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CARNEGIE HALL PRESENTS

The English Concert

Handel’s Semele (concert performance)
Sunday, April 14, 2019 2 PM Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
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Harry Bicket by Richard Haughton
There are few sure things in the music world, but one notable exception has been the critically lauded Handel opera and oratorio performances by The English Concert conducted by Harry Bicket. This season they perform the sparkling oratorio Semele, a tale of a princess’s love affair with a god and her quest for immortality told in a stream of easy-flowing melodies and dazzling coloratura. Show-stopping arias include the title character’s florid “Endless pleasure, endless love” and touching “O sleep, why dost thou leave me,” and Jupiter’s “Where’er you walk”—a recital favorite to this day.

Part of: Weekends at Carnegie Hall

Performers

The English Concert
Harry Bicket, Artistic Director and Conductor
Brenda Rae (Semele)
Elizabeth DeShong (Juno/Ino)
Soloman Howard (Cadmus/Somnus)
Benjamin Hulett (Jupiter)
Christopher Lowrey (Athamas)
Ailish Tynan (Iris)
Brian Giebler (Apollo)
Joseph Beutel (Priest)
The Clarion Choir
Steven Fox, Artistic Director

Program

HANDEL Semele (concert performance)

Event Duration

The concert will last approximately three and one-half hours, including two 20-minute intermissions. Please note that there will be no late seating before the first intermission.

Pre-Concert Talk

Pre-concert talk at 1 PM with Benjamin Sosland, Assistant Dean for the Kovner Fellowships and Administrative Director of Juilliard Historical Performance, The Juilliard School.

The Trustees of Carnegie Hall gratefully acknowledge the generosity of Robert L. Turner in support of the 2018-2019 season.

At a Glance

Premiered in London on February 10, 1744, Semele was Handel’s superb, genre-bending riposte to a political situation in the English capital that he felt was restricting his creative options. Like his successful recent sacred oratorios, it was set in English, but it also aspired to win the dramatic heights he’d achieved in Italian opera. A libretto by the Restoration giant William Congreve on a story from classical mythology inspired a creation that was part oratorio, part opera, part romantic comedy, and part tragedy. Not warmly received by its bewildered first audiences, today Semele is ranked among Handel’s greatest works. With arias like “Oh, sleep, why dost thou leave me,” “Myself I shall adore,” and especially “Where’er you walk,” it also features many of his most captivating melodies.

Bios

The English Concert

The English Concert is an outstanding orchestra—exceptional in the world-renowned quality, ambition, and variety of its live and recorded output; unique in the zeal of its players for  ...

The English Concert is an outstanding orchestra—exceptional in the world-renowned quality, ambition, and variety of its live and recorded output; unique in the zeal of its players for working and performing together; and unwavering in its desire to connect with its audience around the world.

Under the artistic direction of Harry Bicket and principal guest Kristian Bezuidenhout, The English Concert has earned a reputation for combining urgency, passion, and fire with precision, delicacy, and beauty. The artistic partners it collaborates with reflect and enhance its pursuit of new ways to bring music to life. Joyce DiDonato, Dame Sarah Connolly, Iestyn Davies, Alison Balsom, Trevor Pinnock, Dominic Dromgoole, Tom Morris, and many more have not only brought their extraordinary skills to individual projects, but continue to help the ensemble shape the way it performs.

One cornerstone of the orchestra’s annual cycle is its international Handel opera tour. Blossoming from an ongoing relationship with Carnegie Hall, the itinerary now regularly takes it to the Theater an der Wien, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, the Elbphilharmonie, and the Barbican Centre. Meanwhile, its regular London series allows it to explore a radically different path, presenting programs to its home audience that challenge and inspire the musicians. The English Concert launches a partnership with Garsington Opera this year with performances of Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610.

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Harry Bicket

Internationally renowned as an opera and concert conductor of distinction, Harry Bicket is especially noted for his interpretation of Baroque and Classical repertoire. Born in Liverpool, he  ...

Internationally renowned as an opera and concert conductor of distinction, Harry Bicket is especially noted for his interpretation of Baroque and Classical repertoire. Born in Liverpool, he studied at the Royal College of Music and Oxford University. In 2007, he became artistic director of The English Concert, one of the UK’s finest period orchestras. He became chief conductor of Santa Fe Opera in 2013 and was appointed its music director in 2018. Productions at Santa Fe in recent seasons have included Fidelio, La finta giardiniera, Roméo et Juliette, Alcina, and Candide.

Mr. Bicket’s engagements in the 2018–2019 season include return visits to the Metropolitan Opera (Die Zauberflöte), Lyric Opera of Chicago (Ariodante), and Santa Fe Opera (Così fan tutte and Strauss’s Four Last Songs with Renée Fleming), as well as performances with The Cleveland Orchestra, Prague Philharmonia featuring Beethoven’s The Creatures of Prometheus, and Chicago’s Music of the Baroque. Plans with The English Concert include Mr. Bicket’s own arrangements of Mozart works for mechanical clockwork organ, Bach cantatas for Advent, and Wayne Eagling’s ballet Remembrance—set to Handel’s Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day—with the New English Ballet Theatre. The orchestra continues its Handel opera series with performances of Semele in Europe and the US at venues that include Paris’s Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and London’s Barbican Centre.

Highlights of recent seasons include acclaimed productions in the US and Canada for Lyric Opera of Chicago (Orphée et Eurydice, Carmen, and Rinaldo), Houston Grand Opera (Le nozze di Figaro and Rusalka), Canadian Opera Company (Maometto II and Hercules), and the Metropolitan Opera (Le nozze di Figaro, Rodelinda, La clemenza di Tito, and Giulio Cesare). Guest-conducting engagements have included performances with The Cleveland Orchestra; the Cincinnati, Boston, Detroit, and Indianapolis symphony orchestras; the Los Angeles and New York philharmonics; the San Francisco, Seattle, and Houston symphonies; the Los Angeles and Saint Paul chamber orchestras; the Minnesota Orchestra; and the National Arts Centre Orchestra (Ottawa). He has also led master classes at The Juilliard School.

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Brenda Rae

Brenda Rae is a regular guest at the world’s leading opera houses in a portfolio of demanding principal roles. This season, she returns to the Bayerische Staatsoper as Aminta (Die ...

Brenda Rae is a regular guest at the world’s leading opera houses in a portfolio of demanding principal roles. This season, she returns to the Bayerische Staatsoper as Aminta (Die schweigsame Frau) under Stefan Soltesz, the Queen of the Night (Die Zauberflöte) under Asher Fisch on tour to Japan, and Zerbinetta (Ariadne auf Naxos) under Lothar Koenigs. In the US, she returns to Santa Fe Opera as Cunegonde (Candide) conducted by Harry Bicket. Future projects include debuts with the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Opernhaus Zürich.

Ms. Rae made her US operatic stage debut at Santa Fe Opera in 2013 as Violetta (La traviata) and has since returned as Norina (Don Pasquale) and as both Madame Vladimirescu and Madame Herz (Der Schauspieldirektor). She made her house and role debut as Handel’s Semele at Seattle Opera, and last season performed Amenaide in Rossini’s Tancredi at Opera Philadelphia.

As a member of the ensemble of Oper Frankfurt, Ms. Rae’s repertoire included such roles as Violetta, Aminta, Lucia (Lucia di Lammermoor), Konstanze (Die Entführung aus dem Serail), Giulietta (Les contes d’Hoffmann), and Zdenka (Arabella). She made house debuts as Zerbinetta at the Staatsoper Berlin, as well as in Hamburg and Munich. Other recent highlights include her debut at English National Opera as Berg’s Lulu, Opéra national de Paris as Anne Trulove (The Rake’s Progress), Vienna State Opera as Lucia, and the 2011 Glyndebourne Festival as Armida (Rinaldo).

In concert, Ms. Rae has sung the role of Polissena (Radamisto) with The English Concert and Harry Bicket on tour to London’s Barbican Centre, Paris’s Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, and Carnegie Hall. Recital appearances include the Schubertiade in both Hohenems and Schwarzenberg, and her debut in Weill Recital Hall. This season, she makes her Teatro alla Scala debut singing Mozart’s Mass in C Minor and Exsultate, jubilate under Giovanni Antonini, and joins the Australian Academy of Music and Benjamin Bayl for a program of Rameau arias.

Ms. Rae’s recordings include Wagner’s Die Feen and Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos (Oehms Classics), Milhaud’s The Oresteia of Aeschylus (Naxos), Lowell Liebermann’s Little Heaven (Albany Records), and Offenbach’s Fantasio (Opera Rara).

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Elizabeth DeShong

Elisabeth DeShong’s recent engagements have included performances as Ruggiero in Alcina at Washington National Opera and Arsace in Semiramide at the Metropolitan Opera. In concert, ...

