Chicago Tribune, December 28, 2015
by Community Contributor Ann Fink
New Philharmonic, under the direction of Maestro Kirk Muspratt, performs three “New Year’s Eve With an International Twist” concerts at the McAninch Arts Center (MAC), 425 Fawell Blvd., Thursday, Dec. 31 at 2, 6 and 10 p.m. The program of classical and pop works will feature pieces by J. Strauss Jr., Gershwin, Puccini and others, plus a celebratory champagne toast and special surprises. Continuing their tradition of featuring soloists from the Lyric Opera Ryan Center for Young Artists, soprano Emily Birsan returns to join New Philharmonic and Maestro Muspratt for this wonderful way to ring out the old and ring in the new. For the third year in a row, 98.7 FM-WFMT will provide a live broadcast, this year, of the 2 p.m. performance.
“Our New Year’s Eve concerts have always been crowd pleasers and this year’s promises to be the best ever due to an especially exciting selection of works. We’re also extremely pleased to have Emily with us. She was a big hit with audiences when she first joined us for New Year’s Eve 2013 and is the first guest artist to make an encore appearance in our New Year’s Eve concerts,” says Muspratt.
Birsan will join Muspratt and New Philharmonic for Gershwin’s “By Strauss” from “An American in Paris,” Charles Gounod’s “Je Veux Vivre” from “Romeo and Juliet,” and Puccini’s “Quando m’en vo” from “La Boheme.” Other works in the program include J. Strauss Jr.’s “Napoleon March, op. 156,” “Blue Danube” and “Rettungs-Jubel March op 126;” Edward Strauss’ “Mit Vergnugen, Polka Schnell op. 228;” Zequinha Abreu’s “Tico Tico;” popular scores from films including “The Monuments Men,” “Schindler’s List” and “ET;” and of course, the traditional “Auld Lang Syne.”
Birsan recently finished her third year as a member of the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She was most recently heard on the main stage of the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Servilia in Sir David McVicar acclaimed production “La clemenza di Tito” and the 1st Flower Maiden in a new production of Wagner’s “Parsifal.” Non-Lyric operatic credits include Chicago Opera Theater and Grant Park Music Festival. Recording credits include the world-premiere of songs of Amy Beach, released in 2014 and recorded arias for composer Jimmy Lopez’ new opera “Bel Canto” premiering at the Lyric Opera of Chicago this December. Concert credits include featured soloist on Chicago’s Rush Hour Concert Series and soprano soloist in Schubert’s “Mass in Eb” with the Grant Park Symphony. Recent honors include first prize from the Musicians Club of Women Competition (2014), a 2014 Richard F. Gold Career Grant through the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Birsan was also a 2014 finalist for the Sara Tucker Study Grant from the Richard Tucker Foundation.
New Philharmonic, under the direction of Maestro Kirk Muspratt, presents three New Year’s Eve concerts at the McAninch Arts Center, located on the campus of College of DuPage, 425 Fawell Blvd., Glen Ellyn, Ill., Thursday, Dec. 31 at 2, 6 and 10 p.m. Tickets are $65. To order tickets, call 630.942.4000, or visit AtTheMAC.org.