The Worcester Chorus, Christopher Shepard, Conductor - Carmen the Musical

with special guest soloists Krista River, Karen Driscoll, Charles Blandy, Dimitrie Lazich, and The Worcester Children's Chorus

Saturday, May 18, 2013
Mechanics Hall - 8:00 PM Performance Free Pre-Concert Talk 7PM with Stephen Ledbetter

Tickets: $40 Adults, $15 Students, $5 under age 18

"The Worcester Chorus sang with a polished, fluid and focused sound." - Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Bizet's Carmen holds allure for those new to opera and those who love opera.  In this slimmed-down concert version, which will be sung in English, the choruses and arias will not include the less enchanting recitatives, which will offer a wonderfully accessible introduction for all ages to this masterpiece in particular and opera in general.

About the Artists

The Worcester Chorus of Music Worcester has the distinction of being one of the most distinguished ongoing choral groups in the United States. Founded in 1858 to sing in the first Worcester Music Festival, the 100+ member chorus includes singers from Worcester County, northern Connecticut, Rhode Island, and the Boston area. Its repertoire has included traditional choral masterworks, contemporary literature - including commissioned works, arrangements of American folk songs, and musical theater classics. The singers perform annually in the Handel's Messiah, a highlight of the season. The Worcester Chorus season includes 3-4 major choral performances every year.

The Worcester Chorus has appeared with the Hartford Symphony, the American Symphony at Avery Fisher Hall in the Lincoln Center, and the Prague Symphony at Carnegie Hall. The Chorus performed at the 1992 American Choral Directors Association Eastern Division Convention in Boston, and has appeared at the Worcester Music Festival with the Philadelphia Orchestra, The Rochester Philharmonic, and the symphonies of Boston, Baltimore, and Detroit. For additional information, visit the Worcester Chorus web site at www.worcesterchorus.com.

In recent years, Artistic Director and conductor, Dr. Christopher Shepard has been most associated with the choral music of Johann Sebastian Bach. He founded the Sydneian Bach Choir and Orchestra in Sydney, Australia, and was the music director of BACH 2010, a project to perform all of Bach’s choral cantatas. Under his direction, the ensemble performed over seventy-five cantatas, as well as the two Passions, B-Minor Mass, and Christmas Oratorio. A Sydney reviewer wrote of the cantata series that “these well-attended events, using a fine choir and perceptive soloists, are high points in our musical terrain.”

In addition to the music of J.S. Bach, Chris has conducted many staples of the choral-orchestral repertoire, and he has commissioned and premiered a number of new choral works in both Australia and America. Chris is Music Director of the Dessoff Choirs, one of New York City’s most venerable choral organizations. They perform regularly with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and have long had a commitment to new music. Since returning to America, Chris has also been a guest conductor at Emmanuel Church in Boston, a church renowned for its three-decade Bach cantata project. He currently serves as Music Director of the First Congregational Church in Watertown, CT. He has conducted avocational choirs for more than two decades, including the Stamford MasterSingers, Greater Middletown Chorale, and Waterbury Chorale in Connecticut.

Resident in Sydney from 1996 to 2008, Chris served as Director of Music at Sydney Grammar School, one of Australia’s most prominent high schools. Music education has been a major focus of his career; before moving to Sydney, Chris led the choral program at the Taft School in Connecticut, where his Collegium Musicum appeared at the 1994 ACDA Eastern Division convention. The Litchfield County Children’s Choir, which he founded in 1990, continues to thrive after nearly two decades. Since 2004, Chris has been Music Director of the Hotchkiss Summer Portals Chamber Music Program, an intensive chamber music program for advanced young players and singers from around the world. He conducts the chamber orchestra and choir, serving on the faculty alongside such guest ensembles as the Shanghai Quartet, the Brentano String Quartet, and Cantus. Over the last two decades, Chris has given several presentations for the American Choral Directors’ Association and has conducted several high school regional festival choirs in New England.

With SBS-TV, an Australian national public television network, Chris presented two documentaries: Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and From Mozart to Morrison with eminent Australian jazz musician James Morrison. The Melbourne Age recommended the Mozart documentary as a “novel, thoughtfully produced hour”. In 2000, Chris was chorusmaster with the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs for their performance in the Olympics Opening Ceremony. Throughout his years in Sydney, Chris worked with a wide range of school and community choirs as conductor and clinician.

