This week our Classical Californian will be acclaimed tenor Nicholas Phan, who’s also an educator and musical curator. He’s the Artistic Director and co-founder of Collaborative Art Institutes of Chicago (CAIC), and for the past decade or so has made San Francisco his home. You can find out more about him at his website here. On Wednesday night, he’ll share some vocal works that are especially important to him, including a piece written for him by composer Nico Muhly about the experience of immigrants coming to America. As the son of a Greek-American mother and a Chinese-American father, Phan says the work spoke to his personal experience in a way no other piece ever has. He’ll also play another work about how we as a society welcome (or don’t) those who we do not know, as well as a song celebrating young love written by Michael Tilson Thomas.
Nicholas Phan introduces the very personal song cycle Stranger, by Nico Muhly: (press the play button to hear the audio introduction)
And the second work is a short song cycle by Jake Heggie, also on the topic of how we treat others as a society. It’s called These Strangers.
(The final song Nicholas Phan chose was composed by Michael Tilson Thomas, with a text by Walt Whitman called “We Two Boys Together Clinging,” which he dedicated to his husband, Joshua Robison. The performance heard on the broadcast was by baritone Thomas Hampson and pianist Craig Rutenberg. It is from a 1997 EMI recording called To the Soul: Thomas Hampson Sings the Poetry of Walt Whitman.)