Messiah : A Time-Honored Charlotte Tradition
Looking for a performance of Messiah this Christmas season?
You've come to the right place.
Join us as the Charlotte Master Chorale, North Carolina Baroque Orchestra, and nationally renowned soloists combine for three historically-informed performances of this annual Christmas season favorite.
George Frideric Handel's Messiah transcends faith and beliefs. It is a pillar in our musical lexicon that is one of the most widely performed works of music history. Everyone should experience the musical joy and power of Handel's Messiah.
George Frideric Handel’s Messiah is an oratorio in English, composed in 1741 and first performed in Dublin in April 1742. Its libretto is drawn from the King James Bible and from the Psalms from the Book of Common Prayer. Messiah’s Dublin premiere was followed by a premiere in London, and by the early 1800s, performance of the Messiah was already a Christmas tradition—though the work was originally intended as an Easter performance. Today it is one of the most well-known, beloved, and frequently performed choral works from the Western tradition.
Historically Informed Performance
Artistic Director Dr. Kenney Potter is excited to bring this beloved master work to life in a style that is historically informed. “It will be performed using a style and timbres that are more faithful to what Handel intended,” he explained. “Working with the North Carolina Baroque Orchestra and singing with an 18th century style, in contrast to its being performed in a heavier 19th or 20th century style.”
Listeners can expect to hear a true Baroque style, which is light and transparent, as Baroque music is based on dance. Listeners will also notice choral singing with less vibrato and more stylistic ornamentation, such as the trills that are a wonderful hallmark of Baroque era music.
Potter also carefully selected soloists who are Baroque specialists, further heightening the historically-informed experience. Awet Andemicael, often hailed for her “quick, clean, silvery” coloratura will join the performances as soprano soloist. Baritone Jesse Blumberg also will solo, bringing a background in Renaissance and Baroque styles. Countertenor Timothy Parsons is well known as a soloist and ensemble singer in New York City and is currently a member of the Trinity Wall Street Choir. David Venderwal will be featured as tenor soloist, an artist in high demand for his clarion lyric vocal qualities.
Joy is the hallmark of soprano Awet Andemicael’s artistry. Acclaimed for her “sparkling solo verses” (Opera News), “vivid musical personality” and “quick, clean, and silvery” coloratura (Boston Globe), “honeyed tone” (San Francisco Classical Voice), “fine comic interplay and […] superb singing” (Washington Times), and “her exceptionally attractive stage presence” (Bay Area Reporter), Awet has been hailed as “a singer to watch” (Boston Herald). Critics describe her performances as “lyric and full of musical energy” (Boston Herald), “enchanting” (Brandenburger Stadtkurier), “exquisite” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel), “expressively focused” (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review) and “completely winning” (Boston Phoenix).
This season includes performances with the Charleston Symphony and the Orlando Philharmonic. Upcoming performances include further concerts of sacred music with the Charleston Symphony and the Colorado Bach Ensemble, performances with the Knights at the BRIC Festival in Brooklyn, and the anticipated release of an all-Baroque album with The Sebastians Chamber Ensemble, featuring Vivaldi’s “In furore” and Handel’s “Gloria."
Highlights of past seasons include a three-month residency in South Africa, during which Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu invited her to sing at the opening of a moving reenactment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Upon hearing her rendition there of “Balm in Gilead,” the dean of the historic St. George’s Anglican Cathedral in Cape Town invited her to perform at the cathedral, where she sang Faure’s “Pie Jesu” and Mozart’s “Laudate Dominum” with the cathedral choir. At a range of formal and informal events in the Cape Town area, Awet sang Bach and Handel arias, art songs, and traditional American spirituals to gracious, diverse, and warmly receptive audiences
Closely associated with the role of El Trujamán in De Falla’sEl Retablo de Maese Pedro, Awet first encountered the work when she was engaged as a last-minute replacement for a boy soprano whose voice had just changed. After that debut performance, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, under Angel Gil-Ordóñez, she later reprised it with Gil-Ordóñez at the Kennedy Center, and has performed it with the Boston Symphony and at the Tanglewood Festival under the late Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, with the San Francisco Symphony under Charles Dutoit, and with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Esa-Pekka Salonen. Other performances of twentieth-century concert works include appearances with the Staatsorchester Braunschweig at the Schloss Rheinsberg Festival in Germany, concerts with the Pittsburgh and Milwaukee Symphonies, and performances of Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with the Harvard Bach Society and Poulenc’s Gloriawith the Collegium Westchester.
