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Event Details

Sat, May 13, 2023

17:00 – 19:30

Villa La Pietra
Via Bolognese 120
50139 Florence, Italia


Cultural Connections with American Composer Scott Wheeler: Italian Songs, “Singing Turk Sonata” (for Violin and Piano), and the World Premiere of “Arrival in China 1932” with a text by Harold Acton.

The Sir Harold Acton Concert


A Concert for soprano, violin and piano, with music by Scott Wheeler, and discussion with the composer and Larry Wolff, Co-Director NYU Florence. 

Guest artists: soprano Lorna Windsor and violinist Sharan Leventhal.

The new work is a setting of Harold Acton’s account of his arrival in China, taken from Memoirs of an Aesthete.

The discussion will focus on the creative work of making Acton’s text about China into an art song, and also Ottoman themes in European opera. Scott Wheeler’s sonata, which will receive its Italian premiere in the concert, adapts some of the musical material from Larry Wolff’s book of the same name, The Singing Turk.

The Italian songs are Wheeler’s American settings of Italian poetry.


(photo: Harold Acton sitting in the Carved Moon-gate in his home in Peking, ca. 1936. [I.C.4.7-98] ©New York University, The Acton Photograph Archive, Villa La Pietra, Florence.)

Featured Biographies

Scott Wheeler


Composer Scott Wheeler’s operas have been commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera, Washington National Opera, the Guggenheim Foundation and White Snake Projects. Scott’s music has been performed by violinist Gil Shaham, conductor Kent Nagano, as well as singers Renee Fleming, Anthony Roth Costanzo, and Susanna Phillips. His music can be heard on New World, Naxos, Bridge, BMOP Sound, and various other labels.

Scott has appeared as conductor in New York, Berlin, Boston, and on several recordings, often with the Boston-based ensemble Dinosaur Annex, which he co-founded and directed for many years. He has also conducted many productions of opera and musical theatre works and has appeared as a pianist in a wide repertoire of classical, jazz, and cabaret.

Scott Wheeler was born in Washington DC and grew up in various cities in the American midwest and east, then studied at Amherst College, New England Conservatory, and Brandeis. His principal teachers were Lewis Spratlan, Arthur Berger and Virgil Thomson, along with studies at Dartington with Peter Maxwell Davies and Tanglewood with Olivier Messiaen. Scott is Professor Emeritus at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches songwriting.

Sharan Leventhal


Sharan Leventhal, violinist, has toured four continents as a soloist, chamber musician and teacher. She has received grants from the NEA, the Aaron Copland Fund for Music Recording, Chamber Music America, New Music USA, the International Contemporary Music Festival in Darmstadt, Germany and the Fromm and Koussevitzky Foundations, and has premiered well over 150 works. Leventhal has appeared as a soloist with numerous orchestras, is a founding member of Marimolin, the Kepler Quartet and Gramercy Trio, and can be heard on the New World, Northeastern, Newport Classic, Naxos, Parma, Navona, GM and Catalyst labels. She is a professor at Boston Conservatory at Berklee and Berklee College of Music, and is founder and director of Play On, Inc., a non-profit supporting chamber music programs for children.

Lorna Windsor


The singing career of soprano Lorna Windsor is highly varied between her theatrical performing and eclectic concert appearances. Trained in London, Vienna, and Paris, she has performed most Mozart operas, in particular Così fan tutte in the Giorgio Strehler production, also with Claudio Abbado, Don Giovanni at Glyndebourne, etc, but also Rossini, Donizetti, Verdi, and Richard Strauss in major European opera houses. She has performed many Offenbach operettas but also Bernstein works, Kurt Weill, Piazzolla, Berlin cabaret, as well as Monteverdi, JS Bach Cantatas with G. Leonhardt, and Salieri with F. Bruggen. Lorna is much appreciated for her interpretations of contemporary music, from Kurtag to Bussotti, De Pablo to Kagel, etc. Her CD Vox Sola of avant-garde solo voice music received the Critics Choice award from Opera News, while she is also a dedicated Lieder and recital singer, recognized for her versatility but especially for her deep commitment to interpretation, and has recorded a significant amount of 19th/20th-century Italian music with A. Ballista, B. Canino and various national orchestras. She has sung in such works as Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire (ROH Covent Garden) Walton’s Façade, Ravel-Mallarmé songs and Mahler’s 4th Symphony. Recently she brought out a CD dedicated to the American Art song, from Rorem to Crumb, Wheeler to Thomson, and more.