Born: Boston, Massachusetts)
Sari Gruber, soprano, was the winner of the 2005 Walter W. Naumburg Vocal competition.
She has garnered praise for her revered performances as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, which she performed with New York City Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Boston Lyric Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Opera Pacific, Kentucky Opera, Austin Lyric Opera, and the Ongaku-Juku Opera Project under the baton of Seiji Ozawa. Also known for her portrayal of Puccini’s quintessential diva, Musetta in La bohème, Gruber has performed the role with Opera Colorado, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh Opera, and Austin Lyric Opera.
Noted performances include: soprano solos in Handel’s Messiah with Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Winston-Salem Symphony and Richmond Symphony, Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 with the Erie Philharmonic and Oklahoma City Philharmonic, recitals of Schubert/Beatles with New York Festival of Song at Lincoln Center, the Moab Music Festival and in Kansas City, Schubert’s “Auf dem Strom” with the noted Schubert on the Bluff series, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte with Opera Tampa, her role début as Leïla in Les pêcheurs de perles with Hawaii Opera Theater, Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with Omaha Symphony, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Buffalo Symphony, and a role début as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte with Florida Grand Opera. International performances include Händel’s Samson staged for De Nederlandse Opera, and First Niece in Peter Grimes at both the Saito Kinen Festival (Japan) and Maggio Musicale di Firenze.
An extremely sought-after and distinguished concert artist, among ensembles that Ms. Gruber has appeared with include the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra, Händel and Haydn Society, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, ProMusica Chamber Society, Boston Baroque, New York’s Collegiate Chorale, Pacific Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, Omaha Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. She has given recitals across the country under the auspices of the Marilyn Horne Foundation. Other credits include a pre-concert recital of Copland’s Poems of Emily Dickinson with the New York Philharmonic, solo recitals in Salt Lake City and Daytona Beach, at Skidmore College, and on San Francisco Opera’s Schwabacher Début Recital Series.
As part of her Naumburg prize, Ms. Gruber received a commissioned work, George Tsontakis: Midnight Rain.
Excerpt from The New York Times review, March 17, 2007 (Sari Gruber Naumburg concert)
Music Review: Sari Gruber
Singing and writing new songs are mainstays of American popular culture... “Midnight Rain,” a song cycle by George Tsontakis, had its world premiere on Thursday night at Alice Tully Hall during a recital by the soprano Sari Gruber, winner of the Naumburg Foundation’s 2005 award. The seven songs — settings of English-language poems that all brush against the theme of rain — add up to a lovely work.
Mr. Tsontakis touches all the bases: a lyrical dirge (“Song,” by Christina Rossetti); a snarling chromatic outburst (“Scrub,” by Edna St. Vincent Millay). He is able to make a song be what he wants, and he can write a simple vocal line that’s effective. No mean gifts.
And yet there was a sense of caution, of remaining within the rules. The piano, more than the voice, set the emotional tone for each song (opening with the measured pace of the protagonist walking in Phillis Levin’s “Georgic”), until the final “Rain” (Edward Thomas), which gently balanced the vocal line against a single line in the piano. (Cameron Stowe was the strong, precise accompanist.)
The first half of the program was Greek-themed, pairing Mr. Tsontakis with Ravel’s “Cinq mélodies populaires grecques”; the second followed a Schubert set with Spanish songs (by Nin, De Falla, Guridi and Valverde).
In this final set Ms. Gruber audibly relaxed,by singing not more loudly, but more softly: her voice grew gentle and found the center of the pitch in Falla’s “Tus ojillos negros” and Guridi’s “Jota.” Less is more, both in the singing and in Mr. Tsontakis’s final song: stripped of the sense of the dutiful, the voice flowered, and true expression was born." - Anne Midgette
2005 Vocal Competition
George Tsontakis: “Midnight Rain” Song Cycle