Rob Kapilow and “What Makes It Great?” at Scranton, Sept. 27

Sep 18, 2014

On Saturday, Sept. 27, at 7:30 p.m., Performance Music at The University of Scranton presents a feature “informance” by critically and popularly acclaimed composer, conductor, educator, author, pianist and commentator Rob Kapilow. The event takes place in the University’s Houlihan McLean Center (Mulberry St. at Jefferson Ave.), is open to the public, and admission is free.

Kapilow will team with soprano Magdalyn E. Boga for the evening’s “What Makes It Great?” presentation, focusing on selections from The Great American Songbook. They will be joined for the finale of the evening by tenor Erik Sparks.

For more than 30 years, Kapilow has brought the joy and wonder of classical music – and unraveled some of its mysteries – to audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Characterized by his unique ability to create “aha” moments for his audiences and collaborators, he models the Jesuit practice of applying timeless messages to current times.

Kapilow’s broad range of activities includes “What Makes It Great?” presentations, “Family Musik” compositions/events, and “Citypieces.” The reach of his interactive activities is geographically and culturally wide, ranging from Native American tribal communities in Montana to inner-city high school students in Louisiana, and his audiences are diverse and unexpected.

Kapilow’s popularity and appeal are reflected in a variety of notable invitations and achievements. He has appeared on NBC’s Today Show and was featured in a special “What Makes It Great?” on PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center. His first book, “All You Have to Do is Listen,” won the PSP Prose Award, and his second book, “What Makes It Great?,” was the first book of its kind to be especially designed for the iPad with embedded musical examples. A documentary film, “Summer Sun, Winter Moon,” which traces the process of Kapilow’s composition of the same name from conception to premiere, has been broadcast more than 250 times on Public Television.

Kapilow has conducted most of America’s major orchestras and his compositions have been performed by nearly every major American orchestra, as well as orchestras in Europe, Asia and Australia. He accepted his first commission for a composition from The University of Scranton in 1985, and received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from The University of Scranton in 2009.

Lyric soprano Magdalyn E. Boga, a student of renowned Bulgarian baritone Guenko Guechev and Chinese mezzo-soprano Xiu-Ru Liu, has performed in the U.S. and China. She has studied and performed roles and arias from the operatic repertoire, art song, and solos from major choral works. In addition to her teaching schedule as a member of the history faculty and Performance Music staff at the University, she is a member of John Vaida’s vocal staff at First Presbyterian Church in Wilkes Barre, and performs as a soloist in a variety of regional concert and church settings. Boga also sings with choirs and plays cello and French horn with a variety of full and chamber ensembles.

Tenor Erik Sparks grew up in Amarillo, Texas, and studied music at Arizona State University. While living in Arizona he performed leading roles with companies such as Arizona Opera, El Paso Opera, and Opera Santa Barbara. After moving to the Poconos, Erik performed with Delaware Valley Opera, Delphi Opera and PA Lyric Opera Theater, and just completed performing in the role of Don Ottavio in their production of “Don Giovanni.” Erik is on the chorus roster of the Metropolitan Opera and has appeared in its productions of “Boris Godunov” and “Gotterdammerung.”

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