SUNY Cortland’s Performing Arts Department is engaging in a town-gown collaboration to bring two holiday season performances of George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah” to the Cortland community on Friday, Dec. 5, and Sunday, Dec. 7.
The College is working with The Arts at Grace to offer the concerts, featuring SUNY Cortland’s Choral Union, a quartet of promising New York soloists and a remarkable professional orchestra drawn from Central New York.
Both concerts will take place at Grace and Holy Spirit Church, 13 Court St., beginning at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 5 and at 3 p.m. on Dec. 7. The performances are free and open to the public.
The concerts will feature soprano Sarah Shaiman, a junior musical theatre major at SUNY Cortland. Always immersed in music and theater, Shaiman formally studied classical, jazz and musical theater repertoire during high school. At the College, she had memorable roles in “Candide,” “Wicked,” “Brigadoon,” “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” “Rockabye Hamlet,” “A Christmas Carol” and “Spring Awakening.”
Also performing will be mezzo-soprano Allie Tamburello, a senior at Cortland completing a degree in musical theatre. She has appeared at the College in many main stage musicals as well as sung at some of New York City's well-known cabaret and jazz clubs including The Metropolitan Room, The Duplex and Don’t Tell Mama.
Tenor Nathaniel McEwen, who is pursuing a master’s degree in performance at the Eastman School of Music, also will appear. While an undergraduate at Cornell University, he was tenor soloist in several major works and sang selections at a concert for university donors at Alice Tully Hall in New York City. At Eastman, McEwen has been the tenor soloist with the Rochester Philharmonic, the Eastman Philharmonia and the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra. He made his operatic debut in Eastman Opera Theatre’s recent production of Britten’s Albert Herring.
Rounding out the soloists is Emmanuel Sikora, a native and current resident of Cortland, who holds a degree with a concentration in composition from Queens College (CUNY) Aaron Copland School of Music. He recently earned a Masters in Music Composition with a Certificate in College Teaching from Binghamton University. Sikora has sung with the Choral Union since 2001.
David Neal, the artistic director for the concerts, is a professor of performing arts at SUNY Cortland. A graduate of Cornell University and the Peabody Conservatory of Music, he has performed as bass-baritone soloist with many opera companies nationally and internationally.
The Arts at Grace is a community outreach of Grace and Holy Spirit Church supported by many individuals, businesses and foundations from the greater Cortland community. The series currently receives funding through CNY Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts and the Wilkins Foundation. For more information, call 607-753-3073 during business hours.