Písně Lásky a Naděje – Songs of Love and Hope
Soprano Annie Gill, together with pianist Andrew Stewart, perform a program of Czech and Slovak folk songs, art songs, and opera arias. These works explore the human condition through the many ways we express our love for each other. The artists have previously performed this repertoire in recitals throughout the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. area, and most recently for The Woman's Club of Roland Park in Baltimore city.
The mission of this project is to preserve and promote Czech and Slovak music. This repertoire reaches beyond the span of standard classical music and is not widely performed. Through this program, the artists aspire to celebrate Czech and Slovak culture and preserve, but also introduce, unique repertoire that is not performed often.
They submitted the program to the Orpheus Classical record label for recording consideration in April, 2020.
The Orpheus Classical artistic commission in Europe and America unanimously accepted the recording project based on the artists’ outstanding talent and distinctive artistic personalities. The commission granted a sponsorship proposal consisting of 75% of the production costs related to recording the repertoire for an album. The album has a tentative release date in August, 2021.
This album will showcase the work of Baltimore artists in every facet: musicians Annie Gill and Andrew Stewart live and work in Baltimore, as do project recording engineer David Sexton, master recording engineer Ed Tetrault, and project photography by Roy Cox. Through the digital release of this project, the work of Baltimore artists will reach an international audience.
Ms. Gill is an avid performer of Czech and Slovak repertoire, having roots in the Slovak culture through her mother’s family, the Karaffas. Originally from the village of Livov (in the Prešov Region of north-east Slovakia), the Karaffas immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s. Although she grew up with many Slovak traditions during her childhood, Ms. Gill began a more intensive study of Czech and Slovak repertoire when she incorporated the songs of Dvořák into her Winner’s Recital performance as the top Prize Winner in the 2012 Art Song Festival of Toledo, OH. Ms. Gill was then invited by festival faculty member Dr. Timothy Cheek, a prominent Czech-language vocal coach and author of Singing in Czech: A Guide to Czech Lyric Diction and Vocal Repertoire, for further study in the Czech Republic. In 2013, Ms. Gill attended the Moravian Masterclass in Brno, where she worked with Dr. Cheek and Mirka Zemanová (a Czech language coach and musicologist).
Pianist Andrew Stewart grew up in California and has been based in Baltimore since 2000. Much in demand as a soloist and collaborative artist, he has worked with countless singers and instrumentalists; premiered works by composers including Garth Baxter, Hollis Thoms, and John Belkot; and performed with a great many organizations, among them the Bach Society of Baltimore, OperaBelle, the Atlantic Guitar Quartet, Assisi Performing Arts in Italy, and most recently the Choirs of Goucher College and the Annapolis Choral. He is featured on the album Katherine Keem Sings Songs and Arias by Garth Baxter, released in 2014 on Centaur Records, as well as Ask the Moon, released in early 2018. Mr. Stewart has been associated with the Lyric Opera of Baltimore for well over a decade, giving upwards of seventy performances a year as part of its education component and teaching on the faculty of the Lyric Opera Camp. He is also the creator of several shows including “Opera Games,” a much-requested interactive program about the basics of opera, and has appeared on Maryland Public Television in the short film “Opera Magica” which he produced with educator Evon Hewitt, Jr. Additionally he maintains a busy schedule as a theatrical musical director, having led more than forty productions since 2006. Mr. Stewart studied with Charles Asche at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and with Marian Hahn at the Peabody Conservatory. Other teachers include Marie Brown Curea, and Sharon Mann.