IlluminArts with ICA Miami and
Girl Power: Unmasked
December 3, 2020
“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
- Oscar Wilde
“Because I know that hope and fear are connected, I put my mask of hope on”
- Will Smith
ICA Miami and IlluminArts are thrilled to partner with Girl Power to create the visual art, music and online video performance: Unmasked. The at-promise girls of Girl Power will create the visual art for this performance inspired by the questions: How have masks been used around the world throughout history? How do masks protect us today? How can we interpret the masks we wear, both real and imaginary? Bringing their ideas to life with found objects, learned histories, and their own creativity and imagination, the masks the girls create will be featured in an exhibition at ICA Miami in December 2020.
The musical performance features the cast of the upcoming production of The Turn of the Screw (now postponed until October 2021), including GRAMMY winning tenor Karim Sulayman; sopranos Susan Hellman Spatafora, Michelle Trainor and Jaye Simmons; male soprano Elijah McCormack; and mezzo soprano Chrystal E. Williams. The music featured on this performance will span the globe and the centuries from the work of Barbara Strozzi to Florence Price, to B.E. Boykin.
Chrystal E. Williams
Mezzo-soprano Chrystal E. Williams has been described by leading critics as “strong and so assured”, “lithely negotiating the coloratura demands before descending into a robust low register”, and “poised, polished, in complete command of the vocal calisthenics”.
Of her debut with the Sarasota Opera performing the role of Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia critics cited, “…the young mezzo-soprano possesses a creamy instrument with fine flexibility, throwing off a confident ‘Una voce poco fa’.”
Elijah McCormack, male soprano, has recently caught attention for his “powerful soprano” (Dallas Morning News) and “luminosity” of tone (Washington Post). He most recently appeared as soprano soloist in the Washington Bach Consort's Christmas Oratorio and the Dallas Bach Society's St. John Passion. This year, he has also been featured as a soloist in Arkansas Baroque Music's inaugural season. Last Summer he appeared as a young artist at the American Bach Soloists Academy, where he performed works by Handel, Lotti, and Bach, most notably the role of Erato in Handel's Terpsicore; he was also featured as a young artist at the Boston Early Music Festival, where he sang works by Agostino Steffani. He has received a Judges' Encouragement Award at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and at the Connecticut Heida Hermanns Competition, and most recently performed as one of 12 semifinalists in Le Poéme Harmonique's Corneille Competition in Rouen, France. He completed his Master's degree in voice at Indiana University's Historical Performance Institute in May 2019, where he studied with Steven Rickards. He graduated from Skidmore College in 2016 with a Bachelor's degree in Studio Art, having also studied voice with Sylvia Stoner-Hawkins and made his role debut as Arsamenes in Handel's Serse.
Jaye Simmons is from Baltimore, Maryland. She is an undergraduate soprano in the studio of Amy Burton. Ms. Simmons was a soloist in Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana and has performed with conductor/composer John Williams and the Boston Pops. Jaye was a featured soloist at The Kennedy Center and has been a part of the cast of Hairspray as Little Inez with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at the Meyerhoff and Strathmore. She attended CLA France with Glenn Morton where she gave eight concerts and participated in a masterclass with conductor Gaspard Brecourt and tenor Stéphane Sénéchal. She has been apart of NYFOS Berlin as well as NYFOS Cubans in Paris, both curated by artistic director and founder Steven Blier. Ms. Simmons last year did a showcase performance of Britten’s The Turn of the Screw as Miles.
This season has been delightfully promising for Ms. Simmons as she has taken on the role of Souer Constance in Juilliard’s adaptation of The Dialogue of the Carmelites back in October 2019. Immediately after, she performed the role of Angel More in Virgil Thomson’s The Mother of Us All, which was a collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The New York Philharmonic’s Project 19 in February 2020.
Lebanese-American tenor Karim Sulayman has garnered international attention as a sophisticated and versatile artist, consistently praised for his sensitive and intelligent musicianship, riveting stage presence, and beautiful voice. A 2019 GRAMMY® Award-winner, he regularly performs on the world’s stages in orchestral concerts and opera, as well as in recital and chamber music.
His diverse performing career has included roles with the Drottningholms Slottsteater in Stockholm, Houston Grand Opera, Florentine Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Chicago Opera Theater and New York City Opera; orchestral appearances with the Chicago, Pittsburgh, and National Symphony Orchestras and the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra; and engagements at Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, International Bach Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, the Aldeburgh Festival, and the Marlboro Music Festival.
Soprano, Michelle Trainor, is a Boston-based singer who specializes in opera, oratorio and art song. Opera News hailed that “Michelle Trainor gave one of the most satisfying performances of the evening . . . her voice is richer and more expressive than ever” for her portrayal of Brangain in Boston Lyric Opera’s The Love Potion. The Musical Intelligencer has called Michelle Trainor, the kind of classic opera soprano whose glorious, powerful sound raises every hair on your body and makes you melt at the wonder of the human voice” for her performance of Isolde’s Liebestod.
Susan Hellman Spatafora
Celebrated by Opera News for her “perfect yearningly optimistic coloring—golden and radiant" and by Classics Today for her “impressive instrument,” soprano Susan Hellman Spatafora has performed with such companies as Palm Beach Opera, Opera Tampa, Sarasota Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Central City Opera, South Florida Lyric Opera and Green Mountain Opera, among others. Most recently, Spatafora “turned in a blazing performance” (Talkin’ Broadway) in the title role of Suor Angelica with the St. Petersburg Opera Company.
A frequent art song recitalist and soloist, Spatafora’s recent concert appearances include Verdi's Requiem, Mozart's Mass in C minor, Bach's Magnificat, Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Andrea Clearfield’s The Long Bright and the world premiere of Allan Friedman’s With Perfect Faith.