Orpheus Chamber Orchestra
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New York Concerts

Orpheus with Will Liverman & Karen Slack Beethoven's "Egmont" and traditional spirituals

Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall | New York, NY

MAY 20 2023 | 7:00PM

Heroes Unite

Concert Duration: 2 hours (includes intermission)

  • Traditional (Arr. Jasmine Barnes)

    Spirituals (125th birthday tribute to Paul Robeson)
    Karen Slack, soprano
    Will Liverman, baritone

  • Beethoven (Arr Tarkmann)

    Incidental Music to Egmont, Op. 84
    Karen Slack, soprano
    Special guest TBA, narrator

Will Liverman and Karen Slack

Orpheus stands up for justice and freedom in this homage to courageous voices. Beethoven, an unyielding critic of despots, channeled his ardor and rage into music for Goethe’s historical drama about a local hero defying foreign occupiers. Featuring an incisive new translation and the clarion voice of Karen Slack, Orpheus illuminates the eternal truths of Egmont. Will Liverman, the “muscular-voiced baritone” (The New York Times) who astonished the world with his starring role in Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones at the Metropolitan Opera, joins Orpheus to reimagine spirituals in a tribute to the heroic singer-activist Paul Robeson.

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"Beethoven realized that the clearest path to this political idea was an emotional, personal one... [Egmont’s] impossible love becomes a kind of metaphor for our faith and hope for democracy.Liev Schreiber (on performing Egmont with Orpheus in 2020)

About the artists

Will Liverman

Called “a voice for this historic moment” (The Washington Post), GRAMMY-nominated baritone Will Liverman continues to bring his compelling performances to audiences nationwide. He starred in the Metropolitan Opera’s reopening production of Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up In My Bones in fall 2021, in addition to reprising his roles in Akhnaten (Horemhab) and The Magic Flute (Papageno) during the Met’s 2021-2022 season.

Following a summer at Opera Theatre of St. Louis and Aspen Music Festival, additional highlights of Will’s 2021-2022 season include the reprise of Fire Shut Up in My Bones with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Spanish Inspirations with Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Park Avenue Armory’s Recital Series, Florence Price's Song to the Dark Virgin with Chicago Sinfonietta, and Jonathan Dove’s Flight with Dallas Opera.

In February 2021, Cedille Records released Will’s Dreams of a New Day: Songs by Black Composers with pianist Paul Sanchez – a collection of works by Damien Sneed, Henry Burleigh, H. Leslie Adams, Robert Owens, Margaret Bonds, and Thomas Kerr, plus a world premiere recording by Shawn E. Okpebholo and Will’s own arrangement of Richard Fariña’s Birmingham Sunday. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Traditional Classical chart and The New Yorker praised its “clarity, sensitivity, and barely contained heartbreak” while NPR claimed “velvet-voiced baritone Will Liverman is out to make the classical music canon more inclusive”. His album Whither Must I Wander with pianist Jonathan King, out January 2020 on Odradek Records, was named one of the Chicago Tribune’s “best classical recordings of 2020” and BBC Music Magazine praised Will’s “firm, oaky baritone with a sharp interpretive attitude… admirable poise and clarity of intention.”

Will’s recent engagements include performing as the first ever Black Papageno in The Metropolitan Opera’s holiday production of The Magic Flute, in addition to its premiere of Philip Glass’ Akhnaten (Horemhab) and Nico Muhly’s Marnie (Malcolm Fleet). He also recently appeared as Pantalone in The Love of Three Oranges at Opera Philadelphia, as Silvio in Pagliacci at Opera Colorado, as Schaunard in La bohème with Santa Fe Opera, Dallas Opera and Opera Philadelphia; and as The Pilot in The Little Prince with Tulsa Opera. His new opera The Factotum, written together with DJ/recording artist K. Rico, was workshopped by the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Ryan Opera Center in winter 2020. The Factotum, inspired by Rossini's The Barber of Seville, takes place in a present-day Black barbershop in Chicago and combines operatic singing with hip-hop, barbershop, gospel, funk, neo soul, and R&B music.

Will Liverman has performed the leading role of Figaro in Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia with Seattle Opera, Virginia Opera, Kentucky Opera, Madison Opera and Utah Opera. He originated the role of Dizzy Gillespie in Charlie Parker’s Yardbird with Opera Philadelphia, in addition to performing the role with English National Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Madison Opera, and at the Apollo Theater. Other highlights include the role of Tommy McIntyre in the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of Fellow Travelers for its Lyric Unlimited initiative; Papageno in The Magic Flute with Florentine Opera and Central City Opera; his role debut as Marcello in La bohème with Portland Opera; his debut with Seattle Opera as Raimbaud in Le Comte Ory; Tarquinius in The Rape of Lucretia and Beaumarchais in The Ghosts of Versailles with Wolf Trap Opera; Andrew Hanley in the world premiere of Kevin Puts’ The Manchurian Candidate with Minnesota Opera; Sam in The Pirates of Penzance with Atlanta Opera; the Foreman at the Mill in Jenůfa and the Protestant Minister in Menotti’s The Last Savage with Santa Fe Opera.

