She has been the charming host of the Vernon Performing Arts Centre’s Morning Melodies series for a number of years, and now Sarah Hagen is ready to take centre stage.
The award-winning classical pianist will be joined by acclaimed tenor Benjamin Butterfield for an afternoon concert at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Feb. 26.
The fourth show in the North Okanagan Community Concert Association’s (NOCCA) 2016-17 series, the duo will perform a selection of German lieder as well as classical and modern compositions, including John Beckwith’s Young Man from Canada, Maurice Ravel’s Five Greek Songs, and Nobody Cares about the Railroads Anymore by Harry Nilsson.
Hagen has been heard in concert halls and on the airwaves throughout North America and Europe, and has received international praise for her playing abilities.
“The level of passion that Hagen possesses, when it comes to experiencing, interpreting and expressing art, is something quite extraordinary,” wrote The Guardian (Charlottetown). “It does seem to be this deep level of artistic understanding, and ability to communicate on this level, either through words or through artistic expression, that truly sets her apart as a pianist and musical artist…”
As a first prize winner in the 2013 Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition, Hagen was awarded the opportunity to perform solo at New York City’s Carnegie Hall.
The artistic director for Pro’ject Sound, a performance project involving live piano with large-scale projected images, she is also an avid collaborator and has performed with cellist Ariel Barnes, violinist Robert Uchida, Trio Accord, Ballet Victoria, and the Emily Carr String Quartet, among others. She has also appeared as a soloist with the Victoria Symphony, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, the West Coast Symphony Orchestra, and the Symphony Orchestra of the Pacific.
Hagen even finds the time to write wine reviews for her blog, ARTIST WINES! – Uncorking musician-priced cellar secrets, and is an enthusiastic tap dancer.
Regarded by The Washington Post as a tenor who sings “…with taste, authority and agility…” and having “… a creamily sweet timbre…” (Opera News), Butterfield is equally at home in both opera and concert repertoire, having performed with companies in New York, San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver, London, Paris, Rome, Israel and Taiwan.
Butterfield has performed in Carmina Burana with Bramwell Tovey, with the L.A. Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, and in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Vancouver Symphony under the direction of Andrew Grams, where he was “the star amongst the soloists,” according to The Globe and Mail.
He has sang in Bach’s St. John Passion with the Residentie Orkest of the Netherlands and the St. John Passion Evangelist for Choeur Ardito in Switzerland. Other engagements include Chicago’s Music of the Baroque and the Ravinia Festival with the Chicago Symphony.
He has also performed Handel’s Messiah with the San Francisco Symphony and the Calgary Philharmonic as well as Beethoven’s Ninth with the Colorado Symphony, and presented the American art songs of Randy Newman for Toronto’s Masque Theater.
Butterfield teaches voice in the School of Music at the University of Victoria and he also teaches and performs at summer vocal training programs, including Opera Nuova (Edmonton), Opera on the Avalon (St. John’s), Yellow Barn (Vermont) the Amalfi Coast Music Festival (Italy) and VISI (Vancouver).
Opening for Hagen and Butterfield as the NOCCA’s Rising Star is harpist Shae Fraser, who attends George Elliott Secondary School in Lake Country.
Taught by Okanagan-based harpist Kate Oswald, Fraser has been playing the harp for the past four years and says she finds musical inspiration in Celtic folk songs and fantasy soundtracks.
Her biggest inspiration has been playing with the talented musicians she calls her friends, including performances at Lake Country’s Open Air concert series and at her school.
Fraser has a passion for illustration and metal work, which she plans to pursue after graduation, alongside her music.
Single tickets for the NOCCA concert, Feb. 26 at 2 p.m. at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre, are $40 for adults and $20 for youth, available at the Ticket Seller box office, 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca.