The New York Choral Society and Orchestra to Present J.S. Bach's Mass in B Minor
The New York Choral Society and Orchestra (NYCHORAL) will present J.S. Bach's Mass in B minor (BWV 232) led by conductor David Hayes at Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage (corner of 57th Street and 7th Avenue, New York, NY 10019) on Tuesday evening, May 8, 2018, at 8:00 pm. The performance will feature guest soloists Sarah Shafer (soprano), Abigail Fischer (soprano), James Reese (tenor), and Lee Poulis (baritone), as well as the NYCHORAL Chamber Ensemble (NYCCE).
Following the example of Robert Shaw in his famous 1960 tour and recording of the B minor Mass, conductor David Hayes has chosen to feature the forty-voice NYCCE to serve as "concertists"-or the "chorus within a chorus"-in this rendition of Bach's work. Of this decision, Mr. Hayes reflected:
"Robert Shaw espoused the idea of a smaller group within his Robert Shaw Chorale to sing various moments in the works that were more lightly scored. In his performances, he used solo voices as 'concertists' to sing sections of work that required a lighter texture or more nimble singing. In doing so, he achieved a wonderful clarity of voicing and textural balance that is not possible in a more typical performance where everyone sings everything-which makes for a rather monolithic and not particularly differentiated texture, at least in my view...
In my own performances of the work with The Philadelphia Singers (40 voices), I followed Shaw's example to great effect. It is my intention to do the same in our upcoming performance."
The full chorus will sing the "tutti" sections (roughly 80%) of the total work, and the NYCCE (40 voices) will sing the designated "concertist" sections (as well as the "tutti" sections).
Praised by the New York Times for her "luminous voice" and "intensely expressive interpretations," and named "remarkable, artistically mature ... a singer to watch" by Opera News, soprano Sarah Shafer is quickly emerging as a sought-after artist on both the operatic and concert stage. The 2017-2018 season sees Ms. Shafer's Metropolitan Opera debut as Azema in the John Copley production of Semiramide, conducted by Maurizio Benini. Concert work includes her debuts with Malmö Symphony Orchestra singing Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with John Wilson conducting, and with Utah Symphony Orchestra singing Mozart's Mass in C Minor conducted by Markus Stenz. Recital work includes a return to the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago for their opening concert "Myths and Legends" and a salon concert with Myra Huang.
The 2016-2017 season saw Ms. Shafer's house and role debut as Leïla in Bizet's Pearl Fishers at Tulsa Opera, as well as a return to San Francisco Opera as Zerlina in Jacopo Spirei's new production of Don Giovanni. Recital work included appearances at the Liszt Academy in Budapest, a salon concert exploring the poetry of Paul Verlaine as set to Claude Debussy's music with the Collaborative Arts Institute of Chicago, and a recital with Brian Zeger as part of Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra's chamber music series. Concert work for the 2016-2017 season included Carmina Burana with the San Antonio Symphony conducted by Sebastian Lang-Lessing, Mozart's Requiem with the Omaha Symphony, Mahler's Resurrection Symphony with both the Cheyenne and Williamsport Symphony Orchestras, the world premiere of Richard Danielpour's "Talking to Aphrodite" with the Sejong Soloists at Carnegie Hall, and Bach's St. John Passion with Voices of Ascension.
Known for her "serenely captivating" work and "disarming intimacy," soprano Abigail Fischer has made a vibrant career as a versatile vocalist "with a passionate restraint that has no equal in her generation" (The New York Times). Most notably, Ms. Fischer has received praise for her creation of Mrs. X.E. in Du Yun's Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Angel's Bone at Prototype Festival, and Isabelle Eberhardt in Missy Mazzoli's one-woman opera Song from the Uproar with Beth Morrison Projects and the NOW Ensemble.
Ms. Fischer began the 2017-18 season by reprising the role of Isabelle at Cincinnati Opera in July. She returned to Tanglewood as soloist in Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night's Dream with the Boston Symphony Orchestra in August. Additional engagements include performances at the National Sawdust, Hudson Opera Theater, Music at Land's End Wareham, and Brooklyn Art Song Society.
Other career highlights include: acclaimed performances of Song from the Uproar at Los Angeles Opera, Chautauqua Opera, and Boston's Isabella Gardner Museum; George Benjamin's Upon Silence with St. Luke's Orchestra at New York Philharmonic's Biennial; the title role in The Rape of Lucretia with Opera Memphis; the premiere of Lee Hoiby's This is the Rill Speaking with American Opera Projects; Strauss' Salome with the Boston Symphony Orchestra; as well as guest soloist appearances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Columbus Symphony, and American Bach Soloists, among others. Ms. Fischer has previously appeared in the New York Choral Society's performance of Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass and Duruflé's Requiem in February 2017.
