The concert features the celebrated Bach tenor, Rufus Müller, as Evangelist. Müller, who is German-British, was a choral scholar at New College, Oxford. He is a highly sought-after soloist, praised for his vocal freedom, sense of drama and lyrical tone. Müller has performed internationally with leading conductors and orchestras. As a New York Times critic wrote, Müller “gave the strongest theatrical performance of a Bach Evangelist that I have encountered, and one of the most musical." Critiquing a Carnegie Hall performance, the Times observed that Müller was “…easily the best tenor I have heard in a live Messiah."
Bach’s (1685-1750) Christmas Oratorio was first performed at a series of concerts at the churches of St. Thomas and St. Nicholas during the 1734-35 holiday celebration in Leipzig, Germany. The six cantatas in the Oratorio, describing events from Jesus’ birth to the arrival of the Magi, were intended for performance on different days from Christmas to Epiphany. Interestingly, Bach borrowed extensively from music he had composed earlier, including secular works. The new text and the juxtaposition of musical compositions produced a joyous and unforgettable piece—which includes choruses, arias and hymns.
The other acclaimed soloists for this performance are:
Nicole Palmer, soprano. Ms. Palmer is a frequent oratorio and concert soloist. She is also at home in the operatic repertoire, where some of her favorite roles have been Cleopatra (Giulio Cesare), La Contessa Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro) and Pamina (Die Zauberflöte)
Jeffrey Mandelbaum, countertenor. Mr. Mandelbaum made his Metropolitan Opera debut in January as Ferdinand in The Enchanted Island alongside Joyce DiDonato and Plácido Domingo. He returns to the Met for Thomas Ades’ The Tempest. He also recently made his Alice Tully Hall debut with Bach’s Magnificat (American Classical Orchestra).
Curtis Streetman, bass. Mr. Streetman has performed internationally in some of the world’s leading concert and opera houses. Besides major opera bass roles, he has appeared at numerous festivals including Tanglewood, Ravinia, the Hong Kong Arts Festival, the Boston Early Music Festival, the Halle Handel Festival, and the San Juan Arts Festival.
Gardner, in his 21st season conducting Riverside Choral, is also Director of Choral Activities at Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts, in New Brunswick, N.J. Gardner’s performances have been acclaimed by New York audiences, critics, and an international roster of composers whose orchestral and choral works he has conducted. Active in premiering new music, he has won the praise of such notable composers as William Bolcom, John Harbison, Lou Harrison, and Lukas Foss.
Riverside Choral Society’s past performances have generated notable accolades:
•“The Riverside Choral Society had obviously prepared the score thoroughly and sang the music with confidence and full-bodied sound.... This was a sensitive and rewarding performance of Mozart’s most ambitious choral work... It brought the [Mostly Mozart] festival to a fitting close.”--Anthony Tommasini, New York Times
•“Gerard Schwarz and his Festival Orchestra, along with a fine array of soloists and the excellent Riverside Choral Society, gave us a rare view of Strauss’ handiwork.”--Shirley Fleming, New York Post
•“The Riverside Choral Society Chamber Singers delivered a silvery, sure account of Handel’s glorious oratorio.”--John Rockwell, New York Times
•“Augmented by the Riverside Choral Society, the Chorale was indeed the star of the evening, the prayerfully whispered unison passages sounding no less awesome than the massed choral climaxes.”--Peter G. Davis, New York Magazine
Please join Riverside Choral Society for the Bach Christmas Oratorio on Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $75, $45 and $25. For tickets, visit http://www.RiversideChoral.org or the Lincoln Center box office at 212-671-4050, http://www.lincolncenter.org.
About Riverside Choral Society
Noted for new and unusual repertory, the Riverside Choral Society, in its 33rd season, is a vital presence in the cultural life of New York City. Under the baton of director Patrick Gardner, the 100-member chorus has performed major works by Beethoven, Bruckner, Brahms, Mozart, Schubert, Haydn, Britten, Pärt, Fauré, Orff, Stravinsky, Berlioz, and many others in New York City’s most exciting performance venues. For more information, visit http://www.RiversideChoral.org, or call (212) 780-2181.