The Arts at Grace concert series and SUNY Cortland's Department of Performing Arts will present J. S. Bach's complete St. Matthew Passion in English on Good Friday, April 2 at 19 Church Street, formerly the United Community Church, in Cortland. Part One begins at 4 PM and Part II starts at 7:15 PM after a dinner break. Although there is no charge for admission, voluntary contributions will be accepted gratefully at the door.
Recognized as one of the most remarkable choral works ever written, the St. Matthew Passion is rarely performed in part because of its scope. This highly complex masterpiece requires a double chorus, two orchestras, a children's chorus, and six soloists to tell the story of Good Friday according to the Gospel of St. Matthew. On April 2 well over 65 children and adult volunteer musicians from the area will join 49 highly trained professionals to offer the work to the greater Cortland community. To learn more about the performers, visit http://passion.cortlandchoral.com
The role of the Evangelist will be sung by tenor Kirk Dougherty. A graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Dougherty has performed with Dell'Arte Opera, Central City Opera, the Greenwich Choral Society, and the Fayetteville Opera. He is currently a resident artist at Tri-Cities Opera in Binghamton, where he will be singing the role of Nemorino in Donizetti's Elixir of Love on April 30 and May 2, 2010.
Baritone Steven Stull returns to The Arts at Grace to sing the role of Jesus. Stull has appeared with Glimmerglass, Syracuse, and Tri-Cities opera companies as well as with the Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Jacksonville, and West Virginia orchestras. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Oberlin College Conservatory, and Tri-Cities Resident Artists Program. He is co-founder of Ithaca's CRS Barn Studio that presents an eclectic summer series of music and dance performances on a farm overlooking Cayuga Lake in Ithaca, NY.
Soprano Lianne Coble is an active concert soloist who recently made her Carnegie Hall debut. She has also soloed with the Syracuse Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, and the Grand Rapids (MI) Symphony, and has performed operatic roles with the Syracuse and Berkshire Operas, Ash Lawn Opera Festival, and Opera Colorado. Coble holds degrees in music from SUNY Fredonia and Florida State University, and has been a Regional Winner of the Metropolitan Opera's National Council Auditions.
Originally from Manalapan, New Jersey, Mezzo-Soprano Jennifer Kay holds degrees from Ithaca College and Boston University. In 2005 Kay joined the Voice Faculty of Ithaca College. She has been a soloist at the Rochester Bach Festival, Oneida Civic Chorale, Colgate University and Hamilton College. She sings regularly with the Rochester-based early music ensemble, Publick Musick.
Tenor David Parks joined the voice faculty at Ithaca College in 1987. His degrees are from the University of Arizona, University of Michigan, and Westminster Choir College. He has also been an active national and international performer in opera, oratorio, and recital with repertoire ranging from the Baroque to the 21st century. Parks is noted for his bright, rich tenor voice and his excellent communication with audiences.
A graduate of Cornell University and the Peabody Conservatory of Music, bass-baritone David Neal has appeared nationally and regionally with Lake George, Syracuse, Baltimore, and Tri-Cities opera companies. He has been in concert at TheTimesCenter and the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Neal premiered works by Robert Paterson and Lowell Liebermann during The Arts at Grace 2008 concert series. In addition to his roles as Chair of the Performing Arts Department at SUNY Cortland and Artistic Director of the Arts at Grace, he performs frequently with the Society for New Music.
Conductor Dr. Stephen B. Wilson holds degrees in voice and conducting from the University of California, Santa Barbara and Ball State University in Indiana. He was on the faculties of Emerson College (Boston) and North Carolina Wesleyan College before coming to SUNY Cortland in 1985. Seven years later, Wilson received the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Dr. Wilson currently conducts the Choral Union and the College Singers and teaches music theory. A highly eclectic musician, Wilson often sings throughout the region, plays the organ, conducts church choirs, and plays keyboard in the local bluegrass group TheJazzHappensBand. His choral arrangements have been performed in California, North Carolina, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and New York.
Assistant Conductor Marion Giambattista rehearsed Chorus II, the core ensemble. She is recognized regionally both as a performer and teacher. Giambattista has given voice and chamber music recitals and sung solos with a variety of organizations. After receiving a master's degree in vocal performance at Syracuse University, she taught chorus and voice at Cortland High School for a decade. Currently, Giambattista continues to sing and to teach as an adjunct professor at SUNY Cortland and Cornell University.
Children's Choir director Ann Finamore taught vocal music in the Cortland City School District for 33 years before retiring in 2006. She also co-directed the Cortland Boys' Choir and assisted with musicals. She currently teaches private piano and voice lessons. Finamore has degrees from Mansfield University and Ithaca College in music education and performance.
During the one-and-one-half hour intermission between Parts One and Two, a light dinner will be available for $8.00 at Grace Episcopal Church, 13 Court Street, Cortland. To make dinner reservations email The Arts at Grace at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Grace Episcopal Church 607-753-3073 from 9-3 M-F. Directions to the concert and meal venues are available at www.cortlandmusic.org.
The Arts at Grace is a community outreach effort of Grace Episcopal Church assisted by many individual and business contributors from the greater Cortland community. Its mission is to provide wonderful music at no charge to any one who wants to hear it. Thus, admission to all Arts at Grace is always free even though donations are welcome. Major contributors to The St. Matthew Passion include the Wilkins Foundation, the New York State Arts Decentralization Grant Program, and the SUNY Cortland Department of Performing Arts.