Sacred Music 2021 Soloists

We have four great soloists for our 2021 Messiah concerts on December 10 in Chicago and December 11 in Wheaton:

Josefien Stoppelenburg – Soprano

Josefien Stoppelenburg performed several times for Dutch Royal Family. She is currently performing all over the United States as a specialist of Baroque Music and as a concert singer. Stoppelenburg performed most major oratorio works by Bach, Handel, Haydn and Mozart, including Bach’s St John and St Matthew Passion, Christmas Oratorio, Mass in B minor, and many of his cantatas. By the end of this season, Josefien will have performed all Bach’s cantatas for solo soprano…. read more.

Lauren Decker – Contralto

Rising star, Lauren Decker, possesses a booming contralto with “amber low notes” that is in a league of its own. She is lauded for “pouring out a dark, chocolatey sound with a plushness of tone and amplitude of voice rarely heard in a young singer”.

Ms. Decker most recently covered the role of Erda in Das Rheingold and Siegfried, 1st Norn in Götterdämmerung, and performed Schwertleite in Die Walküre as a part of David Pountney’s “brilliantly imaginative”, new Ring Cycle at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. … read more.

Jonathan Johnson – Tenor

Jonathan Johnson, Tenor - photo credit Simon PaulyRising young tenor Jonathan Johnson’s many recent engagements have included Anthony Hope in Sweeney Todd at Opera Omaha, The Prince in The Love of Three Oranges with Opera Philadelphia (where he was named as one of their Emerging Artists), Jonathan Dale in Silent Night with Utah Opera, Beppe in I Pagliacci with Opera Colorado, the title role in Candide with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, Utah Symphony Orchestra, and Des Moines Metro Opera; Hervey in Anna Bolena at Canadian Opera Company, Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor at Lyric Opera of Chicago … read more

Gerard Sundberg – Baritone

5B-g-sundberg-lg[11]-400Gerard Sundberg holds both Master of Fine Arts and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Minnesota where he studied voice with Clifton Ware and Roy Schuessler. He is presently Professor Emeritus of Voice at Wheaton Conservatory of Music (Wheaton, IL), where he taught studio voice and vocal pedagogy. Living in the Twin City, MN area, he is an adjunct voice professor at Bethel University. Dr. Sundberg is also an active church musician, and vocal and choral clinician. … read more.

Messiah The Consequences of an Idea by Handel

Messiah: The Consequences of an Idea by Handel

I did see all heaven before me and the great God himself

The story of the Messiah by George Frideric Handel is drawn from numerous strands which intertwine together to bring the Word through music to millions every year.

Handel was born in 1685, the same year as Bach. Bach knew of Handel and enjoyed his music. They were born only 80 miles apart, and Bach wanted to meet the man, but never quite achieved that. Bach traveled to Halle, Handel’s home town in Germany, in 1719 on business, but Handel had actually left just the day before.

Handel’s father disliked music and forbade little George from learning but somehow he drank in the wonders of music. His aunt smuggled a silent keyboard into the attic and so he learned in secret. Then on an outing the little seven year old boy went with his father, who was a barber surgeon, to visit a client, the Duke of Prussia. George saw an organ at the Duke’s residence and sat down and played it. The mesmerized Duke insisted that his father give the boy lessons. His life changed forever!

Later, Handel went to Italy where he honed his craft writing Italian Opera and then he moved to London.

How Handel came to write Messiah – an Oratorio

Handel took London by storm in writing and performing Italian operas which were very trendy in early 18th century London. Suddenly the good and the great lost their interest in opera. Too many were being performed by too many theatres and opera houses and Handel’s audiences dwindled.

So he turned to the Oratorio for his musical productions. The Oratorio was invented, if you will, by Philip Neri. In 1556 Neri founded contemporary church services to attract the youth of the day in a building called an Oratory. He founded the order of the Oratorians in Rome. The Oratorio is a musical form setting bible stories and scenes from sacred history to music without any dramatic staging, using an orchestra, choir and soloists.

At the same time Handel’s friend Charles Jennens, a landowner and patron of the arts, wrote a theologically curated collection of Scriptures taken from the The King James Bible and the great Bible from 1539, inviting Handel to compose the music for it. They had already collaborated on an Oratorio called Saul which was very successful, partly because it was written in English.

Jennens writes to a friend in 1741:

“Handel says he will do nothing next winter, but I hope I shall persuade him to set another Scripture collection I have made for him, and perform it for his own benefit in Passion Week. I hope he will lay out his whole genius and skill upon it, that the composition may excel all his former compositions, as the subject excels every other subject. The subject is Messiah.”

Handel took up the project and wrote at a feverish pace … writing 100 pages (of 260) of it in 6 days and completing the Oratorio in just 24 days …. an extraordinary feat. Handel writing at that pace wasn’t unusual, but he was certainly inspired in his writing of this great Oratorio for while composing in tears he had a vision, saying to his servant “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself seated on His throne, with His company of Angels”!

The first performance in Ireland in 1742 was a great success, but when he took it to London the following year it was a failure because many people at the time thought it was sacrilegious to have scripture sung in a theatre by music hall singers.

How Messiah came to be celebrated as the greatest choral work of all time

Seven years went by. Then Handel was struck by a groundbreaking idea … holding a benefit performance for the Foundling Hospital, the world’s first ever incorporated charity which was set up by Captain Thomas Coram to take in abandoned children. It had become celebrated by members of high society in London and a tourist attraction but it needed funds for its new chapel.

This idea made history! The Foundling Hospital eagerly allowed Handel to put on a huge performance of the Messiah in 1750 to raise funds, not in a theatre but in the hospital itself. He performed it there every year until he died in 1759. This is why the tradition of holding a performance of Messiah every year began and has been happening all over world for nearly 270 years.

Actually, these concerts started more than one tradition. The other is that the audience stands for the Hallelujah Chorus. King George II was present at one of these Foundling Hospital performances and he stood up during the Hallelujah Chorus. Everyone in the presence of the King also therefore had to stand and so the phenomenon was born. There are various theories as why the King rose to his feet at the point:

1. King George II happened to arrive late immediately before the Hallelujah Chorus. Everyone had to stand.

2. He had fallen asleep in the preceding numbers and stood up in sheer shock at the tumultuous sounds from the orchestra and choir.

3. He was truly moved and excited by the rousing chorus and stood up.

Perhaps it was the power of the verse Handel was using to write the Hallelujah Chorus from the book of Revelation 19:16 “Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth”.

Camerata Chicago will perform the Hallelujah Chorus twice in its performances on December 10 and 11 – the second time inviting the audience to join in for a truly rousing finale to what promises to be a fabulous concert.

The consequences of one idea that Handel had are amazing … he was directly responsible for saving the lives of over 25,000 children, his Oratorio became a sensation, people all over the world perform it every year, and it has become the most celebrated piece of choral music ever written. It has been sung more often and heard by more people than any other single piece of music in the last 300 years. Some wonderful scriptural verses are sung to millions of people annually, and as the librettist Jennens put it “the subject excels every other subject. The subject is Messiah.”

Bartholomew Hall, Operations Director, Camerata Chicago

 

 

Violin Concerti & Serenades with Rika Seko


March 19, 2021
6pm CDT
PianoForte Studios, Chicago

Rika Seko,violin
Camerata Chicago Chamber Ensemble

Fabulous violinist Rika Seko will perform the Bach Violin Concerto in E Major, the Schubert Rondo and Wagner Traume with our Camerata Chicago Chamber Ensemble, which will also perform the Ambrose Hall String Serenade.

 

Chamber Ensemble
Mathias Tacke,violin – Songhea Sackrider, violin
Istvan Loga, viola – Christopher Ferrer, cello
Dan Carson, bass – William Billingham, keyboard

 

There are only 25 physical audience tickets available.

 

Top row: Rika Seko, solo violin; Middle row: Mathias Tacke, Concert Master & violin; Songhea Sackrider, violin; Istvan Loga, viola; Bottom row: Christopher Ferrer, cello; Dan Carson, Bass; William Billingham, Keyboard

Ambrose Hall, composer

Ambrose Hall has been composing since the age of 7. Born in 1970, he has written various works for orchestra, notably Fantasia at the age of 14 and Zap for Orchestra at the age 24. He composed the String Serenade originally as a quintet and it was first performed in Ipswich, England in 1988. Ambrose studied with the late Sir Charles Mackerras and interviewed him shortly before his death in 2010, which can be heard on MackerrasLegacy.com. Ambrose Hall received his Masters in Music (M.Mus Conducting) from the University of East Anglia, England in 2010. Currently Ambrose is working on a series of Albums in popular genres as well as classical works. Many of his works and performances are available on soundcloud and Youtube. Ambrose has played internationally as a virtuoso jazz pianist.

Mathias Tacke, concert master

mathiastacke-200x247Mathias Tacke was the second violinist of the acclaimed Vermeer Quartet, Chicago from 1992 until 2007. He is Professor of Violin and Chamber Music at Northern Illinois University and Guest Lecturer for String Chamber Music at Northwestern University.

Mathias Tacke was appointed Concertmaster of Camerata Chicago in the summer of 2008.

With the Vermeer Quartet Mathias Tacke gave performances in practically all of the most prestigious festivals, including Tanglewood, Taos, Ravinia, South Bank, Lucerne, Berlin, Schleswig-Holstein and Edinburgh, to name a few. Three of the Vermeer Quartet recordings were nominated for the Grammy Award. Mathias Tacke appears internationally as a soloist and chamber player, performing a wide range of repertoire from the Baroque to music of our time.

A native of Germany, Mathias Tacke studied with Ernst Mayer-Schierning in Detmold, Germany, with Emanuel Hurwitz and David Takeno in London, and with Sandor Vegh in Prussia Cove, Cornwall. He won first prize in the German National Youth Competition and graduated from the Musikakademie Detmold, where he was later appointed to the faculty.

