Tony ARNOLD, soprano
“Soprano Tony Arnold is a luminary in the world of chamber music and art song. Today’s classical composers are inspired by her inherently beautiful voice, consummate musicianship, and embracing spirit” (Huffington Post). Hailed by the New York Times as “a bold, powerful interpreter,” she is recognized internationally as a leading proponent of new music in concert and recording, having premiered over 200 works “with a musicality and virtuosity that have made her the Cathy Berberian of her generation”(Chicago Tribune). Since becoming the first-prize laureate of both the 2001 Gaudeamus International Competition (NL) and the 2001 Louise D. McMahon Competition (USA), Tony Arnold has collaborated with the most cutting-edge composers and instrumentalists on the world stage, and shares with the audience her “broader gift for conveying the poetry and nuance behind outwardly daunting contemporary scores” (Boston Globe).“Simply put, she is a rock-star in this genre” (Sequenza 21).
As the soprano of the intrepid International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Tony Arnold is a catalyst for dozens of groundbreaking projects, the most recent of which is David Lang’s Whisper Opera in ICE’s touring production directed by Jim Findlay. Her regular appearances with leading ensembles worldwide include Ensemble Modern in the 2013 premiere of Beat Furrer’s La Bianca Notte; the San Francisco Contemporary Players in the 2014 premiere of George Crumb’s Yellow Moon of Andalusia; and the Orion String Quartet in the 2014 US premiere of Brett Dean’s And Once I Played Ophelia at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. She is a frequent collaborator with Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNOW, Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Green Umbrella, JACK Quartet, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Talea Ensemble, eighth blackbird, and many others. She has toured the US extensively as a member of the George Crumb Ensemble. A noted guest artist at international festivals on four continents, Tony Arnold has been featured at the Darmstadt Festival and Witten New Music Days (Germany); Time of Music (Finland); Cervantino (Mexico); Musica Sacra Maastricht (Netherlands); Tongyeong Festival (Korea); and the Perspectives XXI Festival (Armenia). Every summer, Ms. Arnold sings and teaches at soundSCAPE in Maccagno, Italy.
With more than two-dozen discs to her credit, Tony Arnold has recorded a broad segment of the modern vocal repertory with esteemed chamber music colleagues. Her recording of George Crumb’s iconic Ancient Voices of Children (Bridge) was nominated for a 2006 Grammy Award. Other notable releases include a CD/DVD set of György Kurtág’s monumental Kafka Fragments (Bridge) with violin virtuoso Movses Pogossian; Olivier Messiaen’s mystical song cycle Harawi (New Focus) with pianist Jacob Greenberg; Jason Eckardt’s uncompromising Undersong (Mode) and Tongues (Tzadik) with ICE; and the crystalline chamber songs of Webern on Robert Craft’s most recent Webern edition (Naxos). Of the Webern, The Guardian writes, “sung with remarkable poise and warmth by soprano Tony Arnold…each [song] is a perfectly etched miniature, a nugget of impacted lyricism, and Arnold unwraps them with immense care.”
A strong advocate for the creation and commissioning of new music, Tony Arnold’s artistry has attracted many of the most gifted composers of our time. The growing repertoire of vocal chamber music now includes major works written for her voice by Georges Aperghis, Eric Chasalow, Philippe Manoury, Josh Levine, George Crumb, Pamela Madsen, Fredrick Gifford, David Liptak, Brett Dean, Christopher Theofanidis, Jason Eckardt, Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon, Jesse Jones, Nathan Davis, Carlos Sanchez-Gutierrez, John Zorn, David Gompper, amongst others. In 2012, Ms. Arnold and violinist Movses Pogossian were the recipients of a Chamber Music America Commissioning Grant to support the creation of Seven Armenian Songs by Gabriela Lena Frank. Upcoming in 2016, Ms. Frank will again write for Tony Arnold with violinist Ida Kavafian a new song cycle to be premiered at Music from Angel Fire. Also in 2016, Hans Tutschku will create a new work for Ms. Arnold with live electronics, to be premiered at the International Symposium of New Music in Brazil.
Tony Arnold has worked on a sustained basis with young composers and performers, sparking new musical ideas and fostering collaboration with succeeding generations. In 2015-16, she will be the Kunkemueller Artist-in-Residence at the Boston Conservatory, where she will sing, teach, and conduct a variety of multi-disciplinary events. As the recipient of the 2015-16 Brandeis Creative Arts Award, she will engage the entire Brandeis University community in a yearlong discussion about voice and identity through a series of concerts, salon events, and student-driven projects. In 2009, Ms. Arnold was the first performer ever invited to be the Howard Hanson Distinguished Professor of Composition at the Eastman School of Music. From 2003-15 she served on the faculty of the University at Buffalo, where she founded the extended techniques vocal ensemble, BABEL. She has been associated with the Composers Conference at Wellesley since 2008, having premiered some 20 next-generation works there. She has performed, lectured, and given master classes as a guest in over 50 universities worldwide.
Tony Arnold is a graduate of Oberlin College and Northwestern University. Growing up in suburban Baltimore, she composed, sang, and played every instrument she could persuade her parents to let her bring home, but never intended to become a professional vocalist. Instead, she applied her broad musical background to the study of orchestral conducting. Following graduate school, she was a fellow of the Aspen Music Festival (as both a conductor and singer), and she enjoyed success as the music director of several orchestras in the Chicago area. In her early thirties, Ms. Arnold reconnected with her love of singing, and discovered a special ability for making the most complex vocal music accessible to every audience. Having been inspired by many mentors, she is especially indebted to the teaching of sopranos Carmen Mehta and Carol Webber, conductors Robert Spano and Victor Yampolsky, and composer György Kurtág.