Handel’s Messiah Sing-In
Wednesday, December 19, 2018 7:30pm
David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center
The annual Handel’s Messiah Sing-In at Lincoln Center was created as a celebration of choral singing and is today New York City’s most popular Holiday Season Community Music Event.
The Sing-In audience-chorus includes 3,000 singers of all backgrounds who come from throughout New York City, the greater New York/New Jersey/Connecticut area, across the United States and from countries around the world. It includes choral singers who sing in church and temple choirs, community choral organizations, high school, college and alumni choruses, people who formerly sang in choirs and many vocal music lovers who want to spend this one special evening singing and being surrounded by thousands of stereophonic voices, all singing Handel’s great choral masterpiece together.
The audience is the chorus—there is no chorus on stage. Rather than being seated in block SATB sections, the audience is seated “scrambled” so that attending choral groups and participating singers can sit with those whom they came with. Each participant brings a Messiah vocal score, and the sound of the massed mixed vocal parts in a tapestry of song throughout the hall is glorious.
There are 17 distinguished choral conductors, each of whom, in turn, conducts one chorus accompanied by the Sing-In organist at the Avery Fisher Hall organ. (Almost every well-known choral conductor in the Greater New York Area and beyond either participates or has participated in the Chorale’s annual Sing-In.) There also are 4 splendid professional soloists singing some of the best known solos and providing additional musical inspiration. Everett McCorvey, Artistic Director of the National Chorale and the Sing-In, is the host for the performance.
The Messiah Sing-In was conceived and developed in 1967 by Mr. Josman, the Chorale’s Board and a group of New York City choral conductors to celebrate choral singing on a community-wide basis. It was agreed by all that the best way to achieve this was to invite the choral singing community to gather one evening annually during a traditional singing time of the year and to sing a great choral work in a major concert hall under the shared leadership of a team of prominent choral conductors. As a result, the name Messiah Sing-In was created. The December Holiday Season was determined to be the best time of year for the event and Handel’s Messiah was selected as the great choral work with which most singers were familiar. Avery Fisher Hall, the exciting new concert hall in the City in the 1960’s was chosen to be the Sing-In location. The plan attracted the enthusiastic interest of New York’s choral community and the public, and the first Messiah Sing-In took place on Friday evening, December 13, 1967. It was an immediate success and has continued as a joyous, traditional choral community singing event every year since then.
The National Chorale has also presented Handel’s Messiah Sing-In in Boston, Minneapolis, Seattle, Denver, St. Louis, Rochester, NY, Phoenix, Tulsa, Lawrence, WI, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center Amphitheater and the Ocean Grove Auditorium, NJ.
This year is the eagerly looked forward to 51st Anniversary of the New York Messiah Sing-In.
2018 Messiah Sing-In Soloists
Brittany Renee Robinson, Sopranois hailed by the South Florida Classical for her “luminous tones” and “lush voice,” soprano Brittany Renee Robinson amazes audiences with her finesse and shimmering stage presence. In 2018-2019 Ms. Robinson brings her Konstanze to Opera Orlando, for her house debut in the new Josh Shaw production of The Abduction from the Seraglio, and to California where she debuts with Opera San Jose. She also returns to Knoxville Opera to debut the role of Madame Herz and Nella in a double bill production of Mozart’s Impresario and Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, as well as Lucia in Knoxville’s Education/Outreach Production of Lucia di Lammermoor. After great success with her first concert series, Ms. Robinson will travel back to Minnesota to perform at the University of Minnesota’s Monday Guest Artist Series at the Lloyd Ultan Recital Hall, as well as make her Lincoln Center debut at the David Geffen Hall in New York City!
Recent appearances have included her international debuts at the Semperoper Dresden, the Deutsches Theater München, The Charles Bronfman Auditorium in Tel Aviv, Israel, and the Teatro Petruzzelli in Bari, Italy in the role of Bess and Clara with the New York Harlem Theatre World Tour of Porgy & Bess and Sister Rose in Jake Heggie’s riveting production of Dead Man Walking with Opera on the Avalon in Canada. National debuts have included Konstanze with Salt Marsh Opera’s production of The Abduction from the Seraglio, Musetta in Knoxville Opera’s La Bohème, featured soloist with Out of Box Opera, The Handel Choir of Baltimore, Guelph Symphony Orchestra conducted by Judith Yan, Greensboro Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Dmitry Sitkovetsky, as well as was honored to be a part of Kathleen Battle: The Underground Railroad – A Spiritual Journey as an ensemble member and soloist.
