Great Artists Series ’23: J’Nai Bridges, mezzo-soprano and Mark Markham, piano

January 29, 2023
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Where: E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall, 560 Music Center

When: Sunday, January 29 at 7:00pm

Edison Box Office: 314-935-6543
Single Tickets: (Available Tuesday, September 6)
$35-40 general admission
$32-37 Wash U faculty/staff
$15 students/youth

Selected songs by Johannes Brahms
Shéhérazade (1903) by Maurice Ravel (1875 – 1937)
     La flûte enchantée

Siete canciones populares españolas (1914-15) by Manuel de Falla (1876 – 1946)
     El paño moruno
     Seguidilla murciana

Cantata for voice and piano (1964) by John Carter (1932 – 1981)


American mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, known for her “plush-voiced mezzo-soprano” (The New York Times), and “calmly commanding stage presence” (The New Yorker) has been heralded as “a rising star” (Los Angeles Times), gracing the world’s top opera and concert stages.

Ms. Bridges’ 2021 – 2022 season is highlighted by her participation in numerous world premiere engagements, and as a guest artist at The Kennedy Center’s 50th Anniversary Season. The first Kennedy Center performance is with the all Black and Latinx Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, followed by Written in Stone, a Washington National Opera program of new music including the world premiere of a piece written for her by Carlos Simon. Ms. Bridges’ time in Washington D.C. continues as a soloist with The National Philharmonic in the world premiere of Adolphus Hailstork’s A Knee on the Neck, and Mozart’s Requiem. She continues her collaboration with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, giving a recital as part of their Power to the People! festival. She also appears with Amarillo Symphony as a guest artist in a world premiere piece by Chris Rogerson entitled Sacred Earth, sing Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 for Houston Symphony’s season finale performance, and will give a solo recital at the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, NJ. Operatic engagements include the title role in Carmen with Palm Beach Opera, and Jocasta in Oedipus Rex with the San Francisco Symphony.

In the midst of the worldwide pandemic, she emerged as a leading figure in classical music’s shift toward conversations of inclusion and racial justice in the performing arts. Bridges led a highly successful panel on race and inequality in opera with the Los Angeles Opera that drew international acclaim for being a “conversation of striking scope and candor” (The New York Times). In early 2021, Ms. Bridges was featured in the Converse shoe brand’s All Stars Campaign for its Breaking Down Barriers collection. Bridges also performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel for two episodes of the digital SOUND/STAGE series, and as part of the Global Citizen movement’s Global Goal campaign, a program which also included Coldplay, Shakira, Usher and more. The pandemic also forced the cancellation of Ms. Bridges’ numerous debuts during the 2020-2021 season including the title role of Carmen at The Metropolitan Opera and Canadian Opera Company. Bridges’ 2019 – 2020 season included her highly-acclaimed debut at The Metropolitan Opera as Nefertiti in a sold-out run of Philip Glass’ opera Akhnaten, as well as a house and role debut with Washington National Opera as Dalila in Samson et Dalila.

Other recent highlights include the 2021 Grammy AwardTM-winning recording of Richard Danielpour’s oratorio The Passion of Yeshua with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, her sold-out Carnegie Hall Recital debut, her role debut of Kasturbai in Satyagraha at LA Opera, and her debuts at Dutch National Opera and the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona. Ms. Bridges also created the role of Josefa Segovia in the world premiere of John Adams’ Girls of the Golden West at San Francisco Opera, and performed in the world premiere of Bel Canto at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, an opera by Jimmy Lopez based on the novel by Ann Patchett.

Bridges is a recipient of the prestigious 2018 Sphinx Medal of Excellence Award, a 2016 Richard Tucker Career Grant, first prize winner at the 2016 Francisco Viñas International Competition, first prize winner at the 2015 Gerda Lissner Competition, a recipient of the 2013 Sullivan Foundation Award, a 2012 Marian Anderson award winner, the recipient of the 2011 Sara Tucker Study Grant, the recipient of the 2009 Richard F. Gold Grant from The Shoshana Foundation, and the winner of the 2008 Leontyne Price Foundation Competition. J’Nai completed a three-year residency with the Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center at Lyric Opera of Chicago, represented the United States at the prestigious BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, and was a Young Artist at the Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, New York.

A native of Tacoma, Washington, she earned her Master of Music degree from Curtis Institute of Music, and her Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from the Manhattan School of Music.

Pianist Mark Markham is widely recognized around the world as one of the great artists of his generation. His international career encompasses performances in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Equally at home as a soloist, a collaborator with some of the finest singers in the world, a jazz pianist, or a vocal coach, his interpretations have been praised by the public and press alike. The Baltimore Sun recently praised his performance of Liszt and Chopin for his “big, rich tone,” “abundant power,” and “sensitively using a wide palate of tone coloring.” His playing has been described as “brilliant,” “exquisitely sensitive,” and “in full service to the music.”

