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Worcester Chamber Music Society: Bach Christmas Cantatas

Friday, December 6, 2024 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm

Adult: $45
Student: $10
Youth (17 and under): FREE

Worcester Chamber Music Society joins forces with guest musicians and vocalists to present J.S. Bach’s Christmas Cantatas (nos. 32, 151, and 132). Replete with rich orchestration and stunning vocal parts, this is Bach at his finest, and a perfect way to welcome the holiday season.

This performance is presented as part of Music Worcester’s THE COMPLETE BACH, an 11-year project to present all of J.S. Bach’s music in advance of his 350th birthday. Chris Shepard, director of THE COMPLETE BACH and The Worcester Chorus, will deliver a pre-concert lecture for this presentation.

Featured Performers

Worcester Chamber Music Society
John McKean, harpsichord
Nathan Varga, double bass
Kirsten Lipkens, oboe
Kristen Watson, soprano
Krista River, alto
Matthew Anderson, tenor
David McFerrin, baritone

Violist and composer Mark Berger has toured throughout the United States and internationally as a member of the Lydian String Quartet. In addition to his work with the quartet, Berger frequently performs with many of Boston’s finest orchestras and chamber ensembles including the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops, Emmanuel Music, and the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Worcester Chamber Music Society, and Music at Eden’s Edge.  He has recently appeared as a guest artist with the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, Boston Musica Viva, Chameleon Arts ensemble, and Radius Ensemble.  Strongly devoted to the performance of new music, Berger has performed with many of Boston’s new music ensembles including Sound Icon, Dinosaur Annex, Ludovico Ensemble, and ALEA III.  He has recorded solo and chamber works for Albany, Bridge and Innova records.  An acclaimed composer, Berger’s works have been presented by many of the leading contemporary ensembles in the Boston area.  His compositions have received awards and recognition from the League of Composers/ISCM, ASCAP, and the Rapido! Composition Competition.

Krista Buckland Reisner, violinist has been described as “Things done right..”(Boston Globe), “…Excellent left hand..”(Toronto Star), and “…lovely tonal bloom…”(LeDROIT). Over the past 25 years, she has performed with well-known and diverse musicians from Leonard Bernstein to John Williams, Anton Kuerti, Placido Domingo, Brian Wilson, Smokey Robinson, and Diana Krall. Krista has performed across North America, Europe, Russian and New Zealand, including performances at Carnegie Hall, La Scala, and the Boston Esplanade on July 4th with the Boston Pops. Krista’s early career was opera-focused; she served as Principal Second Violin of the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, Concertmaster of Opera Boston, performed Wagner’s “Ring Cycle” with the Arizona Opera and played in the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra. Also an early music aficionado, Krista performed with Canada’s Aradia, Boston Baroque, and is currently a tenured member of the Handel and Haydn Society.

Ariana Falk, cello, serves as Education Director for the Worcester Chamber Music Society, and is a founding director of Neighborhood Strings, an intensive music and social justice program for youth from Worcester’s underserved communities. She combines performance with a passion for forging new paths in teaching artistry. She was a Fulbright Scholar in Germany, where she performed with the Heidelberger Symphoniker, and now serves as music director of the
Massachusetts Fulbright Association. She appeared as a guest artist on the Marlboro College and Longy Faculty Artist series, live on WGBH Boston, and at Al Kamanjadti festival in the West Bank. She has appeared as soloist with the Columbia and Olympia Symphonies, and is an alumna Fellow at Community MusicWorks in Providence. Ariana has performed at the Juilliard, Norfolk, Banff, Great Lakes, and Deer Valley summer festivals, and collaborated with artists including Menahem Pressler and Paul Katz.

Rohan Gregory, violin has cultivated wide-ranging expertise in chamber music, new music, and world music. He has played with the Apple Hill Chamber Players, the Ancora Ensemble and award-winning Boccherini Ensemble and was also a founding member for ten years of the Arden String Quartet, performing new music concerts in New York, Boston, Amsterdam and St. Petersburg, Russia. On the world music scene, Rohan has toured extensively. His travels have
taken him to Europe with the Klezmatics, to Thailand with multi-ethnic flute player Abbie Rabinowitz, to India with the Indo-jazz group Natraj and to the U.S. west coast with Sophia Bilides Greek Folk Ensemble. Recently he has played nationally and internationally with the flamenco guitarist Juanito Pascual. Locally, Rohan is a member of the Boston Lyric Opera.

Tracy Kraus, Executive Director/flute has been described as “Supple and riveting…. elegant and adroit playing…dazzling” (Worcester Telegram). Ms. Kraus has performed throughout Europe and the United States, at the Tanglewood and Aspen Music Festivals, at Carnegie Hall, and appeared live on WGBH radio. Her love of the Northern California coast led her to her current orchestral tenure with the Mendocino Music Festival. Ms. Kraus is a co-founder of the Worcester Chamber Music Society, leading the organization through a significant stage of growth and success. Ms. Kraus is a recent Katherine Erskine Award recipient, presented by the YWCA, for her leadership and significant contribution to the community.

