Performance Sunday, November 14, 2010 | 4 PM

Too Hot to Handel:
The Gospel Messiah

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
A mass choir of New York City students joins Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in Too Hot to Handel. This full-length work has thrilled audiences across the country with its blend of the timeless brilliance of Handel's Messiah with an invigorating infusion of jazz, gospel, rock, and R&B.


  • Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
    Marin Alsop, Music Director and Conductor
  • Choirs from:
    Bayside High School
  • Darius de Haas, Tenor
  • Edward R. Murrow High School
  • Fordham High School for the Arts
  • Frank Sinatra School of the Arts
  • Kecia Lewis-Evans, Soprano
  • Leslie Stifelman, Music Supervisor
  • Songs of Solomon
  • Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts
  • Vaneese Thomas, Mezzo-Soprano


  • BOB CHRISTIANSON / GARY ANDERSON Too Hot to Handel (original concept by Marin Alsop)


  • Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

    The Grammy Award-winning Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (BSO) is internationally recognized as having achieved a preeminent place among the world's most important orchestras. Acclaimed for its enduring pursuit of artistic excellence, the BSO has attracted a devoted national and international following, while maintaining deep bonds throughout Maryland with innovative education and community outreach initiatives.

    The BSO made music history in September 2007, when Marin Alsop led her inaugural concerts as the orchestra's 12th Music Director, making her the first woman to head a major American orchestra. With her highly praised artistic vision, her dynamic musicianship, and her commitment to accessibility in classical music, Ms. Alsop's leadership has ushered in a new era for the BSO and its audiences.

    Under Ms. Alsop's leadership, the BSO has rapidly added several critically acclaimed albums to its already impressive discography. The BSO recently released Dvořák's Symphonies Nos. 6, 7, and 8-the final two discs in its three-disc Dvořák cycle. In August 2009, the BSO and Ms. Alsop released Bernstein's Mass, featuring baritone Jubilant Sykes, the Morgan State University Choir, and the Peabody Children's Chorus. The album rose to No. 6 on Billboard's Classical Charts and received a 2009 Grammy nomination for Best Classical Album. The orchestra made its foray into online distribution in April 2007 with the release of a live concert recording of Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring on iTunes, which quickly become the site's top-selling classical music download.

    In addition to the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, where the orchestra has performed for 27 years, the BSO is a founding partner and the resident orchestra at the new state-of-the-art Music Center at Strathmore, just outside Washington, DC. With the opening of Strathmore in February 2005, the BSO became the nation's only major orchestra with year-round venues in two metropolitan areas.

    Marin Alsop

    Hailed as one of the world's leading conductors for her artistic vision and commitment to accessibility in classical music, Marin Alsop made history with her appointment as the 12th Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. With her inaugural concerts in September 2007, she became the first woman to head a major American orchestra. She also holds the title of Conductor Emeritus at the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in the UK, where she served as the principal conductor from 2002 to 2008, and is Music Director of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in California.

    In 2005, Ms. Alsop was named a MacArthur Fellow, the first conductor ever to receive this prestigious award. In 2007, she was honored with a European Women of Achievement Award; in 2008, she was inducted as a fellow into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and in 2009, Musical America named her Conductor of the Year.

    A regular guest conductor with the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, and Los Angeles Philharmonic, Ms. Alsop appears frequently as a guest conductor with the most distinguished orchestras around the world. In addition to her performance activities, she is also an active recording artist, with award-winning cycles of works by Brahms, Barber, and Dvořák.

    Marin Alsop attended Yale University and received her master's degree from The Juilliard School. In 1989, her conducting career was launched when she won the Koussevitzky Conducting Prize at Tanglewood, where she studied with Leonard Bernstein.
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  • Bayside High School | Joe Piccirillo, Choral Director

    Bayside High School's Academy of Music is the premiere Queens high school for music and has been providing quality music education for more than 20 years. The preparation students receive at BHS contributes to the 99% of students who were accepted to college from the 2010 graduating class. Bayside music students have performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Queens College, New York University, Disney World, the United Palace Theatre, the United Nations, the MetLife Building, Flushing Town Hall, and The Metropolitan Opera, while performing with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke's, The Collegiate Chorale, and The National Chorale. Bayside students also earn college credits from St. John's University in their music classes, and many BHS students have held internships at institutions that range from Lincoln Center to the Apollo Theater to Def Jam Records.
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  • Darius de Haas

    Darius de Haas has appeared on Broadway in Kiss of the Spider Woman, Carousel, Rent, The Gershwins' Fascinating Rhythm, Marie Christine, and Dreamgirls in Concert. Off-Broadway, regional, and touring credits include his Obie Award-winning performance in Running Man (Music-Theatre Group); Children of Eden (Paper Mill Playhouse); Saturn Returns (Public Theater); Cry, the Beloved Country (Goodman Theatre); The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin (Playwrights Horizons); Once on This Island (First National Tour); and I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky. Television appearances include Only Heaven, My Favorite Broadway: The Love Songs, and In the Life. His film work includes Anastasia, Malcolm X, Martin & Orloff, Chicago, and Larry Flynt: The Right to Be Left Alone.

