LAWRENCE - Mezzo-soprano Joyce Castle, professor of voice, KU alumna and University Distinguished Professor, will present a fall recital at 8:00 p.m. on Mon. Oct. 6 at the Lied Center. Director of KU Opera, Mark Ferrell will accompany Castle on piano. The KU Chamber Winds led by conductor Paul W. Popiel, director of KU Bands, will also join Castle for the performance. The event, presented by the KU School of Music, Lied Center of Kansas and Reach Out Kansas, Inc., is free and open to the public. No tickets are required.
Joyce Castle is a professor of voice at the University of Kansas, as well as a globally renowned mezzo-soprano who has had an acclaimed opera career spanning four decades. Revered for her versatility as an artist, Castle’s operatic repertoire now includes nearly 140 opera roles in works by composers ranging from Bernstein to Wagner. Critics worldwide have recognized her unique combination of a voice, profound dramatic skills, and superb musicianship. Castle is a graduate of the University of Kansas, where she received a B.F.A., and the Eastman School of Music, where she earned a Masters of Music degree, and was honored with the 2004 Distinguished Alumni Award. Joyce Castle made her professional opera debut in 1970 at the San Francisco Opera as Siebel in Charles Gounod's “Faust.” Since then, she has been in demand worldwide for both opera and concert appearances. Joyce Castle was a leading artist at the New York City Opera for 25 years and performed at the Metropolitan Opera for 14 seasons. She has appeared with every major opera company in the United States, including the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Santa Fe Opera, Seattle Opera, Washington National Opera, and the Houston Grand Opera, where she became the first woman to portray Mrs. Lovett in an operatic staged production of Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd.” Her remarkable career was profiled in the June 2010 issue of Opera News.
The mezzo-soprano celebrated her 40th anniversary as a performing artist in the 2010-2011 season with performances of a new vocal chamber work, “The Hawthorn Tree,” written for her by National Medal of Arts and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer William Bolcom. In the program note, the composer characterized her artistry: “Joyce Castle is one of our time’s most incandescent acting singers; she can make you laugh out loud or scare you to death by turns, as she wishes.” Reviewing the premiere, Opera News wrote, “Castle is a musician and actor of the highest quality: her ability to convey a thought and its exact opposite at the same time make her delivery of a song compelling and immediate.” The cycle was given its premiere with members of The Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Morgan Library in New York, with additional performances at the Brooklyn Museum, DIA Beacon, and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She also performed “The Hawthorn Tree” on the “Cliburn at the Modern” series in Texas, with The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and at the Lied Center at the University of Kansas. Recorded for the Americus label, it will be released in fall 2014.
In addition to her incredible career and performance credentials, Castle has a remarkable record of dedication to her students, both at KU and beyond. Joseph Colanari, artistic director of Western Australia Opera and music director of The Glimmerglass Festival, describes Castle’s “unique mentorship to the next generation of great singing artists,” finding her choice to become a professor of music “no surprise.” Meanwhile, Darren Woods, general director of the Fort Worth Opera, rightly acknowledges how Castle’s continued immersion and success in professional opera is an invaluable resource for her students. “The young artists of the University of Kansas are far richer in their knowledge of how to pursue an opera career than most of their colleagues [from other schools] because of Joyce and her ability to connect them to the world of the opera business,” Woods said. But even with all these remarkable accomplishments and appraisals from her colleagues, perhaps words alone can’t suitably convey Castle’s impact. In fact, Scott Murphy, Castle’s longtime colleague in the KU School of Music, had this to say of her in his nomination letter for University Distinguished Professor: “If I could submit anything to seal my nomination, it would be a mid-row seat in Swarthout Recital Hall during one of Joyce’s annual faculty recitals. … A live performance by Joyce Castle is a transformative event: she renovates that hall every time she performs there, transporting her audience not only to the Metropolitan, to Paris, to Broadway, but to places sublime, heart-wrenching and transcendent.”
For more information about Joyce Castle visit: http://music.ku.edu/joyce-castle
For more information, contact the KU School of Music at 785-864-3436 or visit www.music.ku.edu.