Helene Joseph-Weil

Helene Joseph-WeilHelene Joseph-Weil has just returned from performances in the 2008 Ascoli Piceno Music Festival, Italy, where the mezzo-soprano was honored with the festival's "Una vita per la musica" award for her lifetime contributions to the musical arts as solo performer and teacher. Joseph-Weil's work as project originator, author, and performer for the ethno-historical operatic cantata ASCENCIÓN [with composer Benjamin Boone and pianist Hatem Nadim] was recently featured on NPR's Weekend Edition and the KQED California Report.

Upcoming Spring 2009 performances for Helene Joseph-Weil include A SCHUBERT LIEDERABEND: 24 Songs by Franz Schubert for the Old First Concert Series at The Old First Church in San Francisco (January 16) and the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church Concerts in Saratoga, CA (March 14.) April 4th will bring a performance of the ASCENCIÓN cantata under the “Bach to Blues” concert series at Gavilan College in Gilroy, CA, with Helene Joseph-Weil and Hatem Nadim repeating their heralded performances of the 2008 premiere. Joseph-Weil will also be performing as mezzo-soprano soloist in J. S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion with the Fresno Community Chorus on May 16/17 in Fresno, CA. under Dr. Anna Hamre's direction.

The mezzo-soprano has had a long, extensive, and diverse solo-performing career in all genres of vocal music throughout the United States and in Europe. Her numerous solo appearances in opera, chamber music, and solo recitals include appearances at the festivals of Chautauqua (NY), The Long Island Arts Festival, Tanglewood & The Berkshire Music Center (MA), Cabrillo (CA), Kopaonik (Serbia), and Ascoli Piceno (Italy), as well as The Salzburg Landestheater, the Opera Society of Washington D. C., the Munich Gasteig, Orpheus Chamber Ensemble, the UC-Berkeley New Music Ensemble, Stanford University, West Bay Opera, and tours with The Metropolitan Opera Studio and Scholar Opera.  Early in her career, she performed with such notables as Leonard Bernstein, Erich Leinsdorf, Rudolf Serkin, Julius Rudel, Aaron Copland, Karl Bamberger, Andor Toth, Claude Frank, Alan Brett, and Timothy Cheek. Joseph-Weil's more recent musical collaborators include Michael Flaksman, Andrea Dindo, Josef Wallnig, Andreas Werz, Yuri Gandelsmann, Ulrika Anima-Mathé, Natasha Kislenko, and Hatem Nadim, with whom she is presenting a series of art song programs, including A Schubert Liederabend: 24 Songs by Franz Schubert

A specialist in both art song and new music repertoire, the mezzo-soprano performed the world premiere of When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed by Roger Sessions, as well as the West Coast premieres of Circles by Luciano Berio, Philomel by Milton Babbitt, and Aria with Fontana Mix by John Cage. She continues to premiere new music, most recently songs by California composers Benjamin Boone and Brad Hufft on poems written by Helene Joseph-Weil. In May 2008, Joseph-Weil revisited Berio's “Folk Songs” -a work long established in her extensive repertoire – in a performance with the Orpheus Chamber Ensemble, directed by composer Jack Fortner.

Recently, Helene Joseph-Weil collaborated with Fresno State composer Benjamin Boone to create ASCENCIÓN: A Dramatic Ethno-historical Cantata for Mezzo-Soprano, Piano, Chorus and The Bells of Mission San Juan Bautista,for which she wrote the book and lyrics based on her 20 years of original research into the life of Ascención Solórsano de Cervantes (1852-1930), the last of the Amah-Mutsun tribal band (San Juan) to retain complete fluency in her people's language and culture. The cantata, featured both on National Public Radio's “Weekend Edition” and KQED's "The California Report," premiered on February 24, 2008 in the California State University Fresno Concert Hall, with Helene Joseph-Weil and pianist Hatem Nadim as the principal performers.  Please see the ASCENCIÓN Project website for further information, including links to the NPR and KQED broadcasts, the complete program, with audio and video excerpts of the cantata. http://www.ascencionproject.com/

Helene Joseph-Weil is Professor of Music (Voice & Opera) at California State University Fresno, where she coordinates the solo vocal performance majors and was the Director of the FSU Opera Workshop for 16 years. Before coming to Fresno State University, she was Visiting Professor of Voice at the Universität für Musik u. Darstellende Kunst "Mozarteum" in Salzburg, Austria. Joseph-Weil has also been Artist/Teacher-in-Residence at the Ascoli Piceno Music Festival in Italy and was the Founding Co-Director of the Mozart Opera Studies Institute (MOSI) in Austria and San Francisco. Other academic and teaching appointments have included Stanford University, UC-Santa Cruz, West Valley College, and for the International Institute for Chamber Music in Munich, Germany, where she taught German lyric diction and voice techniques in support of master classes with Elly Ameling and K.S. Dr.Walter Berry.

Helene Joseph-Weil, a Metropolitan Opera National Auditions winner, graduated with highest honors from The Oberlin Conservatory of Music, as well as The Franz Schubert Institute in Baden v. Wien, Austria. She holds a M. A. degree from San Jose State University, where she was voted Outstanding Singer. The mezzo-soprano's voice teachers include Phyllis Curtin, Thelma Votipka, Louise Toth, Lislotte Egger-Poetschke, Ellen Repp, Donald Stenburg, Barry Vaughan, Marie Gibson, Evelyn Hinken-Martz, and Dietrich Erbelding.  Additional opera and Lieder studies were taken with Viorica Ursuleac, Paul Schilowsky, Bernhard Paumgartner, George Schick, Elly Ameling, Hans Hotter, Walter Berry, Jorge Demus, Erik Werba, Walter Berry, Ernst Haefliger, Rudolf Jansen, Wolfgang Niessner, and at The Hochschule "Mozarteum" and The Metropolitan Opera Studio. She received grants for advanced studies in New York as the 31st Recipient/Winner of the Kate Neal Kinley Memorial Fellowship (awarded by the University of Illinois), the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund for Music, as well as from the Fromm Foundation and the Oberlin Alumni Fellowships.

In addition to the 2008 award from the Ascoli Piceno Music Festival, Joseph-Weil has also twice been awarded the Fresno State University Provost's Award for Academic Excellence in Creative Accomplishments and Teaching, most recently in 2008 for her creation of the ASCENCIÓN cantata. She also received the 2003 University Artist Award from Phi Kappa Phi at Fresno State and the "Heart for the City Proclamation" Award from the First Baptist Church of Fresno for her contributions to the cultural life of Fresno. A long-standing member of NATS, Helene Joseph-Weil is a former Northern California Governor of the National Association of The Teachers of Singing (NATS). Joseph-Weil's former voice students are internationally active as performers and teachers.  

The mezzo-soprano is married to Bob Weil, clarinetist of Symphony of Silicon Valley (San Jose Symphony). They have one daughter, Nadine Alexis Weil, founder of Heart of Green [www.heartofgreen.org] in San Francisco that helps businesses to "go green," as well as supports the activities of environmental organizations. Helene Joseph-Weil's hobbies include birding, reading, cooking, growing roses, writing poetry, and listening to chamber music and Glen Gould playing Bach.

Helene Joseph-Weil may be contacted via email at helenej@csufresno.edu and via the website for the ASCENCIÓN project http://www.ascencionproject.com/