The New York Choral Society (NYCS) returns to Carnegie Hall under the baton of David Hayes, making his debut as Music Director on Tuesday, December 18th at 8pm for a presentation of two choral works. The concert will open with O magnum mysterium by Pulitzer-prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon. Written for chorus accompanied by a small, novel musical ensemble, O magnum mysterium is an innovative, harmonically rich work that marvels at the mystery of Jesus' birth, setting the stage perfectly for the Berlioz oratorio that follows. In L'Enfance du Christ, Berlioz tells a dramatic and moving story of Mary, Joseph, and the newborn Jesus in the days following his birth. It's a story about their flight to save their baby from King Herod's murderous plot, the rejection they meet with along their way, and the kind but unlikely stranger who finally offers them a refuge in his home. Berlioz masterfully combines soloists, orchestra and chorus in this composition. Soloists are Heather Johnson, mezzo-soprano; William Burden, tenor; Alan Held, bass-baritone, and Richard Bernstein, bass. This concert will be presented with English supertitles.
"This program is a choral music lover's dream," said Mr. Hayes. "This work will feature the chorus in all its glory, and I can't wait to hear the wonderful voices of the New York Choral Society let loose that glorious sound in the splendid acoustics of Carnegie Hall."
The New York Choral Society (NYCS), founded in 1958, has become known by audiences and critics for the quality of its performances and the diversity of its repertoire, which encompasses well-known choral masterworks as well as many compositions rarely heard in concert halls. The 180-voice symphonic chorus has been widely recognized for its outstanding performances at prestigious music venues around the world.
For more than half a century NYCS has enriched the cultural life of the New York community by performing a rich variety of choral music from classic to contemporary pieces, including newly commissioned works, to some 10,000 people per year; and by fostering interest and participation in choral music through education and community outreach, especially to children. Since 1984 the singers of the NYCS have also served as "ambassadors of music" abroad, with concert tours to many places including Italy, Austria, China, France, Israel, Mexico, Croatia, Greece and the Czech Republic. This year NYCS gave three concerts in Sicily, performing to enthusiastic audiences at the Piazza del Duomo in Cefalù; the Basilica in Montalbano Elicona; and the Teatro Massimo Bellini in Catania.
David Hayes, Music Director of the New York Choral Society, is a conductor with an unusually broad range of repertory, spanning the symphonic, oratorio/choral and operatic genres. His new role as Music Director of the New York Choral Society complements his other roles as Music Director of The Philadelphia Singers; Music Director of the Mannes Orchestra; and Staff Conductor of the Curtis Symphony Orchestra.
For the past ten years, Hayes served as a member of the conducting staff of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He has also served as a cover conductor for the New York Philharmonic as well as for Sir Andre Previn on the Curtis Symphony Orchestra's 1999 European Tour with Anne-Sophie Mutter. Recent guest conducting engagements have included leading Britten's The Rape of Lucretia and the East Coast Premiere performances of Tan Dun's Tea for the Opera Company of Philadelphia as well as conducting the finals of the Fulbright Piano Competition with the Artosphere Festival Orchestra. Past seasons have included concerts with such significant ensembles as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Richmond Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra 2001, Curtis Opera Theatre, European Center for Opera and Vocal Art, Los Angeles Master Chorale, The Washington Chorus, Louisiana Philharmonic, Berkshire Choral Festival and the Verbier Festival.
Trained as a violinist and violist, Hayes received his Bachelor of Music in musicology from the University of Hartford and a Diploma in Orchestral Conducting from the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied with Otto-Werner Mueller. He also studied with Charles Bruck at the Pierre Monteux School. He served on the Board of Directors of Chorus America from 2000-2009.
Heather Johnson, Mezzo-soprano
Heather Johnson has received critical acclaim for her work on both the opera and concert stage. She joined the roster of the Metropolitan Opera in 2012 and makes her debut in 2013 as a Flower Maiden in the new production of Wagner's Parsifal. Ms. Johnson has appeared with the Opera Orchestra of New York in Carnegie Hall in performances of Delibes' Lakme and Rossini's Guillaume Tell and has performed in major opera houses and concert halls throughout the United States and Europe. She is a 2002 Metropolitan Opera National Council Semi-Finalist.
William Burden, Tenor
William Burden has won an outstanding reputation in a wide-ranging repertoire throughout Europe and North America. This season he returns to the Metropolitan Opera for the new production of Thomas Adés' The Tempest. Mr. Burden has appeared in major opera houses and concert halls in the United States and Europe including the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Houston Grand Opera, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and with Les Arts Florissants at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées.
Alan Held, Bass-baritone
Recognized internationally as one of the leading singing actors today, American Bass-baritone Alan Held has appeared in major roles in the world's finest opera houses including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and the Paris Opera. Mr. Held has performed with the Chicago Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, National Symphony and Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and has appeared at the Salzburg and Tanglewood Festivals as well as at the BBC Proms. He is the recipient of the Birgit Nilsson Prize and gives master classes at Yale University.
Richard Bernstein, Bass
A 2008 Grammy-nominated artist, Bass Richard Bernstein is at the forefront of singers of his generation. This season he will return to the Metropolitan Opera for his 17th consecutive season, where he has appeared in 253 performances and over 50 broadcasts since his debut in 1995. He has performed his signature role of Figaro in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro worldwide with the opera companies of Philadelphia, San Diego, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, and Teatro del Maggio Musicale in Florence, among others. Mr. Bernstein's concert engagements have included two previous appearances with the New York Choral Society, and appearances with a host of major American symphony orchestras.
For ticket information, call (212) 247-3878 or visit www.nychoral.org or www.carnegiehall.org. Tickets are also available at the Carnegie Hall box office and through CenterCharge 212-247-7800.
New York Choral Society
David Hayes, conductor
O magnum mysterium - Jennifer Higdon
L'Enfance du Christ - Hector Berlioz
Heather Johnson, mezzo-soprano
William Burden, tenor
Alan Held, bass-baritone
Richard Bernstein, bass