Ms. Robinson has performed with other companies such as Piedmont Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Crested Butte Music Festival, Light Opera of New York, Sounds of South Dakota, The American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS), and the Baltimore Municipal Opera. Other career highlights include her debut with the Florida Grand Opera as Musetta in La Bohème, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Yvette in La Rondine, and the Page in Rigoletto. She has also performed the Queen of the Night (with the legendary Samuel Ramey as Sarastro) and Pamina in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, as the title role of Lakmé with Opera Theatre of the Rockies, for which her performance was praised by The Gazette as “a performance which words can do no justice, her crystal clear yet sultry voice produced a sound and spirit that equals her sensual and artistic achievement.” Other roles include Tytania in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Adele in Die Fledermaus, Sr. Constance in Dialogues des Carmelites, Cleopatra in Giulio Cesare, Olympia & Antonia in Les Contes de Hoffmann, Alice Ford in The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Mrs. Nordstrom in A Little Night Music.
A frequent recitalist, Ms. Robinson has toured with the Siena Chamber Orchestra in Italy and across the United States. Concert engagements include her performance as a featured artist with the Wynton Marsalis’ U.S. Tour of the Abyssinian Mass with Chorale Le Chateau and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and appearances with the critically acclaimed American Spiritual Ensemble. While in Miami, Ms. Robinson was a guest soloist in the “Concert for a New Renaissance” and worked closely with the world-renowned jazz flutist Nestor Torres and the Miami Youth Symphony.
Ms. Robinson’s prestigious awards include, Senior Grand Prize Winner: Young Patronesses of the Opera, 3rd Place and Audience Favorite: Harlem Opera Theater Competition, 2nd Place and Scholarship Recipient: The Denver Lyric Opera Guild Competition Award, Rosalind Jackson Memorial Award: Crested Butte Music Festival, The Miriam Goodman Award: Chautauqua Opera, and Regional Finalist: Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Erica Koehring, Mezzo Soprano, is Versatile in drama and comedy, mezzo-soprano Erica Koehring has recently portrayed Amneris in Verdi’s Aida, Azucena in Il Trovatore (Verdi), Carmen in La Tragédie de Carmen (Bizet/Brooke), Zulma in L’Italiana in Algeri (Rossini), and Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro (Mozart). Other roles include Cecilia and Alma March in Little Women (Adamo), Madame de Croissy in Les Dialogues des Carmélites (Poulenc), and Flora in La Traviata (Verdi). Equally at home in the concert setting, Erica often participates in Art Song recitals hosted by American soprano Lauren Flanigan featuring “unknown and unsung” works and composers.
Kirk Dougherty, Tenor, is one of the most exciting voices in opera today with a sound combining beauty, clarity and strength. His expressivity and commitment to both musical and dramatic interpretation has earned him continuous appearances as a leading tenor in opera throughout the United States and beyond. During the 2017-18 season, Kirk Dougherty made his Piedmont Opera debut as Nikolaus Sprink in their production of Kevin Puts’ and Mark Campbell’s, Silent Night. He also debuts at OperaDelaware as Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi and at Raylynmor Opera as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly. He returns to Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre as the Count Almaviva in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, and to Wichita Grand Opera as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly and as tenor soloist in their performance of Rossini’s Stabat Mater. He also sings two performances of Lucia di Lammermoor as Edgardo at Bob Jones University.Last season, Mr. Dougherty returned to Opera San Jose, performing the roles of Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Rodolfo in La bohème, Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia, and Sprink in the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera by Kevin Puts and Mark Campbell, Silent Night. He will also be performing Rossini’s Stabat Mater with Sacramento Choral Society and Orchestra and the role of Rodolfo in La bohème with Wichita Grand Opera. He made his first appearance at Opera Las Vegas as the Duke of Mantua in Rigoletto. He also sang the role of Tamino in a concert version of Die Zauberflöte at Glacier Symphony
Mr. Dougherty’s performances of Cavaradossi in Tosca marked his debut of the role, sung as part of the 2015-16 season at Opera San Jose, where he also performed the roles of Don José in Carmen and Mitch in A Streetcar Named Desire. Other appearances that season included a return to Anchorage Opera as Don José in Carmen and the Verdi Requiem with the New Jersey Choral Society. Of his performances in Tosca, the San Jose Mercury News exclaimed, “Kirk Dougherty shined…The unique timbre and expression of his handsome voice, coupled with refined, satisfying phrasing, provided noteworthy, heartfelt performances of ‘Recondita armonia’ and ‘E lucevan le stelle,’ two of the treasured arias of the repertoire.
Dougherty’s first performances at Opera San Jose were part of their 2014-15 season, where he was seen as the Duke in Rigoletto, Tamino in Die Zauberflöte, and Philip in the world premiere of Where Angels Fear to Tread by Mark Weiser. Mid-season, he performed the role of Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly for Anchorage Opera, where he previously sang the roles of Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor and Joseph Treate in the world premiere of Victoria Bond’s Mrs. President.
Previous seasons include his company debuts with Sarasota Opera in the role of Manrico in Il Trovatore, the American Symphony Orchestra portraying Aaron in Bruch’s oratorio Moses at Carnegie Hall, the Glacier Symphony performing Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, Salt Marsh Opera as Ernesto in Don Pasquale, and the title role in Faust for Opera Louisiane. Additional roles performed include Hoffman in The Tales of Hoffman, Alfredo in La traviata, Nemorino in L’elisir d’amore, Ferrando in Così fan tutte, and Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi at Tri-Cities Opera. A graduate of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, he has also participated in numerous young artist programs, such as Central City Opera and Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre, among others.
