Brahms! Few composers represent the epitome of the European classical music tradition like Johannes Brahms. Closing SPM’s 41st season is the composer’s alluring and textured Symphony No. 3. The work opens with a statement of the notes F-Ab-F, representing Brahms’ personal motto “free but happy (frei aber froh),” which sums up both its spirit and emotion. The composer’s most subtle symphonic work, the listener is drawn into Brahms’ expressive world where in his own words he “speaks through his music.” Brahms’ influence on his contemporaries and future generations of composers cannot be overestimated, and the two other works on this program are highly representative of this legacy. Zemlinsky’s overture, in a more a contemporary language, remains romantic in musical expression as does the intriguing and heartfelt Seven Early Songs of Alban Berg. SPM is privileged to present as soprano soloist in Berg’s work, the internationally acclaimed vocal artist, Jennifer Johnson Cano, who’s voice was declared by the Boston Globe to be “radiant and intense, rich in the lower part of her range, bright and precise at the top, with… an uncanny ability to embody the character of each work”
Jennifer Johnson Cano has garnered critical acclaim for performances of both new and standard repertoire; lauded by the New York Times for her “rich-toned mezzo-soprano” voice and by Opera News as a “matchless interpreter of contemporary opera.”
In summer 2023, Cano performs Mozart’s Requiem with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Bravo! Vail Festival Chorus under Yannick Nézet-Séguin and can be heard in concert with the Santa Fe Chamber Music Soceity and Music from Angel Fire. Her 2023-2024 season highlights include performances as Mistress Quickly in Falstaff at Houston Grand Opera; appearances with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Dallas, Chicago, Pittsburgh, San Francisco Symphony, and National Symphonies; the Philadelphia premiere of Marc Neikrug’s A Song by Mahler with the FLUX Quartet. Next summer, she inaugurates the role of Michele in the world premiere of Gregory Spears’s The Righteous with Santa Fe Opera.
Cano undertakes a balance of orchestral, opera and chamber music performances each season. She has collaborated on numerous projects with the Cleveland Orchestra and Franz Welser-Möst as well as the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel in both the US and Europe. She has performed with the New York Philharmonic in both New York and Vail; Pittsburgh Symphony under Manfred Honeck; Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin; the Chicago Symphony and Riccardo Muti; and Atlanta Symphony under Nathalie Stutzman.
Highlights of Cano’s operatic career have included performing the roles of Donna Elvira, Carmen and Offred with the Boston Lyric Opera; The Fox in The Cunning Little Vixen with the Cleveland Orchestra; the Mother, Dragonfly, and the Squirrel in L'enfant et les sortilèges with the San Francisco Symphony; performances of El Niño with John Adams and the London Symphony Orchestra; Carmen with the New Orleans Opera; and Orphée with the Des Moines Metro Opera and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. She has appeared in more than 100 performances on the stage at The Metropolitan Opera since her debut in the 2009-2010 season, most recently in the roles of Nicklausse, Emilia, Hansel, and Meg Page. Cano debuted the role of Virginia Woolf in the world premiere of Kevin Puts's The Hours with the Philadelphia Orchestra about which The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote, “Every word was clear both in content and intention, and her mezzo-soprano tone was deeply alluring.”
Other recent roles have included Mother Marie in Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites with Houston Grand Opera; Judith in Bartók's Bluebeard's Castle with Roanoke Opera; Donna Elvira with the Atlanta Opera; and Celeste in the world premiere of Gregory Spears's Castor and Patience with Cincinnati Opera.
A native of St. Louis, Cano earned degrees from Rice University and Webster University, where she was honored as a distinguished alumna and commencement speaker in May 2017. Her debut recital recording with pianist Christopher Cano, “Unaffected: Live from the Savannah Voice Festival,” was recorded live and unedited. She sings as a soloist on a live recording of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony and in Bernstein's Symphony No. 1 "Jeremiah" with Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. She also recorded Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde with St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble.
Ms. Cano joined the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program at the Metropolitan Opera after winning the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. Among her honors are Winner of the Young Concert Artist International Auditions, a Sara Tucker Study Grant, a Richard Tucker Career Grant and a George London Award.