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November 20, 2023

Meet the Soloists: ‘Messiah’ 2023


Ever since UMS’s establishment in 1879, the yearly showcase of Handel’s Messiah at Hill Auditorium has been a cherished holiday tradition. On December 2-3, the UMS Choral Union and Ann Arbor Symphony will return, conducted by Scott Hanoian and joined by four guest soloists.

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Meet our four amazing soloists this year: Rachele Gilmore, Gina Perregrino, Paul Appleby, and Nicholas Newton. 

Rachele GilmoreRachele Gilmore, soprano

Acclaimed for her “silvery soprano, with an effortlessness that thrills her audience,” Atlanta native Rachele Gilmore is consistently praised as “the vocal standout” on both opera stage and in the concert hall. A renowned bel canto singer, her repertoire spans a wide range, including Donizetti, Mozart, Verdi, Strauss, as well as the French and modern composers. 

She is a regular performer in America, Europe, and Asia and has performed in many of the world’s most prestigious opera houses, including The Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, Bayerische Staatsoper, La Monnaie, Grand Théâtre de Geneve, and Festival d’Aix en Provence. She has also regularly appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel, as well as the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra led by Manfred Honeck.

Watch Rachele’s resounding rendition of Olympia in her 2011 Met Debut:

Gina PerregrinoGina Perregrino, alto

Gina Perregrino’s work has been critically interpreted as “potent,” possessing “swaggering strength” and “urgency” (Opera News), as she wraps her artistry in the deep roots of her own sensuality. As a performer, whether she is on the stage, behind the screen, or she is speaking, her goal is to actively embody feminine freedom and give women the permission to be unapologetically themselves.

Due to her notable work in opera, she has collaborated alongside authors such as Salmon Rushdie and Khaled Hosseini. Behind the screen, Gina has also been featured in the film Baawal (2023), directed by award-winning director Nitesh Tiwari. The most recent opera/film-hybrid collaboration was with Afghan film director Roya Sadat and Roya Film House during the world premiere of the opera 1000 Splendid Suns with Seattle Opera. She is a regular performer with the Athena Music Foundation in New York City, where she is often called to sing programs centering around Bizet’s Carmen.

Check out Gina’s riveting interpretation of Bizet’s Adieux de l’hôtesse arabe:

Paul ApplebyPaul Appleby, tenor

Admired for his interpretive depth, vocal strength, and range of expressivity, tenor Paul Appleby is one of the most sought-after voices of his generation. He graces the stages of the world’s most distinguished concert halls and opera houses and collaborates with leading orchestras, instrumentalists, and conductors. Opera News writes, “[Paul’s] tenor is limpid and focused, but with a range of color unusual in an instrument so essentially lyric… His singing is scrupulous and musical; the voice moves fluidly and accurately.”

Paul Appleby’s calendar of the 2023-24 season includes a debut at La Monnaie in the world premiere of Cassandra, written by Bernard Foccroulle and Matthew Jocelyn under the baton of Kazushi Ono, a debut at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in the principal role of Caesar in the European premiere of John Adams’ Antony and Cleopatra, and a return engagement with Glyndebourne to sing Tamino in Die Zauberflöte.

Listen to Paul’s powerful execution in Mozart’s Don Giovanni:

Nicholas NewtonNicholas Newton, bass-baritone

Hailed for his “polished vocal technique” and “heart-tugging emotional communication” (San Diego Story), Nicholas Newton is garnering due attention as an up-and-coming bass-baritone in the classical music world. Nicholas’ 2023-24 season features the Houston Grand Opera world premiere of Intelligence, a new American epic created by a powerhouse trio: composer Jake Heggie, librettist Gene Scheer, and director/choreographer Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, founder of Urban Bush Women. 

In addition to his burgeoning profile on international opera and concert stages, Nicholas is an independent researcher whose main focus is Black composers and their operatic and vocal concert repertoire. He is building a Black Opera Database; an in-progress resource created to archive, celebrate, and preserve the vocal compositional output of Black composers and works that chronicle the Black experience.  He conducts most of his in-person research in New York at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and in Chicago at the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago.

Listen to Nicholas’s expressive performance of Handel’s Sibilar gli angui d’Aletto: