Dawn Upshaw | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Dawn Upshaw 

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There's not much about Osvaldo Golijov's song cycle Ayre that sounds like "classical music." Taking as his subject 15th-century Spain, where Sephardic Jews, Arabs, and Christians coexisted peaceably, the Argentine composer borrowed liberally from each culture's sound, throwing in elements like electronic textures, contemporary klezmer clarinet by David Krakauer, and guitar by pop producer and Oscar-winning film composer Gustavo Santaolalla. It's a thrilling collage that succeeds by virtue of its scale, emphasized by arrangements that juxtapose the extremes of rhythm, intensity, and density at play. Holding it all together is the stunning soprano Dawn Upshaw, who sings in six languages--from Arabic to Ladino, the endangered language of Spanish Jews--with uncanny precision and extraordinary range. Her manic wail on the Sardinian piece "Tancas Serradas a Muru," for example, is out there but she nails it. For Ayre's Chicago premiere Upshaw will be joined by members of the CSO as well as Jeremy Flower, who was behind the laptop for the Grammy-nominated 2005 Deutsche Grammophon recording. a 8 PM, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph, 312-334-7777, 312-294-3000, or 800-223-7114, $20. A

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