A perennial favorite, we return to Blackhawk Church for our 11th year to present Handel’s most well known work, Messiah. Soloists Sarah Lawrence, Johanna Bronk, Gene Stenger, and Chris Burchett perform alongside the WCO Chorus and the Festival Choir of Madison.
Sarah Lawrence, soprano
Sarah Lawrence is enjoying a widely varied career. Her rapidly expanding repertoire includes oratorio, operetta, opera and musical theatre. The release of her CD, Sweet Hello, marks her debut as a recording artist.
Johanna Bronk, mezzo-soprano
Johanna Bronk, mezzo-soprano, was recently a finalist in the 2017 International Handel Aria Competition, Tafelmusik Baroque Vocal Competition, and Bethlehem Bach competition. She is currently a Fellow with Music for Food, a hunger relief project founded by Grammy® Award winning violist, Kim Kashkashian, which combines chamber music performance with education and hunger-relief across America. Johanna is also a co-leader of the Sheltering Voices Project, a homeless-women's professional vocal ensemble, an initiative of the Eureka Ensemble Orchestra in Boston.
Gene Stenger, tenor
Praised for his “sweet vibrancy” (Cleveland Plain Dealer) and “crisp, gleaming sound” (nffo.blogspot.com), tenor Gene Stenger, a specialist in the oratorio repertoire of J.S. Bach and G.F. Handel, sings with elegant conviction and effortless agility. In 2011, Mr. Stenger performed as the tenor soloist in J.S. Bach’s Magnificat under the baton of world-renowned conductor, Helmuth Rilling at the National Collegiate Choral Conference held at Colorado State University. Following the conference, Maestro Rilling personally invited Gene to perform in the chorus of the Junges Stuttgarter Bach Ensemble with the Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart, and completed an international tour in Italy. Recently, Mr. Stenger returned to the Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart to perform as the tenor soloist in J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, and completed an international tour with Maestro Rilling in both Germany and Chile. Gene received international acclaim for his performance in Bensheim, Germany, commending him for "effortlessly mastering the many coloratura embellishments in his arias..."(morgenweb.de).
Christopher Burchett, bass
Christopher Burchett’s rich, no-holds-barred voice and committed stagecraft have earned him a place on the stages of opera companies and orchestras throughout the United States and Europe including New York City Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, the Estates Theatre in Prague, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, BBC Orchestra at the Barbican Centre, Glimmerglass Opera, Fort Worth Opera, Beth Morrison Projects, Prototype Festival, The Holland Festival, Palm Beach Opera, Virginia Opera, Opera Omaha, Opera Saratoga, Eugene Opera, Indianapolis Opera, Kentucky Opera and Opera Orchestra of New York. Opera News has described Christopher as a “fearlessly vulnerable” performer “who gave an unflinchingly, heroically human performance that will linger long in the memory.”
Festival Choir of Madison
Festival Choir is an auditioned mixed-voice choir of 40+ singers who come from all walks of life to make music together. This dedicated group of singers, some of whom travel from far outside of Madison, gather every week to rehearse the varied music you hear during their regular season concerts. They do so because they love singing and because there is nothing quite like the experience of collective artistry.