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The Collegiate Chorale to Perform SUSANNA with Isabel Leonard, 2/3


The Collegiate Chorale continues its 2014-15 season with George F. Handel's Susanna on February 3, 2015 at 8pm at Town Hall, 123 W. 43rd Street, New York, NY 10036. Tickets are $30-$95 and are available at For more information, visit

Bridging the genres of oratorio and ballad opera, Handel's intriguing Susanna originally premiered at Covent Garden in 1749. Based on an Apocryphal chapter from the biblical Book of Daniel, Susanna tells the story of a virtuous young woman who is falsely accused of sexual promiscuity by two lecherous elders.

The concert will feature Isabel Leonard as Susanna, Daniela Mack as Susanna's husband Joachim, Javier Abreu and Zachary James as the Elders and Benjamin P. Wenzelberg as the boy prophet Daniel, with Conductor James Bagwell, Director Ted Sperling, and Orchestra of St. Luke's and lighting design by Frances Aronson.

Highly acclaimed for her "passionate intensity and remarkable vocal beauty," the Grammy Award winning Isabel Leonard continues to thrill audiences both in the opera house and on the concert stage. In repertoire that spans from Vivaldi to Mozart to Thomas Ades, she has graced the stages of the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera, Paris Opera, Salzburg Festival, Bavarian State Opera, Glyndebourne Festival, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Angelina in La Cenerentola, Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, Blanche de la Force in Dialogues des Carmélites, the title roles in Griselda, La Périchole, and Der Rosenkavalier, as well as Sesto in both Mozart's La clemenza di Tito and Handel's Giulio Cesare. She has appeared with some of the foremost conductors of her time: James Levine, Valery Gergiev, Charles Dutoit, Gustavo Dudamel, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Franz Welser-Möst, Edo de Waart, James Conlon, Andris Nelsons, and Harry Bicket with the Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and Vienna Philharmonic, among others. Ms. Leonard is in constant demand as a recitalist and is on the Board of Trustees at Carnegie Hall. She is a recent Grammy Award winner for Thomas Ades' The Tempest (Best Opera Recording) and the recipient of the 2013 Richard Tucker Award.

Mezzo-soprano Daniela Mack has been acclaimed for her "caramel timbre, flickering vibrato, and crisp articulation" (Opernwelt) as she "hurls fast notes like a Teresa Berganza or a Frederica von Stade" (San Francisco Chronicle). Ms. Mack was recently a finalist in the 2013 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition.In the 2014 - 2015 season, Daniela Mack returns to San Francisco Opera as Rosmira in Handel's Partenope in a production by Christopher Alden and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis as Rosina in a new production of The Barber of Seville. In the summer of 2015, she debuts at the Saito Kinen Festival in Berlioz's Béatrice et Bénédict under Seiji Ozawa. She will also be heard with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, Washington Chorus in Beethoven's Missa solemnis, and with the Sydney Symphony in Canteloube's Chants d'Auvergne and Falla's Siete canciones populares españolas. Future seasons will see her at the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera House-Covent Garden, San Francisco Opera, Arizona Opera, and Fort Worth Opera, as well as with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.

Puerto Rican tenor Javier Abreu has been described as a commanding force on stage, incorporating a rich, sweet and agile voice, with ample dramatic skills. Opera News described him as ". . . a natural Rossini singer," and The Washington Times stated that "his high, supple lyric voice possesses great conviction." Engagements for 2013-2014 included his debut with Atlanta Opera as Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Tonio in La fille du régiment with Madison Opera, appearances with the Phoenix Symphony and Lexington Philharmonic for Handel's Messiah and the Philadelphia Ballet for Orff's Carmina Burana, and the Castleman in a workshop of The Long Walkwith American Lyric Theater, a role he will reprise with Opera Saratoga for the work's World Premiere in the summer of 2015. In the 2014-2015 season, he returns to Nashville Opera in Florencia en el Amazonas, debuts with Virginia Opera in Sweeney Todd, and appears with Opera Santa Barbara as Lindoro in L'italiana in Algeri. In concert he appears with the Louisville Orchestra for Carmina Burana and the Jacksonville Symphony for Mozart's Requiem.

