This concert is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and an historic occasion for Peoria.
Hear the world premiere of music composed in honor of the internationally famous Peorian Betty Friedan for the centennial of her birth. Credited with starting the second wave of feminism, Friedan authored “The Feminine Mystique” and co-founded the National Organization for Women.
The program will be narrated by Deborah F. Rutter, President of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. and sung by the internationally renowned mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung. Rising star violinist Sirena Huang will collaborate with them and the Peoria Symphony Orchestra conducted by George Stelluto.
Peoria’s Mayor Rita Ali will make opening remarks.
What can you expect to hear? Ravishingly beautiful, extremely powerful music by PSO Composer-in-Residence Stephanie Ann Boyd. Specializing in telling women’s stories through music, her music has a cinematic quality in its telling. She has been praised for her “attractive lyricism” (Gramophone), “[with] ethereal dissonances” (Boston Globe), “[music that] didn’t let itself be eclipsed” (Texas Classical Review), “arrestingly poetic” (BMOP), and “wide ranging, imaginative” (Portland Press Herald).
Stephanie Ann Boyd, PSO Composer-in-Residence
Everywoman: A Friedan Centennial Memoire*
*World Premiere/**Illinois Premiere
Stephanie Ann Boyd, Composer in Residence
Michigan-born, Manhattan-based American composer Stephanie Ann Boyd (b. 1990) writes melodic music about women’s memoirs and the natural world for symphonic and chamber ensembles. Her work has been performed in nearly all 50 states and has been commissioned by musicians and organizations in 37 countries. Boyd’s five ballets include works choreographed by New York City Ballet principal dancers Lauren Lovette, Ashley Bouder, NYCB soloist Peter Walker, and XAOC Contemporary Ballet’s Eryn Renee Young. Eero, a ballet commissioned by Access Contemporary Music and Open House New York, was written for the grand opening of the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport. She holds degrees from Roosevelt University and New England Conservatory. Boyd was one of the last violin students of renowned pedagogue John Kendall, and her music has been praised as “attractive lyricism” (Gramophone), “[with] ethereal dissonances” (Boston Globe), “[music that] didn’t let itself be eclipsed” (Texas Classical Review), “arrestingly poetic” (BMOP), and “wide ranging, imaginative” (Portland Press Herald).
Michelle DeYoung, mezzo-soprano
Mezzo-Soprano Michelle DeYoung continues to be in demand throughout the world, appearing regularly with the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Philharmonic, and the Concertgebouworkest. She has also performed at the prestigious festivals of Ravinia, Tanglewood, Saito Kinen, Edinburgh, and Lucerne. In Australia she has appeared multiple times with Sydney Symphony and recently sang Kundry in concert performances of Parsifal at Opera Australia.
Equally at home on the opera stage, Ms DeYoung has appeared with the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Teatro alla Scala, Bayreuth Festival, Berliner Staatsoper, and the Paris Opera. Her many roles include Fricka, Sieglinde and Waltraute in The Ring Cycle; Kundry in Parsifal, Venus in Tannhäuser, Brangäne in Tristan und Isolde, Eboli in Don Carlos, Amneris in Aida, Santuzza in Cavellaria Rusticana, Ježibaba in Rusalka, Marguerite in Le Damnation de Faust, Dido in Les Troyens, Judith in Bluebeard’s Castle, and Jocaste in Oedipus Rex. She also created the role of the Shaman in Tan Dun’s The First Emperor at the Metropolitan Opera.
A multi-Grammy award winning recording artist, Ms. DeYoung’s impressive discography includes Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, and Götterdämmerung with the Jaap van Zweden and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra (Naxos), Kindertotenlieder, Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, and Das Klagende Lied with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony (SFS Media), Les Troyens with Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO Live!), and Mahler Symphony No 3 with both the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Bernard Haitink (CSO Resound) and the Pittsburgh Symphony and Manfred Honeck (Challenge Records International). Her most recent recording of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra (Deutsche Grammophon) was released in July 2021.
This season, Ms. DeYoung appeared in concert with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. This summer she returns to the Ravinia and Aspen Music festivals, and next season her many engagements include appearances with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra, Orchestre National de Lille, Belgium National Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, and the Colorado Symphony.
