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Wagner in der Wildnis

Our signature program available to members.

Wagner in der Wildnis is an annual weekend retreat where members and friends of the Wagner Society of Washington DC explore one of Wagner’s operas, or a cross-cutting theme, in depth.  The program includes lectures with Q&A, screening of the selected work(s), and lively informal discussions at meals and receptions.  In 2024, Wagner in der Wildnis will be held on May 31st through June 2nd at Cacapon Resort State Park in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.  By request the topic will be Tristan und Isolde: Revisiting a Masterpiece. For more details and to register, please click here.

Wagner in der Wildnis has been held every year since 2001, with a covid-induced interruption in 2020, and a short online program on Lohengrin in 2021.  Recordings of eight complete weekends are available on YouTube and are linked here.  They include: 

•    Lohengrin 2007
•    Tannhaüser 2008
•    Der Fliegende Höllander 2010
•    Das Rheingold 2011
•    Die Walküre 2012
•    Siegfried 2013
•    Götterdämmerung 2014
•    Parsifal 2017

The programs are led by two internationally recognized speakers who share their expertise on Wagner’s art.  Jeffrey Swann provides illuminating lectures on his music, and Simon Williams offers penetrating insights into his drama and its place in the history of European theater.  

Jeffrey Swann enjoys an international performing career which has taken him throughout the United States, Europe, Latin America, and Asia. He won first prize in the Dino Ciani Competition sponsored by La Scala in Milan, a gold medal at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, and top honors at the Warsaw Chopin, Van Cliburn, Vianna da Motta, and Montreal Competitions, as well as the Young Concert Artists auditions in New York City. His large and varied repertoire includes more than 60 concertos as well as solo works ranging from Bach to Boulez.

In addition to presenting lecture/recitals worldwide, Mr. Swann has performed with the symphonies of Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Indiana, Dallas, Saint Louis, Phoenix, Houston, Lexington, Baltimore and Minneapolis; and in Europe with the orchestras of Rotterdam, The Hague, Belgian National and Radio, Santa Cecilia, La Scala, Maggio Fiorentino (Florence), RAI Turin and Rome, Südwest Rundfunk, Bayerischer Rundfunk, the Prague Philharmonic, Radio France de Montpellier, and the London Philharmonia, among many others. The conductors with whom he has performed include Zdenek Macal, David Robertson, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Marek Janowski, Kazimirz Kord, Myung-Whun Chung, Roberto Abbado, Riccardo Chailly, Daniele Gatti and Leonard Slatkin. In addition, he continues to lecture regularly at the Wagner Festival in Bayreuth, Germany, and at Wagner Societies in the United States and Italy. Mr. Swann has also served as a judge at many competitions, most recently at the Utrecht International Liszt Competition.

A native of northern Arizona, Jeffrey Swann studied with Alexander Uninsky at Southern Methodist University, and with Beveridge Webster and Adele Marcus at The Julliard School, where he received his B.M., M.M., and D.M.A. degrees.

Mr. Swann can be heard on Ars Polona, Deutsche-Gramophon, RCA-Italy, Replica, Fonit-Cetra, Music & Arts, and Agorá recordings. His CD, “The Virtuoso Liszt” (Music & Arts) won the Liszt Society’s Grand Prix, and his first volume of the Complete Beethoven Sonatas (Agorá) was chosen one of the Best of the Year by Fanfare magazine. His most recent release features works for piano and orchestra by Chopin with the Haydn Orchestra of Bolzano.

Since 2007 Jeffrey Swann has been Artistic Director of the Dino Ciani Festival & Academy in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy; since 2008 the Adel Artist-in-Residence at Northern Arizona University; since 2010 Professor of Piano at New York University School of Music; and since 2012 Artistic Director of the Scuola Normale Superiore Concert Series in Pisa.

Mr. Swann is currently working on a Ring project that he hopes to publish.

Simon Williams is an Emeritus Professor of Theater and Dance at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is an expert on several aspects of European theatre and drama and is known internationally as one of the leading authorities on the music dramas of Richard Wagner.

He has written widely in the history of acting, European theatre and opera. His book Richard Wagner and Festival Theatre (Greenwood, 1994) provides a thorough introduction to Wagner’s work, and Wagner and the Romantic Hero(Cambridge, 2004) won very enthusiastic reviews. He was co-editor of A History of German Theatre (Cambridge, 2011) and editor of The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Stage Actors and Acting (Cambridge, 2014) and is now working on a similar volume on Stage Directors. He regularly reviews opera, primarily in Opera News. He was editor of the July 2018 issue of The Wagner Journal.

Simon Williams has lectured worldwide on Wagner and has served as English-language audience lecturer at the Bayreuth Festival. He has spoken on operas by Bartok, Berlioz, Boito, Britten, Janacek, Mozart, Puccini, Richard Strauss, and Verdi at opera houses and opera guilds in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Honolulu, Seattle, and Orange County. Each April he teaches an acclaimed four-day seminar on various aspects of opera at Oakhurst, California.

Mr. Williams' complete CV may be found here.

Wagner in der Wildnis: Text
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