Classical Music

A First Time Look At Prima Volta

An interview with Anna Diemer, President and co-founder of local non-profit performance organization Prima Volta about the organization and their upcoming concert at St. Arnold Brewery.


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Who would have guessed that the grisly tale of Sweeney Todd would bring people together? That's how it happened with soprano Anna Diemer and her colleagues from Furman University, Hailey Darnell, Samuel Hunter, and Frances Pollock: "We always used to joke that one day we would start a performing arts company," says Diemer, who performed with those three colleagues in a production of the Sondheim hit while at the university. After moving to Houston a few years later, they actually did start that performing arts company, the non-profit organization Prima Volta (Italian for “first time”).

Anna Diemer, President of Prima Volta
Anna Diemer, President of Prima Volta

Prima Volta has three primary goals, according to Diemer, "the first of which is to support new music... our second goal, which is to expand and diversify the audiences of classical music... our third aim is to provide performing opportunities for up-and-coming local artists and young professionals in music..."

After two successful concerts, one in memoriam of a deceased friend, another modeled after the Christian Lessons and Carols service, Prima Volta has found a rather unique venue for their next performance: St. Arnold Brewery. Brindisi! is an homage to the great drinking songs in the classical repertoire, from the "Brindisi" in Verdi's La Traviata, to the "Champagne Song" (Im Feuerstrom Der Reben) from Strauss' Die Fledermaus, and "Ô vin, dissipe la tristesse" from Ambroise Thomas' Hamlet, among many other familiar favorites. They will also be performing a new piece by local composer and University of Houston alumnus Dr. Mark Buller titled "Buddha and the Wave," based on a poem by Michael Metivier. Attendees to the concert will not only get to enjoy the festive tunes performed exclusively by recent graduates from the University of Houston, but will also be able to partake in unlimited St. Arnold's craft beers on tap for two hours.

More information about Brindisi! as well as ticket purchases can be found at Prima Volta's website.

Recordings featured in this interview are Thomas’ “Ô vin, dissipe la tristesse" from Hamlet performed by Russell Braun with the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra under Richard Bradshaw (CBC 5174), Verdi’s “Brindisi” from La Traviata performed by Monserrat Caballé and Carlo Bergonzi with the RCA Italiana Opera Orchestra and Chorus under Georges Prêtre (RCA 68095), and Strauss II’s “Im Feuerstrom Der Reben” from Die Fledermaus performed by Brigitte Fassbaender and the Wiener Symphoniker and Chor der Wiever Staatsoper in der Volksoper under Willi Boskovsky (EMI 69354).


Joshua Zinn

Joshua Zinn

Producer, Houston Matters

Joshua is a producer for Houston Matters on News 88.7 as well as the host of Encore Houston on HPM Classical. He joined Houston Public Media as a radio intern in 2014 and became a full-time announcer the following year. Now he prepares segments and occasionally records interviews for Houston...

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