LENOX, Mass. — Berkshire resident Benjamin Luxon will share anecdotes of his rich and varied career as an opera singer on Sunday, March 3, at 2 pm at the elegant Lenox Club, 111 Yokun Avenue here. Luxon will also discuss his artistic credo and the current state of the music and opera world in “An Afternoon with Benjamin Luxon,” one in a series of conversations about music and ideas presented by Close Encounters with Music.
Following his 1972 debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in London, Luxon quickly became one of Great Britain’s most renowned singers. His 30-year international career as a baritone throughout the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s included such great roles as Onegin, which he performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, and Wozzeck, which he sang at La Scala in Milan. He appeared in opera houses across Europe, and worked with most of the world’s major conductors and orchestras.
Luxon made more than 100 recordings in multiple genres, ranging from early music to contemporary, including musicals, Victorian ballads, music hall and his folk-singing partnership with banjo player Bill Crofut. He was a favorite of Benjamin Britten, who composed the title role of his television opera “Owen Wingrave” specifically for him. In 1986, Luxon was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for his service to British music.
Acute hearing loss cut short Luxon’s singing career, but he continues to appear onstage. Since moving to the United States with his American wife in 2002, he has worked with various theater companies, mainly as a Shakespearean actor, and created and performed programs of poetry, including a recital of Victorian-era poems and songs created with author Simon Winchester.
Tickets for “An Afternoon With Benjamin Luxon” are $15 and are available at 800-843-0778 or www.cewm.org. The conversation will be followed by a high tea catered by Savory Harvest Catering in Pittsfield.
About “Conversations With …”
Close Encounters’ “Conversations With …” series has presented such notable speakers as film-maker Peter Rosen; writer, editor and Bob Dylan biographer Seth Rogovoy; composer, National Endowment grantee and Guggenheim fellow Judith Zaimont; pianist-authors Walter Ponce and Adam Neiman; Emmy Award-winning animator, illustrator, cartoonist and children’s book author R.O. Blechman; art restorer David Bull; Academy Award nominee Daniel Anker; scholar/performer/multimedia artist Robert Winter; poet Charles Coe; and former Yankee, author and sportscaster Jim Bouton.
Close Encounters With Music (CEWM) stands at the intersection of music, art and the vast richness of Western culture. Commentary from founder and artistic director Yehuda Hanani puts the composers and their times in perspective to enrich the concert experience. Since the inception of its Commissioning Project in 2001, CEWM has worked with the most distinguished composers of our time—Paul Schoenfield, Osvaldo Golijov, Lera Auerbach, Kenji Bunch, and John Musto, among others—to create important new works. A core of brilliant performers includes pianists James Tocco, Adam Neiman, Walter Ponce and Jeffrey Swann; violinists Shmuel Ashkenasi, Yehonatan Berick, Vadim Gluzman and Toby Appel; harpsichordist Lionel Party; clarinetists Alexander Fiterstein, Charles Neidich; vocalists Dawn Upshaw, Amy Burton, Jennifer Aylmer, Robert White, Lucille Beer and William Sharp; the Vermeer, Amernet, Muir, Manhattan, Avalon, Hugo Wolf quartets, and Cuarteto Latinoamericano. Choreographer David Parsons and actors Richard Chamberlain, Jane Alexander and Sigourney Weaver have also appeared as guests.
Close Encounters With Music programs have been presented in cities across the U.S. and Canada—Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Omaha, Cincinnati, Calgary, Detroit, Scottsdale, at the Frick Collection and Merkin Hall in New York City and at Tanglewood. Close Encounters With Music concerts are broadcast on WMHT-FM, and weekly broadcasts of “Classical Music According to Yehuda” are broadcast on WAMC Northeast Radio and at www.wamc.org.
Yehuda Hanani is renowned for performances with orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Berlin Radio Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, BBC Welsh Symphony, Irish National Symphony, Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Jerusalem Symphony and Taipei and Seoul symphonies, among many others. He has collaborated in performances with Leon Fleisher, Aaron Copland, Christoph Eschenbach, David Robertson, Itzhak Perlman, Dawn Upshaw, Yefim Bronfman and many more. In New York City, Yehuda Hanani has appeared as soloist at Carnegie Hall, the 92nd Street Y, Alice Tully, and the Metropolitan Museum’s Grace Rainey Rodger Auditorium. His pioneering recording of the Alkan Cello Sonata received a Grand Prix du Disque nomination.
Upcoming Close Encounters with Music Concerts
March 23 An Evening with Eliot Fisk: “Old, New, Borrowed and Blues”
April 20 Grand Piano Trios I: Schubert & Schoenfield
May 18 Grand Piano II: Mozart, Beethoven and Ravel
June 8 Nordic Lights: Grieg Revival
For more information about Close Encounters with Music and its 2012–2013 concert schedule, visit www.cewm.org.