Awet is best known, however, for her interpretations of eighteenth-century sacred repertoire. Highlights include performingMessiah in Japan with the Bach Collegium Japan, under Masaaki Suzuki; Nitocris in Handel’s Belshazzarat the Yale Babylonian Collection Centennial Celebration; Buxtehude cantatas with Suzuki in Yale’s Marquand Chapel; and Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass in all the village churches of Belle-Île-en-Mer, France, including one that dates back to the year 1000. She has sung the music of Handel with the Handel and Haydn Society (under Grant Llewellyn), the Caramoor Festival (under Will Crutchfield), the Colorado Bach Ensemble (under James Kim), at Carnegie Hall (under John Rutter), at the Ravinia Festival, and with the Symphonies Pittsburgh, Nashville, Jacksonville, Richmond, and Memphis. Performances of Bach include the Mass in B Minor with Suzuki at the Aldeburgh Festival, and chamber performances of cantatas and arias in Southern California, Indiana, Michigan, and Massachusetts.
Awet has been an avid chamber musician since her student days at Harvard, where she studied chamber music with Robert Levin and Dan Stepner and performed John Harbison’s Chorale Cantata only months after its premiere by Dawn Upshaw and Peggy Pearson. Awet went on to premiere several works herself, including the late Bernard Gilmore’sTwo Torah Songs, which Barney composed at her request. She has also participated in notable performances of contemporary works, including the West Coast premiere of John Musto’s The Book of Uncommon Prayer at SongFest, and has sung chamber works by Villa-Lobos, Golijov, and David Evan Thomas at the Ravinia Festival. Recital highlights include American art songs with Joy in Singing at the Lincoln Center Library, solo recital with Jill Brunelle at the Marian Anderson Studio in Danbury to celebrate the contralto’s life and career, Barber’s Hermit Songs with Manuel Laufer in Irvine, CA, and German Lieder with Keiko Sekino in recital and in public masterclasses with Thomas Quasthoff and Justus Zeyn at Weill Recital Hall, and Baroque music collaborations with the award-wining instrumental ensemble The Sebastians in New York and Connecticut. Other North American appearances have included artistic residencies at the University of Notre Dame and the Calvin Worship Symposium, culminating in performances of music by Bach and Handel.
Awet toured for several seasons with the Los Angeles Opera, premiering roles in three chamber children’s operas commissioned by the company. Other operatic and recital performances have taken her to Southern California, Oklahoma, Maryland, Connecticut, and New York, and as far as France, Germany and Sweden. She has also appeared with Etherea Vocal Ensemble, both in their concert debut at Lorin Maazel’s Castleton Festival and their chart-topping CD release, “A Ceremony of Carols” (Delos Records). Her discography includes a recording of ragtime music with the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, along with two albums of Christmas music and a world premiere recording of Lotti’s Mass for Three Choirs with the Harvard University Choir. Her voice can also be heard in the Warner Brothers film Miss Congeniality.
Awards include the Metropolitan Opera Competition (District Winner, Regional Finalist) and the Oratorio Society of New York Solo Competition at Carnegie Hall (Winner-Second Prize). She has been trained through the Steans Institute Chamber Music Program at Ravinia, OperaWorks, the Tafelmusik Baroque Institute, and the Early Music Vancouver Baroque Vocal Programme, as well as being designated a SongFest Distinguished Alumna.
Awet holds degrees from Harvard University, the University of California at Irvine, the University of Notre Dame, and Yale Divinity School, with a certificate from the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. She has also done coursework at the Universität Wien in Vienna and Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was a visiting researcher at Stellenbosch University in Stellenbosch, South Africa, and served as a visiting professor at the Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo (UCBC) in Beni, Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Baritone Jesse Blumberg enjoys a busy schedule of opera, concerts, and recitals, performing repertoire from the Renaissance and Baroque to the 20th and 21st centuries. His performances have included the world premiere of The Grapes of Wrath at Minnesota Opera, Bernstein’s MASS at London’s Royal Festival Hall, various productions with Boston Early Music Festival, and featured roles with Atlanta Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Opera Atelier, and Boston Lyric Opera. Jesse has made concert appearances with American Bach Soloists, Boston Baroque, Apollo’s Fire, Oratorio Society of New York, Montréal Baroque Festival, Arion Baroque, Early Music Vancouver, Pacific MusicWorks, and on Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series. His recital highlights include appearances with the Marilyn Horne Foundation and New York Festival of Song, and performances ofDie schöne Müllerin and Winterreisewith pianist Martin Katz. Jesse has given the world premieres of Ricky Ian Gordon’s Green Sneakers, Lisa Bielawa’s The Lay of the Love and Death, Conrad Cummings’ Positions 1956, and Tom Cipullo’s Excelsior, and works closely with several other renowned composers as a member of the Mirror Visions Ensemble.