Zachary James created the role of Abraham Lincoln in the world premiere of Philip Glass' opera The Perfect American at the Teatro Real in Madrid. He has appeared on Broadway as Lurch in The Addams Family (800+ performances), Hassinger in the Tony Award winning revival of South Pacific at Lincoln Center (400+ performances) and in the 2007 Broadway play Coram Boy. A winner of the 2009 Lotte Lenya Competition, Zach has been engaged by opera companies including English National Opera (Abraham Lincoln in The Perfect American), Teatro Real (Abraham Lincoln in The Perfect American), Schlossoper Haldenstein, Switzerland (Sparafucile in Rigoletto), Central City Opera (Il Commendatore in Don Giovanni), Ash Lawn Opera (Il Bonzo in Madama Butterfly), Knoxville Opera (Il Bonzo in Madama Butterfly, Gideon March in Little Women, Joe in The Most Happy Fella), in concert as the baritone soloist in Carmina Burana (West Village Chorale), Colline in La Boheme (Symphony of the Mountains) and Buff in The Impresario (Knoxville Symphony Orchestra). He created the operatic roles of Oberon in the world premiere of Kristin Hevner's Il Sogno at the Teatro Citta della Pieve in Umbria as well as the role of Thomas Jefferson in Dana Wilson's new opera The Wolf by the Ears and also originated five roles in Andy Teirstein's new opera A Blessing on the Moon at Vancouver's Chutzpah Festival, accompanied by the Grammy-nominated Warsaw Village Band from Poland.

Benjamin P. Wenzelberg performed with Dawn Upshaw and Gil Kalish in George Crumb's Ancient Voices of Children at BAM. He had his solo debut at The Metropolitan Opera in A Midsummer Night's Dream (Mustardseed), where he is currently a sixth season member of the Children's Chorus. He was the singing voice of Stet, the lead character in the new film Boy Choir. Solo appearances include New York City Opera's The Turn of the Screw (Miles), New York Philharmonic, Atlanta Opera, Shakespeare in the Park, Avery Fisher Hall (Amahl, The Little Orchestra Society), Carnegie Hall, Central Park's Summer Stage, US Open, Portland Symphony Orchestra and in Israel. Recordings: The Golden Ticket opera (Charlie Bucket); opera singing group Forte's Silent Night. As a composition student at Juilliard Pre-College, his opera, The Sleeping Beauty, won a 2014 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award and Charlotte V. Bergen Scholarship Prize. His piano trio, Midnight Tides, won the 2014 BMI Student Composer Award and Carlos Surinach Prize. He is a classical and jazz piano scholarship student at the 92nd Street Y making his Carnegie Hall piano debut this spring.

James Bagwell was appointed Music Director of The Collegiate Chorale in 2009.He also serves as Principal Guest Conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra in New York. Since 2003, he has been Director of Choruses for the Bard Music Festival, conducting and preparing choral works during the annual summer festival. In August 2010, he led a production of the rarely performed operetta The Chocolate Soldier for Bard's SummerScape; in August 2011, he conducted Noel Coward's Bitter Sweet there and returned for his sixth season as chorus master for The Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center. He has trained choruses for a number of major American and international orchestras and worked with such noted conductors as Lorin Maazel, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Michael Tilson Thomas, Louis Langrée, Leon Botstein, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Raymond Leppard, James Conlon, Jesús López-Cobos, Erich Kunzel, Leon Fleischer, and Robert Shaw. For 15 seasons, James Bagwell has been Music Director for the May Festival Youth Choir in Cincinnati, which has been featured on the syndicated NPR radio program "From the Top." He conducted some 25 productions as Music Director of Light Opera Oklahoma, including Candide, Sweeney Todd and The Merry Widow, among others. He maintains an active schedule throughout the United States and abroad as a choral, operatic, and orchestral conductor for such groups as the Jerusalem Symphony, Amici New York, Tulsa Symphony and Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. For three seasons, he was Artistic Director of The Indianapolis Symphonic Choir. >From 2005 to 2009, he was Music Director of the Dessoff Choirs in New York. He holds degrees from Birmingham-Southern College, Florida State University and Indiana University. Since 2000, he has taught at Bard College, where he is Professor of Music and Chair of the Undergraduate Music Department, as well as Co-Director of the Graduate Program in Conducting.