John McKean is a harpsichordist and musicologist based in Boston, where he serves on the faculty and is chair of the Historical Performance Department at the Longy School of Music of Bard College. Frequently in demand as both a soloist and continuo player, he has performed extensively throughout Europe and North America, with concert engagements bringing him to venues as far afield as the Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), Fondazione Cini (Venice), Museu da Música (Lisbon), St. Martin-in-the-Fields (London), Norðurljós Hall (Reykjavík, Iceland), and the Philips Collection (Washington, DC).

Critically acclaimed for his “intelligent” and “precise” playing (The Washington Post) as well as his “sonorous brilliance and thrilling, dance-like energy” (Allgäuer Zeitung), John performs with leading American and European ensembles, including Apollo’s Fire, Emmanuel Music, the Catacoustic Consort, Camerata Vocale Freiburg, Habsburger Camerata, and has appeared with the Jacksonville, Naples, Portland (Maine), and Pittsburg symphony orchestras (among others). He counts among his live radio broadcasts performances on NPR, BBC Radio 3, and Deutschlandradio Berlin.

Nathan Varga maintains a vibrant career as a double bassist in the Boston area. His experience ranges from orchestral and chamber music to period performance, opera, and theater. He appears regularly with the Cape Symphony, Marsh Chapel Collegium, Bach Consort of Worcester, Grand Harmonie, and The Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. Other recent appearances include Nth Degree, Boston Opera Collaborative, Music from Salem New York, MetroWest Opera, Speakeasy Theatre Company, and the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society.

Nathan holds degrees from Boston University and Baldwin Wallace College, having studied with Edwin Barker, Benjamin Levy, and Henry Peyrebrune. His orchestral training includes fellowships at Tanglewood Music Center, National Repertory Orchestra, Texas Music Festival, Brevard Music Festival, and Eastern Music Festival. Desiring to engage a diverse audience, he also enjoys playing original music and arranging covers with friends. Other interests include cycling, woodworking, and bicycle and auto-mechanics.

For over 30 years, oboist Kirsten Lipkens has performed, taught, and created educational programs to inspire audiences of all ages to appreciate and explore the art of music. She studied oboe performance at Eastman School of Music and Yale School of Music. Her teachers include Alicia Chapman, Neil Boyer, Richard Killmer, Ronald Roseman, and Peggy Pearson.

Kirsten performed in Japan, Europe, and the United States, with several appearances in Carnegie Hall and The Kennedy Center. She has played with symphony orchestras in Charlottesville(VA), Richmond(VA), Virginia, West Virginia, Vermont, New Hampshire, Springfield(MA), Glens Falls(NY), Albany(NY), and Rhode Island. An avid chamber music artist, she founded a chamber music festival in the 1990s. As a member of The Battell Woodwind Quintet, she participated in a residency in Dodge City, KS sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and was a finalist in the Fischoff Competition.

Most recently, as a member of the Deerfield Quintet, she enjoyed performing throughout Western Massachusetts. Kirsten taught at the University of Virginia, Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, UMass Amherst, and Western New England University. She is currently teaching at Springfield College and Amherst College and is the principal oboe of NERO (New England Repertory Orchestra).

Soprano Kristen Watson, hailed by critics for her “blithe and silvery” tone (Boston Globe) and “striking poise” (Opera News) has made solo appearances with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, American Classical Orchestra, Mark Morris Dance Group, Handel & Haydn Society, Boston Baroque and A Far Cry at such venues as Walt Disney Concert Hall, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and Boston’s Symphony Hall.

Ms. Watson has received particular acclaim for her interpretations of Baroque repertoire, performing as soloist for the San Francisco Early Music Society, Trinity Wall Street, North Carolina Symphony, Sarasa, Aston Magna Festival and Boston Early Music Festival. Praised for her “keen musicianship, agility and seamless control” (San Antonio Express), Ms. Watson has been recognized by the Concert Artists Guild, Oratorio Society of New York, Joy in Singing, American Bach Society and Louisville Bach Society competitions and was awarded both the Virginia Best Adams Fellowship at the Carmel Bach Festival and the Lorraine Hunt Lieberson Fellowship with Emmanuel Music.

Opera audiences have heard Ms. Watson in productions with Odyssey Opera, Boston Lyric Opera and the Boston University Opera Institute in such roles as Anne Trulove in The Rake’s Progress, Tytania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Voice of the Fountain in Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar directed by Peter Sellars. A versatile crossover artist, Ms. Watson has made several solo appearances with the Boston Pops under Keith Lockhart in programs ranging from Mozart to Richard Rodgers. Solo recordings include a collection of baroque cantatas with Musicians of the Old Post Road and Barber’s Knoxville with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project.

