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Masterworks Choir, WNYCO to perform Mozart masterpiece
Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Masterworks Choir, WNYCO to perform Mozart masterpiece

The Masterworks Choir of the School of Music will join forces with the Western New York Chamber Orchestra to present Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's masterpiece, “Mass in C Minor,” in performances to be given on Friday and Sunday, April 21 and 23, in Buffalo and in King Concert Hall.

The concerts, which include a solo vocal quartet comprised of Sarah Hawkey and Brittany Palmer, guest sopranos from New York City; tenor James Judd, a Fredonia School of Music alumnus; and Fredonia Voice faculty member Daniel Ihasz, bass soloist.

   
     Sarah Hawley
    Brittany Palmer
   
     Daniel Ihasz
     James Judd

Westminster Presbyterian Church, 724 Delaware Ave., Buffalo, will host the Friday concert at 7:30 p.m. that is free and open to the public. The Westminster Choir, under the direction of Garrett Martin, will perform both Mozart’s “Mass in C Minor” and his brief choral work, “Ave Verum Corpus,” together with the Masterworks Choir and WNYCO.

Admission to the Fredonia concert on Sunday at 4 p.m. is free to students of all ages, pre-K through college. Fredonia students should have their student ID with them. Tickets for adults are $20 and are available at the Fredonia Ticket Office, located in the Williams Center, and at the door.

Glen Cortese, artistic director of WNYCO, will conduct both concerts. The Sunday concert is dedicated in memory of Betsy Dixon-Lang, a School of Music alumna, former member of the Fredonia Chamber Singers, and a community leader.

The Masterworks Chorus, directed by Dr. Gerald Gray, is comprised of 120 singers who hail from communities from across New York State, from other regions of the United States, as well as foreign countries.

Ms. Palmer returns to WNYCO after having performed with the orchestra 10 years ago in Peter Schickele’s The Abduction of Figaro, in which she portrayed the role of “Blondie.” Since then she has gone on to perform in numerous prestigious venues such as the Kennedy Center and the Brooklyn Academy of Music and has performed solo performances/roles with Opera North, Rochester (N.Y.) Philharmonic Orchestra, Osh Opera, Opera Gaya, Morningside Opera, University of North Florida, New York Sinfonia, and Encompass New Opera Theatre, among many others. Some of her favorite performances include Susanna in “Le Nozze di Figaro”, Adina in “L’Elisir d’Amore,” La Comtesse Adèle in “Le Comte Ory,”, Dido in “Dido and Aeneas”, Lucy Lockit in “The Beggar’s Opera,” Ariane in “Ariane – Martinů,” Drusilla in “L’Incoronazione di Poppea,” and Serpina in “La Serva Padrona),” as well as the soprano solos for Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion,” “Carmina Burana,” the Fauré “Requiem,” and Haydn’s “Lord Nelson Mass.” Palmer was praised in the New York Times for being a “solicitous vixen” as Venus in Morningside Opera’s burlesque adaptation of “The Judgment of Paris”. She reprised the role of Venus for Austin McCormick’s Company XIV production, “Judge Me Paris,” and was seen performing with Company XIV at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Palmer is a member of the internationally acclaimed chamber group, Siren Baroque, an all-female Baroque ensemble based in New York City. Palmer also regularly performs and lectures for Tauck river cruise line’s “Musical Magic Along the Blue Danube.” In addition to performing, Palmer is a speech-language pathologist who specializes in voice disorders.

