Oakland East Bay Symphony, celebrating Michael Morgan’s 20th anniversary as music director, will present “An Evening with Denyse Graves,” a preseason benefit for the symphony’s education and outreach programs, this Saturday, beginning at 5 p.m. with a champagne reception including special guests, followed by dinner with entertainment by Charles Spikes and Friends at 6 p.m., a Gala Concert at 8:30, and a dance with dessert reception at 10:30, at the Fox Theatre in uptown Oakland.
The concert program includes Leonard Bernstein’s “Overture to Candide,” Ravel’s song cycle Scheherazade, Gershwin’s An American in Paris, Bizet’s Carmen, Suite No. 1 Prelude & Aragonaise—and with Denyse Graves, “Près de remparts de Seville” (from Carmen), Saint-Saëns’ “Mon coeur s’ouvre a ta voix” (from Samson and Delilah), Puccini’s intermezzo from Manon Lescaut, Francesco Cilea’s “Acerba volutta” from Adriana Lecouv-reur and the spiritual “Every Time I Feel the Spirit.”
Denyse Graves, who has been called “an opera superstar of the 21st century,” is most closely associated with the title role of Carmen—her signature and debut role at the Metropolitan Opera during the 1995–96 season.
Graves is a native of Washington, D.C., where she attended the Duke Ellington School for the Performing Arts; she studied at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music and the New England Conservatory, receiving her doctorate from Oberlin. Ebony Magazine named her one of 50 Leaders of Tomorrow.
Graves received the Marian Anderson Award, presented by Marian Anderson, and sang at the tribute honoring the 70th anniversary of Marian Anderson’s appearance at the Lincoln Memorial. She hosts a weekly show on XM satellite radio, “Voce di donna.”
Also from Washington, D.C.—where he bagan conducting at 12—and an Oberlin alumnus, Michael Moore studied at Tanglewood with Gunther Schuller and Seiji Ozawa, working there with Leonard Bernstein. He debuted as a conductor in 1982 at the Vienna State Opera. In 1986 he was chosen by Sir George Solti as assistant conductor of the Chicago Symphony. That year, Bernstein invited him to debut with the New York Philharmonic. In addition to the Oakland East Bay Symphony, Morgan directs the Oakland Youth Orchestra, the Sacramento Philharmonic and Festival Opera in Walnut Creek, and teaches the graduate conducting class at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Oakland East Bay Symphony’s educational and outreach programs serve more than 24,000 East Bay students annually.