“Never was there a more complete triumph – never a more thorough and speedy recognition of a great work of art.”
That’s how The Times, the venerable London-based newspaper, described the ground-breaking Elijah when it premiered in 1846. Based on two Old Testament books, the beloved oratorio was composed in the spirit of composer Felix Mendelssohn’s Baroque predecessors Bach and Handel.
Elijah remains hugely popular today. SVC Music Director and Conductor William Payn describes the work as a “dramatic, powerful statement,” that provides a uniquely enjoyable and satisfying experience for singers and listeners alike.
German composer Felix Mendelssohn was born into a prominent Jewish family in 1809, a time of virulent German anti-Semitism. Like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart before him, Mendelssohn was regarded as a child prodigy. He made his first public concert appearance at age nine and during his teen years composed several full symphonies that demonstrated the power of his genius. Mendelssohn idolized Johan Sebastian Bach—then little known outside of northern Germany—and helped catapult Bach’s popularity throughout Europe. Mendelssohn died at the age of 38 after several years of ill health.
Elijah was last sung by the Chorale in 1999 for our 30th anniversary celebration, with former SVC Conductor Cyril Stretansky singing the role of Elijah. Our 45th anniversary encore presentation features full orchestra, youth soloist and four world-class guest soloists.
Saturday, October 17 at 7:30pm
Sunday, October 18 at 3pm
Zion Lutheran Church, Sunbury – view google map
Dashon Burton, Elijah
Rachel Wakeman, youth soloist
Sponsors: Woodcock Foundation for the Appreciation of the Arts, Inc., Dede & Bob Gronlund
Co-sponsor: Lois & Bill VandenHeuvel
Underwriters: Jean & Bob Hormell; Kessey Kieselhorst
Meet the Soloists
Singing the role of Elijah, bass-baritone Dashon Burton was, as a young man, influenced by a strong vocal program at Williamsport Area High School. Mr. Burton began his professional studies at Case Western Reserve University and graduated from the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music. Praised for his “nobility and rich tone,” (The New York Times) and his “enormous, thrilling voice seemingly capable…[of] raising the dead;” (Wall Street Journal), Mr. Burton recently brought home a 2nd prize (no 1st prizes awarded) from the 2012 ARD International Music Competition in Munich, plus the first prize in Oratorio from the 49th International Vocal Competition in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, the Netherlands.
Among his recent highlights, Burton made his debut with the Cleveland Orchestra in Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen led by Franz Welser-Most. He returned to the Charlotte Symphony for the St. Matthew Passion which he also sang on tour in the Netherlands. In 2014 he debuted with Boston’s Handel & Haydn Society in Handel’s Samson, and returned to Carnegie Hall twice with the Oratorio Society of New York for Handel’s Messiah, as well as Arvo Part’s Passion with Ensemble ACJW.
We welcome the return of Lynn Eustis, soprano, who is currently Chair of Voice and Associate Director of Graduate Studies in Music at Boston University, where she joined the faculty in fall 2012. She holds the Doctor of Music degree in opera from Florida State University, a Master of Music degree in opera from the Curtis Institute of Music and a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from Bucknell University, Phi Beta Kappa.
She has appeared recently as a soloist with Chorus Pro Musica (Boston), Tulsa Oratorio Chorus, Dallas Bach Society, and the Choral Society of Durham, NC. She has been heard internationally with the Americke Jaro Festival (Czech Republic), the Compania Lirica Nacional (Costa Rica), and the Guangzhou Symphony (China). Dr. Eustis has sung over thirty operatic roles, most notably the title roles in Lucia di Lammermoor and The Daughter of the Regiment, Zerbinetta, Olympia, Pamina, Susanna, Rosina, and Gilda. In March 2010 she made her Carnegie Hall debut in Mozart’s Vesperae de Dominica. With Westminster Williamson Voices she appeared as the title soloist in the U.S. premiere of James Whitbourn’s Annelies: The Anne Frank Oratorio, a work for which she continues to be in demand.
