Joseph Summer, Executive Director
Founder of The Shakespeare Concerts
Joseph Summer began playing the French horn at the age of seven. While attending the Eastern Music Festival in North Carolina at age thirteen he was fortunate to be allowed to study composition with the eminent Czech composer Karel Husa. Two years later he was accepted at Oberlin Conservatory, graduating with a BM in Music Composition in 1976. Recruited by Robert Page to teach at Carnegie Mellon University, Joseph spent two years teaching music theory before leaving to pursue composition full time.
In 1981, with assistance from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Tenor’s Suite, Summer’s one act tragedy based on The Tenor by Frank Wedekind was produced in Philadelphia, fully staged through a piano reduction. This lead to Summer creating the Contemporary Opera Company of America. The company, over a two year span, concentrated on producing operas by living American composers, including Summer’s own Hippolytus, with fully staged double piano reduction performances in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
For the next twenty years Joseph Summer concentrated his efforts composing a series of comic operas based on the bawdy stories of Boccaccio’s The Decameron. These consist of four completed works: And The Dead Shall Walk The Earth; Courting Disaster; Their Fate In The Hands Of The Friar; and Gianetta. The fifth in a projected cycle of seven: Also Known As is currently in progress.
In 2003 Summer founded The Shakespeare Concerts, which has presented more than forty compositions from Summer’s ever expanding collection of settings of the bard’s ever living texts, which he titles The Oxford Songs, (titled thus due to Summer’s support of Edward De Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, as the likely identity of the author also known as William Shakespeare.) In addition to the individual scenes, sonnets, and songs from Shakespeare collected in the aforementioned collection, Summer completed the opera Hamlet, in 2006; and is currently finishing a chamber opera setting of The Tempest.
Besides his vocal compositions; Summer’s works include chamber music and a concerto for the instrument of his youth: French horn: The Silver Swan, which won the 1980 National Federation of Music Clubs’ Orchestral Composition Contest. Recordings of Summer’s music are available on Albany Records and Parma. His previously released recordings include settings of Shakespeare for voice and piano on What A Piece Of Work Is Man; voice and sundry chamber ensembles on Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day (which also contains the string quintet Dance Of The Mechanics); voice, piano, and cello on So Many Journeys (which also includes Summer’s cello sonata: Twenty Variations on a Theme from the Hebdomad); and most recently: The Garden Of Forking Paths, his string quartet based on the short stories of Jorge Luis Borges.
Kathryn Guthrie, Artistic Advisor
Kathryn Guthrie is praised for her sharp-witted interpretations of contemporary classical and music theater works. She has been performing with the Shakespeare Concerts since 2012 and appears on several recordings of their recordings with Navona and PARMA Records, including the premiere performance and recording of Joseph Summer’s The Tempest as Miranda.
After debuting at New York City Opera as Marie in folk-pop star Rufus Wainwright’s Prima Donna, Kathryn has traveled the world promoting the opera and appears on the cast recording of the opera with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. A champion of new music, Kathryn enjoyed other performances with New York City Opera including the VOX concert series and Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland as the Cheshire Cat.
Kathryn has traveled the country singing musical theater with Todd Ellison, music supervisor for Broadway’s An American in Paris, including appearances with both the Philly Pops and the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Guthrie was a winner of Astral Artists’ 2012 National Auditions, was a member of Glimmerglass Opera’s Young American Artists Program, and holds a Master of Music from the Peabody Conservatory, where she received the Phyllis Bryn-Julson Award for Contemporary Music, and a Bachelor of Music from the University of Connecticut.
