Handel’s Messiah Sing-In
Friday, December 20, 2019
David Geffen Hall, Lincoln Center
The annual Handel’s Messiah Sing-In at Lincoln Center was created as a celebration of choral singing and is today New York City’s most popular Holiday Season Community Music Event.
The Sing-In audience-chorus includes 3,000 singers of all backgrounds who come from throughout New York City, the greater New York/New Jersey/Connecticut area, across the United States and from countries around the world. It includes choral singers who sing in church and temple choirs, community choral organizations, high school, college and alumni choruses, people who formerly sang in choirs and many vocal music lovers who want to spend this one special evening singing and being surrounded by thousands of stereophonic voices, all singing Handel’s great choral masterpiece together.
The audience is the chorus—there is no chorus on stage. Rather than being seated in block SATB sections, the audience is seated “scrambled” so that attending choral groups and participating singers can sit with those whom they came with. Each participant brings a Messiah vocal score, and the sound of the massed mixed vocal parts in a tapestry of song throughout the hall is glorious.
There are 17 distinguished choral conductors, each of whom, in turn, conducts one chorus accompanied by the Sing-In organist at the Avery Fisher Hall organ. (Almost every well-known choral conductor in the Greater New York Area and beyond either participates or has participated in the Chorale’s annual Sing-In.) There also are 4 splendid professional soloists singing some of the best known solos and providing additional musical inspiration. Everett McCorvey, Artistic Director of the National Chorale and the Sing-In, is the host for the performance.
The Messiah Sing-In was conceived and developed in 1967 by Mr. Josman, the Chorale’s Board and a group of New York City choral conductors to celebrate choral singing on a community-wide basis. It was agreed by all that the best way to achieve this was to invite the choral singing community to gather one evening annually during a traditional singing time of the year and to sing a great choral work in a major concert hall under the shared leadership of a team of prominent choral conductors. As a result, the name Messiah Sing-In was created. The December Holiday Season was determined to be the best time of year for the event and Handel’s Messiah was selected as the great choral work with which most singers were familiar. Avery Fisher Hall, the exciting new concert hall in the City in the 1960’s was chosen to be the Sing-In location. The plan attracted the enthusiastic interest of New York’s choral community and the public, and the first Messiah Sing-In took place on Friday evening, December 13, 1967. It was an immediate success and has continued as a joyous, traditional choral community singing event every year since then.
The National Chorale has also presented Handel’s Messiah Sing-In in Boston, Minneapolis, Seattle, Denver, St. Louis, Rochester, NY, Phoenix, Tulsa, Lawrence, WI, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center Amphitheater and the Ocean Grove Auditorium, NJ.
This year is the eagerly looked forward to 52nd Anniversary of the New York Messiah Sing-In.
Meet the Soloists
Brittany Renee Robinson, Soprano
Hailed by the South Florida Classical for her “luminous tones” and “lush voice,” soprano Brittany Renee Robinson amazes audiences with her finesse and shimmering stage presence. In summer of 2019, Ms. Robinson travels to Turin, Italy to perform the role of Bess in Porgy & Bess at the Teatro Regio Torino, as well as at the Magnetic Opera Festival in Elba, Italy, followed by her debut in that same renowned work as a company member of The Metropolitan Opera. Later in the season she returns to Opera Orlando in her role debut as Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, and in 2020 appears with Opera San Jose as the Queen of the Night for their spring production of Die Zauberflöte.
Previous engagements have included performances with Knoxville Opera in the role of Madame Herz and Nella in a double bill production of Mozart's Impresario and Puccini's Gianni Schicchi, as well as Lucia in Knoxville’s touring production of Lucia di Lammermoor. Ms. Robinson was featured as a guest artist and model representing the designer Pyer Moss at the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund Gala. After great success with her first concert series, Ms. Robinson traveled back to Minnesota to perform at the University of Minnesota’s Monday Guest Artist Recital Series at the Lloyd Ultan Recital Hall, and made her Lincoln Center debut at David Geffen Hall in New York City as the Soprano soloist in Handel’s Messiah.
