Handel’s Messiah

December 21 and 22, 2012 7pm, @Church of the Incarnation – 3966 McKinney Ave, Dallas, TX 75204


Box office and Online sales are closed but Ticket are still available for General Admission at the door starting at 6PM on both Friday, December 21 and Saturday December 22.

Premium Reserved and Reserved Seating is SOLD OUT for both performances.

Two performances of Handel’s Messiah, complete, with the Dallas Bach Orchestra and Chorus and vocal soloists including the return of Dann Coakwell, who provided so much pleasure with his performance of the Evangelist in last season’s Saint John Passion.

Handel’s Messiah is called “A Grand Musical Entertainment” in the catalogue of the Charitable Musical Society of Dublin, where it is the most treasured entry.  The first performance was given in the city of Dublin on April 13, 1742, on a commission arranged by the Duke of Devonshire, Lord Lieutenant of Dublin.  It is thought that Handel wrote this oratorio on the life of Christ in Dublin because he feared the reaction of the more stringent Protestant clergy of London, but before long the work was beloved there and was given many a performance, including annual benefits for the Foundling Hospital, Handel’s favorite charity.  On the 25th anniversary of Handel’s death, in 1784, a grand Handel festival was organized in Westminster Abbey, which featured a total of 275 choristers and an orchestra of 250 players.


The numerical notion of greatness only gathered momentum during the nineteenth century, leading up to an 1859 performance at the Crystal Palace under the baton of Sir Michael Costa which featured a total of 3,225 musicians!  At this point a music critic by the name of George Bernard Shaw (writing under the pen name “Corno di Bassetto”) raised the salient point in response to the ever more gargantuan presentations of the work. “Why doesn’t somebody set up a thoroughly rehearsed and exhaustively studied performance of Messiah in St. James’s Hall with a chorus of twenty capable artists?  Most of us would be glad to hear the work seriously performed once before we die.”


In the Bach Society we aim to give a performance of Messiah that Handel might approve of, and which shares the performance practices of his day.  For this was the greatest of men and of composers, whose facility and genius have rarely if ever been equaled.  It is a shame that such a small proportion of his work is well known, although with the original instrument “movement” in the forefront, this lack is in the process of being corrected.  Nowadays Handel is indeed known for more than Messiah and a few other oratorios and instrumental pieces, but the true extent of his universality could be more and better felt in our time.  The thumbnail biography by Sir Charles Beecham, written for a post card of Handel’s portrait at the National Gallery, gives the idea most succinctly:


George Frederick Handel (1685-1759).  Born in Halle and died in London, a naturalized Englishman.  Greatest of the international composers, he wrote with equal success in the styles of France, Germany,Italy and England.  His career, like his personality, was stormy and brilliant.  The downfall of Italian opera led him to English oratorio and his masterpiece, Messiah.  He loved pictures, and children, endowing liberally the Foundling Hospital.  Afflicted with paralyses and blindness, he died wealthy and the idol of the nation.  Buried in Westminster Abbey.


Soloists who will be performing are:

American soprano Teresa Wakim has garnered wide acclaim for her performances of opera, oratorio and chamber music. Praised for her “gorgeous, profoundly expressive instrument” (Cleveland Plain Dealer), and possessing a voice of “extraordinary suppleness and beauty” (The New York Times), she enjoys an internationally successful career performing and recording music from the Renaissance to the freshly-composed, and is perhaps best known as “a fine baroque stylist” (The Miami Herald). Wakim has performed as soloist under many of the world’s renowned ‘early music’ specialists, including Ton Koopman, Harry Christophers, Nicolas McGegan, Roger Norrington, Laurence Cummings, Martin Pearlman, Alex Weimann, Paul O’Dette, Stephen Stubbs, and Jeannette Sorrell. A graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and Boston University’s College of Fine Arts, she recently won First Prize in the Internationaler Solistenwettbewerb für Alte Musik in Austria and was named Lorraine Hunt Lieberson Fellow by Emmanuel Music. Noted engagements include Bach’s Mass in B Minor and St. John Passion with the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, Bach’s Wedding Cantataand Mendelssohn’s Hear My Prayer with The Cleveland Orchestra, Handel’s Messiah with the San Antonio and Charlotte Symphonies, Pamina in The Magic Flute with Apollo’s Fire, Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate with the Handel & Haydn Society, and a title role in Handel’s Acis and Galatea with the Boston Early Music Festival. Ms. Wakim can be heard as a featured soloist on four Grammy-nominated recordings with the Boston Early Music Festival and Seraphic Fire.


