Author: Marshall Green
Date: February 26, 2014
Date: February 26, 2014
Categories: Music|Music & Arts

The National Sacred Honor Choir, sponsored by Houghton College, Houghton, N.Y., will perform at the world famous Carnegie Hall Sunday, March 9 in New York City. The performance will be in the historic Stern Auditorium located at 881 7th Ave, New York, N.Y. at 2 p.m.  Tickets are $25 general admission, $15 seniors / students and can be purchased through the Carnegie Hall box office or by visiting     

A reception will be held immediately following the concert at 4:00 p.m. An RSVP for the reception is not necessary.

“There is no more venerated hall in the world than Carnegie, and launching this new national initiative at such a celebrated place as Carnegie is both an honor and a sacred trust,” commented Dr. Stephen Plate, dean and director of the Greatbatch School of Music.

The National Sacred Honor Choir is comprised of hundreds of Christian musicians from six countries and across the U.S. . These performers represent both professional and collegiate choirs and will be partnering with a professional New York symphony orchestra and feature the work of Houghton College faculty, students and distinguished alumni.

Selections of music to be featured will include Mozart’s Requiem, Beethoven’s Piano Fantasy Op. 80 and a new commission by Houghton College composer David Davies, Cantate Domino.

The performance will be led by Maestro Brandon Johnson, director of choral activities at the Greatbatch School of Music at Houghton College. . 

Johnson has conducted the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus. Johnson studied conducting with German conductor Helmuth Rilling and was selected to conduct the Grammy winning Oregon Bach Festival Chorus and Orchestra.

Johnson is the artistic director of the professional vocal ensemble Vox Lumine. Based out of Rochester and Buffalo, N.Y., the group engages audiences in transformative musical experiences through world-class choral performances and recordings. The group is dedicated to the development of tomorrow’s musicians and the commissioning of new vocal music.

Johnson has presented conducting master’s classes and interest sessions at the National Association of Music Education (MENC) and American Choral Director Association (ACDA) conferences. Choirs under his direction have been invited to sing for multiple ACDA and MENC conferences, most recently the 2010 New York State ACDA Fall Conference and the 2009 MENC Eastern Division Conference. Johnson currently serves as the New York State ACDA president.

Johnson is in high demand as a guest conductor and has been invited to conduct choral festivals at home and abroad. In addition to working with students from across the United States he has worked with singers from Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Romania, Russia,  and Spain.

David Horace Davies is assistant professor of composition and music theory at the Greatbatch School of Music..  His music has been performed across the United States and internationally at venues which include the Great Hall at Cooper Union in New York City, the Centro Culturo Borges in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music. 

He is the founder and director of the New Song Composer Residency, a program operated through Houghton College that connects college-age composers with regional churches.  Davies has received composition prizes from the International Arts Movement and the College Music Society.  An active member of the College Music Society, the Society of Composers, Inc., and the Christian Fellowship of Art Music Composers, Davies has served as Conference Host for SCI (Region V) and the CFAMC (National), and as a member of CFAMC’s Executive Advisory Committee since 2007. 

Principle composition teachers include Dennis Kam, John van der Slice, and Mark Hijleh.  He has served as an organist/choir director at churches in Florida and Illinois, and also as musical director of the Houghton College Women’s Choir.  The Davies family lives in Houghton, NY.

Featured soloists are:

Rebecca Witty, soprano, is known for her beautifully consistent tone and dynamic stage presence. She received a bachelor’s degree in music performance from Houghton College and a master’s degree in vocal performance and literature from the Eastman School of Music, studying under Professor Carol Webber.

While at Eastman, she performed the role of the Countess in The Marriage of Figaro and the title role in Suor Angelica. She also received the 2009 Renee Fleming Award.

Chosen as the Concerto Competition winner in 2010, Witty was honored to sing with the Eastman Philharmonic under the baton of Neil Varon. Shortly thereafter, she was sent to represent Eastman in the Kennedy Center’s “Conservatory Project.”

Witty made her professional orchestra debut with the Rochester Philharmonic, performing Mahler’s Second Symphony, and joined them again later that season to sing selections from Der Rosenkavalier.

In the summer of 2013 Witty will join the Santa Fe Opera as an apprentice, singing the role of Annina in La Traviata.

