Masterworks Chorale performs Brahms Requiem

The Masterworks Chorale, the Eastern Panhandle's premiere vocal ensemble, under the direction of Dr. Erik Reid Jones, will present great masterpiece of choral literature of the Romantic era, A German Requiem by Johannes Brahms, with full orchestra and guest soloists, on Saturday, May 1 at 8:00 p.m. at St. James Catholic Church in Charles Town. The program will be repeated on Sunday, May 2 at 7:00 p.m. at the Frank Arts Center Theater in Shepherdstown as part of the Friends of Music Concert Series.

A German Requiem is Johannes Brahms' magnum opus. He labored over it for eleven years, from 1857 to 1868, and it is his longest major work. While Brahms never finished an opera, his requiem is at once his most theatrical piece and a stunningly symmetrical symphonic form. It is also a candid glimpse into its composer's heart, a place he was usually reluctant to let his listeners explore. "Inside, I never laugh," he once said about himself; and "Life robs us of more than death does."

Soprano Brooke Evers studied as a Fulbright Scholar in Austria, performing in Vienna, Berlin, and Milan before returning to D.C., where she has been heard as a soloist at the Kennedy Center, the Embassy of Austria, the National Cathedral, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the Strathmore Mansion, and the Washington Arts Club. She was the winner of the 2007 Vocal Arts Discovery Series Competition, a finalist in the 2008 American Bach Competition and Liederkranz Competition, and a semi-finalist in the New York Oratorio Society Competition. She has participated in the Ravinia Festival of Chicago, the Franz-Schubert-Institut in Baden-bei-Wien, and masterclasses of Elly Ameling, Renee Fleming, Wolfgang Holzmair and others. She sings with the Washington Bach Consort and has appeared as a soloist with director J. Reilly Lewis. She received her Bachelor's degree in Voice and German from Indiana University and her Master of Music from the University of Maryland, where she performed leading roles in Cimarosa's Il matrimonio segreto and the workshop premier of Kirke Mechem's The Newport Rivals as a member of the Maryland Opera Studio. Not limited to classical music, Ms. Evers was recognized by the city of Baltimore as a semi-finalist in the 2008 Billie Holiday Competition for her jazz singing and recently performed the role of Maria in a concert production of The Sound of Music with the Vienna Choral Society. She has also appeared as the soprano soloist for Elijah under the direction of Webster Rogers, soloist for the Brahms and Mozart Requiems with the Washington Summer Sings.

Baritone Darren Perry is constantly praised for his powerful vocal ability, flawless musicianship, and compelling performances within the lyric baritone repertoire. A graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park from which he received both his Bachelor's and Master's degree in vocal performance, he was hailed by the Washington Post as "... an outstanding Don Giovanni, by turns charming and disgusting, vocally strong and a fine actor." He has appeared at Opera Omaha as Sam in Pirates of Penzance and performed in concert with the Omaha Symphony. Recent performances include a holiday concert at the Lincoln Center Library, Courchemin in Le Deserteur with Opera Lafayette in Washington, DC, and Ramiro in L'Heure Espangol with the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra. He performed Papageno in Mozart's Die Zauberflote with the Prince William Symphony Orchestra, Lockit in Britten's Beggar's Opera at Maestro Lorin Maazel's private theater in Castleton, Virginia, Judas Maccabaeus with the Pro Arte Chorale in NJ, Broadway Classics with the Westfield Symphony Orchestra in NJ and Brahms' Requiem with Master Singers of Milwaukee. He performed an All Bernstein program with the Fairfax Choral Society, was a winner in the DC District Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and performed Italian Opera Favorites at the Donnell Library, New York City. With the prestigious Merola program at San Francisco Opera, he performed Sid in Britten's Albert Herring. Other credits include Baron Douphol in La Traviata and Mr. Lindquist in A Little Night Music with Opera Cleveland, the title role in Don Giovanni with Maryland Opera Studio; Hidroat in Armide with Opera Lafayette; Don Procolo in Viva La Mamma with Opera Theatre of Northern Virginia; and an Opera Gala with the Gibraltar Philharmonic. He can be heard on the Naxos label as Aronte in Lully's Armide, as Le Courchemin in Pierre Alexandre Monsigny's Le Deserteur, and in the ensemble of Rebel and Francouer's Zelindor with Opera Lafayette, with whom he will sing the title role in Philidor's Sancho Panza, which will be recorded for Naxos this May.

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. The enormous ensemble, together with the orchestra, will not only be a delight to hear, but also a remarkable visual spectacle in concert.

Admission is free to the May 1 concert at St. James Catholic Church, although donations to help defray the cost of the endeavor are warmly accepted. A $20 advance donation guarantees front-of-the-house seating for the concert. General admission is $20 to the May 2 concert at Shepherd University. Seating is limited, so advance purchases are strongly encouraged. For more information or to purchase tickets call 304-876-5765 or visit www.sufom.org.