In 2018 Jesse returns to American Bach Soloists, Opera Atelier, TENET, New York Festival of Song, Berkshire Choral Festival and Oratorio Society of New York, debuts with Portland Baroque Orchestra, Voices of Music, and The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. He also collaborates with the Diderot String Quartet for concerts in New Hampshire, New York and Washington, D.C., and performs recitals in Iowa, Minnesota, Connecticut, and Paris.
Jesse has been featured on nearly twenty commercial recordings, including the 2015 Grammy-winning Charpentier Chamber Operas with Boston Early Music Festival. His recent releases include Bach cantatas with Montréal Baroque, Winterreise with pianist Martin Katz, Rosenmüller cantatas with ACRONYM, and St. John Passion with Apollo’s Fire. He has been recognized in several competitions, and was awarded Third Prize at the 2008 International Robert Schumann Competition in Zwickau, becoming its first American prizewinner in over thirty years. Jesse received a Master of Music degree from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and received undergraduate degrees in History and Music from the University of Michigan. Jesse is also the founder and artistic director of Five Boroughs Music Festival, which brings chamber music of many genres to every corner of New York City.
Timothy Parsons is active as both soloist and ensemble singer in New York City, having performed with the Clarion Music Society, Saint Thomas Choir of Men & Boys (Fifth Avenue), Choir of St. Ignatius Loyola, Oratorio Society of New York, The Cathedral Choir of St. John the Divine, Canticum Scholare and weekly with the Schola Cantorum of St. Agnes. He is currently a member of the Grammy nominated Trinity Wall Street Choir. As a soloist he has been lauded for his “authority, ease, and elegant exuberance” and his singing has been praised by theNew York Timesas “particularly expressive, singing with pure, free tone.” As a performer of works old & new, he is conﬁdent and comfortable pushing the envelope as an interpreter.
Past performances have included J.S. Bach'sSt. Matthew’s Passion (BWV 244) at Saint Thomas Church and Clarion’s Russian Christmas program at Trinity Wall Street. Recent solo engagements have included George Frideric Handel's Messiah with Trinity Wall Street Choir, and with the Stamford Symphony, Leonard Bernstein's Missa Brevis for the Sacred Music in a Sacred Space series, and frequent appearances on Trinity’s acclaimed Bach at One series, for which he was praised as an “excellent vocal soloist.” Timothy Parsons was featured as a soloist for Manhattan School of Music Chamber Chorale in J.S. Bach's B Minor Mass (BWV 232), under the direction of Kent Tritle (February 2014). In 2015, he made his debut with the PROTOTYPE Festival, performing in the world premiere of Du Yun and Royce Vavrek’s Angel’s Bone. Previous seasons have included a national tour of Monteverdi’s 1610 Vespers with Apollo's Fire (Director: Jeannette Sorrell), G.F. Handel's Saul at the Twelfth Night Festival, Sergei Rachmaninov’s Vespersat the Quebec Festival with the Clarion Music Society, a concert of J.S. Bach, Arvo Pärt, and Ligeti at Bargemusic with the Knights, and the world premiere of Michael Harrison’s Tesselations with Contemporaneous. He also sang as a member of the vocal ensemble during the annual Film Night at Tanglewood with the Boston Pops Orchestra under the baton of John Williams and with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra as part of their 360 series presenting scenes from W.A. Mozart's Don Giovanni at the Park Avenue Armory. As a soloist he has been seen at the Manhattan School of Music as Udolin in Schubert’s The Conspirators, where he was praised by Opera News for his “high register” and at the Amherst Early Music Festival, where he performed Arsace in Alessandro Scarlatti's La Principesse fedele.
Timothy Parsons has a particular interest in the development and performance of new works, having performed world, USA and New York premieres at MSM and at Carnegie Hall with the Oratorio Society of New York, Distinguished Concerts International of New York (DCINY), and the Manhattan School of Music Chamber Choir, of which he is a founding member. He recently conducted that ensemble in two performances of Veljo Tormis’Sügismaastikud. Additionally, he conducted two world premieres under the auspices of the MSM composition department. In 2011, he premiered Thomas Stumpf’s song-cycle Drei Mondlieder, written for him.