Ms. Robinson’s international debuts have included performances at the Semperoper Dresden, the Deutsches Theater München, The Charles Bronfman Auditorium in Tel Aviv, Israel, the Teatro Petruzzelli in Bari, Italy, and Opera on the Avalon in Canada. National appearances have included performances with Out of Box Opera, The Handel Choir of Baltimore, Guelph Symphony Orchestra, Greensboro Symphony Orchestra, Salt Marsh Opera, Piedmont Opera, Chautauqua Opera, Crested Butte Music Festival, Light Opera of New York, Sounds of South Dakota, and the Baltimore Municipal Opera. Additional career highlights include her debuts with the Florida Grand Opera as Musetta in La Bohème and Zerlina in Don Giovanni. She has also performed the Queen of the Night (with the legendary Samuel Ramey as Sarastro) and Pamina in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, and as Lakmé with Opera Theatre of the Rockies where her performance was praised by The Gazette as "a performance which words can do no justice, her crystal clear yet sultry voice produced a sound and spirit that equals her sensual and artistic achievement."
A frequent recitalist, Ms. Robinson has toured with the Siena Chamber Orchestra in Italy and across the United States. Concert engagements include her performance as a featured artist with the Wynton Marsalis’ U.S. Tour of the Abyssinian Mass with Chorale Le Chateau and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and appearances with the critically acclaimed American Spiritual Ensemble. While in Miami, Ms. Robinson was a guest soloist in the Concert for a New Renaissance and worked closely with the world-renowned jazz flutist Nestor Torres and the Miami Youth Symphony.
Ms. Robinson’s prestigious awards include, Senior Grand Prize Winner: Young Patronesses of the Opera, 3rd Place and Audience Favorite: Harlem Opera Theater Competition, 2nd Place and Scholarship Recipient: The Denver Lyric Opera Guild Competition Award, Rosalind Jackson Memorial Award: Crested Butte Music Festival, The Miriam Goodman Award: Chautauqua Opera and Regional Finalist: Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.
Jessica Grigg, Mezzo-Soprano
A winner of the Metropolitan Opera Competition’s New York District, Jessica Grigg was a Finalist in the National Opera Association Competition, a finalist in the New York City NATS competition and a winner of the Operafest NH! Competition.
This spring, Jessica debuts with Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre and she recently joined maestro James Meader with DCINY at Carnegie Hall for a concert of Dan Forrest'sJubilate Deo. She made her debut with Salt Marsh Opera in Gianni Schicchi and with DCINY in Vivaldi's Gloria.Jessica toured the role of Isabella in Gotham Chamber Opera’s production of D. Catan’s, Rappaccini’s Daughter, returned to Teatro Grattacielo in Siberia, and was the alto soloist in Opera Naples’ semi-staged production of Mendelssohn’s Elijah.
In past seasons Jessica performed the role of Carmen with Julius Rudel and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in a program of French Opera. This followed her debut with Opera Illinois as Maddalena in their production of Rigolettoand her debut with Teatro Grattacielo as Anna in Alfano’s Risurezzioneat Alice Tully Hall. Jessica’s first Suzuki was with the Little Opera Company of New Jersey following a recital for the Middlebury Performing Arts Series. She has appeared as Maddalena in Rigolettowith the Lyric Orchestra of New Jersey, New Jersey Verismo Opera and with Opera Theatre of Connecticut. With Opera North, Stephen Fox conducted Jessica as Olga in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, as part of a Russian Romantics Concert Series and she sang the Third Lady in Die Zauberflöteand Edith in The Pirates of Penzance. She has also performed Count Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus with Opera Theatre of Connecticut and Dorabella in Anchorage Opera’s Così fan tutte. She has enjoyed performances with the Little Opera Theatre of New York, Cape Cod Opera as Carmen in a series of concerts,the title role in Orfeowith Five Words in a Line, and concerts with the Boston Landmarks Orchestra Concert Series in Boston and with Opera Providence in Rhode Island. She also recorded Dag Gabrielsen’s opera All Three Acts of a Sad Playfor New York City Opera’s VOX 2011 Festival. Jessica was the mezzo soloist in Mozart’s C minor Masswith the Mohawk Choral Society and has performed the Mozart Requiemwith the Washington Bach Consort and J. Reilly Lewis and with Camerata New York. She was a guest artist in St. Louis’ “Sheldon Hall Gala” featuring Frederica von Stade.
As a performer interested in contemporary compositions, Jessica was the lead in Steven Paulus’ opera Summerin its New York City Premiere with the Center for Contemporary Opera and joined CCO again as Signora Angiolieri in Francis Thorne and J.D. McClatchy’s opera, Mario and the Magician. Jessica performed with Five Words in a Line in a concert of music by composers Charles Fussell and Stefan Weisman in NYC’s Greenwich House Music Hall and, at the request of the composer, recorded Stephen Aprahamian’s new opera, The Fountain of Youth. She was asked by composer Jorge Martin to record his song cycle “Of Fathers and Sons” and to premiere his song cycle “A Cuban in Vermont” at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. Jessica will be Dr. von Zahnd on Dag Gabrielsen’s recording and film of his new opera The Physicistsbased on Dürrenmatt’s play by the same name.