This season he is featured as soloist in Ravel’s Concerto in G and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Edward Polochick. In Munich, he is the vocal coach for Bellin’s La Sonnambula, starring soprano Jennifer O’Loughlin. January includes a recital in Florence with mezzo-soprano Marianna Pizzolato, followed by recitals in Baltimore and Washington, DC with Metropolitan Opera soprano Leah Crocetto. In addition to these performances he maintains a vocal coaching studio in New York City and Baltimore. He will also give a master class for singers and pianists presented by the Art Song Preservation Society of New York in the spring. In the 2014-15 season he performed at Carnegie Hall with Jessye Norman, in San Francisco with Ms Crocetto, in Baltimore with mezzo-soprano Theodora Hanslowe, in Costa Rica with baritone Arturo Chacon, and in Tokyo with Ms. Pizzolato. This past summer he was the vocal coach for the recording and performance of Rossini arias of Ms. Pizzolato at the Rossini in Wildbad Festival in Germany. In the 2013-14 season he presented solo recitals in the U.S. and Europe, performed Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto with the Baltimore Concert Artists. and gave recitals with Ms. Norman and Ms. Crocetto.

Born in Pensacola, Florida, Mr. Markham made his debut in 1980 as soloist with the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra and in the same year was invited by the renowned Boris Goldovsky to coach opera at the Oglebay Institute. His teachers at the time, Robert and Trudie Sherwood, were supportive of all his musical endeavors from solo repertoire, vocal accompanying, and chamber music to Broadway and jazz. During the next ten years as a student at the Peabody Conservatory, where he received bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in piano performance, this same support for the diversity of his musical gifts came from Ann Schein, a pupil of the great Artur Rubinstein. While under her tutelage he won several competitions including the First Prize and the Contemporary Music Prize at the 1988 Frinna Awerbuch International Piano Competition in New York City.

He has given solo recitals at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; the New York Public Library; the Baltimore Museum of Art; and the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. In 1987 Mr. Markham was appointed pianist of the Contemporary Music Forum of Washington, DC. During five seasons he gave numerous premiere performances at the Corcoran Gallery with this ensemble. This work led to other premieres throughout the U.S. by composers Shulamit Ran, Larence Smith, and Richard Danielpour. Mr. Markham has also performed with the Brentano, Mozarteum, Glinka, and Castagnieri quartets and the Baltimore Woodwind Quintet, as well as with Edgar Meyer, Ron Carter, Grady Tate, and Ira Coleman. While still a student at the conservatory Mr. Markham toured with soprano Phyllis Bryn-Julson, a collaboration that resulted in critically acclaimed recordings of works by Messiaen, Carter, Dallapiccola, Schuller, and Wuorinen. In addition, he has toured the US, Europe, and Asia with countertenor Derek Lee Ragin.

Since 1995 Mr. Markham has been the recital partner of Jessye Norman, giving nearly 300 performances in over 25 countries, including recitals in Carnegie Hall, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, La Palau de la Musica in Barcelona, London’s Royal Festival Hall, the Musikverein in Vienna, the Salzburg Festival, Bunka Kaikan in Tokyo, Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv, the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus in Greece, and at the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize presentation to President Jimmy Carter in Oslo.

Much appreciated by the public for his improvisational skills, Mr. Markham performed at the Expo 2000 in Hannover, Germany, where he collaborated with Sir Peter Ustinov for a live television broadcast throughout the country. His gift for jazz has been recognized in the Sacred Ellington, a program created by Ms. Norman in which he serves as pianist and musical director and which has toured Europe and the Middle East. Most recently, his recording with Jessye Norman of Roots: My Life, My Song was nominated for a Grammy Award.

In 1990 Mr. Markham was invited to join the faculty of the Peabody Conservatory, where he served for ten years as vocal coach and professor of vocal repertoire and accompanying. He relocated to Europe for a decade, living in the South of France while maintaining a busy international schedule as a solo artist and collaborative partner with Ms. Norman, before returning to the United States in 2011.

A former faculty member of Morgan State University, the Britten-Pears School in England, and the Norfolk Chamber Festival of Yale University, he has presented master classes for pianists and singers throughout the US, Europe, and Asia and has been a guest lecturer for the Metropolitan Opera Guild and the Johns Hopkins University. Mr. Markham currently resides in New York City.

**All programs subject to change

This event is Co-sponsored by Washington University in St. Louis’s Department of Music.

Financial assistance for this project has been provided by the The Missouri Arts Council and the Robert H. Orchard Fund