    As a concert artist, Mr. Haas's singular abilities have served him in a wide assortment of repertoire. He premiered his tribute to composer Billy Strayhorn in sold-out concerts for Lincoln Center's American Songbook series, followed by critically acclaimed concerts of Stevie Wonder's music. Mr. Haas has been a featured soloist at Carnegie Hall, London's Royal Festival Hall (with Elvis Costello and Deborah Harry), the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (with Marvin Hamlisch and Roberta Flack), Walt Disney Concert Hall (with the Los Angeles Master Chorale and the Luckman Jazz Orchestra), Birdland, and the Blue Note (Japan). He is proud to be a frequent duet partner of Vanessa Williams on her concert tours.
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  • Edward R. Murrow High School | Cheryl Johnson, Choral Director

    Edward R. Murrow High School's Gospel Chorus is a multicultural group of 80 singers. The group is a part of the Music Institute at Edward R. Murrow High School-a US Department of Education-designated School of Excellence in Brooklyn. The Murrow Music Institute is one of the largest and most comprehensive high school music programs in New York City. Its Gospel Chorus has performed traditional and contemporary spirituals, as well as excerpts from Haydn's The Creation, Mozart's Requiem, and Handel's Messiah. This group has won numerous awards and accolades at national and regional competitions and has been featured in an ABC special for McDonald's Gospelfest. The Gospel Chorus has also been a featured group in Rockefeller Center's summer concert series and has performed the national anthem at Madison Square Garden before a Harlem Globetrotters game. Last year, the group performed for Quincy Jones and the Quincy Jones Musiq Consortium.
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  • Fordham High School for the Arts | John Irving, Choral Director

    Fordham High School for the Arts is a school community whose focus on the performing arts assists students in meeting both their creative and academic goals. Located in the Belmont neighborhood of the Bronx, FHSA recognizes the demand for artistically talented students to attend a local high school that offers a strong instructional program in vocal music, instrumental music, dance, drama, and the visual arts. Students complete a four-year, standards-based program designed to prepare them for pursuing the arts or any other academic discipline at an institution of higher learning. The award-winning vocal music program, under the direction of John Irving, consistently receives superior ratings at the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) Solo and Ensemble Festival and recently earned two Gold ratings at the 2010 NYSSMA Major Organization Festival. The FHSA Mixed Chorus performs regularly in the community and participated in Carnegie Hall's Bernstein Mass Project in 2008.
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  • Frank Sinatra School of the Arts | Heidi Best, Choral Director

    The Frank Sinatra School of the Arts is a public school founded by singer Tony Bennett. Under the direction of Heidi Best, the FSSA Concert Choir has proudly shared the stage with Mr. Bennett and has performed in many venues around New York City, including Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, Alice Tully Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the American Museum of Natural History. The group also has performed for the Governor's Arts Awards, Americans for the Arts ceremonies, the Dave Matthews Band's Central Park concert, NBC Morning News, and The Tyra Banks Show. Several FSSA students have performed in the NYSSMA All-State Choir, have been finalists in several young artists competitions, and have participated in the New York City Opera Acting for Singers seminar. Many FSSA singers participate in The Collegiate Chorale's Side-by-Side program, performing large choral masterworks with internationally renowned singers, conductors, and orchestras on domestic and international stages.
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  • Kecia Lewis-Evans

    Kecia Lewis-Evans has crafted her career playing powerful women on both stage and television. Most recently, she appeared on Broadway as Mama Morton in the long-running hit musical Chicago. Other Broadway credits include Shrek, The Drowsy Chaperone, Dreamgirls, Once on This Island, Ain't Misbehavin', Big River, and The Gospel at Colonus. Off-Broadway, she received a Drama Desk Award nomination for her performance in Dessa Rose and appeared in From the Mississippi Delta.

