The Danbury Music Centre presents Handel’s Messiah on December 17th at 4:00 pm at the First Congregational Church of Danbury, Deer Hill Avenue, Danbury, CT
Meagan Brus, soprano
Hailed as “remarkable” and “a tour de force in every way, with fresh, fierce power in abundant supply“, Iowa native Meagan Brus is quickly establishing herself as a unique and versatile soprano to watch.
Known for her consistently dynamic performances, Ms. Brus’ rising career has included many operatic roles and concerts, both in the United States and abroad.
A major proponent of new and modern music, Ms. Brus’ performances are dominated by many performances with her chamber music trio, sTem. Recently, they gave the NYC premiere of an English arrangement of Schoenberg’s Erwartung, made especially for them and served as the artists in residence at Cornell University, where they collaborated with PhD composers on a set of commissioned pieces. Comfortable both on the new music stage and in concert, Ms. Brus has been the soprano soloist in Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Haydn’s Harmoniemesse, Bach’s Magnificat and Jesu, Meine Freude, Handel’s Laudate Pueri Dominum, Dixit Dominus, and Messiah, and Alessandro Scarlatti’s opera Venere, Amore e Ragione. Ms. Brus has given recitals in numerous countries including Japan, Germany, Mexico, Canada, and across the United States.
Ms. Brus resides in New York City and holds degrees from both the Manhattan School of Music and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.
Robin Bier, alto
Hailed as “a Ferrier in waiting” (The Rehearsal Studio), American contralto Robin Bier as been praised for her “robust, shapely contralto,” (San Francisco Chronicle) and “mysterious, dark hue and sauntering presence” (San Francisco Classical Voice). She has appeared as a soloist with Bourbon Baroque, the Bach Festival of Philadelphia, the Dartington Festival Orchestra, the English Symphony Orchestra, the Baroque Collective, Compagnia d’Istrumenti, and Brandywine Baroque, and will make her debut with the American Bach Soloists in February 2018. As an ensemble singer she is artistic co-director of solo-voice early music ensemble Les Canards Chantants, and works frequently with Apollo’s Fire, Voices of Ascension, Choral Arts Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Symphonic Choir, and The Thirteen. She has recorded Striggio Mass in 40 Parts with I Fagiolini (Decca) and Bach St. John Passion with the Yorkshire Baroque Soloists (Signum Classics), and the complete second book of madrigals by Giovanni Valentini with Les Canards Chantants and ACRONYM (Olde Focus Recordings). In 2013, she became the first adult female alto to sing with the lay clerks of Ripon Cathedral in Ripon, England. Robin holds her bachelor’s degree in voice from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and a masters degree in solo voice ensemble singing and a PhD in historical vocal performance practice from the University of York, and she is a student of internationally-renowned German baritone Christian Immler. As a scholar, her work on the musical content of language has been published by The Orpheus Institute, and she is part of an ongoing project to reconstruct the performance practice of “Speaking to the Psaltery” developed by William Butler Yeats and Florence Farr. As co-director of Les Canards Chantants she has presented lecture recitals and coached students at Brown and Columbia and St. Lawrence Universities, and periodically coaches the early music ensemble at Temple University. She has created performance editions for I Fagiolini and Les Canards Chantants, and is working with an international community of scholars to create a collaborative new digital edition of the music of Michael Maier’s 17th century manuscript Atalanta Fugiens. Robin is based in Philadelphia, PA, where she maintains a small private studio of singing students and directs the choristers of Bryn Athyn Cathedral.
James Beutel, bass-baritone
An imposing bass-baritone,” as reviewed by Opera News, Joseph Beutel, is often praised for his “deep well-rounded tone,” and overall richness of voice and versatility on stage. He portrayed the roles of the Duke and Judge in Powder Her Face by Thomas Adès at Skylight Music Theatre in Milwaukee, where he “burned up the stage… singing with gorgeous tone in a huge vocal range and with an actor’s command of language.” Other recent engagements have included singing with Loft Opera’s production of Tosca where he played Angelotti, Bedron and the portrait Alexandre in Martinu’s Comedy on the
Bridge and Alexandre Bis with Gotham Chamber Opera; Lamoral in Santa Fe Opera’s production of Arabella, Sulpice in La fille du regiment with Fargo- Moorhead Opera; “Sam” in Un ballo in maschera with Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras; “der Tod” in Der Kaiser von Atlantis with Opera Moderne in Vienna; “Nourabad” in Les pêcheurs de perles with Baltimore Concert Opera and Opera Delaware; and “the high priest of Baal” in Nabucco with Opera Naples. He originated the role of the “British Major” in the Pulitzer Prize winning opera Silent Night by Kevin Puts premiered at Minnesota Opera. Beutel was the winner of a Sullivan Foundation Career Development Award in 2011.
Along side his opera career, he also appears in many concerts across the country and in Europe, working in places and with orchestras such as at the Mozarteum in Salzburg where he presented a concert in review of music by Rodgers and Hammerstein for the 50th Anniversary of The Sound of Music. He has sung Messiah at Santa Fe Symphony, Trinity Church Wall Street, and ensemble viii, Mozart Requiem, Coronation Mass and many other concerts with the Voices of Ascension, St. Matthew Passion with Bloomington Chamber Singers and Trinity Church Wall Street, and numerous performances of Bach Cantatas. Beutel is also a champion of new works and has had the privlage of premiering many pieces. One recent such venture was with the Choral Society of the Hamptons singing the role of Moses in a new oratorio piece by Victoria Bond, Reluctant Moses. He has also been involved with American Lyric Theater, a company designed to write operas. These projects include the role of Fred Clayton in The Life and Death(s) of Alan Turing.
Matthew B.Hensrud, tenor
Matthew B. Hensrud is always eager to participate in the next interesting project. Focusing on ensemble work in early & modern music, he was full-time member of Trinity Wall Street’s renowned ensemble for a decade, and joins other groups like Ekmeles, Pomerium, and the Clarion Ensemble. Recent projects include Paul Dedell’s Chemistry of Love, Bryan Senti’s From the Margins, This, Unmentioned, and performances with the Mark Morris Dance Company. Past highlights include multiple performances of BAM’s St. Matthew Passion, directed by Jonathan Miller; Nico Muhly and Maira Kalman’s “Elements of Style“; and the staged premiere of David Lang’s new opera, Anatomy Theatre. He is a featured soloist on New York Early Music’s recent album, A Dutch Christmas , and an Democracy, a classical crossover work by Barry Seroff. When not singing, Matthew works as a software engineer and enjoys long walks on the beach.