as a top interpreter of bass and bass-baritone operatic and concert repertoire for almost three decades. Ramey's range runs from Argante in Handel's "Rinaldo," his debut role at his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1984, to the title role in Bartok's "Bluebeard's Castle," which he sang in a Met performance televised on PBS.

The unique timbre of the bass voice has inspired many composers to cast basses as villains and devils, and Ramey has taken advantage of the fact. He's been Mephistopheles in more than 200 performances of Gounod's "Faust." He's been the devil in Berlioz's "La Damnation de Faust," the sinister Nick Shadow in Stravinsky's "The Rade's Progress," and all four villains in Offenbach's "Les Contes d'Hoffmann."

Von Stade needs no introduction to opera lovers. Flicka, as she's known to her fans, began her career under Rudolf Bing at the Metropolitan Opera in 1970 and has sung nearly all the great roles with that company and with foremost companies all over the world.

She has made more than 70 recordings and garnered six Grammy nominations and numerous other awards.

She is returning to Britt just three years after kicking off its 42nd classical season with a set of songs by Gustav Mahler and the others based on the poems of R&


In the second half of the show she and Ramey will sing a medley of Copland songs, Berlin's "An Old Fashioned Wedding" from "Annie Get Your Gun," and Rodgers and Hammerstein's "People Will Say We're In Love."

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