Vanessa Langer

Soprano | specializing in the Contemporary & Historic

Hailed for her "flexible and multi-hued voice" (-San Francisco Classical Voice) and "enormous stage presence" (-New Classical LA), Soprano Vanessa Langer, an active voice in the baroque and contemporary classical music scene, enjoys a close working relationship with emerging composers from around the world.  Her work has been recognize through various awards and fellowships including a Winter Music Creative Residency at the Banff Center for the Arts in Canada, the New Horizon Fellowship from the Aspen Music Festival & School, the Eisner Prize for Creative Achievement in the Arts and the Albert King Scholarship from the University of California at Berkeley.  She has given more than 30 world premieres and appeared under the auspices of the Stanford New EnsembleThe Legion of Honor Listening SeriesThe San Francisco Presidio SessionsComposer's Inc. Bamm! Festival and San Francisco Music Day.

In 2016 she gave the California premiere of Fausto Romitelli’s video-opera An Index of Metals at Freight & Salvage of which San Francisco Classical Voice wrote “Langer, in a disco-ball dress of silver sequins paired with big, Donna Summer hair, brought to vivid life texts by Croatian journalist Kenka Lèkovich[…]With her flexible and multihued voice, Langer skillfully interpreted Romitelli’s vocal part, which demands a vocalist who can embody both a Verdian dramatic soprano and a rock frontwoman along the lines of Janice Joplin or Grace Slick.” 

A core member of contemporary ensemble Wild Rumpus which has received national recognition for its work through support from New Music USA for its upcoming debut album In Time featuring Vanessa in works by Dan Van Hassel, Jen Wang and Jenny Olivia Johnson and from Chamber Music America for the commissioning of a monodrama by Dan Van Hassel to be premiered in Fall 2016.

In 2015 she premiered works by Nick Norton and Jason Barabba for Synchromy at the Los Angeles Art Share. New Classical LA wrote: “The piece was extensively theatrical making great use of Langer’s immense stage presence.”  She gave the San Francisco premiere of Chiaroscuro by Eun Lee and Balaentopera by Jen Wang at The Presidio Sessions presented by the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music.

Michael Strickland of SFCivic Center Blog noted Vanessa’s powerhouse interpretations of some of today's most challenging contemporary works:  “Last Friday at Old First Church, the contemporary music ensemble Wild Rumpus, along with a few "guest artists," offered one of the most satisfying and stimulating new music concerts I have experienced.  Much of this was due to the young soprano Vanessa Langer […] Though all the performers on the evening's program were accomplished virtuosos on their various instruments, it was Langer's voice that stunned many of us in the audience. It was simply gorgeous. No matter how extreme the musical pitches became and how deftly she negotiated them, she also sounded like a soprano you'd want to hear singing bel canto opera or early music any day of the week[…]Throughout it all, one could not take one's ears or eyes off of Langer who gave an exquisite performance of the short, fascinating work [Berceuse et Jeux by Caroline Miller].”

Vanessa’s 2015 New Music Gathering performance of David Coll’s “Position Influence” for Soprano and Sound Sculpture was noted as an interpretive highlight by New Music Box contributor and composer Isaac Schankler: “I was literally and figuratively shaken by Vanessa Langer’s arresting performance of David Coll’s Position, influence for soprano and sound sculpture. Coll’s metallic sculpture moaned and keened in sympathy with the virtuosic vocals of Langer, who played her part with an exaggerated theatricality perfectly suited to the outsized nature of the piece.”  For her reprise of this work at the San Francisco Center for New Music New Music Civic Center Blog listed it on their Top 10 picks of 2015 heralding:  “The opening number was Silver Threads, a short aria with electronics by Jacob Cooper featuring[…]Vanessa Langer, who can seemingly sing anything and make it compelling[…]The highlight of the evening was performed after intermission, Oakland composer/sound artist David Coll's Position, Influence,[…] written for soprano, percussion and electronics except that the singer is controlling the sheet metal array behind her with breathing, vocalizing, and touch[…]The composer himself was sitting at the sound controls, and the whole piece was a triumph, especially in Vanessa Langer's fearless performance.”

As founder of the Firesong ensemble devoted to furthering the vocal chamber repertoire, Vanessa has commissioned works by Yotam Haber and Jen Wang with the support of a Music Project Grant from the San Francisco Friends of Chamber Music.  In March 2015 Vanessa debuted these works at the San Francisco Center for New Music alongside rarely heard compositions by Shulamit Ran, Ned Rorem and Richard Pearson Thomas for The Plath Project.  A flexible roster arts ensemble of dynamic Bay Area based musicians, Firesong engages audiences through innovative programing of vocal chamber music, pairing a  emerging composer with rarely performed chamber music masterpieces.   

Vanessa’s other great passion- baroque music- was sparked through early studies of historic practices under the guidance of lutenist David Taylor as a member of the UCBerkeley Collegium Musicum.  In 2015 Vanessa debuted the role of Alceste in ‘Admeto’  for the Handel Opera Project in Berkeley, California.  As a Vocal Fellow of Dawn Upshaw’s unique Graduate Vocal Arts Program at Bard Conservatory Vanessa sang two rarely heard baroque roles from Monteverdi’s ‘Il Dialogo di Ninfa e Pastore and Rameau’s ‘Nelée et Myrthis’ at the Fischer Center for the Performing Arts and debuted works by Stefan Weisman and Matthew Schiekele in a showcase of world premieres curated for the Morgan Library Concert Series in New York City.