Two ensembles from Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Music are featured on Professor of Composition Leonardo Balada’s latest opera recording, “La Muerte de Colón” (The Death of Columbus), his 10th CD, released Sept. 1 on the Naxos Classical Music Label. “La Muerte de Colón” is a sequel to “Cristóbal Colón,” Balada’s initial opera about Columbus. “La Muerte de Colón” highlights two talented School of Music ensembles — the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic and the Carnegie Mellon Repertory Chorus, led by Robert Page, the Paul Mellon University Professor of Music and director of choral and opera studies. Balada composed the music and wrote the libretto for “La Muerte de Colón,” which has been critically acclaimed as “uncommonly impressive and winning.” “Cristóbal Colón,” the first opera in the Naxos CD series, was released in August. The work was commissioned by the Spanish government and premiered in 1989 at Barcelona’s historic venue Gran Teatre del Liceu. The recording features opera stars José Carreras in the title role and Monserrat Caballé as Queen Isabella of Spain. The Washington Times called the opera “a masterpiece … a landmark score in the lyric theater of our time.” A native of Spain, Balada graduated from Barcelona’s Conservatorio del Liceu and the Juilliard School and was a student of legendary composers Aaron Copland, Vincent Persichetti and Alexandre Tansman. His works have been performed by the world’s leading orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra of London and the BBC Symphony Orchestra; and by conductors and performers including Lorin Maazel, Rostropovitch, Fruhbeck de Burgos, Lopez-Cobos, Lukas Foss, Alicia de Larrocha, Yepes, Segovia and the American Brass Quintet. Balada has served on the faculty of the School of Music since 1970. The Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic is comprised of student musicians from across the United States and 19 foreign countries. Philharmonic performances have been received enthusiastically by audiences and critics at such prestigious institutions as New York City’s Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Boston’s Symphony Hall and Severance Hall in Cleveland. Its recordings appear on the Mode Records, New World Records, New Albion and Carnegie Mellon record labels. The orchestra claims alumni in the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Seattle Symphony, among many others. The Carnegie Mellon Repertory Chorus is one of two major choral ensembles at the university. Membership is by audition only and is open to students in all seven colleges of the university. The ensemble studies and performs a wide spectrum of choral literature, from major choral/orchestral works to informal folk and contemporary genres. Representative repertoire from recent seasons includes Poulenc’s “Gloria,” Bruckner’s “Mass in E Minor,” Haydn’s “The Creation” and “An American Oratorio” by Ned Rorem. Ensemble members are often cast in the university opera and music theater productions, and many have sung with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Pops Concerts with Marvin Hamlisch.
School of Music Ensembles Featured On Professor Balada’s Latest Opera Recording