During Holy Week each year the Bethany Oratorio Society, a 300+ member community chorus and orchestra, are joined by professional operatic guest soloists for the performance of Handel’s Messiah. Guest soloists this year include: Victoria Fraser, soprano; Clara Osowski, mezzo-soprano; Roy Heilman, tenor; and Kyle Ferrill, bass. This celebrated and rich performance will take place on Easter Sunday, April 1, at 3 p.m.
Born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, soprano Victoria Fraser received her training from Smith College, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and University of Notre Dame. As a chorister and soloist around the world, her activities have included Il Coro del Duomo in Florence, Italy; the Vocalensemble Frankfurt Dom, in Frankfurt, Germany; Vox Humana in Dallas, Texas; True Concord in Tucson, Arizona; Audivi Vocem in Detroit, Michigan; the Berwick Chamber Chorus at the Oregon Bach Festival; American Bach Soloists Academy in San Francisco; and the Bachkantaten-Akademie in Thuringia, Germany. She has sung under the direction of Masaaki Suzuki, Helmut Rilling, Matthew Halls, Craig Hella Johnson, Jeffrey Thomas and Kathy Romey. A firm believer in modern interpretations of old works, she has recently produced and participated in many inter-disciplinary projects, including performances of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater with Jessica Lang Dance. In the fall, Victoria will move overseas to study Gregorian Chant with scholars from Oxford and the Sorbonne. A certified PADI Dive Master, Victoria is also passionate about her many outdoor hobbies: SCUBA diving, downhill skiing, hiking, and mountain biking.
Mezzo-soprano Clara Osowski, who sings “from inside the music with unaffected purity and sincerity” (UK Telegraph), is an active soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States and Europe. Hailed for her “rich and radiant voice” (UrbanDial Milwaukee), she was a 2012 Metropolitan Opera National Council Upper-Midwest Regional Finalist, the winner of the 2014 Bel Canto Chorus Regional Artists Competition in Milwaukee, runner-up in the 2016 Schubert Club Bruce P. Carlson Scholarship Competition, and most recently in 2017 named the winner of the Houston Saengerbund Competition and placed third in the Madison Handel Aria Competition.
In international competition with pianist Tyler Wottrich, in March of 2017, Clara became the first ever American prize winner when she placed second at Thomas Quasthoff’s International Das Lied Competition in Heidelberg, Germany. In September, the duo was also one of four to reach the finals in the prestigious Wigmore Hall/Kohn Foundation Song Competition in London, and Clara was awarded the Richard Tauber Prize for the best interpretation of Schubert Lieder.
Clara is a frequent collaborator of the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra of Minneapolis, most recently performing Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, and Dominick Argento’s orchestral song cycles Casa Guidi and A Few Words About Chekhov.
Active also as an educator, Clara has enjoyed giving masterclasses at several universities and was also the guest artist in residence at Indiana State University’s 50th Contemporary Music Festival celebrating the music of Libby Larsen. Clara will be on faculty at Aspen Music Festival’s Professional Choral Institute in partnership with Seraphic Fire in August of 2018. Clara currently studies voice with Emma Small of Minneapolis. Please visit www.claraosowski.com for an upcoming performance schedule and more information.
Tenor Roy Heilman frequently sings in a broad spectrum of styles from the Renaissance to the present, but has primarily made a name for himself as tenor soloist in the music of the Baroque and Classical eras. And while Mozart, Handel, and Haydn are staples of his musical diet, the major works and cantatas of J.S. Bach are the pieces he most often performs. Having been taught to be a versatile musician, he has also premiered many new works. Mr. Heilman has also been associated with many excellent ensembles, including the Rose Ensemble, the Oregon Bach Festival Berwick Chorus, Vox Humana, Glorious Revolution Baroque, and the recently Grammy-nominated South Dakota Chorale. As a singer of Baroque music, he spends much of his time singing in small ensemble settings with period instruments. With the Twin Cities’ Consortium Carissimi, he recorded three albums of pieces by Italian Baroque composers Carissimi and Graziani, which were released on the Naxos label in 2016. Also in 2016 with Consortium Carissimi, Roy performed the title role in Bernardo Pasquini’s opera Il Tirinto, which had lain dormant since the seventeenth century. In March of 2017, Roy was tenor soloist in a rare performance of Carl Heinrich Graun’s Der Tod Jesu, with Lyra Baroque Orchestra and guest conductor Simon Carrington. Other recent performances include Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610, Britten’s St. Nicolas, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and J.S. Bach’s Easter Oratorio, St. John Passion, and Mass in B-minor. Highlights of the 2017-18 season include appearances as tenor soloist in Britten’s Cantata Misericordium, Mozart’s Requiem, and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion as revived and presented by Mendelssohn in 1829. Roy received his musical training from Gustavus Adolphus College, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Music with Honors in Performance, and from The New England Conservatory of Music, with a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance. He lives in Minnesota with his wife and two children, where he is usually caught up in musical or outdoor pursuits. He can always be found at www.RoyHeilman.com.
Dr. Kyle Ferrill, baritone, joined the voice faculty of the University of Memphis in the fall of 2014. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Memphis, Ferrill taught at Indiana University, Boston University, Butler University, DePauw University, Walnut Hill School for the Arts, the Asolo (Italy) Song Festival, the University of Idaho, Songfest, and the Interlochen Center for the Arts. His formal schooling has been enriched by studies at Tanglewood, Songfest, Ravinia, and several sessions in the Carnegie Hall Professional Training Workshops. Dr. Ferrill has coached with Phyllis Curtin, Ken Griffiths, Dennis Helmrich, Rudolf Jansen, Graham Johnson, Martin Katz, Helmuth Rilling, Anthony Rooley, and Dawn Upshaw. Dr. Ferrill’s doctoral dissertation, William Parker and the AIDS Quilt Songbook, reflects his interest for new music, and particularly for collaborating with living composers. He has worked closely with David Bruce, Anna Clyne, Ruth Fazal, Osvaldo Golijov, Ricky Ian Gordon, John Harbison, and Jake Heggie.
Dr. Ferrill is an active performer with a vast repertoire spanning from Monteverdi to modern music. He has sung on five continents, including a recent tour of China. He has appeared with some of the nation’s finest orchestras, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Boston Pops, and New York’s Orchestra of St. Luke’s. Conductors include Stefan Asbury, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Keith Lockhart, Gil Rose, Robert Spano, Kirk Trevor, and John Williams. Recent engagements include the Brahms’ Requiem and Mendelssohn’s Elijah with St. Olaf College Choir and Orchestra, the Oregon Bach Festival with Helmuth Rilling, a commercial recording of Ruth Fazal’s Awakening with the Slovak National Orchestra in Bratislava, Slovakia, and a reprise of a successful Carnegie Hall commission, David Bruce’s Piosenki, in London. In the summers, Ferrill teaches at Interlochen Center for the Arts and at SongFest in Los Angeles. For more information, please visit www.kyleferrill.com.
Tickets for the concert are on sale now. They can be purchased online at www.messiahfestival.org/shop/ or by calling the Messiah Festival office at (785) 227-3380, ext. 8235. For all ticketing information as well as a complete festival calendar, go to www.messiahfestival.org.