Dr. Eustis is the author of The Singer’s Ego: Finding Balance Between Music and Life, Finding Middle Ground (two volumes of songs for teaching young voices), and The Teacher’s Ego: When Singers Become Voice Teachers, all published by GIA Publications in Chicago. During the summer she serves on the faculty at the Up North Vocal Institute in Boyne City, Michigan.
Mezzo-soprano Kathleen Shimeta is a versatile interpreter of art songs, chamber music, oratorio and opera whose work has been enthusiastically received throughout the United States and Europe. Ms. Shimeta was honored to be included in renowned photographer Steffen Thalemann’s exhibit, “Outside the Box.” His show focuses on portraits of known and unknown personalities: people who have left their mark on society with inventive thinking. The choice of Ms. Shimeta was made based upon her innovative presentation of the works and life of Gena Branscombe.
For several years Ms. Shimeta devoted time to discovering the rich repertoire of American composer Gena Branscombe (1881-1977). Kathleen’s one-woman show, Life! Love! Song! A Visit with Gena Branscombe, showcases fifteen of Miss Branscombe’s elegantly lyric songs with vivid first-person dialogue. This one-woman show gives tribute to a woman ahead of her time, a pioneer for today’s women composers. Ah, Love I Shall Find Thee: Songs of Gena Branscombe, available on Albany Records, is a collaboration of the singer with pianist Martin Hennessy.
In partnership with Ronald Branscombe of Unlimited Media, Kathleen is in pre-production for the film Every Town is Your Home Town a documentary dedicated to the life and works of Miss Branscombe. Her one-woman show will be a feature part of the documentary. Kathleen, a strong advocate for contemporary American composers, made her New York City debut when she performed the premiere of Michael Linton’s Cantata #2 at Merkin Hall. She premiered Mr. Linton’s Canti Catulli in Seattle at a national convention of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and was guest soloist performing George Rochberg’s Songs in Praise of Krishna at a Rochberg festival.
Tenor Jeffrey Picón has proven his versatility as a concert and opera singer in a diverse selection of repertoire. Highlights of recent seasons include his New York City Opera debut in Carmen, Cendrillon, Madama Butterfly, and Tosca; debuts with the Oregon Bach Festival, Rochester Philharmonic, Long Island Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, and Richmond Symphony; and the United States tour of Bernstein On Broadway with the Israel Philharmonic, conducted by Michael Barrett and featuring Leonard’s daughter, Jamie Bernstein. Other appearances include his Arizona Opera debut in Zemire et Azor, Almaviva in Il barbiere di Siviglia with the Opera Company of North Carolina; bothRamiro in La Cenerentola and Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni with Lyric Opera of Kansas City; Paolino in Il Matrimonio Segreto with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis; Trouble in Tahiti with the Caramoor Festival; Fenton in Falstaff with Mississippi Opera; and Tony in West Side Story with the Ash Lawn Opera Festival.
Mr. Picón began his career as one of the youngest members to participate in the San Francisco Opera’s Merola Program, with performances in Così fan tutte and Don Giovanni. Other engagements have included performances with Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Dallas Opera, Portland Opera Repertory Theatre, the Opera Company of Philadelphia and Wolf Trap Opera, the Opera Company of Philadelphia, Opera Festival of New Jersey, Anchorage Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, and the national touring production of Don Giovanni with Western Opera Theatre.
Mr. Picón can be heard as Mike on the recording of William Bolcom’s A View from the Bridge, his debut with Lyric Opera of Chicago, and was recently part of the Emmy Award winning Live from Lincoln Center production of Madama Butterfly with New York City Opera. A graduate of the University of North Texas and the Curtis Institute of Music, he has been an adjunct professor of voice at Oklahoma City University for the past five years and a faculty artist at the Bay View Music Festival.
Youth soloist Rachel Wakeman is a sophomore at Lewisburg High School. She is a member of the Cross Country and Track teams and is on the student council. In eighth grade she played the role of Teen Fiona in the LAHS production of Shrek. She has been a member of the orchestra and concert choir at Lewisburg and has sung with our SV Youth Chorale.