Chris holds degrees from the Hartt School and the Yale School of Music, where he studied choral conducting with Marguerite Brooks. He recently completed his PhD in Musicology at the University of Sydney, researching the performance history of Bach’s B Minor Mass in 20th century America.

Hailed by Opera News for her “lovely clarity and golden color,” mezzo-soprano Krista River is a versatile performer who is at home in repertoire ranging from the Baroque period to the 21st century. She was a winner of the 2004 Concert Artists Guild International Competition and a 2007 grant recipient from the Sullivan Foundation. Recent notable performances include the International Water and Life Festival in Qinghai, China, and recitals at Jordan Hall in Boston, the Asociación Nacional de Conciertos in Panama City, Panama, and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, about which the New York Times praised her “warm voice and witty interpretive style.”

Recent opera roles include the title role in Handel’s Xerxes with Arcadia Players, Dido in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas with Mercury Baroque, Cherubino in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro with the North Carolina Symphony, Annio in La clemenza di Tito with Opera Boston, Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia at the Crested Butte Music Festival, Zerlina in Don Giovanni with Opera Aperta, the Mother in Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors with the Santa Fe Symphony, Nancy in Albert Herring with Red House Opera, and Hansel in Hansel and Gretel with Opera Southwest. As Anna I in Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins with Intermezzo Opera, the Boston Phoenix said, “River’s luscious voice was a treat. She injected words with both meaning and nuance. And she moved on stage as if she’d lived there all her life.”

Ms. River’s orchestral engagements have included appearances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Handel & Haydn Society, Kansas City Chamber Orchestra, Harrisburg Symphony, York Symphony, Charlotte Symphony, Florida Orchestra, Pittsburgh Bach and Baroque Ensemble, Boston Musica Viva and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project. She has performed as a guest artist at music festivals including John Harbison’s Token Creek Chamber Music Festival, Monadnock Music, Music from Salem, Saco River Festival, Meeting House Music Festival on Cape Cod, and the Portland Chamber Music Festival in Maine.

Ms. River began her musical career as a cellist, earning her music degree at St. Olaf College. She resides in Boston and is a regular soloist with Emmanuel Music’s renowned Bach Cantata Series.

Over the course of his still burgeoning career baritone Dimitrie Lazich has amassed significant credits both internationally and in the US, performing a number of leading roles.  He made his professional European debut with the Staatsoper Stuttgart in their production of DOCTOR FAUSTUS and has performed with De Nederlandse Reisopera in LA TRAVIATA.  In the UK Lazich debuted with the Dorset Opera singing Zurga in their production of LES PÊCHEURS DE PERLES and more recently with the Longborough Festival Opera as Escamillo CARMEN.  In the US he has performed the roles of Maximilion CANDIDE, Louis in Bolcolm's A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE and Marco GIANNI SCHICCHI with Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, the roles of Marullo RIGOLETTO, Wagner FAUST and Lakai ARIADNE AUF NAXOS with the Opera Company of Philadelphia and Erster Soldat SALOME with Cleveland Opera.  Last season he performed Thomas Putnam THE CRUCIBLE and the Imperial Commissioner MADAMA BUTTERFLY with Sarasota Opera, and he returns to the company this season to perform the role of Moralès CARMEN.

Mr. Lazich is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music where he had the opportunity to perform the roles of the Count LE NOZZE DI FIGARO, Marcello LA BOHÉME, Ramiro L'HEURE ESPAGNOL, Nick Shadow THE RAKE'S PROGRESS and John Sorel THE CONSUL.  In participation with The Music Academy of the West he performed the roles of Beaupertuis IL CAPPELLO DI PAGLIA DI FIRENZE, Guglielmo COSÌ FAN TUTTE, Sid ALBERT HERRING and Don Alvaro IL VIAGGIO A REIMS, where he worked closely with Ms. Marilyn Horne and the late Randal Behr.  Other professional training programs include the Santa Fe Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis and Opera Studio Nederland.

The mission of the Worcester Children's Chorus, under the direction of Jennifer Kane,  is to enrich the lives of children throughout Worcester County by providing a quality musical experience through training in choral singing.  Membership offers a professional-level instruction in vocal technique, music theory, sight singing, ear training, and presentation, as well as an exposure to a variety of choral styles.  Involvement also enhances young people's lives, helping them to develop qualities of self-reliance, personal integrity, responsibility, compassion, and confidence in their abilities. 

For additional information on soloists, click below

Tenor Charles Blandy as Don Jose