Jamaican-born Canadian lyric tenor, Paul Williamson has “a startlingly rich voice” (Edmonton Journal) and is now taking his place on the operatic and concert stages of Canada.

With a bachelor’s degree in music from the Greatbatch School of Music, Houghton College and a master’s degree in opera performance from State Glinka Conservatoire of Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, Paul continued his vocal studies under Robert MacLaren at the University of Manitoba. In 2007, while a student in the opera diploma program at the University of Toronto, he starred as Nemorino in Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, where he was reviewed by Opera Canada as “a very pleasing tenor with Italianate colour, lovely phrasing and even the requisite sob,” who can “play with his voice for nuance and has lots of power when needed.” Fluent in Russian, Paul appeared as the Czar with Toronto’s Opera in concert in Rimsky-Korsakov’s The Snow Maiden in April 2008. The Globe and Mail declared “high tenor Paul Williamson, as the czar, had some ecstatic moments; his springtime aria was a high point” while Opera Canada’s review of this performance stated, “lyric tenor Paul Williamson impressed as the czar.”

Paul’s recent opera appearances include the role of Don Carlo in Verdi’s Don Carlo with Opera By Request in Toronto in March 2012, and the role of Remus in Scott Joplin’s opera Treemonisha performed with the Nathaniel Dett Chorale in Koerner Hall in Toronto in May 2012.

Baritone Mitchell Hutchings is the assistant professor of voice and opera at Houghton College. Mitchell received a bachelor’s degree in voice performance from Western Carolina University, and a Master of Music in voice performance from the Florida State University College of Music.

His most notable roles in opera and musical theatre include the title role in Gianni Schicchi, Marcello in La bohème, Mercutio in Roméo et Juliette, Escamillo in La tragédie de Carmen, Tarquinius in The Rape of Lucretia, Germont in La traviata, Ottone in L’incoronazione di Poppea, Frank in Die Fledermaus, Ben in The Telephone, Marullo in Rigoletto, Fiorello in Il barbiere di Siviglia, Angelotti in Tosca, Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Benoit & Alcindoro in La bohème, Second Armored Man in Die Zauberflöte, the title role in Sweeney Todd, Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors, Jud Fry in Oklahoma!, and Man #1 in Side by Side by Sondheim.

Hutchings has sung with numerous opera companies and festivals, including Des Moines Metro Opera, Pensacola Opera, the National Lyric Opera, Ash Lawn Opera, Opera Saratoga, Opera Tampa, Dicapo Opera Theatre, Opera Theatre and Music Festival of Lucca (Italy), and the Czech-American Summer Music Institute (Prague, Czech Republic). Hutchings is equally at home on the concert stage. Such performances have included Beethoven’s Christus am Ölberge, Choral Fantasy and Mass in C, Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky, and Brahm’s Ein deutsches Requiem, among others.

Mezzo-Soprano Kimberly Prins Moeller appeared most recently as the Sorceress in Dido and Aeneas with the St. Andrew’s Bach Society in Arizona.

A proponent of art music and contemporary music specifically, Kimberly received focused training in contemporary performance studies and French mélodie at the Vancouver International Song Institute. Other recent appearances include Handel’s Messiah with the American Chamber Orchestra, Flora in La Traviata with the University of Arizona Opera Theatre, and the Saarburg International Chamber Music Festival in Germany. In the 2013-14 season, Kimberly will sing Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus at the University of Arizona, as well as join the roster of the Tucson Chamber Artists.

Her recent stage credits include the roles of Dinah in Trouble in Tahiti and Ma Moss in The Tender Land with Penn State Opera, and Florence in Albert Herring at Montclair State University. Also an active soloist in concert and oratorio repertoire, Kimberly’s recent performances include Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, Vivaldi’s Gloria and Magnificat and Saint-Saëns’ Christmas Oratorio.

Kimberly is a multiple winner of the National Association of Teachers of Singing competitions in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Arizona, and is currently pursuing the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in voice performance at the University of Arizona, with additional studies in theatre and opera directing. She received the Professional Performance Certificate in Voice Performance from Penn State University, a Master of Arts in voice performance from Montclair State University and a Bachelor of Music in vocal music education from Houghton College. Kimberly is also an active accompanist and coach and maintains a private voice studio in the Tucson area.