Ms. Hawkey’s singing is praised for its “clarity, precision, and power” and her interpretations are lauded as “transformational.” Her specialty in early music and new music leads to performances ranging from 13th century French chansons to world premieres by living composers, and everything in between. Her 2016-2017 season is full of exciting solo debuts, including Mozart's “Mass in C minor,” Vivaldi’s “Dixit Dominus,” Bach’s “Magnificat,” Haydn's “Mariazeller Messe,” and Handel's “Dixit Dominus,” as well as the world premiere of a new opera, “Upon This Handful of Earth” by Gisle Kverndokk, and the world premiere of “Mother Goose Songs,” a song cycle by her long-time collaborator, composer David Sisco. The season also includes Hawkey’s Gotham Early Music Scene solo debut alongside esteemed gambist Niccolo Seligmann, in their new collaboration Duo Seraphim, a duo performing world premieres of new music and re-imaginings of early music. Hawkey's world premiere performances include “Surprisingly Poetic Moments from an Otherwise Typical Hiking Guidebook,” a song cycle by Abraham Z. Morrison; “I will not go,” a duet with violin by Pamela Stein-Lynde; and “Drawing Down the Moon,” an opera by Hunter Long, as well as Bach’s “Wir danken dir Gott, Zerbinetta” in “Ariadne auf Naxos,” and Vivaldi’s “In furore iustissime irae.” The season also includes the inaugural concerts of Perennia, a chamber ensemble which performs world premieres and early music on period instruments. Her second Gotham Early Music Scene appearance is with Concordian Dawn, performing Machaut's “Le Remède de Fortune.”

An active performer, Professor Ihasz has performed Lee Hobby’s “The Last Letter Home” with the composer at the piano, Mozart’s “Requiem,” “The Abduction of Figaro” with Peter Schickele and WNYCO, “Hansel and Gretel” with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, “Messiah” with the New York State Baroque and Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, several performances of Menotti’s “The Telephone,” at The Mahler Festival in Boulder, Colo.; “The Jumping Frog” of Calavaras County (Foss Festival with Lucas Foss in residence) with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and selections from “Elijah” and “The Five Mystical Songs” with the Rochester (N.Y.) Oratorio Society. Other performance highlights include concerts in Puerto Rico and in Venezuela for the International Canticum Festival as Artist in Residence, Strawberry Fields tour with Glimmerglass Opera, Fiesta de la Posada with Dave Brubeck, the North American premiere of “Caedmon” by Richard Shepherd with Opera Sacra, Glimmerglass Opera (including the world premiere Central Park taped for PBS’ “Great Performances”), Artpark, Central City Opera, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Pops Concerts, Fredonia Chamber Players, Rochester (N.Y.) Chamber Orchestra, Genesee Baroque Players, Madison Opera and the Madison Symphony. Ihasz has been the recipient of several awards, including the 1988-89 Metropolitan Opera Auditions (Milwaukee) and first place in the 1989 Society of American Musician's Competition (Chicago). Ihasz earned a Master of Music degree in Performance and Literature from the Eastman School of Music, along with the prestigious Performer’s Certificate. Since 1992, he has been a member of the voice faculty at the Fredonia School of Music where he is currently Full Professor and former Chair of the Voice Area. In 2013, he received the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Mr. Judd is an emerging professional singer hailing from Unadilla. He has performed a variety of works as a tenor soloist, including Orff’s, “Carmina Burana;” Monteverdi’s “1610 Vespers,” Händel’s “Messiah,” and Honegger’s “Le Roi David.” Some of Judd’s operatic roles include Ferrando in “Così fan tutte,” the title role in “La clemenza di Tito,” Alfredo in “Die Fledermaus,” Asgar in the United States premiere of “Arshin mal alan,” Claude in the world premiere of “The Fall of Stag Lee,” and most recently King Kaspar in “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” Upcoming performances include Tamino in “Die Zauberflöte.” Judd has participated as a Young Artist at the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria, Opera Saratoga and Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Opera Theatre. He holds a Master of Arts in Vocal Performance from the University of Iowa, as well as Bachelor of Music in both Music Education and Vocal Performance from Fredonia.

The Western New York Chamber Orchestra, a professional ensemble-in-residence at Fredonia, has been privileged to collaborate with the Masterworks Choir, and previously the Festival Chorus, in many of the greatest choral works, throughout the orchestra's 32-year history.


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