Elisabeth DeShong’s recent engagements have included performances as Ruggiero in Alcina at Washington National Opera and Arsace in Semiramide at the Metropolitan Opera. In concert, she has performed Mendelssohn’s Elijah with Music of the Baroque, and made her debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in Schubert’s Mass No. 6 and the world premiere of Three Lisel Mueller Settings by Max Raimi, both conducted by Riccardo Muti. In Europe, she performed Suzuki in Madama Butterfly at the Glyndebourne Festival, and made her debut with the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia and Sir Antonio Pappano in Bernstein’s Symphony No. 1, “Jeremiah.”

Other recent highlights include Adalgisa in Bellini’s Norma at Lyric Opera of Chicago, and her Royal Opera House (Covent Garden) and Bayerische Staatsoper debuts as Suzuki. In concert, she has performed Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Verdi’s Requiem with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with the Oregon Symphony.

Ms. DeShong has performed with such companies as San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Los Angeles Opera, Canadian Opera Company, English National Opera, Vienna State Opera, and Opéra National de Bordeaux, as well as at the Glyndebourne and Aix-en-Provence festivals. Concert engagements have included performances with The Cleveland Orchestra; the Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Dallas, Cincinnati, Toronto, and National symphony orchestras; Orchestra of St. Luke’s; and the Royal Flemish Philharmonic.

Her operatic repertory includes Angelina (La Cenerentola), Calbo (Maometto II), Arsace (Semiramide), Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Hermia (A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Enchanted Island), Hänsel (Hänsel und Gretel), Maffio Orsini (Lucrezia Borgia), Fenena (Nabucco), and the Dresser, Schoolboy, and Page (Lulu).

Ms. DeShong was the recipient of Washington National Opera’s Artist of the Year award in 2010 for her performance as the Composer in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. On DVD, she can be seen as Hermia in The Enchanted Island at the Metropolitan Opera and as Maffio Orsini in the San Francisco Opera’s production of Lucrezia Borgia. Her recording of Handel’s Messiah with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under Sir Andrew Davis was recently released on Chandos.

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Soloman Howard

Soloman Howard has received critical acclaim for his vivid performances on opera and concert stages worldwide. Engagements in the 2018–2019 season include returns to the Metropolitan ...

Soloman Howard has received critical acclaim for his vivid performances on opera and concert stages worldwide. Engagements in the 2018–2019 season include returns to the Metropolitan Opera as the King in Aida conducted by Nicola Luisotti; Los Angeles Opera as the Monk in Don Carlo under James Conlon; Santa Fe Opera as Colline in La bohème conducted by Jader Bignamini; Washington National Opera for Jeanine Tesori’s The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me; and his debut with Opéra de Montréal as Fafner in Das Rheingold under the baton of Michael Christie.

Last season, Mr. Howard made debuts at San Francisco Opera in Turandot, Madrid’s Teatro Real in Aida, and Teatro Municipal de Santiago in Don Giovanni. Other engagements included Aida at Washington National Opera and Madama Butterfly at Santa Fe Opera. In concert, he gave his first performances as Hunding in Die Walküre at the Miami Music Festival, and performed Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic on a European tour and with Christian Arming and the Vienna Chamber Orchestra on tour in Asia.

Recent highlights include Jacopo Fiesco in a new production of Simon Boccanegra at Opéra National de Bordeaux conducted by Paul Daniel; Don Giovanni at Santa Fe Opera conducted by John Nelson; La traviata at Los Angeles Opera under the baton of James Conlon; and Die Zauberflöte and Macbeth at the Glimmerglass Festival. At Washington National Opera, he bowed as Fafner in Der Ring des Nibelungen conducted by Philippe Auguin, as well as in leading roles of Die Zauberflöte, Show Boat, Don Giovanni, and Nabucco.

On the concert stage, Mr. Howard has performed Mendelssohn’s Die erste Walpurgisnacht at Carnegie Hall with Kent Tritle and the Oratorio Society of New York, Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier opposite Renée Fleming with the National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Christoph Eschenbach, and the Fauré Requiem with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. He holds degrees from the Manhattan School of Music and Morgan State University, and is a recent graduate of Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program.

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Benjamin Hulett

Benjamin Hulett trained as a choral scholar at New College, Oxford, and studied with David Pollard at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. From 2005 to 2009, he was a member of the ...

