Mezzo-soprano Erin Neff will return to the Mendocino coast to perform with the Symphony of the Redwoods on Saturday, February 6 and Sunday, February 7 at 2pm in Cotton Auditorium in Fort Bragg. The program will include Delius’ “The Walk to the Paradise Garden”, Dvorak’s Symphony #5 in F Major and Berlioz’ Les nuits d’été (Summer Nights), with Neff as the featured soloist.
Les nuits d’été was inspired by poet Théophile Gautier, friend and neighbor of Berlioz. Gautier’s obsession with death and cemeteries led to the completion of his poetry collection, The Comedy of Death. These poems contributed the text for all six stages of Berlioz’ song cycle. “I worked on these pieces a bit in college and I was incredibly moved,” explained Neff. “I haven’t worked on them since then. When [Symphony music director] Allen [Pollack] proposed the piece for these concerts, I was thrilled. It’s definitely on a singer’s bucket list.”
A self-proclaimed ‘late bloomer,’ Neff discovered her passion singing at age 26 while studying in Madrid, after her roommate exposed her to the university chorus. “I was exhilarated in a way I had not experienced before,” said Neff. “It really rocked my world.”
Neff has become increasingly familiar with Mendocino County, making several visits to the area over the recent years. She made her directorial debut at the Mendocino Music Festival, with a co-conceptualized production with Allan Pollack. “I had done some directing before, but not a full production,” she said. “I also had the opportunity to re-do the show last year.” Neff has additionally been invited to direct the San Francisco Opera.
See the Symphony of the Redwoods and Ern Neff on Saturday, February 6 at 8pm, and Sunday, February 7 at 2pm. All concerts will be at Cotton Auditorium, 500 N. Harold Street, Fort Bragg. Tickets are $20, and attendees 18 and under are always free. For more information, please visit symphonyoftheredwoods.org and erinneff.com.
Check back next week to read about Erin Neff’s multimedia art installations.