Expanding into the concert repertoire, Will performed the title role in a concert version of the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, and was a featured soloist in Brahms’ Requiem with the Las Vegas Philharmonic, in Handel’s Messiah with the Seattle Symphony, in Carmina Burana with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and in Mozart’s Mass in C Minor with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago. He was also recently featured in the Sphinx Virtuosi concert at Carnegie Hall, in addition to appearing in Schubert’s Die Winterreise at The Barns at Wolf Trap Opera.

Will is the recipient of the 2020 Marian Anderson Vocal Award, as well as a recipient of a 2019 Richard Tucker Career Grant and Sphinx Medal of Excellence. Will Liverman has received a 2017 3Arts Award, a George London Award, and was recognized as a classical division Luminarts Fellow by the Luminarts Cultural Foundation. In 2015, he won the Stella Maris International Vocal Competition, received the Gerda Lissner Charitable Fund Award, and received a top prize from Opera Index.

Will Liverman concluded his tenure at the prestigious Ryan Opera Center at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2015. He previously was a Young Artist at the Glimmerglass Festival. He holds his Master of Music degree from The Juilliard School, and a Bachelor of Music degree from Wheaton College in Illinois.

Karen Slack

Hailed for possessing a voice of extraordinary beauty, a seamless legato and great dramatic depth, American soprano Karen Slack has appeared with the Metropolitan Opera where she made her debut in the title role of Verdi’s Luisa Miller, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Washington National Opera, and San Francisco Opera. In recent seasons, she has appeared as Alice Ford in Falstaff, Leonora in Il trovatore and Tosca with Arizona Opera, as Aïda at Austin Opera, Emelda Griffith in Champion with New Orleans Opera, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni with Nashville Opera, Violetta in La Traviata with Sacramento Opera and Sister Rose in Dead Man Walking with both Minnesota Opera and Vancouver Opera and her Scottish Opera debut as Anna in Puccini’s Le villi. Additionally, Ms. Slack portrayed a featured role as the Opera Diva in Tyler Perry’s movie and soundtrack “For Colored Girls.” Ms. Slack is an Artistic Advisor for Portland Opera, Co-Director for the 2020-21 Opera Program at the Banff Centre for the Performing Arts, and Co-Chair of the Women's Opera Network with Opera America.

Ms. Slack’s 2019-2020 season included a return to the Metropolitan Opera as Serena in Porgy and Bess, a recital with Opera Philadelphia, guest soloist for Madison Opera’s virtual Opera in the Park, and a series of recitals throughout the US including the Vilar Center for the Performing Arts in Vail, Colorado with pianist Joe Illick. This season sees her in digital performances with Opera Philadelphia, Houston Grand Opera, Madison Opera, and Minnesota Opera. Additionally, she stars in Driving While Black with UrbanArias. In response to the rash of cancellations due to COVID19, Ms. Slack launched a digital talk show, #KikiKonversations, which has garnered critical acclaim and thousands of views.

Other recent performances include the title role in Tosca with Opera Birmingham, Addie Parker in Yardbird with Arizona Opera, Sister Rose in Dead Man Walking with Atlanta Opera, Serena in Porgy and Bess with Fort Worth Opera, and her debut with Opera Theatre of St. Louis as Billie in Terence Blanchard and Kasi Lemmons' Fire Shut Up in My Bones. In concert, she was a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra in the world premiere of Hannibal Lokumbe’s Healing Tones with Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Union Symphony Orchestra for Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder.

Equally at home on the concert stage, Ms. Slack has performed Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Mahler’s 2nd Symphony and the Verdi Requiem with various orchestras throughout the US. Abroad she has appeared with the Melbourne Symphony, Sydney Symphony, the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestras, and most recently, with the St. Petersburg Philharmonic in celebration of the 80th birthday of Mo. Yuri Temirkanov. She made her Carnegie Hall debut as Agnes Sorel in Tchaikovsky’s Maid of Orleans with the Orchestra of St. Lukes and will return in Spring 2022 with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra for Beethoven’s Egmont. Additional upcoming engagements for the 2021-2022 season include her stage debut with the Houston Grand Opera in the world premiere of Joel Thompson and Andrea Davis Pinkney's A Snowy Day, a recital with pianist Alan Morrison at Atlanta’s Spivey Hall including the World Premiere of a new work by American composer Adolphus Halistork, Verdi’s Requiem with the Highlander Concert Series at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas and a concert of arias with Omaha Symphony in collaboration with Opera Omaha.

A graduate of the Adler Fellowship and Merola Opera Program at the San Francisco Opera, the native Philadelphian is also a graduate of the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music. She is a winner of numerous competitions and awards: most notably the Montserrat Caballe International Competition, the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, the George London Foundation Award, the Marian Anderson ICON Award, the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation, the Rosa Ponselle International Vocal Competition, the Portland Opera Lieber Award, the Liederkranz Foundation Award and the Jose Iturbi International Competition for Voice.

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Beethoven's Egmont | Beyond The Overture

When we think of what Beethoven wrote for Egmont, the first thing that comes to mind is the Overture. But what about the rest? WXQR's Elliott Forrest hosts our panel discussion diving into everything that comes next.

Orpheus is proud to commission a new translation by the award-winning translator and playwright, Philip Boehm, to bring 21st century relevance to Beethoven and Goethe's themes of courage, justice, and freedom.

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