Continuing its tradition of hosting high-caliber operatic performers, the Bethany Oratorio Society is pleased to announce this year’s soloists for the 2017 Messiah Festival of the Arts.
The Bethany Oratorio Society will perform its historic and rich performances of J.S. Bach’s “Passion According to St. Matthew” on Good Friday, April 14, and G. F. Handel’s “Messiah” on Easter Sunday, April 16. The Bethany Oratorio Society has been performing Handel’s “Messiah” since 1882, and Bach’s “Passion…” since 1929. During Holy Week each year in Lindsborg, the more than 300 member community chorus and orchestra are joined by five professional operatic guest soloists. Guest soloists for this year’s concerts include: Nola Richardson, soprano; Daniel Moody, countertenor; Brendan Fitzgerald, bass-baritone; Leslie John Flanagan, baritone; Tyler Ray, tenor. Tickets for each concert are on sale now at www.messiahfestival.org or by calling the Festival office at (785) 227-3380, ext. 8235.
Nola Richardson – The Australian soprano has been praised by The New York Times for her “beautiful tone” and The Washington Post for her “astonishing balance and accuracy,” “crystalline diction” and “natural-sounding ease.” She recently took home the first prize in the 2016 Bethlehem Bach Biennial Competition and third prize and audience favorite in the 2016 Handel Aria Competition. Richardson has performed as a soloist with Baltimore Symphony in a program of Bach and Scarlatti, and the Boston Pops in a review of Sondheim’s music. She was a 2015 Tanglewood Vocal Fellow and a young artist in the 2013 American stage debut of Handel’s first opera, “Almira,” with the Boston Early Music Festival. She has also appeared with the American Bach Soloists, the Bach Sinfonia, “Les Délices,” the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, “Tempesta di Mare,” and the Bach in Baltimore Series, and been a featured guest soloist at the Norfolk and Blue Hill Bach Summer Festivals. As a member of the Yale Voxtet she toured internationally performing as the soloist in Arvo “Pärt’s Passio,” and sang repertoire ranging from medieval chant to newly commissioned works. Her upcoming season includes appearances with the American Bach Soloists, Clarion, New Music New Haven, New Dominion Chorale, Chorus Pro Musica, and the Yale Choral Artists. Richardson holds degrees from Illinois Wesleyan University and the Peabody Conservatory and she was the first soprano to ever be accepted into both the Yale Voxtet and DMA programs. For more information please visit www.NolaRichardson.com.
Daniel Moody, countertenor – Moody has garnered widespread acclaim for his commanding yet expressive vocal timbre and his breathtaking musicianship. Praised as having a “vocal resonance, [which] makes a profoundly startling impression,” by The New York Times and for his “vivid and powerful” voice, by The Boston Musical Intelligencer, Moody is equally known for his “sweet and melancholy sound,” according to The Washington Post and ability to “pierce hearts” and “utterly silence a room,” according to The Boston Musical Intelligencer with his expressivity and deep connection with audiences.
Recent opera appearances include Nerone in Monteverdi’s “L’incoronazione di Poppea,” the title roles in Handel’s “Giulio Cesare” and “Rinaldo,” Oberon in Britten’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and L’Enfant in Ravel’s “L’Enfant et les sortileges.” In a review of “Rinaldo” The San Diego Story said, “[Moody] may help to create a new operatic vocal category: Helden Countertenor.” Moody has performed as a soloist at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall and London’s St. John’s Smith Square with the prestigious Yale Voxtet, working with renowned conductors David Hill, Simon Carrington, Masaaki Suzuki, and Matthew Halls.
Highlights of 2015 through 2016 include the American premiere of George Benjamin’s “Dream of the Song” at the Festival of Contemporary Music at the Tanglewood Music Center, Handel’s “Messiah” with the Charleston Symphony and Winston-Salem Symphony Orchestras, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (Oberon) at the Lakes Area Music Festival, Minnesota, and concerts with early music group La Fiocco. He was also invited as one of four vocalists in Joyce DiDonato’s Carnegie Hall opera workshop broadcast on Medici TV.
Moody is a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory and recently graduated with a master’s degree from the Yale School of Music and Institute of Sacred Music.
Brendan Fitzgerald, bass – Fitzgerald was featured as a soloist in Monteverdi “Vespers of 1610” under the direction of David Hill, as well as the role of Adam in Haydn’s “Creation,” directed by Jeffery Douma. Frazier has also performed a concert of Bach “Lutheran Masses” as one of the baritone soloists with Yale Schola Cantorum and Julliard415, conducted by Masaaki Suzuki, Vaughan Williams’ “Dona Nobis Pacem” under the direction of Marguerite Brooks, and Charpentier’s “Te Deum” under the direction of Simon Carrington. Additionally, he was the bass soloist in selections from Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio” and Stravinsky’s “Les noces” with Yale Camerata under the direction of Marguerite Brooks. Frazier has recently received his master’s degree in early music voice from the Yale School of Music.
Leslie John Flanagan, baritone – The Australian baritone has performed leading roles throughout Australia, Europe and the USA, including performances at the Sydney Opera House, in London at English National Opera’s Coliseum, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, the Royal Albert Hall, Wigmore Hall, the Janacek Theatre in Brno and at the Edinburgh Festival. Recent operatic performances include Mitrovsky in the première of Twice Upon a Birthday for The Metropolitan Opera Guild, and Guglielmo (Cosi fan tutte) with Southern Plains Opera. Dr. Flanagan earned the bachelor’s degree in music from the Queensland Conservatorium in Brisbane, Australia, and the master’s degree in opera performance from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire of Music) in Glasgow, Scotland. Upon completion of his master’s studies, he became an inaugural member of English National Opera’s prestigious Jerwood Young Singer’s Programme in London. Roles with English National Opera, included Rossini’s Figaro, Guglielmo Cosi fan tutte, Schaunard La Boheme, Morales Carmen, Barney in the world première of Mark Anthony Turnage’s The Silver Tassie alongside Gerald Finley, Donner Das Rheingold, and Ned Keene Peter Grimes. Flanagan’s professional recording credits include the First Apprentice on Chandos’ recording of Wozzeck, Barney in ENO’S live world premier recording of The Silver Tassie, also available on DVD from the BBC, Bach’s St. John Passion with the BBC, and on Roger Webster’s Travels with my Trumpet with English soprano Janis Kelly.
A native of Wichita, Ray holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Friends University. In 2014 Ray was one of four singers accepted to the prestigious Yale Voxtet program where he earned his Master’s Degree in Early Music Voice from the Yale School of Music and Yale Institute of Sacred Music. During his time at Yale, he studied with internationally renowned tenor James Taylor.
Solo performance highlights include Handel’s “Messiah” with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Handel’s “Messiah” with the American Baroque Orchestra, Mozart’s Requiem with the Yale Recital Chorus, Bach’s BWV 182 and 211 with Mountainside Baroque, Monteverdi’s “Vespers of 1610” with Yale Schola Cantorum under the baton of David Hill, Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio” with Yale Camerata, Bach’s “Missa” in G minor conducted by Masaaki Suzuki, Arvo “Pärt’s Passio” (Pilate) with Yale Schola Cantorum, Bach’s “BWV 10” conducted by Matthew Halls, Stravinsky’s “Les Noces” with Yale Camerata, and Haydn’s “Creation (Uriel)” with the Yale Glee Club conducted by Jeff Douma.
An avid chamber musician, Ray has worked with numerous professional ensembles, including Grammy nominated Seraphic Fire, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, The Thirteen, Spire Chamber Ensemble, Kinnara Ensemble and Vox Humana.