Benjamin Hulett trained as a choral scholar at New College, Oxford, and studied with David Pollard at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. From 2005 to 2009, he was a member of the Hamburg State Opera, where his roles included Tamino (Die Zauberflöte), Ferrando (Così fan tutte), and the Steersman (Der fliegende Holländer). He made debuts at the Bayerische Staatsoper in Handel’s Alcina, at the Staatsoper Berlin in Henze’s Phaedra, at the Salzburg Festival in Strauss’s Elektra, at the Festspielhaus Baden-Baden in Strauss’s Salome, and at the Royal Opera House (Covent Garden) as Edmondo in Manon Lescaut. At the Glyndebourne Festival, he has performed Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Handel’s Saul, and Cavalli’s Hipermestra.

In concert, Mr. Hulett has performed at the BBC Proms under such conductors as Sir Roger Norrington, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, and Dennis Russell Davies; with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under John Wilson; Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings with Mr. Norrington, Christopher Hogwood, and the Trondheim Soloists; Haydn’s The Creation with Trevor Pinnock; Beethoven’s Missa solemnis and Symphony No. 9 with Philippe Herreweghe; Mozart’s Requiem on tour with Mr. Herreweghe; Schumann’s Das Paradies und die Peri under Mr. Norrington at the Edinburgh Festival; the title role in J. C. Bach’s Lucio Silla under Ivor Bolton at Salzburg Mozart Week; Bernstein’s A Quiet Place with Orchestre symphonique de Montréal under Kent Nagano; and Ravel’s L’heure espagnole with the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Charles Dutoit.

Mr. Hulett has performed in recital at Wigmore Hall, the National Portrait Gallery, and at the Aldeburgh, Buxton, and Henley festivals, and has collaborated with pianists who include Sir András Schiff, Graham Johnson, Malcolm Martineau, Christopher Glynn, Joseph Middleton, Simone Young, and Alexander Soddy.

Highlights this season include returns to Welsh National Opera as Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni and to Garsington Opera as Tamino; in addition, Mr. Hulett makes his debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Upcoming engagements include debut appearances at Lille Opera in Handel’s Rodelinda and Madrid’s Teatro Real in Idomeneo, and a return to the Royal Opera House (Covent Garden) as Tamino.

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Christopher Lowrey

Christopher Lowrey has emerged at the front rank of young countertenors on both the opera and concert stages. Upcoming engagements include his English National Opera debut in Handel’s  ...

Christopher Lowrey has emerged at the front rank of young countertenors on both the opera and concert stages. Upcoming engagements include his English National Opera debut in Handel’s Rodelinda, Handel’s Orlando (Medoro) with La Nuova Musica, Bach’s B-Minor Mass at Winchester College, Handel’s Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno (Disinganno) for the London Handel Festival, the title role in Handel’s Arminio for the Göttingen International Handel Festival, Handel’s Rinaldo (Argante) with Les Talens Lyriques, and a concert tour of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater with Les Talens Lyriques.

Recent highlights include Brett Dean’s Hamlet (Guildenstern) for the Glyndebourne Festival, Handel’s Saul (David) for the Adelaide Festival, Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Oberon) at the Grand Théâtre de Genève and Valencia’s Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, the title roles in Handel’s The Choice of Hercules and Solomon with The English Concert at London’s Britten Theatre, Handel’s Faramondo (Gernando) at the Brisbane Baroque and Göttingen Handel festivals, Monteverdi’s Orfeo (Pastore/Speranza) at the Royal Opera House, and Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria (L’humana Fragilità) with Boston Baroque.

Concert appearances include Handel’s Israel in Egypt at the BBC Proms with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment conducted by William Christie, the title role in Handel’s Tamerlano with Les Talens Lyriques, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion for the London Handel Festival, Handel’s Messiah with the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Handel’s Susanna (Joacim) for the Göttingen International Handel Festival, Bach’s St. John Passion with Boston Baroque, and Handel’s Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno with La Nuova Musica.

Mr. Lowrey’s recordings include Monteverdi’s I sette peccati capitali, Vivaldi’s Bajazet (Tamerlano), Handel’s Faramondo (Gernando), Monteverdi’s Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (L’humana Fragilità), Handel’s and Vivaldi’s Dixit Dominus, and Bernstein’s Missa brevis.

Mr. Lowrey holds degrees from Brown University, the University of Cambridge, and the Royal College of Music’s International Opera School. He is a winner of the Sullivan Foundation Award, the Metropolitan Opera’s National Council Auditions, and the Michael Oliver Prize at the London Handel Singing Competition.

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Ailish Tynan

Ailish Tynan studied at Trinity College, the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. This season, she makes her Dresdner Philharmonie ...