From 1983-1992 Mr.Tacke was a member of the Ensemble Modern Frankfurt, one of the most important professional groups specializing in the performance of contemporary music. In this capacity he gave countless first performances, including works by most of today’s leading composers. He has made numerous recordings for such labels as Sony, ECM. Harmonia Mundi, Naxos and Cedille.

Camerata Chicago Chamber Ensemble Artists

Mathias Tacke – Concert Master, Violin

Mathias Tacke is Concert Master of Camerata Chicago and was the second violinist of the acclaimed Vermeer Quartet, Chicago from 1992 until 2007. He is Professor of Violin and Chamber Music at Northern Illinois University and Guest Lecturer for String Chamber Music at Northwestern University. Mathias was appointed Concertmaster of Camerata Chicago in the summer of 2008. … read more.

Songhea Sackrider – Violin

Songhea Sackrider received her Bachelors degree in Violin Performance from the University of Michigan and a Masters degree in Violin Performance from Northwestern University. She has been a member of the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, Chicago Arts Orchestra and guest principal and soloist with the Kalamazoo Symphony and is a recipient of the Kapnick Scholar Fellowship with the Civic Orchestra and Northwestern University. Songhea is on faculty at the New Music School, Chicago School of Music, Elmhurst Music Academy and GEMS World Academy and is a longtime member of Camerata Chicago.

Istvan Loga – Viola

Istvan Loga has followed his passion for classical music across borders. At the George Enesco School of Music under the guidance of Professor Alexander Gavaller he won numerous prestigious awards and studied at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels. In 2010 he studied with the Cordis Quartet at Nederland’s Strijkkwartet Academie under Stefan Metz (Orlando Quartet) and Marc Danel (Quatuor Danel). Istvan performed alongside world-renowned pianist Martha Argerich … read more.

Christopher Ferrer – Principal Cello, Continuo

Cellist Christopher Ferrer is Principal Cellist of Camerata Chicago and a member of Lakeshore Rush. From 2013-2014 he worked as principal cellist for the West Side Story North American Tour. Christopher attended the Royal College of Music in London and Northern Illinois University. While in high school, he was a member of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Encore Chamber Orchestra. … read more.

 

Dan Carson, Bass

Dan Carson is a freelance bassist and teacher based in Chicago. Dan earned his Bachelor’s degree from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, as well as his Master’s degree from the University of Southern California. Carson served as Principal Bass of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra in Birmingham from 2013-16. He has since performed with many of America’s premier orchestras, including the St. Louis Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony, and the Minnesota Orchestra. Carson is currently pursuing a Graduate Certificate at the University of Southern California, studying with David Allen Moore, renowned double bass pedagogue and member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

William Billingham, keyboard

Pianist William Billingham has served as an Assistant Conductor at the Lyric Opera of Chicago since 1995. He has assisted in the preparation of over 75 productions, playing for rehearsals, coaching singers, conducting offstage musicians, and performing on the piano onstage, organ in the loft, and harpsichord in the pit. William has also worked as a coach and accompanist for the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Cleveland Orchestra, Florentine Opera (Milwaukee, WI), Los Angeles Opera, and Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Opera Center. Active as a chamber musician, he is a frequent collaborator with singers and instrumentalists. … read more.

Academy Faculty Biographies – Senior Academy

Kit Polen

Bassist Kit Polen performs regularly with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, including joining them on tours through Europe, Asia, and the US. Since 2015, he has been Principal Bass of Camerata Chicago as well as the Associate Principal Bass of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, in addition to performing with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. As a chamber musician, he has performed with many artists including the Kontras Quartet, Chai Collaborative Ensemble, and Leon Fleisher. Equally comfortable outside the traditional symphonic setting, Polen has collaborated with CSO’s MusicNOW series … read more.

Istvan Loga – Viola

Istvan Loga has followed his passion for classical music across borders. At the George Enesco School of Music under the guidance of Professor Alexander Gavaller he won numerous prestigious awards and studied at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels. In 2010 he studied with the Cordis Quartet at Nederland’s Strijkkwartet Academie under Stefan Metz (Orlando Quartet) and Marc Danel (Quatuor Danel). Istvan performed alongside world-renowned pianist Martha Argerich … read more.

Christopher Ferrer – Principal Cello, Continuo

Cellist Christopher Ferrer is Principal Cellist of Camerata Chicago and a member of Lakeshore Rush. From 2013-2014 he worked as principal cellist for the West Side Story North American Tour. Christopher attended the Royal College of Music in London and Northern Illinois University. While in high school, he was a member of the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Encore Chamber Orchestra. … read more.

Academy Faculty Biographies – Junior Academy

Julieanne Tehan

Cellist Julieanne MacLean Tehan has a vibrant musical career in the Chicago area. She is a professional member of the Elmhurst Symphony, subs with the Rockford Symphony and New Philharmonic Symphony, plays in churches around the Chicago area and is a valued chamber musician for many community events.

An active and passionate teacher, Julieanne is a certified Suzuki Method instructor, having completed certification in all ten Suzuki books with Tanya Carey. She was a faculty member at the Wheaton College Community School … read more.