Kelly Hijleh is assistant professor of voice at Houghton College. A native of Richmond, Va., soprano Hijleh holds a Bachelor of Music degree and a Graduate Performance Diploma from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. The Baltimore Evening Sun praised her “tone of crystalline purity,” and the Buffalo News raved that she was “a delight to hear.” Ms. Hijleh gave her solo recital debut in 1990 at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., as part of the New Young Performers Series.

Hijleh has appeared as a soloist with the Rochester Philharmonic, the Buffalo Philharmonic, the Ashland Symphony, the MasterWorks Festival, the Janus Orchestra, Baltimore Pro Musica Rara, the Baltimore Bach Ensemble, the Peabody Symphony, and in major roles with the Peabody Opera Theater and the Houghton College Lyric Theater. She has also sung professionally with the Washington Opera chorus, the Delaware Singers, Concert Artists of Baltimore, the Southern Tier Symphony, the Olean Community Orchestra Academy and Chorus, and the Orpheus Chorale. She has been a member of Vox Lumine since 2011.

A member of the Houghton College faculty since 1993, Hijleh has also served on the voice faculties of the State University of New York at Fredonia and Washington Bible College.

Robert C. Joubert has recently appeared as Il Commendatore in W. A. Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Lob in R. Vaughan Williams’ The Poisoned Kiss with Bronx Opera, as Truffaldin in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos with dell’Arte Opera Ensemble in New York, and Reverend Olin Blitch in Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah as part of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival with Philadelphia Opera Collective.

Past performances include roles such as Sarastro in W. A. Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and the Jailer in Puccini’s Tosca, Trulove in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, Elder Ott in Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah, Colline in Puccini’s La Bohème, and Lazar Wolf in Fiddler on the Roof. Rob was a studio artist with Lake George Opera in 2005.

As a concert soloist, Joubert has appeared often as bass soloist in much of the standard oratorio and concert repertoire, including recent performances of Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Handel’s Messiah, Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy and W.A. Mozart’s Mass in C minor at Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia. Robert appeared as soloist in Brahms’ Ein Deutches Requiem with the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia in October 2010, as soloist in Holst’s Christmas Day and Bass’ Symphony of Carols with The Philadelphia Orchestra for their Glorious Sounds of Christmas Concert. He was a member of the Philadelphia Singers from 2006-2010 and won first place in the National Association of Teachers of Singing competition for the Central New York/Finger Lakes Region, Adult Division in 2006.

He has studied voice with Shirley Close, Robert McFarland, and Kelley Hijleh and holds a Master of Music degree in voice performance and a Bachelor of Music degree in trumpet performance from the Greatbatch School of Music, Houghton College. Joubert serves as the director of choral activities at Shawnee High School in Medford, N.J., and as a conducting assistant at Tenth Presbyterian Church, director of women’s chorus, and occasional soloist.

Dr. William John Newbrough is a professor of piano and director of piano at Houghton College and is also a piano faculty member at the Csehy Summer School of Music. He earned the Artist Diploma, Doctor of Musical Arts degree, and Master of Music degree from the Peabody Conservatory of Music, Johns Hopkins University, where he was a student of Leon Fleisher, and a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from the University of California at Berkeley.

A veteran performer, Newbrough has won many international and national piano competitions and performed in numerous solo, chamber music, and concerto engagements in the United States, Canada, Mexico, England, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Russia, South Korea, and Australia. Highlight venues have included Carnegie Recital Hall, the Sydney Opera House, the French Embassy in Washington, D.C., the Van Cliburn Piano Institute, the Dame Myra Hess Series in Chicago, the Chopin Foundation in San Francisco, and Artist Series performances with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. Newbrough was the only American of nine pianists worldwide chosen to perform at the prestigious Franz Liszt International Masterclasses and Festival in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Newbrough has performed multiple times on the acclaimed television series “Grand Piano,” and he was featured on ”Great Discoveries” on the Discovery Channel HD.

In addition to being a classical pianist, Newbrough performs his own hymn arrangements in churches, colleges and charity and benefit concerts. He has three sacred piano CDs: The Sacred Tradition, Benediction, and Acclamation on the Mark Custom Recordings label, and a full-length production DVD entitled Benediction.