Deborah Rutter, Narrator
In an age marked by social and technological change, Deborah Rutter has emerged as one of the nation’s most adroit leaders in the arts, combining artistic daring with fiscal sustainability, inclusivity, and responsiveness to the needs of the community. Ms. Rutter began as President of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on September 1, 2014, and serves as curator of the Kennedy presidential memorial, and artistic and administrative director to the world’s busiest performing arts center. In an ever-expanding celebration of JFK’s legacy, the Center presents theater, contemporary dance, ballet, vocal music, chamber music, Hip Hop, comedy, international arts, and jazz, alongside dynamic seasons with the Kennedy Center’s world-class affiliates: the National Symphony Orchestra and Washington National Opera. As the work of a living memorial is never finished, Rutter is advancing the Center’s commitment to 21st-century programming. After breaking ground In her first year at the Kennedy Center, Ms. Rutter launched a transformative arts facility in 2019, the REACH, which provides flexible indoor and outdoor performance space to nurture new art, community, innovation, arts education, and informal encounters between the artist and the public. Designed by renowned architect Steven Holl, the REACH graces the southern end of the campus and connects the Kennedy Center to the popular pedestrian and bicycle trail along the Potomac River. Working at the vanguard of community engagement, Ms. Rutter manages one of the nation’s most extensive arts education networks, reaching millions of people of all ages across all 50 states with live performances, as well as providing multidisciplinary arts training and support to schools, students, children at risk, teachers, artists, and civic leaders. Today, Ms. Rutter is reshaping Kennedy Center offerings to include more artist-led programming while challenging people across the industry to reimagine creative expression through the lens of cross-disciplinary collaborations. Prior to her position as the Center’s President, Ms. Rutter served as president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association. She has also served as executive director of the Seattle Symphony, executive director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and the orchestra manager of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Sirena Huang, Violin
Praised by The Baltimore Sun for her “impeccable technique…deeply expressive phrasing…and poetic weight,” Sirena Huang is one of her generation’s most celebrated violinists. She brings not only technical brilliance and powerful artistry to the stage, but also a profound sense of connection to her audience.
Sirena has been the recipient of numerous accolades and awards. In 2017, she was awarded First Prize at the Elmar Oliveira International Violin Competition and later that year, she was the winner of the New York Concert Artist Worldwide Debut Audition. In 2009, she won First Prize Gold Medalist of the 6th International Tchaikovsky Competition for Young Musicians. She won First Prize and the Audience Award at the Cooper International Competition in 2011. That same year, she was also named the first Artist-in-Residence of Hartford Symphony Orchestra. In 2013, she was awarded the Hannloser Prize for Violin at the Verbier Music Festival in Switzerland. She is also a top prize winner at Singapore International Violin Competition as well as the Shanghai Isaac Stern International Violin Competition.
Sirena made her solo debut with the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra in 2004 at the age of nine and has performed in twenty countries across three continents. She has been featured as a soloist with more than fifty prestigious ensembles, including the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Russian Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, and the Staatskapelle Weimar in Germany. She has performed in leading venues, including Berliner Philharmonie, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, the Kravis Center, Esplanade -Theaters on the Bay, Shanghai Concert Hall, and the Taiwan National Concert Hall, among many others. She has appeared as a guest artist at the Verbier Music Festival, Marlboro Music Festival, Ravinia Music Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Newport Music Festival, Music in the Mountains Festival, Eastern Music Festival, Sarasota Arts Series, “The Great Music for a Great City” series in New York City, and many others.
Motivated by a deep wish to inspire peace and harmony with her music, Sirena has performed before world leaders, thinkers and humanitarians. She has appeared at the World Peace Conference held in Petra and at the Opening Ceremony of the “Forum 2000 World Conference” in Prague, among others.
In addition to her TED Talk in 2006, Sirena has been featured on numerous radio and television broadcasts, including WQXR’s McGraw-Hill Young Artists Showcase, and NPR’s “From the Top” as well as several interviews with WNPR, CNBC, WTNH, WTIC, WB20 and Beethoven Radio.
This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.