    Ms. Lewis-Evans has an extensive list of regional theater credits, including an Ovation Award for her critically acclaimed portrayal of Effie White in Dreamgirls, a Bay Area Critics Circle Award for her stellar performance as Big Sweet in Polk County and a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle nomination for Raisin. Additional regional theater credits include Smokey Joe's Cafe, Ain't Misbehavin', The King and I, South Pacific, and The Sound of Music.

    Her television credits include Law & Order, Kate Brasher, Crossing Jordan, and The Hughleys, and she is working to develop a new reality series.
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  • Leslie Stifelman

    Peabody Award­-winner Leslie Stifelman enjoys a varied musical career as a conductor and pianist, in addition to her work as a producer and educator. Ms. Stifelman is currently the Music Director for the Tony- and Grammy-winning Broadway hit musical Chicago. As the show's conductor, she has been responsible for many performances of the longest-running revival in the history of Broadway and has worked with many stars of the show. In her role as conductor and pianist, Ms. Stifelman has worked with The Philadelphia Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, The Colorado Symphony, and many others. She has performed with some of the world's leading musicians, including Marin Alsop, Dawn Upshaw, Mark O'Connor, and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg.

    Ms. Stifelman most recently joined Maestra Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra as Music Supervisor for the orchestra's Carnegie Hall and Kennedy Center production of Bernstein's Mass in honor of the composer's 90th birthday. She also collaborated with the BSO last season in developing a community engagement component for the orchestra's Too Hot to Handel presentations at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore.

    A fervent advocate for arts education, Ms. Stifelman is the President and Creative Director of Symfunny Toons Inc., a company dedicated to the development of television programs and interactive products to help children learn about music. In this role, Ms. Stifelman served as executive producer for the Peabody Award-winning HBO documentary television series The Music in Me.

    Bob Christianson

    Bob Christianson is a composer, arranger, keyboard player, and conductor. This past year, he has been busy writing and recording his newest concert piece, entitled A Christmas Carol- The Concert, with his collaborator, lyricist, and book writer Alisa Hauser. It is a new version of the timeless Dickens ghost story, written expressly for the concert stage. It uses a full orchestra and chorus, three male soloists, a narrator, and a rock-pop rhythm section. It is due to release this month.

    Mr. Christianson was the most called-upon composer for the HBO series Sex and the City, was nominated for an Emmy Award for his music for ABC Sports, and has scored many series for the Discovery family of networks, including Secrets of the National Parks and Blue Angels: A Year in the Life. His television credits also include this season's Mysteries at the Museum (Travel Channel) and the "NCAA Basketball Theme" for CBS.

    As a successful studio synthesist, Mr. Christianson has recorded with such artists as Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, Jan Hammer, Judy Collins, Diana Ross, and Rupert Holmes. His orchestra works have been performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, The Colorado Symphony, The Concordia Orchestra, Florida Orchestra, and others.

    Clifford Carter

    Keyboardist and composer Clifford Carter has performed and recorded with legendary artists ranging from Art Garfunkel, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Natalie Cole, Bette Midler, Carly Simon, and Patti Scialfa to Chris Botti, Dolly Parton, Paul Simon, George Benson, Narada Michael Walden, Betty Buckley, and Paul Shaffer's Late Show with David Letterman band. From 1990 to 2001, Mr. Carter was a member of singer-songwriter James Taylor's touring and recording band. He worked on numerous Taylor releases, including the 1997 Grammy Award-winning Hourglass. He released a solo CD, Walkin' Into the Sun, in 1993, which featured original instrumental and vocal compositions. His keyboard work has contributed to numerous film scores, including You've Got Mail, A Chorus Line, The Object of My Affection, The Muppets Take Manhattan, the remake of Shaft, and the recently filmed Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding, featuring Jane Fonda and Catherine Keener. Every year since 1993, Mr. Carter has been a featured pianist in performances of Too Hot to Handel.

    Mike Pope

    Since 1993, Mike Pope has become a fixture on the New York jazz scene. He has performed or recorded with some of the world's most venerated musicians, including Michael and Randy Brecker, Mike Stern, Joe Locke, Chuck Loeb, Steve Smith, and Jeff "Tain" Watts. He has toured internationally as a member of several high-profile projects, including Chick Corea Elektric Band, David Sanborn's band, The Manhattan Transfer, and Bill Bruford's Earthworks. Playing acoustic upright and electric bass, he has released two albums: Walk Your Dogma and The Lay of the Land. Mr. Pope provides instruction through clinics and his own jazz camp. He has appeared as a special guest artist at events such as Steve Bailey's Bass at the Beach, Victor Wooten's Bass/Nature Camp, Bass Day, and Euro Bass Day alongside bass titans Matthew Garrison and Dominique Di Piazza. He is a former faculty member of the Bass Collective.

