Mercury to Conclude 15th Anniversary Season with Beethoven's Ninth

Mercury to Conclude 15th Anniversary Season with Beethoven's Ninth

Artistic Director Antoine Plante and Mercury close out a celebratory 15th Anniversary Season with Beethoven's monumental Ninth Symphony on Saturday, May 14 at 8 PM at the Wortham Center's Cullen Theater. Mercury presents this joyful and triumphant masterpiece on period instruments, as audiences would have heard at its premiere in 1824, alongside vocalists Mary Wilson (soprano), Sarah Mesko (alto), Zachary Wilder (tenor) and Tyler Duncan (baritone). Also joining the performance are select members of the Houston Symphony Chorus under the direction of Betsy Cook Weber. This performance is the culmination of Mercury's five-year Beethoven symphony cycle, described as the "Mount Everest" of the orchestral repertoire. The evening also includes select opera arias by Vivaldi featuring each of the guest soloists. Major support for this concert comes from Houston Arts Alliance; Houston Endowment Inc.; Ting Tsung and Wei Fung Chao Foundation; Phillips66; Texas Commission on the Arts; Hans and Lili Kirchner; and Haynes and Boone, LLP. To purchase tickets or for more information visit www.mercuryhouston.org or call 713.533.0080.

Soprano Mary Wilson is acknowledged as one of today's most exciting young artists. Cultivating a wide-ranging career singing chamber music, oratorio and operatic repertoire, she receives critical acclaim from coast to coast. "She proves why many in the opera world are heralding her as an emerging star. She is simply amazing, with a voice that induces goose bumps and a stage presence that is mesmerizing. She literally stole the spotlight," (Arizona Daily Star). An exciting interpreter of Baroque repertoire, especially Handel, Ms. Wilson has appeared with Philharmonia Baroque, Musica Angelica, American Bach Soloists, Boston Baroque, the Casals Festival, and the Carmel Bach Festival. On the opera stage, she is especially noted for her portrayals of Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos, Susannah in Le nozze di Figaro, and Gilda in Rigoletto. She has created leading roles in North American and World premiere performances of Philip Glass' Galileo Galilei, and Laurent Petitgirard's Joseph Merrick, dit Elephant Man. Ms. Wilson holds performance degrees from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, and Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. This is her first appearance with Mercury.

Praised by The Washington Post for her "consistently beautiful sound," American mezzo-soprano Sarah Mesko is rapidly gaining attention for her rich tone and musicality. As a member of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, Ms. Mesko's appearances with Washington National Opera include Alisa in David Alden's production of Lucia di Lammermoor and a striking role debut as Dorabella in the Emerging Artist performances of Così fan tutte. She made her debut in Madama Butterfly in 2011, conducted by Plácido Domingo in a Young Artist performance, first as Kate Pinkerton and then as Suzuki - a highly acclaimed appearance for which The Washington Post remembered her as "the best part of the performance." In 2009, Ms. Mesko was a national finalist of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and she is among a rare number of singers who have won the Richard F. Gold Career Grant more than once: at Washington National Opera (2011), and at Central City Opera (2009). A native of Hot Springs, Arkansas, Ms. Mesko holds a Master of Music in vocal performance from Rice University and a Bachelor of Music in vocal and flute performance from the University of Arkansas. She has performed previously with Mercury in concert in March 2013.

Currently living in Paris, American tenor Zachary Wilder is a sought after performer both on the operatic and concert stage. He has performed with numerous ensembles internationally, including Apollo's Fire, Les Arts Florissants, Boston Early Music Festival, American Bach Soloists, Collegium Vocale Gent, Ensemble Clematis, Ensemble Médical de Munich, Emmanuel Music, and Festival d'Aix-en-Provence. Mr. Wilder's operatic roles include Alessandro in Mozart's Il Re Pastore (Grand Harmonie), Osman in Handel's Almira, Coridon in Handel's Acis and Galatea (Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, La Fenice, Venice), Mercurio in Zamponi's Ulisse nell'Isola di Circé, Testo in Monteverdi's Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda (Los Angeles). His discography with Boston Early Music Festival includes Lully's Psyché (Grammy nominated), Rameau's Le Jardin de Monsieur Rameau with Le Jardin des Voix and William Christie, and Monteverdi's Vespro della Beata Vergine with Leonardo Alarcón. Mr. Wilder graduated from the Eastman School of Music with a Bachelor's degree before completing a Master's degree at the Moores School of Music, University of Houston. He has performed previously with Mercury as Renaud in Lully's Armide and in concert in December 2014.

Canadian baritone Tyler Duncan holds music degrees from the University of British Columbia, Hochschule für Musik in Augsburg, and Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Munich. He is a founding member on the faculty of the Vancouver International Song Institute. Mr. Duncan recently made debuts at the Metropolitan Opera as the Huntsman in Dvorák's Rusalka and at the Spoleto Festival as Mr. Friendly in the 18th-century ballad opera Flora, where he also sang the Speaker in Mozart's The Magic Flute. Concert appearances include Berlioz L'enfance du Christ with the Montreal Symphony; both Bach and Mendelssohn's Magnificats with the New York Philharmonic; and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the Calgary Philharmonic and with the Philharmonie der Nationen in Munich, Berlin, Stuttgart. Mr. Duncan has given acclaimed recitals in North America, Europe and South Africa. Mr. Duncan has received prizes from the Naumburg, London's Wigmore Hall, and Munich's ARD competitions, and won the Bernard Diamant Prize from the Canada Council for the Arts. He has also performed at Germany's Halle Händel Festival, the Verbier Festival, the Montreal Bach Festival, and New York's Carnegie Hall. This is his first appearance with Mercury.

Dr. Betsy Cook Weber is Director of the Houston Symphony Chorus and Professor of Music and Director of Choral Studies at the University of Houston's Moores School of Music. She is also highly active internationally as a conductor, clinician, adjudicator, and lecturer. In the summer of 2013, Weber became the 13th person and 1st woman to receive the Texas Choral Director Association's coveted Texas Choirmaster Award. Under Weber's leadership, The Moores School Concert Chorale has established a reputation as one of the world's finest collegiate choirs. She has prepared singers for Da Camera and Ars Lyrica, and is also routinely called upon to prepare singers for touring shows, including Josh Groban, NBC's Clash of the Choirs, Telemundo's Latin Grammy's, and Star Wars in Concert. Educated at the University of North Texas, Westminster Choir College (Princeton, NJ) and the University of Houston, Weber served seven years as Assistant and, later, Associate Director of the Houston Symphony Chorus, helping prepare major works for renowned conductors including Robert Shaw, Christoph Eschenbach, Roger Wagner, Nicholas McKegan, and Christopher Seaman. Weber collaborated previously with Mercury on a complete performance of Handel's Messiah in December 2015.

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