Mezzo soprano Dianna Grabowski, described as “glamorous” and “glowing-toned” by the Dallas Morning News, is a versatile performer experienced in a wide range of classical singing. As a concert soloist, Dianna has been heard with such groups as as le Violon d’Ingres, (Paris), Dallas Bach Society, Denton Bach Society,  and Orchestra of New Spain.

Based in the Dallas area, Dianna sings regularly with professional choruses such as the Orpheus Chamber Singers, Vox Humana, and the nationally recognized Santa Fe Desert Chorale, as well as with the Grammy-nominated ensemble, Seraphic Fire. Her opera roles have included the title role in Offenbach’s La Périchole (with Opéra du Périgord in Périgord, France), Diane in Rameau’s Zéphyre and Céphise in Rameau’s Pygmalion (with the Dallas Bach Society), Volupia in Cavalli’s L’Egisto, Cherubino in Le nozze di Figaro, Nancy in Albert Herring, and Hansel in Hansel and Gretel.

Dianna has performed multiple times at both the Boston and Berkeley Early Music Festivals and has appeared at the Misiones de Chiquitos International Baroque Music Festival (Santa Cruz, Bolivia).  Dianna recently had the honor of performing excerpts from La Périchole for the French ambassador to the United States, Pierre Vimont, and other dignitaries.  She also is a founding member of the professional ensemble Armonia Celeste, specializing in the expressive vocal music of the Italian Renaissance and Baroque. In 2011 Armonia Celeste was one of four finalist ensembles in the Naxos/Early Music America recording competition, and the group plans to release its debut album in the winter of 2012. With Armonia Celeste, Dianna was featured in a PBS documentary presented by Early Music Television entitled “Culture Wars of Venice and the Birth of Public Opera.”


DANN COAKWELL, Tenor, made his solo debut at Carnegie Hall in New York in February 2010 as the lead role of Andrey in the world premiere of Prokofiev’s newly discovered and reconstructed opera act, Dalyekie Morya (Distant Seas), and he is a featured soloist on the 2009 Grammy Award-nominated album Conspirare: A Company of Voices (Harmonia Mundi records). Dann has performed the role of Evangelist in J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion on tour inItaly under Maestro Masaaki Suzuki, and was soloist under Helmuth Rilling in Germany for several of J.S. Bach’s cantatas. He has appeared in concert multiple times as tenor soloist with Conspirare, including their productions of Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s Mass in B Minor, and as Evangelist in Bach’s Christmas Oratorioin Austin. Highlights of the current and upcoming seasons solo tenor again at Carnegie Hall under William Christie in G.F. Handel’s Funeral Anthem for Queen Caroline in February 2012; Evangelist in J.S. Bach’s Johannes-Passion in Boston in March 2012, tenor arias in J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion under Maestro Rilling at the Oregon Bach Festival in July 2012; and as tenor soloist in Maestro Suzuki’s December 2012 production of Handel’s Messiah, J.S. Bach’sMagnificat (BWV 243a) and Christen, ätzet diesen Tag (BWV 63), with the Philharmonia Baroque in San Francisco. Originally from the Austin, Texas, area Dann currently resides in New Haven, Connecticut. He holds an Artist Diploma in Vocal Performance from the Yale School of Music and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, an M.Mus. from Texas Tech University, and a B.Mus. from the University of Texas at Austin.


Stephen Morscheck bass-baritone, has performed to much acclaim in recent sersons in the roles of Rocco in Fidelio with the Opera Company of Philadelphia, Raimondo inLucia di Lammermoor  with Washington, and Arizona Opera, Publius in La Clemenza di Tito with Santa Fe Opera, Palemon in Thais with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Colline inLa boheme with Los Angeles and Dallas Opera, Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with Atlanta Opera, and Alidoro in La Cenerentola with the Orlando and Florentine Opera. Recent engagements include Barotolo in Le Nozze di Figaro with the Dallas Opera, Basilio in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with L’Opera Montreal, Leporello in Don Giovanni with Opera Carolina, Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro with Atlanta Opera, John Quincy Adams in Amistad with the Spoleto Festival, the St. Matthew Passion with the L’Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, Messiah with the Duke University Chapel and the Toronto Symphony, and Hercules in Handel’s Hercules with Music of the Baroque.  He can be heard on recordings including Sir George Solti’s Grammy Award-winning recording of Die Meistersinger von Nüremberg with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and he can be seen on DVD recordings of Giuseppe Verdi’s Nabucco produced at the Metropolitan Opera, Rossini’s Il viaggio a Rheims from the Gran Teatro Liceo of Barcelona, and Albeniz’Merlin, filmed at the Teatro Real in Madrid, Spain.  Stephen Morscheck is an Assistant Professor of Voice at the University of North Texas School of Music, and in 1995, he was awarded a Richard Tucker Career Grant.