Krista River has appeared as a soloist with the Boston Symphony, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the North Carolina Symphony, the Cape Cod Symphony, the Santa Fe Symphony, Handel & Haydn Society, the Florida Orchestra, the Charlotte Symphony, Odyssey Opera, Baltimore Choral Arts Society, and Boston Baroque.

Winner of the 2004 Concert Artists Guild International Competition and a 2007 Sullivan Foundation grant recipient, her opera roles include Dido in Dido and Aeneas, Sesto in La clemenza di Tito, Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Anna in Weill’s Seven Deadly Sins, Nancy in Britten’s Albert Herring, and the title role in Handel’s Xerxes.

Other notable performances include the International Water and Life Festival in Qinghai, China, and recitals at Jordan Hall in Boston and the Asociación Nacional de Conciertos in Panama City, Panama. For Ms. River’s New York Recital debut at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, the New York Times praised her “shimmering voice…with the virtuosity of a violinist and the expressivity of an actress.” She resides in Boston and is a regular soloist with Emmanuel Music’s renowned Bach Cantata Series.


With a “voice of exceptional dramatic flair and excellent tone,” Tenor Matthew Anderson is a versatile and compelling performer of opera, oratorio, and musical theater.

An accomplished interpreter of the music of Bach, Mr. Anderson sings regularly as a soloist in Boston’s renowned Emmanuel Music Bach Cantata Series. He has been a featured soloist at the Aldeburgh, Carmel Bach, and Baldwin Wallace Bach Festivals. He has received particular acclaim for his portrayals of the Evangelists in Bach’s Passions, which he has performed throughout North America. Mr. Anderson is a prizewinner in the American Bach Society and Oratorio Society of New York Solo Competitions.

Recent performances from Mr. Anderson’s varied repertoire include the Boston premiere of Galina Grigorjeva’s On Leaving with the Boston Symphony, Handel’s Acis and Galatea (Damon) with the Mark Morris Dance Group; Scarlatti’s La Caduta de’ Decemviri with ACRONYM at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; Bach’s Coffee Cantata with Boston Baroque; Mozart’s Requiem with the National Chorale at Avery Fisher Hall; Stravinsky’s Renard at Tanglewood and the Mostly Mozart Festival with the Mark Morris Dance Group; Handel’s Messiah with the Masterwork Chorus at Carnegie Hall; John Harbison’s Winter’s Tale with the Boston Modern Orchestra Project; and Britten’s Les Illuminationswith The Orchestra of Indian Hill.

He has sung with conductors Masaaki Suzuki, Nicholas McGegan, Paul Goodwin, Harry Christophers, Martin Pearlman, John Harbison, Craig Smith, Julian Wachner, and Laurence Cummings and appeared as soloist with ensembles such as the Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Baroque, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Cantata Singers, and the Handel Choir of Baltimore.

Also recognized as a gifted performer of the American songbook, Mr. Anderson recently joined Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops for their Bernstein Centennial Tribute at Boston Symphony Hall. In previous seasons, he has appeared with the Pops in Carousel (as Mr. Snow) and in celebrations of the music of Richard Rodgers and Cole Porter. Mr. Anderson studied Classics at Harvard and voice at the New England Conservatory. He is a Kansas native and lives in Cambridge with his husband John and daughter Nora.

Hailed for his “voice of seductive beauty” (Miami Herald), baritone David McFerrin has won critical acclaim in a variety of genres. His opera credits include Santa Fe Opera, Seattle Opera, Florida Grand Opera, the Rossini Festival in Germany, and numerous roles with Boston Lyric Opera and other local companies. As concert soloist he has sung with the Cleveland Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, Handel and Haydn Society, and in recital at the Caramoor, Ravinia, and Marlboro Festivals. He was runner-up in the Oratorio Society of New York’s 2016 Lyndon Woodside Solo Competition, the premier US contest for this repertoire. David is also a member of the renaissance vocal ensemble Blue Heron, winners of the 2018 Gramophone award for Best Early Music Album. Recent performance highlights have included the role of Thoas in Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride with Boston Baroque; Monteverdi’s dramatic scena Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda with American Bach Soloists in the Bay Area; and two turns as Lucifer/the Devil––one in a filmed production of Handel’s La Resurrezione with Emmanuel Music and the other in Stravinsky’s “A Soldier’s Tale” with Aston Magna Music Festival. David lives in Natick, Massachusetts with his wife Erin Doherty, an architectural historian and preservation planner; their daughter Fiona; and black lab Holly.

Music Worcester thanks the following sponsors of this presentation:
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Worcester Telegram & Gazette

“Through the years the Chamber Music Society has crafted thoughtful, innovative and interesting programs, and its playing has become so effortless, so technically virtuosic and so musically expressive…they have become one of the most loved and admired treasures in our musical community.”

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Friday, December 6, 2024
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
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First Unitarian Church
90 Main Street
Worcester, MA 01608 United States
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