Brandon J. Coleman, Bass, has been praised for his “exotic vocal coloring” by Opera News and “wonderful resonance” by Classical Singer. He commands the stage with his confidence and lures the audience with his voice. Brandon’s 2016/2017 season included debuts with Hawaii Opera Theatre as Ferrando in Verdi’s Il Trovatore; two productions with Utah Opera Festival as Crown in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess and as Joe in Kern’s Showboat, and returning back to Opera on the James to reprise the role of Sparafucile in Verdi’s Rigoletto.
He has performed with the Kentucky Opera, Sarasota Opera, Central City Opera, Chatauqua Opera, Utah Opera Festival, Opera Theatre of Northern Virginia, Connecticut Opera, Connecticut Concert Opera, Opera New Jersey, Tuscia Opera Festival, Dicapo Opera Theatre, Opera North, Toledo Opera, Opera on the James, Tri-Cities Opera, Middlebury Opera, and Syracuse Opera.
Mr. Coleman has been most recognized for role appearances as Mephistopheles in Faust, Ibn Hakia in Iolanta, Joe in Showboat, Jesus in The Seven Last Words, Crown in Porgy and Bess, Fred in Smokey Joe’s Cafe.
In 2011, he made his international debut as a guest artist singing the role of Sarastro in DieZauberflote with the Tuscia Opera Festival under the baton of Maestro Stefano Vignati.
Brandon Coleman resides in the New York City area. He received his Bachelors of Music degree from the University of Hartford Hartt School of Music. He currently studies with the remarkable Andrea Delgiudice.
James D. Wetzel, Organist, is the Director of Music and Organist of the Parish of Saint Vincent Ferrer and Saint Catherine of Siena on Manhattan’s Upper East Side where he directs the professional Schola Cantorum in over 70 services annually. James served from 2010-2015 as the Organist and Choirmaster of midtown’s Church of Saint Agnes and from 2011-2016 was an adjunct lecturer in Hunter College’s music department. Since 2010, he has also been the Assistant Conductor for the Greenwich Choral Society in Connecticut. Additionally, he holds a post as Assisting Organist at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine where he formerly served as Organ Scholar under Bruce Neswick.
Mr. Wetzel is active as an organist and continuo player, having performed at the Berkshire Choral Festival and with the Collegiate Chorale, the Orchestra of Saint Luke’s, the American Symphony Orchestra, the American Classical Orchestra, the National Chorale, and the Paul Winter Consort. He is the sub-dean and chairman of the program committee of the New York City Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, a board member of the Catholic Artists Society, and a member of the New York Purgatorial Society and the Society for Catholic Liturgy.
Born in Pittsburgh, James earned a bachelor’s degree in organ performance from The Juilliard School where he studied with Paul Jacobs and was the first person ever to graduate with a master’s degree and a professional studies certificate in choral conducting from Manhattan School of Music under Kent Tritle. He also studied privately with Donald K. Fellows and Robert Page and spent a year reading Early Christianity and Apologetics at Columbia University.
2018 Messiah Sing-In Conductors
Joey Chancy, Broadway Conductor; Music Director; Independent Producer
Elizabeth Guglielmo, The New York City Department of Education Office of Arts and Special Projects, Director of Music
Gregory Hopkins, Convent Avenue Baptist Church, NYC, Minister of Music; Harlem Opera Theater, Harlem Jubilee Singers, Cocolo Japanese Gospel Choir, Director
James John, Aaron Copland School of Music, Queens College CUNY, Director of Choral Activities; Cerddorion Vocal Ensemble, Artistic Director
Darryl A. Jordan, Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts, Music Director
Thomas Juneau, Juneau Vocal Alliance, Founder and Director; Summit Chorale, Artistic Director; St. Joseph’s University, Director of Choral Activities
Robert Lanaghan, Fort Hamilton High School, Brooklyn, Director of Music
Vagarsgak Ohanyan, National Chorale Principal Conductor Music Education Programs
Everett McCorvey, National Chorale, Artistic Director; University of Kentucky Opera Theater, Director; The American Spiritual Ensemble, Founder and Director
John Palatucci, Orpheus Club Men’s Chorus, Ridgewood, NJ, Music Director
Kathryn Schneider, The New York City Bar Chorus, Music Director and Conductor
Deborah Simpkin King, Schola Cantorum on Hudson, Artistic Director; New York Choral Consortium, Chair
Michael Spierman, Bronx Opera, Founder and Director; Orchestra of the Bronx, Music Director
Jason Tramm, Seton Hall, Director of Choral Activities; Ocean Grove Choir, Artistic Director; Mid-Atlantic Opera Company, Founder
More Messiah Sing-In Conductors to follow…