Israel in Egypt – Spotlight #3

This week, featured soloists Andrew Stenson and Jessica Niles take their turn with our three questions…

1. What do you love most about Handel’s Israel in Egypt?
AS: I LOVE singing these Handel oratorios! I love singing English recit in this style because the intentions are so clear, but realized simply enough that I can take real ownership of the text. I also LOVE that I have a gorgeous duet with the alto soloist and I can’t wait to sing with John Holiday!

JN: Handel has this ability to overlap voices, instruments, and soloists in one big unfurling of color and counterpoint, with voices balancing and adding to each other. This oratorio is very playful, and trading melodies and themes between voices, which makes the work sound like much more of a conversation than a simple statement.

2. What will be your most daunting technical feat for this production?
AS: This is an easy sing for me, so I can’t think of any daunting technical feat, but I’m trying to interpolate a (tasteful) high C into the cadenza in “The Enemy Said”.

JN: I’ll be performing the soprano duet, “The Lord is my Strength and my Song”, with Mikaela Bennett – The music itself isn’t particularly daunting;  the most challenging (and the most fun) part of this process is putting all the singers and instrumentalists together in rehearsal, and incorporating the visual art aspect.

3. What is your favorite recording?
AS: When I was looking at recordings I listened to the Decca recording with the Choir of King’s College with Ian Bostridge as the tenor soloist. I’m a HUGE fan of a recording he’s done of “The Rake’s Progress” and I love his singing in this recording as well.

JN: I love the recording by the Dutch Nederlands Kamerkoor and the early music ensemble Le Concert Lorrain, conducted by Roy Goodman. They found a balance of movement and space within their tempi that allows for the music to find freedom and a variety of colors. You can hear the element of baroque dance in the lilt of the music, which feels very organic – the work takes on a spontaneous quality and feels playful, harmonically driven, and honest.

Spotlight: The Plagues

He gave them Hailstones for Rain…

 Many historians now think that the plagues are passed-down accounts of a chain reaction of natural disasters, stemming from the catastrophic explosion of the Thera volcano in Santorini circa 1646 BCE. The seventh plague – Hailstones – was likely caused by showers of rock and fire resulting from the eruption.

Artist Kevork Mourad’s evocative illustrations bring to life the terror and mystery of living through a natural disaster.

Spotlight: Afghanistan

In this section we humbly acknowledge the painful resonance the Exodus still holds, given that 68 million people are experiencing some form of exile today. We began last week with the largest of today’s crisis, Syria with 6.3 million men, women and children displaced.

Afghanistan is the second-largest crisis, with an estimated 3.6 million people displaced as of July 2018. Years of unemployment, insecurity, and political instability have led to a massive migration – over one million people are estimated to be living in new and prolonged displacement, while nearly 2.6 million have been forced to leave the country for Iran, Pakistan, or Europe. The United Nations estimates that an average 1,100 people a day — mostly women and children — were forcibly displaced by violence in 2017.