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November 17, 2022

Meet the Soloists: ‘Messiah’ 2022/23


Handel’s beautiful and riveting Messiah has graced the stage of Hill Auditorium for more than a century. We continue this yearly holiday tradition with performances from the UMS Choral Union and Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Scott Hanoian.

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Meet the four brilliant soloists that will join the orchestra on December 3rd and 4th for this year’s Messiah performances.

Sherezade PanthakiSherezade Panthaki, soprano

Sherezade Panthaki, born and raised in India, has been a compelling force in oratorio all over the world. Her strong musicianship has been recognized internationally, described as “astonishing coloratura with radiant top notes” (Calgary Herald); “a full, luxuriously toned upper range” (Los Angeles Times), and passionately informed interpretations, “mining deep emotion from the subtle shaping of the lines” (The New York Times).

Ms. Panthaki is a founding member and artistic advisor of the newly-debuted Kaleidoscope Vocal Ensemble, a vocal octet of world-renowned artists of color that celebrates racial and ethnic diversity in performances and educational programs of early and new music. In addition to headlining arts festivals, international music conferences, and concert series, the ensemble fosters in-depth conversations on issues of diversity and inclusion in classical music and arts education.

Check out Ms. Panthaki’s joyful performance of Claudio Monteverdi’s Laudate Dominum, filmed with Voices of Music:

Aryeh Nussbaum CohenAryeh Nussbaum Cohen, countertenor

Acclaimed as “extravagantly gifted… poised to redefine what’s possible for singers of this distinctive voice type” by the San Francisco Chronicle, American countertenor Aryeh Nussbaum Cohen is one of the classical vocal world’s most promising rising stars. His musical ability has been highlighted by critics; the New York Times praised him as an “complete artist” and “expressive yet dignified, his phrasing confident and his ornamentation stylishly discreet.”

His first commercial recording project – the world premiere recording of Kenneth Fuchs’ Poems of Life with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by JoAnn Falletta – was honored with a 2019 GRAMMY® Award in the Best Classical Compendium category, which recognizes albums with multiple soloists and multiple works.

Listen to Mr. Cohen’s expressive interpretation of Dawn and Still Darkness from Jonathan Dove’s Flight, sung at the George London Foundation Competition Finals in 2017 where he was the recipient of the Irvin Scherzer Award:

Miles MykkanenMiles Mykkanen, tenor

Miles Mykkanen has garnered recognition on the world’s concert and operatic stages for his “focused, full-voiced tenor” (The New York Times). Of the Finnish-American’s performance in the title role of Candide at Tanglewood, it was reported in Opera that he “sang and spoke feelingly and superbly, with crystalline diction, a powerful lyric sound seemingly capable of infinite dynamic gradations.”

A champion of new music, he has given the world premieres of Ricky Ian Gordon’s 27, Jack Perla’s Shalimar the Clown, and Matthew Aucoin’s Crossing at the American Repertory Theatre directed by Diane Paulus. Opera News wrote, “Miles Mykkanen’s work was especially distinctive: his burnished high tenor seemed like the organizing principle around which the other voices cohered.”

Watch his powerful rendition of Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, performed in Scorca Hall at Opera America in 2019:

Enrico LagascaEnrico Lagasca, bass-baritone

Filipino-American bass-baritone Enrico Lagasca has traveled long musical distances in the short time since he began his career – comprising 16 oratorios, 17 new-music works, seven opera roles plus 13 song cycles and collections. Critics note that Enrico’s singing is “an outpouring of devotion and grief as elegant as it was moving” (Seen and Heard International) and “summoned nearly as much volume as everyone else onstage put together, and matched that visceral force with vivid phrasing” (Baltimore’s Tim Smith).

Enrico studied at the University of the Philippines, and from ages 16 to 20, sang in the Philippine Madrigal Singers. “The choral tradition is huge for us,” Enrico explains. “We went on tour, and we got to see the world. It captivated my love for what I’m currently doing right now.” After further study at New York’s Mannes College of Music, he began emerging from ensemble to solo singing. He continues moving between solo and ensemble, with ensemble plans to sing Rachmaninoff’s Vespers and St. John of Chrysostom in Old Church Slavonic.

Listen to Mr. Lagasca’s resonant sound in his recording of Schubert’s Der Doppelgänger: