Fitz Gibbon • McCullough Duo

Barnes Hall, Cornell University

Soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon and pianist Ryan MacEvoy McCullough have been making music together since 2006, giving their first joint recital in Sacramento, California, in 2008. As both musical and life partners, Fitz Gibbon and McCullough bring an intimacy to their performances that speaks to their many years of collaboration. Praised as “breathtaking” by The Wall Street Journal, the husband-and-wife duo has performed throughout North America and Europe in such venues as New York’s Merkin Hall, Park Avenue Armory, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Di Menna Center; London’s Wigmore Hall; and Toronto’s Koerner Hall. Their growing joint discography includes CDs with Albany Records: Descent/Return (May 2020), featuring works by John Harbison and James Primosch, and a two-CD set of the collected works of Sheila Silver alongside luminaries including Dawn Upshaw, Stephanie Blythe, and Gilbert Kalish (February 2021).

Committed to the performance of contemporary works alongside the art song canon, Fitz Gibbon and McCullough have worked closely with emerging and established composers alike. Among the body of works dedicated to them are compositions by Niccolo Athens (Five Poems of Sara Teasdale), Dante De Silva (A Year of Strife), Andrew Hsu (Reticence), Anna Lindemann (The Colony), Pablo Ortiz (California Songs), John Stulz (La Grande neige​), and Alan Louis Smith (Surfing the Thin Places). They have also given premieres of works by John Harbison (Seven Poems of Lorraine Niedecker) and James Primosch (Descent/Return, The Pitcher, The Old Astronomer​) and have worked closely with Sheila Silver on numerous projects. Through the guidance and research of musicologist Mackenzie Pierce, Fitz Gibbon and McCullough have given the US premieres of numerous works by mid-20th century Polish composers ranging from the early and late works of Roman Palester (Three Songs to Texts of Kazimiera IłłakowiczównaMonogramy) and a modern setting of 16th century religious texts (Tadeusz Kassern’s Tryptyk żałobny), as well as songs by Grażyna Bacewicz and Alexander Tansman (Ponctuation Française). During the COVID-19 pandemic, they have given modern premieres of important Yiddish-language works by Moses Milner and Joel Engel through the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research’s Sidney Krum Young Artists Concert Series. They have also brought new life to Milton Babbit’s lyrical Du and Adela Maddison’s lush Cinq mélodies, while championing long-form songs by Schubert (ViolaVergissmeinnicht) and Prokofiev (The Ugly Duckling).

Out of Silence, a recital featuring works by Clara Schumann, William Grant Still, Adela Maddison, and Florence Price. Filmed and broadcast June 2020.

UPCOMING PERFORMANCES
January 2021 – Works by Schubert and Amy Williams, Bard College Conservatory
February 14, 2021 – Lecture recital with Dr. Mackenzie Pierce (University of Michigan) for the “Music, Sound, and Trauma” conference at Indiana University. Works by Tadeusz Kassern, Zygmunt Mycielski, and Grażyna Bacewicz.
May 4, 2021 – New works by Alex Weiser, Chris Rogerson, Loren Loiacono, and Emily Cooley for Kettle Corn New Music (virtual performance)
May 2021 – Naumburg Competition
June 2021 – Alumna recital, SongFest 
December 2021 – Die schöne Magelone, Harvard Musical Association

