By Community Contributor Ann Fink, Chicago Tribune, Glen Ellyn
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), Saturday, Dec. 31 at 2, 5:30 and 9 p.m. The program features classical and pop works plus a celebratory champagne toast and special surprises. Continuing their tradition of featuring soloists from the Lyric Opera Ryan Center for Young Artists, tenor Jesse Donner joins New Philharmonic and Maestro Muspratt for this wonderful New Year’s Eve tradition. For the fourth year in a row, 98.7 FM-WFMT will provide a live broadcast of the 5:30 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 exciting selection of works plus the incredible talents of guest tenor Jesse Donner,” said Muspratt.
Donner will join Muspratt and New Philharmonic for “Freunde, das Leben is Lebenswert” from Lehar’s “Giuditta,” “La Fleur que tu m’avais jete” from “Bizet’s “Carmen,” Rachmaninoff’s “Spring Waters and Lara/Dragon’s “Granada” . Other works featured on the program include Strauss’ “Eljen a Magyar” (Polka Schnell) op. 332; Reznicek’s “Donna Diana Overture;” J. Strauss Jr.’s “Emperor Waltz;” Strauss Sr.’s “Radetzky March;” Rodgers’ “Carousel Waltz;” plus selections from popular scores from films including Williams’ overture to “The Cowboys” and “Lincoln – With Malice Toward None” and North/Townend’s “Unchained Melody” from “Ghost” and of course, the traditional “Auld Lang Syne.”
Donner holds a bachelor of music degree from Iowa State University. The Des Moines, Iowa, native received the 2015 Men’s Voice Fellowship from the Luminarts Cultural Foundation, the 2014 George Shirley Award for Opera Performance, a special encouragement award from the 2014 Metropolitan Opera National Council Regional Auditions, and first place in the 2012 Michigan Friends of Opera Competition. While pursuing graduate and post-graduate studies at the University of Michigan, he performed as Bacchus in Richard Strauss’ “Ariadne auf Naxos,” in the title role of Ullmann/Kein’s “Der Kaiser von Atlantis” and as Lucano in Monteverdi/Busenello’s “L’incoronazione di Poppea.” Other performing credits include concert appearances with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, ToledoSymphony, Adrian Symphony, the University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra and the Rockford Coronado Concert Association. He was featured in the Harris Theater’s “Beyond the Aria”2015/16 series. At the Lyric, Donner appeared in “Capriccio,” “Tannhäuser,” “Nabucco” and “Der Rosenkavalier” and was most recently heard in Lyric’s recent production of “Das Rheingold.” He is scheduled appear in the Lyric’s upcoming productions of “Die Zauberflöte” (Dec. 10 – Jan. 27) and “Norma” (Jan. 28 – Feb. 24).