    Clint de Ganon

    Clint de Ganon has played on more than 1,000 recording sessions and 75 tours. His versatility is reflected in his work with artists, including Bill Preston, Kid Rock, Christopher Cross, Orleans, Phoebe Snow, John Tropea, Tom Scott, Edgar Winter, Bob James, The Blues Brothers, Chuck Loeb, David Pack, Linda Eder, Dionne Warwick, Mark Cohn, Art Garfunkel, Fantasia, Burt Bacharach, Christine Ebersole, Cissy Houston, Elvis Costello, Cornell Dupree, Brook Benton, Ann-Margret, Warren Hill, Michael Franks, and the Saturday Night Live band. He also created the drum parts for four original Broadways shows, including the Grammy- and Tony-winning hits Hairspray and Footloose. For more than a decade, Mr. de Ganon has been the featured drum soloist in annual performances of Too Hot to Handel.
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  • Songs of Solomon | Chantel Wright and Kristin McCloud, Choral Directors

    Founded in 2001 by veteran conductor Chantel Renee Wright, Songs of Solomon is thriving in the Harlem community, serving children of predominately African American and Latino descent. The ensemble has performed with Earth, Wind & Fire; Elton John; Aretha Franklin; Ashford and Simpson; Kelly Clarkson; and Fantasia. It also has toured major cities in the US and won competitions in the New York City area. Ms. Wright is a firm believer that arts education stimulates children spiritually and intellectually, and builds the family through its commitment to a child's overall development. Songs of Solomon's membership comes from all over the Tri-State area and bridges all ethnicities. Its focus is on providing a safe haven for all young people to flourish. For the past four years, 100% of our membership has entered college and 50% are now pursing advanced degrees in the arts.
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  • Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts | Darryl Jordan, Choral Director

    Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts, founded in 2006 by Principal Fia Davis, aims to sustain a challenging college-preparatory curriculum that infuses the performing arts into all aspects of the academic experience. By using the arts as a teaching tool and providing students with the means to express themselves, UASPA breathes life and confidence into all members of the school community. It uses the cultural and professional resources of New York City to ensure that students receive a rigorous education that exceeds state standards, are successful in earning a college degree, and have a vision for what their future holds. The UASPA Performing Arts Program trains students in the areas of dance, theater, instrumental music, and vocal arts. The Department of Vocal Arts, under the direction of Darryl Jordan, endeavors to "develop singers for every stage."
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  • Vaneese Thomas

    The daughter of legendary R&B musician Rufus Thomas, Vaneese Thomas's talents as an accomplished performer, songwriter, producer, and actress have helped place her as a sought-after solo performer and desired vocalist. She has worked with an array of internationally known performers, including Luciano Pavarotti, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Natalie Cole, B. B. King, Eric Clapton, Luther Vandross, Michael Jackson, Chaka Khan, Joe Cocker, Celine Dion, Annie Lennox, and Patti LaBelle. She has performed in Europe, Asia, and in the US at concerts and festivals, including the Pavarotti & Friends 2002 for Angola concerts in Modena, Italy; the Porretta Soul Festival; the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland; the Michael Jackson & Friends concert with Luther Vandross in Seoul, South Korea, and Munich, Germany; and with Japanese jazz saxophonist Sadao Watanabe. Ms. Thomas has also produced recordings, created vocal arrangements, and written songs for Patti Austin, Freddie Jackson, Bob James, Larry Coryell, and Melba Moore. In 1995, Diana Ross scored a top-10 hit in the UK with "One Shining Moment," a song written by Ms. Thomas. In 1987, Geffen Records released Vaneese, which included the top-10 R&B hit "Let's Talk it Over." Ms. Thomas appeared in Disney's Hercules as the voice of Clio the Muse of History (1997); Anastasia (1997); Mighty Aphrodite (1995); The First Wives Club (1996); Everyone Says I Love You (1996); and the Oscar-nominated Seraglio (2000), among others. From 1990 to 1996, Ms. Thomas appeared as Grace the Bass on the PBS series Shining Time Station.
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Too Hot To Handel: The Gospel Messiah
Too Hot To Handel: The Gospel Messiah (“Hallelujah Chorus”)Colorado Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, The Majestic Praise Choir, Marin Alsop; Lillias White; Vivian Cherry; Thomas Young
Too Hot, LLC

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