RECENT PERFORMANCES
November 2020 – Joel Engel’s Yiddish Folk Songs (modern premiere) for the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
September 2020 – Broadcast of PBS Great Performance’s Now Hear This “The Schubert Generation.” Viewable online until October 23.
July 2020 – Made at Avaloch live-stream performance featuring works by Sheila Silver
June 2020 – Recital featuring works by Adela Maddison, William Grant Still, Florence Price, and Clara Schumann, The Stissing Center
June 2020 – Works by Juliana Hall (live-stream); East Granby Make Music Day
June 2020 – Modern premiere of Moses Milner’s ​10 Children’s Songs of Y.L. Peretz (live-stream) for the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
June 2020 – Alumna recital, SongFest – RESCHEDULED DUE TO COVID-19
May 2020 – Alumni recital, Fall Island Vocal Arts Seminar – RESCHEDULED DUE TO COVID-19
February 2020 – Lecture-Recital for opening of Victorian Radicals  at the Yale Center for British Art.
January 2020 – Sparks & Wiry Cries songSLAM Festival featured recital, DiMenna Center, NYC. Program includes works by Clara Schumann (Op. 13 and 21), Adela Maddison (Cinq mélodies), Alan L. Smith (Surfing the Thin Places), and Sheila Silver (Love is a magic ray). 
November 2019 – Filming for PBS’ Now Hear This, Season 2 Episode 4 (Premiere date Fall 2020)
September 2019 – Recording with recording engineer Judith Sherman of Sheila Silver’s Beauty Intolerable for forthcoming CD, also featuring Dawn Upshaw, Stephanie Blythe, Kayo Iwama, Gilbert Kalish, and others
​August-September 2019 – Premiere of Anna Lindemann’s The Colony; University of Connecticut, Storrs
August 2019 – Residency at Avaloch Farm, recital at United Church of Penacook
July 2019 – Lecture-Recital, Yale Center for British Art

PRESS
“Harbison’s Simple Daylight is a cycle comprising six poems of Michael Fried, an American poet whose poetry has engendered strong musical impressions in the composer, who has previously set a number of his poems. Harbison’s complex harmonic language is on full display in this cycle, and he draws from a rich palette of effects, including trills, tone clusters, and even simple lines. All of these are characterized by a very free rhythmic pulse—to the point, in fact, that these songs do not seem to be cast in any one meter for any length of time. There is also an air of delicacy that pervades many of these settings. Like every other work I’ve heard by this composer, these pieces amply demonstrate their creator to be a major artistic voice of our era. Lucy Fitz Gibbon is an exceptionally intelligent and nuanced singer, whose firm control of every note of these exquisite songs helps convince the listener of their masterpiece status. Her pianist collaborator Ryan MacEvoy is most sensitive and musical in his role in helping bring these pieces to life. He seems born to play this music.
[…]
I am very far removed from being a singer, but I shall nevertheless sing the praises of both [Fitz] Gibbon, whose pure voice and sensitive phrasing pleased me to no end, and MacEvoy, who complements her with his sublime piano artistry. This proved to be a most enjoyable recital, making it very easy to recommend it to any and all who happen to read this review.” (Fanfare Magazine, Jan/Feb 2021)

“At Bard College, Ryan McCullough plays the fourth movement of the piano sonata No. 19 before being joined by his wife, singer Lucy Fitz Gibbon, for the Schubert song “Suleika,” which, like most of the music, is breathtaking.” (Wall Street Journal, September 2020)

“Performances by the husband-and-wife team of Ryan MacEvoy McCullough and soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon, who worked with both composers to realize this recording, are magnificent.” (Broad Street Review, June 2020)

“This inaugural concert, entitled Out of Silence, for The Stissing Center began with Fitz Gibbon singing Six Lieder (1844) by Clara Schumann with McCullough at piano. Lucy possesses a marvelous natural soprano voice with effortless scale movement and warm, emotional texture. Her voice projects sincerity and delight. She [sang] as if German was her native language. As a team, Lucy and Ryan appear to enjoy lightning synchronicity. As a pianist Ryan plays with svelte, meditative flow.” (Millbrook Independent, June 2020)

“Then Ms. Fitz Gibbon returned with her regular recital partner Ryan McCullough for Wuorinen’s A Song to the Lute in Musicke (1970, text attributed to pre-Elizabethan poet Richard Edwards). The duo is splendidly matched, and Mr. McCullough’s piano handling of the disparate lines is extremely sensitive. They continued with Babbitt’s Du (1951), text by August Stramm, who died at age 41, killed in action in WWI). This is the “oldest” music on the program. Stramm’s terse, darkly expressionist poems were fully inhabited by Ms. Fitz Gibbon, and here the musical language matched the sentiments well.” (New York Concert Review, December 2018)

“Pianist Ryan MacEvoy McCullough and soprano Lucy Fitz Gibbon are a powerhouse duo with a dynamic and diverse repertoire, and their recitals always delight audiences with something new.” (Lansing Star, February 2018)

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