Masterworks Chorale performs Beethoven and Rossini

The Masterworks Chorale, the Eastern Panhandle's premiere vocal ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Erik Reid Jones, will present two dynamic works, Rossini's Stabat Mater and the final movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, Ode to Joy, with full orchestra and soloists, on Saturday, April 21 at 8:00 p.m. at St. James Catholic Church in Charles Town, and on Sunday, April 22 at 7:00 p.m at the Frank Arts Center Theater in Shepherdstown as part of the Friends of Music Concert Series. Featured soloists in the Masterworks program are soprano Natalie Conte, mezzo-soprano Melanie Regan, tenor Joseph Regan, and baritone Colin Brady.

The Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125, is the final complete symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven. One of the best known works of the Western classical repertoire, among critics, it is universally considered to be among Beethoven's greatest works, and by some to be the greatest piece of music ever written. The words sung during the final movement by four vocal soloists and a chorus, were taken from the "Ode to Joy," a poem written by Friedrich Schiller in 1785 and revised in 1803, with additions made by the composer. Rossini composed in 1832, Stabat Mater, in his own words, "this poor little Mass," that premiered in its definite form in 1842. The poet Heine wrote after hearing the piece that the theater seemed "a vestibule of heaven." The audiences were deeply moved by the somber beauty of the long opening and taken by the beautiful melodies of the following movements. As evidence of Rossini's serious purpose the work ends with a great double fugue.

Natalie Conte, soprano, completed her Master of Music and Bachelor of Music degrees at the Peabody Conservatory of Music of Johns Hopkins University, where she was the recipient of the Annie Wentz prize and the George Castelle Memorial Award for excellence in performance, and the Azalia H. Thomas award for superior marks in the field of music theory. At Peabody she studied with Phyllis Bryn-Julson and John Shirley-Quirk, and she has worked with coaches and directors Thomas Grubb, Vera Danchenko-Stern, James Harp, and Garnett Bruce. She currently trains with Medea Namoradze. Ms. Conte has performed as a soloist in Washington D.C. and Baltimore area venues such as the Russian Embassy, Opera Camerata of Washington, the Annapolis Chorale, and the State Department where she was hailed as "an ethereal soprano." Aside from various recital appearances, her opera credits include the roles of Casilda in The Gondoliers, Alice Ford in Verdi's Falstaff, Noemie in Massenet's Cendrillon, Blonde in Mozart's The Abduction from the Seraglio, among others. In addition to performing locally, Ms. Conte has performed in Rome, St. Petersburg, and Moscow, and in summers past she has attended Operafestival di Roma, where she performed the Countess in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro and Suor Genovieffa in Puccini's opera Suor Angelica.

Melanie Zayas Regan, mezzo-soprano studied at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University where she earned both her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees in Voice. Upon completing her Masters degree she took the position of applied voice instructor at St. James School. In the past four years her position has grown to encompass not only applied instruction but also leading choir sectionals, coaching musicals, assisting in the planning of choir tours, and many other tasks that come up along the way. In 2007 she founded the Saint James Boy's Ensemble, a group that specializes in close harmony a cappella works with selections ranging from 18th century polyphony to modern pop. In addition to her role as teacher and private voice instructor, she is an active performer both locally and throughout the eastern region of the U.S.

Joseph Regan is a successful singer and voice teacher based in the Mid-Atlantic region who has performed all over the Eastern Seaboard. He can be seen on the opera stage where he has performed the roles of Fenton from Verdi's Falstaff, Tamino from Mozart's Magic Flute, Jenik from Smetana's Bartered Bride and many more. He is also an accomplished performer of musical theatre, and has performed Henrik in Sondheim's A Little Night Music, Nicely-Nicely Johnson from Loesser's Guys and Dolls, and in a number of cabaret and recital programs dedicated to the style. In addition to his work in opera and musical theatre, Mr. Regan is a well known for his work in the field of oratorio. He has sung Handel, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Mozart, and is particularly notable for his expertise singing Bach. He has performed the St. John Passion solos on multiple occasions and has performed more than a dozen of Bach's Cantatas. In addition to his work as a soloist, Mr. Regan is also a highly sought after ensemble singer and sings regularly with the Washington National Cathedral, The Countertop Ensemble, with whom he has completed several successful concert tours, and other well respected choral ensembles in the Washington/Baltimore area. Mr. Regan received his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University.

Baritone Colin Brady received his Bachelor of Music in voice performance from the University of Iowa, Iowa City. He studied with David Jones, Willie Anthony Waters, David Crawford. He has performed with New Britain Symphony (CT), Hartford Symphony (CT), Opera Colorado, Des Moines Metro Opera (IA), Connecticut Opera, and Sarasota Opera (FL). He has performed Don Alfonso in Lancaster Opera's Cosi Fan Tutte, Benoit/Alcindoro in New Britain Symphony's La Boheme, Sam in Trouble in Tahiti with the Connecticut Concert Opera, Angelotti/Jailor in Tosca for Opera Theater of Connecticut, Figaro Le Nozze di Figaro Connecticut Lyric Opera and the Union Avenue Opera of St. Louis, Marco in Gianni Schicci with Port Opera in Maine and Connecticut Opera, Curio in Guilio Ceasare with Opera Colorado, Ali in L'Italiana in Algeri , Old Gypsy in Il Trovatore and Mandarino in Turandot with Connecticut Opera.

Music director, Dr. Erik Reid Jones, is the Director of Choral and Vocal Activities at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, and founder and artistic director of the Master Singers of Virginia. He received his Bachelor of Music degree summa cum laude in vocal music education at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, his Master of Music degree in choral conducting at the University of Cincinnati, and his doctoral degree in choral conducting at the University of Maryland at College Park. Locally, he has taught at Shenandoah Conservatory, Harford Community College, and the University of Maryland. While his conducting takes him all over the Washington, DC region performing music from medieval times onward, he has a particular love for a cappella choral music of the 20th and 21st centuries. Dr. Jones is a published author and an avid choral composer, with over twenty works to his credit, most of which have been premiered by the Master Singers.

The Masterworks Chorale, a vocal ensemble with over 130 singers, comprised of Shepherd University vocal students and members from the surrounding community, presents two full-length productions per year of great masterpieces from the choral literature as well as appearances at the Annual Holiday Gala Concert.

General admission for the Masterworks Chorale concert is $22 in advance and $27 at the door, $22 for faculty, staff and seniors, $15 for students 18 and under. For ticket information call 304-876-5765 or visit For more information or to purchase tickets call 304-876-5765 or visit