Felix Jarrar's “Too Hot to Handel”

December 11th, 2021 4:30pm   Stage


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On Saturday December 11th at 4:30pm, join pianist/composer Felix Jarrar for “Too Hot to Handel”, his annual presentation of Handel’s Messiah Part I in a special one-hour, chamber chorus version at Rockwood Music Hall’s Stage 3. Soloists Zoe Marie Hart, James M. Brown, Gabriel Hernandez, and Miguel Angel Vasquez join Jarrar at the piano in singing the beloved solos and choruses one-to-a-part from the Christmas portion of this Baroque masterpiece. The live performance concludes with a sing-a-long of the Hallelujah chorus at the end. Tickets are $20 plus a two drink minimum. There is a special discount code for $15 student tickets. Rejoice greatly, and we hope to see you there!

Felix Jarrar (he/him/his)

With music described as “dreamlike” by the Boston Globe, composer/pianist Felix Jarrar has a list of accomplishments that includes performances at diverse venues such as Symphony Space, (le) poisson rouge, Feinstein's/54 below, the BAM! Fisher Hillman Studio, Roulette Intermedium, and Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall. Amongst his approximately 190 works, he has written over 175 art songs, 12 operas, 2 string quartets, 2 cantatas, and an oratorio. Jarrar frequently works with Whitney George’s The Curiosity Cabinet. He is a vocal coach at Mannes College and serves as the assistant music director for BARN OPERA in Brandon, Vermont. He completed his Bachelor of Arts from Marlboro College with Highest Honors in Music Composition and Piano Performance. He received his Master of Music degree from Brooklyn College in Music Composition.

Zoe Marie Hart (they/she)

Soprano Zoe Marie Hart, hailed as “adorable” by Superconductor, has enjoyed exploring soubrette repertoire and new music. Mx. Hart recently completed their masters at Binghamton University where they performed the role of Dewfairy in Hansel and Gretel, and Serpetta from Mozart's La finta giardiniera. Appearing on several Opera on Tap virtual recitals, and performing in the Virtual Chamber zFestival , Zoe continued to perform throughout the quarantine, exploring the possibilties of virtual classical performance. Grateful to sing for live audiences again, Mx. Hart gave a Magic theme recital, including songs by Florence Price, Lili Boulanger, Vítězslava Kaprálová, and contemporary composer Felix Jarrar. Mx. Hart also loved traveling to Vermont for their company and role debut this fall as Annina in La Traviata with Barn Opera.
Passionate about queer representation in contemporary opera, Mx. Hart sang in the trans narrative Mother of Trees with Fifth Wall Ensemble in the New York premiere in October 2019. They also worked numerous times with NYC company, OperaRox, an institution which championed trans representation in opera. With OperaRox, they premiered the role of Florestan in Ghost Variations, and sang the roles of Denise and Lady 1 in Sweets by Kate (Griffen Candey). Sweets by Kate was the first opera to be presented at the historical Stonewall Inn in NYC, and was featured on NowThis for its progressive representation.
Possessing a youthful and spritely aura, Mx. Hart appeared with Utopia Opera in NYC as Cis in Albert Herring, Philadel in Purcell’s King Arthur, and Spirit 1 in Cendrillon. Other similar roles include Oberto in Alcina, Young Vixen in Cunning Little Vixen, and Barbarina in Le Nozze di Figaro while in NYC, and Zwei Knabe in Die Zauberflöte with University of Michigan Opera.

Past concert appearances include OperaRox's Donor Salon, and Utopia Opera's 2016 Gala. They were part of Cantanti Project's Ophelia Project, pairing art songs with excerpts from Shakespeare's Hamlet. Mx. Hart's Hill Auditorium debut in Ann Arbor was as a soloist for Bach's "Herz und Mund un Tat und Leben" with the Orpheus Choir, and performed Tehillim by Steve Reich in Merkin Hall, NYC, and University of Michigan.

In addition to their education at Binghamton University and University of Michigan, Zoe attended OperaWorks in 2014, received a Lieder scholarship in order to attend AIMS in Austria the summer of 2013, and attended SongFest as a young artist in 2012, working with Libby Larsen and John Musto.

James M. Brown (they/them)

James M. Brown [they/them], a Maine native and artist known for diverse repertoire, "remains a definite asset in a cast as they sing and play remarkably well" (atuvu.ca). They have been seen portraying “a well controlled cold menace” (Le Devoir) and having a “pleasingly warm, and powerful tone” (Portland Press Herald). They returned to The Oratorio Society of Richmond in Handel’s Susanna and later this year will premiere Niccolo Selgimann’s Julie, Monster with RVA Baroque. During the closures due to COVID-19 they have found a place in Barn Opera’s Social Distance Opera while narrating Bel Cantanti Opera’s video production of Hansel & Gretel. This summer, pursuing their love of new works, James performed works by John Cage, Joshua Scheid, and premiered Danni Song's Brood X at the Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice. As a recitalist, James was a featured artist in the Apple Tree Art Song Pride Concert Series and will be an Encore Young Artist with Ars Musica Chorale for the 2021-2022 season. Mx. Brown holds degrees from McGill University and the University of Southern Maine. www.countertenorjames.com

Gabriel Hernandez (he/they)

Puerto Rican-American tenor Gabriel Hernandez has been performing since childhood and believes in the power of community and collaboration to create meaningful art. They have been in collaboration with queer community members in the NYC area working on projects that speak to towards community relationships, both through locational and personal experience. They will exhibit a photo shoot at the C’mon Everybody gallery shot by photographer Bronson Farr with the support of the New York City Artist Corps, a $25
million program created to support artists who live and work in NY. Gabriel begins the 2021/22 season in recital with Maryland Opera and follows with their main stage debut with Fargo Moorhead Opera in Mozart’s classic Don Giovanni reprising the role of Don Ottavio, following with a return to Bronx Opera to perform in their annual presentation of The Messiah.

Miguel Angel Vasquez (he/him/his)

Miguel Angel Vasquez is a Dominican-American Baritone lionized for his “Ardent baritone and strong dramatic presence” (operawire) and “ Golden Voice” ( Syracuse.com the post standards). A graduate of University of Hartford’s The Hartt School of Music, Miguel has been performing internationally (Europe) as well as teaching the next generation of young artists. In NYC he has performed with the NY Philharmonic at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and New York City Opera’s world premiere of Stonewall the opera at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Other venues include: Carnegie Hall, off-Broadway, Merkin Hall, les Poison Rouge, 54 Below, Symphony Space, along with a few other cabaret and concert venues. He performs in operas, musical theater, screen/film, orchestral concerts, cabarets, jazz clubs, and sacred music in NYC, regional theaters, and internationally. Through the pandemic he has taken to the virtual world in cabarets, recitals through group muse, readings of new shows, voice over work, demos, commercials, and more! Upcoming will be a role debut of Dr. Malatesta in Don Pasquale with Barn Opera