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Bach's Christmas Oratorio performed in Rosch Dec. 10
Monday, December 01, 2008

Gerald Gray

Above, Gerald Gray. Below, members of the College Choir.

SUNY Fredonia College Choir

What: Rosch Musical Arts Series Concert: Bach Christmas Oratorio
When: Wednesday, December 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Rosch Rectial Hall, SUNY Fredonia Campus, Fredonia, N.Y.
Contact: Lori Deemer:, (716) 673-3686




The Fredonia College Choir, with guest soloists, Maria Jette, soprano; Pamella Dellal, mezzo-soprano; Jason McStoots, tenor; and Aaron Engebreth, baritone; and professional chamber orchestra under the direction of Gerald Gray, will perform Parts I-III of J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio at 7:30 pm in the Juliet J. Rosch Recital Hall at the SUNY Fredonia School of Music.

In 1734, the year in which Johann Sebastian Bach prepared this Christmas Oratorio masterwork, he was 49 years old and at the height of his creative power. As cantor for the churches of St Thomas and St Nicholas in the German city of Leipzig, he was responsible for “the principal music” for their Services of Worship; and his procedure with this six-part work was to designate each part to be performed on specific days of the twelve days of Christmas, from December 25th to January 6th. Part One was performed on Christmas Day. Part Two was performed on the Second Day of Christmas and part three, on the Third Day of Christmas. The remaining three parts were presented on New Year’s Day, the Sunday after New Year and Feast of Epiphany.

The Oratorio is conducted by Dr. Gerald Thomas Gray, chair of the voice area, and director of the College Choir. As a conductor, Dr. Gerald Thomas Gray has earned degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the University of Iowa. He has studied choral and orchestral conducting with Donald Neuen, George Mabry, William Hatcher and James Dixon. Dr. Gray has sung as a professional chorister in choirs such as Boston Baroque, Emmanuel music of Boston and the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston where he worked with Seiji Ozawa, Christopher Hogwood, Andrew Parrott, Martin Pearlman, Craig Smith, Harry Bicket, Paul McCreesh, Rindaldo Alessandrini, Bruno Weill, Robert Spano, John Harbison and Grant Llewellyn.

Maria Jette, soprano has appeared with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, New York Chamber Symphony, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Minnesota Orchestra: the Symphonies of Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Kansas City, Charlotte, Santa Rosa and Buffalo; Vocalessence, the Handel Choir of Baltimore, Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia, and Los Angeles Master Chorale; and with original instrument ensembles Portland Baroque Orchestra and The Lyra Concert. She has been a regular guest at the Oregon Bach, Victoria Bach and San Luis Obispo Mozart Festivals, the Oregon Festival of American Music, and on Public Radio International's A Prairie Home Companion. Her more than 45 operatic roles range from Monteverdi's Poppea and Handel's Cleopatra through Mozart's Pamina, Susanna and Fiordiligi. With the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, she created the Mrs. in the May 2002 premiere of Garrison Keillor's operatic excursion, Mr. and Mrs. Olson. She has performed her own production of Seuss/Kapilow’s Green Eggs & Ham for more than 35,000 kids around the USA.

Pamela Dellal, mezzo-soprano has been praised for her "exquisite vocal color," "musical sensitivity," and "eloquent phrasing." She made her Lincoln Center debut under world-renowned conductor William Christie, singing Messiah with the Handel and Haydn Society at Avery Fisher Hall. She has also sung with Seiji Ozawa, Christopher Hogwood, Grant Llewellen, Paul McCreesh, Bernard Labadie and Roger Norrington. Other ensembles which have presented Ms. Dellal include the Tokyo Oratorio Society, the Lydian String Quartet, The Bach Choir of Bethlehem, Boston Baroque, the Boston Early Music Festival, Aston Magna, the Dallas Bach Society, The Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, the National Chamber Orchestra, the Evansville Philharmonic, the Baltimore Choral Arts Society and the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Dellal has received critical acclaim for performances of Brahms' Alto Rhapsody, Handel's Messiah, Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, Mozart's Die Zauberflöte and the C-minor Mass, and Bach's St. Matthew and St. John Passions.

Jason McStoots, tenor has performed throughout the US in the genres of opera, oratorio, recital, and musical theater. He has been described by critics as “a natural, a believable actor and a first-rate singer,” “a born comic,” “light and bluff, but neither lightweight nor bland, and with exemplary enunciation” and as having “a silken tenor voice” and “sweet, appealing tone.” He has performed with numerous organizations including Boston Lyric Opera, The Early Music Guild of Seattle, Handel Choir of Baltimore, New Haven Symphony Orchestra, Emmanuel Music, Granite State Opera, OperaProvidence, Tragicomedia, Blue Heron Renaissance Choir, and the Boston Early Music Festival. He is particularly noted for his interpretations of new or modern music and music of the baroque era.

Acclaimed for his “exemplary diction and rich baritone voice,” Aaron Engebreth maintains an active solo career in opera, oratorio and recital, and has devoted considerable energy and time to the performance of new music, often collaborating with composers. He has been featured as a soloist in performances from Sapporo Japan's Kitara Hall to Boston's Symphony Hall to Le Theatre de la Ville in Paris. He gave his debut at Washinton's Kennedy Center in 2008 as soloist in Faure's Requiem and Carlyle Sharpe's Proud Music of the Storm. He has been a guest of the Tanglewood and Ravinia Music Festivals as well as the Portland, San Diego and Charlotte Symphony Orchestras. Mr. Engebreth has received significant recognition for his interpretation of early music and is a frequent soloist with many of the country’s finest early-music organizations including the American Bach Soloists, Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Early Music Festival, Miami Bach Society, Boston Baroque, Boston Camerata, Santa Fe Pro Musica, and Musicians of the Old Post Road.

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