Ailish Tynan studied at Trinity College, the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. This season, she makes her Dresdner Philharmonie debut with Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, performs Glière’s Concerto for Coloratura Soprano with the Philharmonia Orchestra under Vladimir Ashkenazy and Vaughan Williams’s Dona nobis pacem with the Britten Sinfonia, and makes her recital debut in Stockholm with Magnus Svensson.

Ms. Tynan’s recent operatic engagements have included Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel, Madame Cortese in Il viaggio a Reims, and Marzelline in Fidelio at the Royal Opera House (Covent Garden); Tigrane in Radamisto at English National Opera; Papagena in Die Zauberflöte at Teatro alla Scala; Despina in Così fan tutte at Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse; Héro in Béatrice et Bénédict at Houston Grand Opera and the Grand Théâtre de la Ville de Luxembourg; Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, Nannetta in Falstaff, and Atalanta in Xerxes for Royal Swedish Opera; and Miss Wordsworth in Albert Herring at Opéra de Rouen.

Concert appearances have included Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 (Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra under Paavo Järvi and Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia under Sir Antonio Pappano), Symphony No. 4 (Prague Symphony Orchestra under Jac van Steen and Hallé Orchestra under Sir Mark Elder), and Symphony No. 2 (Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia under Myung-whun Chung); Verdi’s Requiem (Ludwigsburg Festival under Michael Hofstetter); and Handel’s Messiah (Academy of Ancient Music under Richard Egarr). She also performs regularly at the BBC Proms, where she has sung roles that include Bella in Tippett’s The Midsummer Marriage with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Sir Andrew Davis.

Ms. Tynan’s discography includes Fauré Mélodies, Nacht und Träume, From a City Window: Songs by Hubert Parry, and An Irish Songbook—all with pianist Iain Burnside; Il re pastore with Classical Opera; Michael Head: Songs with Christopher Glynn; Handel’s Messiah with the Academy of Ancient Music; and Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the London Symphony Orchestra under Valery Gergiev, and with the Philharmonia Orchestra under Lorin Maazel.

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The Clarion Choir

One of the country’s leading professional vocal ensembles, The Clarion Choir has performed on some of the great stages of North America and Europe. The ensemble was featured on ...

One of the country’s leading professional vocal ensembles, The Clarion Choir has performed on some of the great stages of North America and Europe. The ensemble was featured on PBS’s NYC-Arts program in 2014, and its debut recording, released in August 2016, received a Grammy nomination for Best Choral Performance, a nomination for the BBC Music Magazine Choral Award, and five Diapasons in Diapason magazine. In 2014, the choir gave the New York premiere of Passion Week by Maximilian Steinberg, and in 2016, it premiered the work in Moscow, St. Petersburg (where it was written in 1923), and London. The Clarion Choir performs regularly as part of the MetLiveArts program at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Last May, the choir performed Gregorian chant with Madonna at the Met Gala in a three-song set that included the world premiere of her new song “Beautiful Game.” This season, the choir performs on tour with Orchestra of St. Luke’s and Leonard Slatkin. The choir has recently released its second recording, Memory Eternal, which was awarded the Editor’s Choice in Gramophone and five stars in BBC Music Magazine.

Steven Fox is artistic director of The Clarion Choir and The Clarion Orchestra, and is in his first season as music director of the Cathedral Choral Society at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. He founded Musica Antiqua St. Petersburg as Russia’s first period-instrument orchestra at age 21, and from 2008 to 2013 was an associate conductor at New York City Opera. In 2012, he served as assistant conductor for the Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program and Juilliard Opera’s production of Gluck’s Armide. Since then, he has appeared as a guest conductor with orchestras and opera companies that include the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in San Francisco, Handel and Haydn Society in Boston, Juilliard415 at Lincoln Center, Charleston Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre symphonique de Québec, Opéra de Québec, Music of the Baroque in Chicago, and Tucson Symphony Orchestra. Internationally, he has performed at prestigious venues that include the Grand Hall and Hermitage Theater in St. Petersburg, Rachmaninov Concert Hall in Moscow, Duke’s Hall of London, and the Vatican. In 2017, he conducted Clarion’s first fully staged opera production, Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte. Mr. Fox was named an associate of the Royal Academy of Music, London, in 2010, and received a Grammy Award nomination for his debut recording with The Clarion Choir in 2016. He has given master classes and clinics at Dartmouth College, The Juilliard School, and Yale University, where he served for two years as preparatory conductor of the Yale Schola Cantorum.

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