Romeo & Juliet Fantasy
On July 19th experience a variety of works by our Composer in Residence, Dr. Bill Banfield, including excerpts from his opera Edmonia with guest soprano Amber Merritt, and It’s All Good My Brother featuring UW Professor of Jazz Studies, our very own Johannes Wallmann on piano. We conclude the evening with the popular Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture by Tchaikovsky.
Guest soloists: Amber Merritt, soprano & Johannes Wallmann, piano
About Amber Merritt, soprano
Amber Cierra Merritt is a second-year Specialist student at the University of Michigan where she studies with Dr. Louise Toppin. During her time at Michigan, Merritt starred as Edmonia in the workshop of the opera Edmonia by William Banfield and as the Sparrow in Nkeiru Okoye’s Bre’r Rabbit and the Tar Baby. Merritt also starred as Frau Herz in Mozart’s Der Schauspieldirektor. Merritt placed first in the Great Lakes Region’s National Student Auditions in the Advanced Category and first in the regional and national level in the Hall Johnson Spirituals category in 2020. Last season, Merritt starred in two PBS specials with the American Pops Orchestra entitled “One Voice: American Roots” and “United in Song: Celebration of American Roots”.
About Johannes Wallmann
Johannes Wallmann is a pianist, composer, and the Peterson Professor of Jazz Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Wallmann has recorded ten critically acclaimed albums as a leader, including Precarious Towers, which was named a “Best of Bandcamp, June 2022” album, a Best of 2022 Album by Something Else! and Classical/Jazz/World Album of the Year by the 2022 Madison Area Music Awards. Milwaukee’s Shepherd’s Express said: “Wallmann rises to precipitous heights in his 10th album, Precarious Towers, proving his ability to create a concept album, with extra-musical aspects streaming gracefully throughout.”
Wallmann’s 2021 release, Elegy for an Undiscovered Species, was named a “Best of 2021” album by DownBeat magazine and described as “delightfully mind blowing throughout” by Midwest Record. DownBeat magazine has called Wallmann “a remarkable pianist and composer [whose] evocative compositions are brimming with melodic cogency and rhythmic pull” and called his playing “confident, muscular and elegant.” Learn more.
About Dr. Bill Banfield, WCO Composer in Residence
Banfield was appointed in 2019 as a research associate with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH), one of the Smithsonian’s 12 research and cultural centers. His work focuses on what he identifies as cultural through-lines, delineating the ways in which contemporary artistry and new works harken back and hold onto critical cultural linkages to understand. Learn more.