Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus
Saturday, March 2, 2024 at 7:30 PM
Northern Arizona University's Ardrey Auditorium, 1115 Knoles Dr, Flagstaff, AZ 86001
Master Chorale of Flagstaff performs the 1747 version of Judas Maccabaeus, which depicts the story of Israelites achieving freedom from the oppressive rule of the Seleucid Empire. Handel’s musical portrays the dramatic journey from mourning to jubilation in a celebration of liberty and peace. This performance includes a chamber orchestra, four professional soloists.
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Christine Renee Graham, soprano
Kimberly Gratland James, mezzo soprano
Ricardo Pereira, tenor
Robert Allen Saunders, bass
Coloratura soprano Christine Graham received a Bachelor of Music from Northern Arizona University, and a Master of Music from the University of Washington, before attending the young artists program at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf. A native of Tucson, Arizona, she performed in Germany for nearly 20 years – the first performance being Mozart’s Mass in c Minor, and most recently as Ariel in Henry Purcell’s The Tempest. She sang roles from traditional operas, like Mozart’s Queen of the Night (The Magic Flute) or Richard Strauss’ Zerbinetta (Ariadne auf Naxos), to works of living composers, such as Peter Eötvös’ Love and Other Demons in Bremerhaven and Helmut Lachenmann’s Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern at Oper Frankfurt, gaining her a reputation as an excellent interpreter of 20th and 21st century music. She was a two-time winner of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions at the district level, and winner of the Northwest Regional District. She returned to Arizona to join the voice faculty at NAU in 2016, and has since appeared with the Faculty Chamber Players, in solo recitals, and as a guest artist of the NAU Lyric Theatre, as well as the Flagstaff Symphony.
Kimberly Gratland James, Mezzo-Soprano, enjoys an active performance career in concert, recital, and operatic venues. Ms. James’ tone has been described as “well-rounded,” “deep, rich,” and “resonant.” Her performances have been noted for vocal strength, nuance, musicality, and convincing dramatic portrayals. She made her Lincoln Center debut in 2003 in John Adams’ Grand Pianola Music with John Adams conducting the London Sinfonietta and previously performed the piece with the New World Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Recent concert and chamber music performances include Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass (Classical Music Festival, Austria), Mahler’s 2nd Symphony (UNLV Symphony Orchestra), Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen and orchestral songs by Ethel Smyth (Great Falls Symphony), Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (Idaho Falls Symphony), & Ravel’s Chansons madécasses (UNLV Chamber Series). Ms. James is an active recitalist having performed with her colleagues at national and international festivals, conferences, and national recital venues. She is equally at home in operatic repertoire having performed leading roles in a broad range of productions, most recently performing the world premiere of Behold the Man with Opera Las Vegas.
James currently serves as the Acting Associate Director of the University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Music and Associate Professor of Music. She earned advanced degrees from Rice University (MM) and Indiana University (DM).
Ricardo Pereira made his professional operatic debut in 1992 in the world premiere of Ronaldo Miranda’s opera Don Casmurro at the Teatro Municipal de São Paulo. His performance repertoire includes Chamber Music, Art Song, Opera and Oratorio and world premieres of works by contemporary composers including Mozart’s Coronation Mass, C minor Mass and Requiem; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9; Mascagni’s L’amico Fritz; Puccini’s La Bohéme and Gianni Schicchi; Verdi’s La Traviata and Nabucco; Massenet’s Werther; Offenbach’s Barbe-Bleue; Bach’s Johannes Passion; Mendelssohn’s Elijah; Handel’s Messiah; Gomes’ A noite do Castelo; Orff’s Carmina Burana; James DeMars’ An American Requiem. He appears in the CD Art Songs of Judith Cloud: Letting Escape a Song, performing songs that Cloud composed specifically for him.
Dr. Pereira, joined the NAU School of Music in 2001. He received his Doctorate of Musical Arts Vocal Performance degrees from the University of California, Santa Barbara, studying with Elizabeth Mosher. In Europe he studied privately in Turin with renowned Italian Maestro Elio Battaglia and in courses at Acquasparta, Naples, and Salzburg. Between 1992 and 1998 he was singer with the Teatro Municipal de São Paulo. In 1995 he was awarded first prize in the Carlos Gomes Singing Competition in Campinas, Brazil.
Allen Saunders, bass, holds Masters and Doctoral degrees in voice from the renowned Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, with an undergraduate degree in vocal performance from Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. He maintains an active performing schedule, recently singing recitals in Paris, France in October 2022 and in Mondavio, Italy in July 2023. Past performances in the genre of oratorio include the bass solos for two performances of Mozart’s Requiem Mass in Russia with the State Orchestra of Russia in Moscow and with the St. Petersburg State Orchestra in St. Petersburg. Saunders also performed as the bass soloist in Frigyes Hidas’ Requiem at Middle Tennessee State University, Raphael in Joseph Haydn’s The Creation with the Lubbock Choral, and the bass soloist in works by J.S. Bach and Orlando Gibbons with The Viola da gamba Dojo of New York, directed by John Mark Rozendaal. Saunders has also performed as a soloist with the Toledo, Ohio, Lubbock, Texas, and Flagstaff, Arizona symphonies. Saunders is an Associate Professor in the Northern Arizona University School of Music where he teaches private vocal lessons, master classes, vocal pedagogy, and lyric diction.