John McGinn, Emeritus Music Director
Emeritus music director of The Shakespeare Concerts from 2003-08, composer/pianist John McGinn has performed throughout the United States and Europe and appeared on more than a dozen commercial recordings, including the first two The Shakespeare Concerts CDs (Albany), John Adams’ opera Nixon in China with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s (Nonesuch), and a critically acclaimed solo album, The 20th Century Piano (AmCam). An assistant professor of theory and composition at Austin College in Sherman, TX, McGinn received his undergraduate music degree from Harvard University in 1986 and his doctorate in composition from Stanford University in 1999. He served as a lecturer at Stanford from 1999-2001 and also taught for a number of years at Clark University in Worcester, MA. In 2011, McGinn contributed a vocal setting “It’s a Letter” to A River of Words Song Cycle, a collaborative cycle commissioned by baritone Bruce Cain and guitarist David Asbury; upcoming performances include the Kennedy Center and the Library of Congress. Other recent premieres include Score for Score (2009) by the Inscape Chamber Orchestra of Bethesda, MD; A Tad Low Strung (2006) for viola and piano with violist Peter Sulski; Spit and Polish (2006) for horn and string quartet by hornist John Peiffer and KCO members at a Kennedy Center Millennium Stage concert; and a recording of The Clarinet in the Machine (2006) by the Gennusa Clarinet Camerata (MD). The latter work appears in the Anthology of Contemporary Concert Music 2011 edited by Chris Brubaker et al., available from thatnewmusicwebsite.com . As an arranger, McGinn has created piano reductions of several large-scale works including John Adams’ Nixon in China, The Death of Klinghoffer, Gnarly Buttons and Violin Concerto and Christopher Rouse’s Pulitzer-winning Trombone Concerto, all for publication by Boosey & Hawkes. His latest reduction, of Adams’ I was looking at the ceiling/and then I saw the sky, is slated for release in 2012.
Tim Ribchester, Music Director
Acclaimed for his “passionate commitment to the composer and score… …perfected technique [and] a personal aesthetic vision,” Maestro Tim Ribchester is recognized globally as an inspiring, versatile musical leader and collaborator.
His recent conducting appearances include two concerts with the Bacau Philharmonic (Romania), Dido and Aeneas at the Trentino Music Festival (Italy), the completion of a two season contract as Music Director of Delaware County Symphony (Pennsylvania), and guest appearances with New York Lyric Opera Theater (New York), Concert Operetta Theater (Philadelphia), Gwinnett Symphony (Atlanta, Georgia), Independence Sinfonia (Pennsylvania), and the chorus of Russian Opera Workshop at the Academy of Vocal Arts (Philadelphia). In 2016 he joined North Carolina Opera as Assistant Conductor (Eugene Onegin), debuts as Guest Conductor with the Shakespeare Concerts Boston and Vocal Coach at the inaugural Berlin Opera Academy (Carmen), and returns to Trentino Music Festival to conduct their mainstage production of L’incoronazione di Poppea.
In previous seasons, Maestro Ribchester has led rehearsals for the Komische Oper Berlin, Baltimore and Boulder Chamber Orchestras, the Richmond Symphony Chorus, the Academy of Vocal Arts Chorus, and Opera Philadelphia Chorus. Between 2009 to 2013 he was the Music Director of Delaware Valley Opera Company in southeastern Pennsylvania. During this time he was invited to guest conduct for Opera Libera (Philadelphia) and he also appeared as a regular Guest Conductor at the Orchestra Society of Philadelphia. Also known for his advocacy of contemporary music, he conducted several premieres at the Curtis Institute of Music as well as commissioning new works for his chamber choir, the Eakins Vocal Consort, from 2006-2009.
Maestro Ribchester has been fortunate to have assisted world-class maestri including Christofer Macatsoris, Yannick Nezet-Seguin, Jacques Lacombe, Timothy Myers, and Steven White; stage directors Tito Capobianco, Dorothy Danner, David Gately, Nic Muni; and has coached internationally recognized singers including Maria Aleida, Larry Bakst, Emily Birsan, Carla Dirlikov, Gidon Saks, and Nicole Piccolomini. His recital collaborators have included Julianne Baird, Ian Bostridge, William Burden, Paquito D’Rivera, Ricardo Morales, and Leonardo Suarez Paz, and he has led several ensembles from the keyboard in both baroque and tango music.