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Digital Concert Shines a Spotlight on Women Composers

by Toni Marie Palmertree

Digital Concert Shines a Spotlight on Women Composers

Two Berks natives who have made successful international careers in music return to present an exciting digital concert entitled “The Heart of a Woman”. Inspired by the centennial anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, Toni Marie Palmertree, Soprano and Ellen Rissinger, Piano present a rich collection of songs by Argentinian, French, German, and American women composers. This concert celebrates the tenacious women throughout our history who have broken the mold!

This is the first of hopefully many concerts like this. Music is our escape and an opportunity to connect with others in an intimate way. We long to gather in the same space to share the magic that live music creates. The past teaches us that art is born from suffering, pain, loss, joy and hope. Through these trials, we emerge with performances that are even more emotionally authentic and beautiful because we have persevered through so much. For this concert, we’ve selected works by women who overcame the barriers and created works of art that will touch your soul and heal your spirit.

The artists presenting this concert are proud Berks County natives. Toni Marie Palmertree is an American soprano praised for her tender, expressive voice (SF Examiner). A graduate of the Adler Fellowship at the San Francisco Opera, she made several important role debuts such as Liù (Turandot) for which she was praised for “[delivering] a performance of wondrous poignancy and heroism” (SF Chronicle). Additionally, she stepped into the title role of Madama Butterfly. Janos Gereben (SFCV) wrote: “The young soprano not only met the challenge, but she claimed her place among the finest vocal interpreters of the role…”

In October 2019, Ms. Palmertree made another role debut singing the title role of Luisa Miller at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Later that season also included joining the roster of The Metropolitan Opera for their productions of Madama Butterfly and Il Trovatore.

Ellen Rissinger came to European attention in December of 2008, when she accompanied a performance of Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk for the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf on one hour’s notice. She spent a great part of her career in Germany, including 9 years on the music staff of the Sächsische Staatsoper (Semperoper) in Dresden, Germany. In July 2019, she returned to the US full-time, and is currently on the music faculty of Carnegie Mellon University as Opera Coach as well as music director of the Opera Workshop at Temple University.
She has worked in both the United States (with Opera Company of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh Opera, Kentucky Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Baltimore Opera among others) and in many houses in Germany (Semperoper, Bregenz Opera Festival, Oper Frankfurt, Deutsche Oper am Rhein among others). In recital, Ellen has performed with such artists as Jane Henschel, Kenneth Riegel, Mirko Roschkowski, Christa Meyer, Troy Cook, and Rachel Willis-Sørensen.

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