On the subject of his recent performances of G.F. Handel's Messiah with Trinity Wall Street Choir, theNew York Times hailed “…a more pronounced willingness to take risks. The countertenor Timothy Parsons belted out the ﬁnal words of ‘But Who May Abide’ in full, startling chest voice.” The 2016-2017 season includes international performances in Russia, the UK, Canada, Cuba, and Panama. Timothy Parsons will make appearances as soloist in G.F. Handel's Messiah in Mechanics Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts, as soloist in J.S. Bach's B Minor Mass (BWV 232) in the Le Festival Bach de Montréal, J.S. Bach's John Passion (BWV 245) with New York Baroque Incorporated. He will appear with the Clarion Choir in their groundbreaking tour giving the Russian Premieres of Steinberg’s Passion Week, and will return to Havana’s Musica Antigua festival.
David Vanderwal, tenor, is in high demand for his clarion lyric vocal qualities. The American Bach Soloists, Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra, Austin Symphony Orchestra, Oregon Symphony, New York Collegium, Tafelmusik, as well as many other regional orchestras across the nation have featured him in roles. He has also appeared as featured soloist with many choral societies nationwide.
During this last year Mr. Vanderwal has been busy with performances of Handel’s Messiah with the St. Paul’s Cathedral Choirs of Buffalo, NY., Pax Christi of Toronto, ON., Danbury (CT) Symphony Orchestra, the Mendelssohn Choir (CT), and First Congregational Church of Greenwich, CT. He performed Bach’s Easter Oratorio, and a new concert Mass of John Tavener with the Choir of St. Thomas Church, in New York. Mr. Vanderwal has also been appearing with such groups as Tiffany Consort, Clarion, Concert Royale, Four Nations Ensemble, Waverly Consort, Early Music New York, Vox, the Folger Consort, and has been very busy with New York’s St. Thomas Church throughout the year.
Mr. Vanderwal has recorded under the Allegro, Delos, Pro Musica Gloriae, and Koch International record labels, and with Western Wind of New York on their own label. He has also won several awards in national and local vocal competitions.
Now based in New York City, Mr. Vanderwal will be Singing in the Carmel Bach Festival in California, and will be teaching and coaching at the International Bachakademie’s Stuttgart Festival in Überlingen, Germany. He is also presenting a set of song recitals through the year.
“David Vanderwal sang with a burnished baritone timbre, thoughtful phrasing and acombination of intimacy and intensity that underscored the drama of the tenor sections.” –The Oregonian, December 17, 2001.
"Vanderwal's invincible mastery of some of Handel's most glorious tenor melismas was a delight." -The Advocate & Greenwich Time, November 5, 2000.
" Tenor David Vanderwal brought an almost hallucinatory ecstasy to his aria..." -The Austin American Statesman, March 14, 2000.
"David Vanderwal brings a forthright tenor and a fine sense of shape to his difficult arias." -Fanfaremagazine, March/April 1997, in its review of PGM's Bach St. John Passion CD.
Friday, December 7th • 7:30 pm
Saturday, December 8th • 7:30 pm
First United Methodist Church Charlotte
General Admission: $35
Students: $15 at the door with valid ID
Saturday, December 8th • 3:00 pm
First United Methodist Church of Gastonia
The Gastonia performance of Messiah has been generously underwritten to allow for a reduction in individual ticket prices.
In order to ensure that our patrons and our performers remain as safe as possible, we have made the difficult decision to move the performance in Gastonia scheduled for Sunday, December 9 at 4:00 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Gastonia toSaturday, December 8 at 3:00 p.m. at First United Methodist Church of Gastonia. Due to time constraints, this performance will be an abridged version of Messiah featuring Part I and ending with the Hallelujah Chorus.
General Admission $25
Students: $15 at the door with valid ID
For group ticket sales (10+), please call 704-372-1000.
Charlotte Master Chorale
North Carolina Baroque Orchestra
Awet Andemicael, soprano
Timothy Parsons, countertenor
David Vanderwal, tenor
Jesse Blumberg, bass
Kenney Potter, conductor
This podcast originally appeared here and is provided courtesy of WDAV 89.9 Classical Public Radio.