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The same co-existence of variety with single-minded focus has characterized his work with the young artists of Wolf Trap Opera. Steve has informed the artistry (and rocked the worlds) of multiple generations of WTO singers—138 of them over this quarter-century. He has opened their minds to music they never would have encountered otherwise, and he has crushed their pre-conceived ideas of their limitations. Mezzo-soprano Kate Lindsey says, “From the moment Steven Blier came into my life at Wolf Trap in the summer of 2007, my musical life inexorably changed. In his years on the stage, he’s opened up a whole new way of concertizing while exploring and enlivening the art of the song recital. With his infinite charisma and knowledge, he’s built an unmatchable musical legacy. And it’s through the beauty of his collaboration with singers that we are continually inspired to grow and explore the breadth of our own artistic imaginations.”

25 YEARS OF ART AND WISDOM In the musical world, breadth and depth are often mutually exclusive. But the powerhouse that is Steven Blier defies that assumption and countless others. Wolf

Indeed, The Washington Post’s review of The Sweetest Past (2004) noted that Steve had the artists “offering something highly unusual for musicians at the beginning of their careers: performances whose greatest strength was musical imagination.” 2019 Filene Artist in Residence Lawrence Brownlee remarks, “Steve is not easily impressed. He is a

Trap is truly fortunate to be one of the places that Steve

consummate musician, and he is relentlessly on the path

has called home for over 25 summers.

of bringing out the best in artists. With him, you can’t just

First, the breadth. The selections performed in Wolf Trap Opera’s (WTO) “Blier Recitals” have displayed a relentless and surprising diversity over the 25 years—a total of 843

“coast” on having a pretty voice or a promising career; he is never impressed because he knows you can always do more.”

songs representing the music of over 270 composers.

I shall leave the last word to the late Joseph McLellan, the

Ranging from the Brazilian songs of Haroldo Barbosa to

legendary music critic for The Washington Post for over

the sweet opera arias of Michael Balfe and Amy Beach,

three decades, in his 1998 review of Curtain Up: A Music

from the erudite music of Paul Bowles to the chanson

Theatre Travelogue at The Barns: “For these unexpected

stylings of Jacques Brel, from the American Songbook

treats and many more, the audience and the singers

rarities of “Nacio” Herb Brown to the classically arranged

are indebted to (Steven) Blier, an entrepreneur whose

spirituals of Harry T. Burleigh, from The Beatles to The

curiosity and adventurous, wide-ranging tastes are as

Bobs—the variety is limitless (and that’s just the “B”s…).

notable as his musicianship. At every one of his programs

Then, the depth. Steve knows more about every single song he performs than most of us do about entire areas of

I have attended, I have not only been royally entertained, I have learned.”

our professional expertise. Audiences at The Barns have

I hope you will join us at The Barns on June 1 or 2 for a

been fortunate to enjoy a sliver of that knowledge through

celebration of Steve Blier’s contributions to the flourishing

his recital commentary. Not only does he understand the

artistic life of Wolf Trap Opera!

context and history of each song, its musical essence lives deep inside his bones. His particular fluency with Cuban music has always mystified me!

Kim Pensinger Witman, Vice President, Opera and Classical Programming (1997–2019)


Profile for Wolf Trap Foundation

Wolf Trap Opera Summer 2019  

Wolf Trap Opera Summer 2019