Ms. Fischer has been featured on recordings of: the operas Song from the Uproar (Missy Mazzoli), The Judgement of Midas (Kamran Ince); the oratorios Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass (Boston Baroque), Katrina Ballads (Ted Hearne); the chamber works Mothertongue (Nico Muhly), The Quality of Mercy (Patrick Castillo), and numerous works of John Zorn.
Originally trained as a cellist, Ms. Fischer has often worked as a chamber musician, from Musicians of Marlboro Music Festival, Chamber Music Northwest, to St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble. She has premiered works of Elliott Carter and Bernard Rand at Tanglewood Music Festival, Nico Muhly at Lincoln Center, numerous works by John Zorn throughout the world. A graduate of Eastman School of Music (MM) and Vassar College (BA). Ms. Fischer now studies with Stephen King in Houston and lives with her partner in Greenwood Lake, NY.
Tenor James Reese is an avid ensemble, chamber, and solo musician whose singing has been praised for his "intensity and sensitivity...spirituality and eloquence" (Chestnut Hill Local).
In the 2017-18 season, Mr. Reese looks forward to Handel's Messiah with Nicholas McGegan and Philharmonia Baroque; American Voices, a recording and tour of American music with Santa Fe Desert Chorale; Monteverdi Vespers with Choral Arts Philadelphia; singing the Evangelist in J.S. Bach's St. John Passion under David Hill; and a tour of Spain with Yale Schola Cantorum and the Yale Voxtet.
During the 2016-17 season, Mr. Reese appeared throughout the United States, as well as in a tour of India singing Bach Magnificat and the world premiere of Reena Esmail's This Love Between Us with Yale's Schola Cantorum and Juilliard 415. Other highlights included his debut as a Bach evangelist in Weinachts-Oratorium with Choral Arts Philadelphia; lute songs in recital with Nigel North and Gallicantus; performances at Big Ears New Music Festival; Britten's Canticle IV with hornist Josh Thompson; Handel's rarely performed Occasional Oratorio with Yale Schola Cantorum; and Handel's Messiah with the Reading Choral Society and Yale Glee Club.
An advocate for new music, Mr. Reese is a founding member of Philadelphia vocal sextet Variant 6 (variantsix.com). He has premiered works by Ted Hearne, John Luther Adams, Judd Greenstein, Joel Puckett, Gabriel Jackson, and others. He has recorded on the ECM, Innova, and Albany labels; including The Crossing's release of Gavin Bryars' The Fifth Century, which won a Grammy for Best Choral Performance in 2018. He also sang on 2016 Grammy-Nominated Bonhoeffer, released by The Crossing.
Mr. Reese is a graduate of Northwestern University's Bienen School of Music, where he studied with Kurt R. Hansen, Alan Darling, and Donald Nally. He currently studies with James Taylor at Yale University's Institute of Sacred Music, pursuing a master's degree as a member of the Voxtet.
Baritone Lee Poulis is "virile and heroic in both appearance and vocalism" (Opera News) and has been praised for his "commanding presence" and his "dark baritone, rich in color," calling it a voice "of power and beauty." Twice named Best Young Singer by Die Welt, Lee Poulis has performed at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden of Berlin, Teatro Real of Madrid, the Opera of Bilbao, Teatro Municipal of Santiago, and with the Beethoven Orchestra of Bonn. He performed the title role in the national premieres of Doctor Atomic in Germany and at the Finnish National Opera, a production which was nominated for one of Europe's top theater prizes, Der Faust.
In the 2017-18 season Lee Poulis performs Handel's Messiah with the Florida Orchestra and in a debut with Long Beach Camerata, Carmina Burana in a debut with Valley Symphony Orchestra in Texas and with Long Beach Camerata, and the Bach Mass in B Minor with the New York Choral Society at Carnegie Hall. He participates in the world premiere opera workshop of Joel Puckett and Eric Simonson's Black Sox Scandal as writer Ring Lardner with the Minnesota Opera. He also appears in recital with the New West Symphony and sings Bach's Cantata #82, "Ich habe genug" in his Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra debut.
Highlights of previous seasons include: his debut in the title role of Eugene Onegin with Teatre Principal de Palma, Mallorca; joining the roster of San Francisco Opera for its production of Lucia di Lammermoor; his return to Europe to reprise the role of Oppenheimer in Adams' Doctor Atomic with Teatro de la Maestranza in Seville; the role of Heathcliff in Herrmann's Wuthering Heights with Staatstheater Braunschweig and Minnesota Opera; the role of Valentin in Gounoud's Faust with Lyric Opera Baltimore, and Theater Chemnitz; as well as frequent performances at Washington National Opera, appearing as as Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, Dandini in La Cenerentola, Senator Raitcliffe in the world premiere of Scott Wheeler's Democracy, Masetto in Don Giovanni, and De Siriex in Fedora for the company's Trilogy Gala . Mr. Poulis has previously appeared with the New York Choral Society in Hindemith's "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd," where he made his Carnegie Hall debut.