One of today's leading musical artists, Ted Sperling, artistic director of The Collegiate Chorale,is a director, music director, arranger, orchestrator, conductor, singer, pianist and violinist. Mr. Sperling won the 2005 Tony and Drama Desk Awards (with Adam Guettel and Bruce Coughlin) for his orchestrations of The Light in the Piazza, for which he was also music director. Other Broadway credits as music director/conductor/ pianist include the Tony Award-winning revival of South Pacific and recent revival of Guys and Dolls, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Full Monty, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Angels in America, My Favorite Year, Falsettos, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, LES MISERABLES, Roza, and Sunday in the Park with George. Mr. Sperling was also an original cast member of the Broadway musical Titanic. Mr. Sperling has an active concert career, working with singers Audra McDonald, Victoria Clark, Patti LuPone, Kelli O'Hara, Nathan Gunn, Paulo Szot, and Deborah Voigt. Recently appointed the Artistic Director of The Collegiate Chorale, Mr. Sperling's projects with the ensemble have included concert performances of The Firebrand of Florence (Conductor, 2009), The Grapes of Wrath (Conductor, 2010), Knickerbocker Holiday (Director, 2011), "Something Wonderful" (A Broadway Evening with Deborah Voigt Conductor/Director, 2011), The Mikado (Conductor/Director, 2012) and Song of Norway (Conductor/Director, 2013).

About Orchestra of St. Luke's
Orchestra of St. Luke's (OSL) is one of America's foremost and most versatile orchestras, collaborating with the world's greatest artists and performing approximately 70 concerts each year-including its Carnegie Hall Orchestra Series, Chamber Music Series at The Morgan Library & Museum and Brooklyn Museum, and summer residency at Caramoor Music Festival. OSL has commissioned more than 50 new works, including four this season; has given more than 170 world, U.S., and New York City premieres; and appears on more than 100 recordings, including four Grammy Award winners and seven releases on its own label, St. Luke's Collection. Pablo Heras-Casado, named 2014 Conductor of the Year by Musical America, is OSL's principal conductor.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this season, OSL began as a chamber ensemble based at The Church of St. Luke in the Fields in Greenwich Village. Today, St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble consists of 21 virtuoso artists who perform a diverse repertoire and make up OSL's artistic core.

OSL owns and operates The DiMenna Center for Classical Music in Midtown Manhattan, where it shares a building with the Baryshnikov Arts Center. The DiMenna Center is New York City's premier venue for rehearsal, recording, and learning, having quickly gained a reputation for its superb acoustics, state-of-the-art facilities, and affordability. Since opening in 2011, The DiMenna Center has welcomed more than 50,000 visitors, including more than 300 ensembles and artists such as Renée Fleming, Susan Graham, Itzhak Perlman, Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell, Valery Gergiev, James Levine, James Taylor, and Sting. OSL hosts hundreds of neighbors, families, and school children at its home each year for free community events.

Through its Community & Education programs, OSL has introduced audiences across New York City to live classical music. OSL brings free chamber concerts to the five boroughs; offers free, interactive events at The DiMenna Center; provides chamber music coaching for adults; and engages 10,000 public school students each year through its Free School Concerts. In 2013, OSL launched Youth Orchestra of St. Luke's (YOSL), an intensive in- and after-school instrumental coaching program emphasizing musical excellence and social development, in partnership with Police Athletic League (PAL) and public schools in the Clinton / Hudson Yards neighborhood. For more information, visit

The mission of The Collegiate Chorale is to enrich its audiences through innovative programming and exceptional performances of a broad range of vocal music featuring a premier choral ensemble. Founded in 1941 by the legendary conductor Robert Shaw, The Chorale has established a preeminent reputation for its interpretations of the traditional choral repertoire, vocal works by American composers, and rarely heard operas-in-concert, as well as for commissions and premieres of new works by today's most exciting creative artists. The many guest artists with whom The Chorale has performed in recent years include: Stephanie Blythe, Victoria Clark, Nathan Gunn, Thomas Hampson, Angela Meade, Kelli O'Hara, Eric Owens, Rene Papé, Bryn Terfel and Deborah Voigt. Last season's highlights included Eric Owens, Arturo Chacón-Cruz, and Julianna Di Giacomoin Arrigo Boito's Mefistofele with the Manhattan Girls Chorus and the American Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall, and the New York premiere of David Lang's battle hymns with members of the Veteran Artist Program and the Manhattan Girls Chorus at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

For more information about The Collegiate Chorale, visit

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