Keith Harris, Baritone
Praised for the distinctive warmth of his voice, clear diction, and exceptional musicianship,
American baritone Keith Harris is captivating audiences in his performances on both operatic and concert stages. This season, Mr. Harris performs the role of Miller in Better Gods Concert with Little Opera Theater of NY, performs as a soloist in Handel’s Messiah with Helena Symphony, Schaunard in La bohéme with Opera Carolina and Toledo Opera, sings at a fundraising event with Annapolis Opera, Carmina Burana with Pacific Northwest Ballet, and joins The Metropolitan Opera for their production of Werther. Last season, he reprised the role of Albert in Werther for his début with The Israeli Opera and performed the role of Marcello in La Boheme with Opera Tampa. He also performed Carmina Burana with the Kirkland Choral Society and in concert with the Bel Canto Festival.
Highlights of his North American engagements include productions of The Merry Widow, Faust, Werther, and Lulu with The Metropolitan Opera; the role of Valentin in Faust with Toledo Opera and Annapolis Opera; the creation of the role of Sir Plume in the world première of The Rape of the Lock at New York Opera Fest; Silvio in Pagliacci with Opera Tampa; Albert in Werther with Mobile Opera; and the roles of Count Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro and Dandini in La Cenerentola with Bar Harbor Music Festival, where he subsequently returned for a Tea Concert and pops concert for their 50th Anniversary.
He has appeared with the Seattle Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Holders Festival in Barbados, Nevada Opera, Opera of East Texas, El Paso Opera, and Skagit Opera. Noted roles in Mr. Harris’ repertoire also include Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Papageno in Die Zauberflöte, and Athanaël in Thaïs. No stranger to musical theatre, Mr. Harris performed as Billy Bigelow in Carousel, Anthony Hope in Sweeney Todd, Pirate Bras Pique in Naughty Marietta, and The Music Man with Baltimore Actors’ Theatre. Internationally, he performed the role of Journalist in Lulu at Teatro Comunale di Bologna and often performs many roles with The Festival lyrique international de Belle-Île en Mer in France, including Belcore in L’elisir d’amore, Iago in Otello, Ford in Falstaff, and, most recently, Tonio in Pagliacci.
A seasoned concert artist, Mr. Harris has performed with numerous esteemed symphonies throughout North America. Since his début at Carnegie Hall for the world première of David N. Child’s Requiem, Mr. Harris repeatedly finds himself on the stage of the esteemed venue for performances of great works such as Hayes’s Te Deum, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Orff’s Carmina Burana, and Rutter’s Mass of the Children. With New Jersey Choral Society, he sang Fauré’s Reqiuem, and with both New Jersey Choral Society and Connecticut Choral Society he sang Haydn’s Heiligmesse and Ed Lojeski’s Psalms of Passover. Other highlights of his concert career include the roles of Morales and Le Dancaïre in Carmen with Pacific Symphony; the baritone solo in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with New Haven Symphony, Lancaster Symphony, and National Chorale at Avery Fisher Hall; Karsa’s Brudibar with Phoenix Symphony; Händel’s Messiah with East Texas Symphony Orchestra; Gerald Finzi’s In Terra Pax with Dessoff Choirs under the baton of James Bagwell; Argento’s Andrée Expedition with Emerson Series in Wisconsin with pianist Kenneth Bozeman; Carmina Burana with Savannah Philharmonic, Lancaster Symphony, Riverside Choral Society at Alice Tully Hall, and National Chorale at Lincoln Center; Stephen Paulus’ So Hallow’d Is the Time with Greenwich Choral Society; and the world première of Morning Has Broken arranged by Bob Chilcott.
A vocal competition winner, his numerous honors and awards include first prize in the Seattle
Region Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, “Young Artist of the Year” with Opera Longview Vocal Competition in Texas, the Ellen Faull Gordon Northwest Vocal Competition, and the Ladies Musical Club Competition in Seattle. He holds a Master of Music degree in Voice Performance from the University of Washington and a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance from Lawrence University in Wisconsin.
2019 Messiah Sing-In Conductors
Soon to be announced!