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Former local and soloist returns to sing ‘Messiah’

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Soloing in two performances of Handel’s “Messiah” next weekend works out nicely for bass Ivan Conrad Miller. That’s because for Miller, who lives in New York City, the Albuquerque performances dovetail with his visit here with family and friends.

In New York, he is a resident artist with the Dicapo Opera Theatre and is the bass section leader in the choir at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church.

“It will be interesting to revisit the piece after not singing it for five years and after getting my master’s at the Manhattan School of Music,” Miller said in a phone interview.

If you go
WHAT: “Messiah” with New Mexico Philharmonic, the Central United Methodist Church’s Chancel Choir and soloists
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8 and 3 p.m. Dec. 9
WHERE: Central United Methodist Church, 201 University NE
HOW MUCH: $25 and $40 for the general public, $55 for a VIP ticket, which includes a post-concert reception with the artists. Tickets are available in advance at www.holdmyticket.com, or by calling 505-886-1251, or at the door

He last soloed in “Messiah” when he sang it as a member of the University of New Mexico’s Concert Choir. Miller received a bachelor’s degree from UNM.

“After my master’s education, I have a different vocal and technical approach to it,” Miller said.

He also views singing in this “Messiah” as a special opportunity because he will be joining the New Mexico Philharmonic.

Miller, a Sandia High graduate, said that “many of the esteemed Philharmonic players I grew up watching performed with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra.”

Miller is one of four soloists who will join the Central United Methodist Church’s Chancel Choir and the Philharmonic in performing “Messiah” on Saturday, Dec. 8 and Dec. 9 at the church.

Albuquerque soprano Cammy Cook, who also is a soloist, shared Miller’s sentiments about performing with the musicians.

“I can remember hearing the NMSO in a school performance when I was in the first, second-grade. I had a dream to sing with them. (The Philharmonic) is not exactly the same (organization), but I’ll take it,” Cook said.

This is the first time she is soloing in the traditional holiday work, though she sang it as a member of the chorus with Polyphony: Voices of New Mexico. And she’s played the flute part in a local church performance of it.

Another soloist is Albuquerque mezzo-soprano Jacqueline Zander-Wall, who has extensive international opera, recital and oratorio credits. As an oratorio soloist, she has performed with Robert Shaw, Canticum Novum and at the German cathedrals in Hamburg, Wismar and Lubeck.

Though Zander-Wall has done excerpts of “Messiah,” she never sung this much of the oratorio – which amounts to about two-thirds of it – in the United States.

She said she’s pleased to be working with David Felberg, who is guest conducting the Philharmonic.

“Whenever I do something with David, it is something I want to do,” Zander-Wall said. “And it’s nice to work with three young, budding, wonderful singers.”

The fourth soloist is tenor Javier Gonzalez.

Jerrilyn Foster hired the soloists and is preparing the chorus. The main chorus members are the 43 voices of the Central United Methodist Church’s Chancel Choir.

Another 15 or so singers will augment the chorus. They include singers of other churches and other choirs in the community, said Foster, who is director of sanctuary music at the church.

“These are all very experienced singers and it’s a great opportunity for the community to sing. They love to sing with the choir at Central,” she said.

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