Mr. Poulis's concert engagements include baritone soloist in Handel's Messiah with the Kansas City Symphony, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the American Youth Symphony, Brahms's Ein deutsches Requiem with the Waltham Philharmonic and the Masterworks Chorale, among others.
In addition to San Francisco Opera's Merola Program, Mr. Poulis is an alumnus of Washington National Opera's Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, as well as Music Academy of the West. He is a graduate of Harvard University.
An essential force in the New York choral scene since its founding in 1958, The New York Choral Society (NYCHORAL) is widely known for the outstanding artistic quality of its performances of choral masterworks as well as rarely performed and new compositions. In addition to its regular season appearances at Carnegie Hall, the 185-voice strong New York Choral Society has appeared at every major venue in the New York City area, including Avery Fisher Hall, the Metropolitan Opera House, Madison Square Garden, NJPAC, and St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Under the visionary artistic leadership of Music Director David Hayes since the 2012-2013 season, the New York Choral Society has expanded its artistic mission to present a wide variety of choral repertory alongside masterworks of the 20th and 21st century, including John Adams's On The Transmigration of Souls, Hindemith's When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd, and the New York premiere of Jennifer Higdon's The Singing Rooms, featuring noted violinist Jennifer Koh. Dedicated to carrying its tradition of musical excellence and community engagement beyond the Manhattan cultural centers, the New York Choral Society launched Christmas Around New York in December 2014, bringing family-friendly Christmas concerts to new audiences in all the boroughs of New York City.
In the 2017-18 season, The New York Choral Society opened with Roads Less Travelled, a program of works by Schubert and Thompson featuring soprano Gabriela Reyes de Ramírez and pianist Zalman Kelber of the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. Of the performance, Vishnu Bachani of New York Classical Review wrote: "David Hayes and the New York Choral Society performed an exquisite program...The entire performance was tightly controlled in all senses, from crisp articulation to idiomatic phrasing and shaping to clear enunciation and dynamic contrast." (Vishnu Bachani, November 19, 2017). NYCHORAL continued its long association with the Richard Tucker Foundation, performing at the annual Richard Tucker Gala at Carnegie Hall on December 10, 2017 alongside renowned soprano Nadine Sierra. The choir also returned to its traditional December engagement of singing in Andrea Bocelli's Madison Square Garden concert with conductor Eugene Kohn, soprano Larisa Martinez, and Broadway sensation Heather Headley. February brought the choir back to Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium joined by noted baritone Jarrett Ott for a program that includes Sir Charles Stanford's Songs of the Fleet, Op. 117 and the East Coast premiere of American composer Frank Ticheli's Symphony No. 3 "The Shore."
In the 2016-17 season, NYCHORAL gave the New York City Premiere to James MacMillan's St. Luke Passion at the St. Bartholomew's Church, performed Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass and Maurice Duruflé's Requiem at Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium, and returned to Lincoln Center for Christmas at Alice Tully Hall. The choir took part in the American Premiere of Joseph Vella's The Hyland Mass: A Prayer for Unity in Diversity at St. Patrick's Cathedral in a performance presented by the Order of Malta, American Association.
Highlights of previous seasons include performances of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt's 1985 Te Deum, Beethoven's Mass in C Op. 86, Handel's oratorio Israel in Egypt, Mendelssohn's St. Paul, Berlioz' L'Enfance du Christ, Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony, Holst's rarely- performed Hymn of Jesus, and Beethoven's Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, all at Carnegie Hall conducted by Music Director David Hayes. The 2011-2012 season marked the 25th and final season of Music Director John Daly Goodwin and included world premieres of two compositions commissioned by the New York Choral Society, Robert De Cormier's Legacy and Morton Gould's Quotations, as part of an all-American program at Carnegie Hall.
A sought-after guest artist in New York City for many decades, the New York Choral Society has collaborated with the Lincoln Center Festival, Cirque de Soleil, New York Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, New York Youth Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, American Symphony Orchestra, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Juilliard Symphony, and the Opera Orchestra of New York and has performed with conductors such as Leonard Bernstein, Sergiu Comissiona, Dennis Russell Davies, Plácido Domingo, Fabio Luisi, Zubin Mehta, Yehudi Menuhin, Julius Rudel, Robert Shaw, Leonard Slatkin, Patrick Summers, Robert Spano, and Michael Tilson Thomas.
International tours have included the Chinese premiere of Mahler's Eighth Symphony in Beijing in 2002; performances of Mahler's Symphonies No. 2 and 8 in Mexico City with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería conducted by Carlos Miguel Prieto in 2010 and 2011; a return to Beijing for performances at the Olympic Cultural Festival in 2008; and several European tours with appearances in France, Austria, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Romania, Greece, the Czech Republic, and Israel.
Each summer since 1960 NYCHORAL has produced a popular series of NYCHORALSings, participatory performances of choral music that are open to the public and feature emerging soloists from the New York area.
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