Beethoven Symphony No. 9

Click on main images in the slideshows above to download hi-res photo.

Guest Artist - Carrie Hennessey, soprano

Known for her soaring voice and richly nuanced characters, soprano Carrie Hennessey is consistently thrilling audiences and critics in opera and concert appearances around the world. Ms. Hennessey’s much awaited debut in Previn’s A Streetcar Named Desire “gave us a Blanche that let us burrow into her character’s soul, even into the darkest crevices…
Hennessey, using a one-two punch of music and drama, made it resonate in a way that equaled the finest stage performances of the part I’ve seen.” (Fresno Bee) Ms. Hennessey’s embodiment of the title role in the West Coast Premiere of Tobias Picker’s opera Emmeline earned her a Bay Area Broadway World Awards for “Best Leading Actress in a Musical” nomination. Praised for bringing her signature “exquisite vocal purity and range to the title role”and was “nothing short of sensational” (San Francisco Classical Voice). With West Bay Opera as Mimì in La Bohème, she was said to be “..possessed of a full, powerful lyric soprano, which delivers Puccini’s arias and duets richly. Her “Mi chiamano Mimì” (Yes, they call me Mimì) in Act 1 is gorgeous”. On only one day’s notice, Ms. Hennessey made her debut with the Modesto Symphony Orchestra, as soprano soloist in Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, to great acclaim.

This season includes debuts as soprano soloist in Britten’s War Requiem and Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 as well as debuts at the Concertgebouw in Bruges, in Ypres, Belgium and at the Liederhalle in Stuttgart, Germany singing the soprano solo in Verdi’s Requiem. Alongside the world renowned composer Ricky Ian Gordon in the fall of 2016, Ms. Hennessey gave Master Classes and performed a recital of his original art songs. Other highlights include Mahler’s Symphony No. 4, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Vaughn Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem. Hall, Mozart’s Mass in C minor at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Budapest, Hungary and Reduta Hall in Bratislava, Dvorak’s Requiem in Rudolfinum Hall in Prague, Mahler’s
Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Lobgesang. Other recent operatic highlights include Sarah Miles in the Bay Area premiere of Jake Heggie’s The End of the Affair with West Edge Opera, Mimì in La Bohème with West Bay Opera, a reprise of The Woman in La Voix Humaine in NYC, and Lauretta in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi and Magda and Floria Tosca in Puccini: A Man and His Muses for Sacramento Opera.

Ms. Hennessey utilized her theatrical background by working with the Sacramento Opera and the Sacramento Children’s Chorus to stage direct their joint production in Brundibar and continues to actively support music education through lectures and Master Classes in the communities in which she works, as well as nurturing a thriving private vocal studio in Northern CA.

Click on the image above to download hi-res photo.

Guest Artist - Mary Creswell, mezzo soprano

Mezzo-soprano Mary Creswell appears throughout the United States in opera, oratorio, and chamber music. Her active and varied performing schedule includes the operatic roles of Dorabella, Rosina, and Carmen. Her rich mezzo sound has been heard on the concert stage with the Detroit Symphony, Grand Rapids Symphony, Manchester Symphony, Des Moines Symphony, Austin Symphony, South Carolina Philharmonic, Chattanooga Symphony and regularly with orchestras at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. The orchestrated songs of Mahler, Verdi's Requiem, and Jeremiah Symphony by Bernstein are gems in her repertoire. She is a frequent guest soloist with the American Chamber Players and is engaged with them in prestigious concert series spanning the country.

Lauded for her extremely versatile voice, Ms. Creswell effortlessly makes the transition from opera house and orchestra hall to chamber music and song recital. She has been described as having an inner pliability on stage, which transcends all boundaries. Her programs flow from Brahms and Ravel to folk songs and humor without missing a beat. She has also been a champion of new music and featured on several recordings under the Albany Label.

She received her early training at the University of Michigan where she was the recipient of the Elisabeth Schwarzkopf-Walter Legge Scholarship for graduate study. Her teachers at Michigan were Beverley Rinaldi and Eugene Bossart. The Metropolitan Opera chose her as a regional finalist, and she has been a guest performer in New York City's Avery Fisher Hall.  Recent performances include the roles of Jade Boucher in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking and Rychtářka in Janáćek’s Jenůfa with the Des Moines Metro Opera and Brahms songs with the Front Range Chamber Players, Colorado.

An enthusiastic teacher of singing, Ms. Creswell served on the faculty of the Interlochen Summer Arts Camp for twenty seasons.  She is now Associate Professor of Music at Iowa State University where she teaches voice and directs opera.  Her students have been finalist in The Metropolitan Opera Auditions and are heard on Broadway stages and in opera houses throughout the country and Europe.

Click on the image above to download hi-res photo.

Guest Artist - Ross Haucktenor

Tenor Ross Hauck has been lauded by the Seattle Times as "almost superhuman in musical effect."  He is a specialist in the sacred oratorio work, but is well-known for his versatility and range of expression.  Recent concert credits include the symphonies of Baltimore, Phoenix, Omaha, Dallas, Seattle, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Kansas City, Portland and the National Symphony. 

Opera credits include lead roles with companies in Tacoma, Sacramento, Indianapolis and Cincinnati, among others.  Mr. Hauck is distinguished alum of the Cincinnati-College Conservatory of Music, with further training at Tanglewood, Ravinia, Aspen and two seasons at the prestigious Filene Center at Wolf Trap.  He is professor of voice at Seattle University, and is active in ministry through the arts. He lives in Maple Valley, WA with his wife and four children.

Joe Wiggett, baritone
Click on the image above to download hi-res photo.

Guest Artist - Joe Wiggett, baritone

Dr. Joseph Wiggett is currently a Professor of Voice at California State University Stanislaus, where directs the Opera Workshop and maintains an extremely active Applied Voice studio in addition to his teaching duties in Vocal Pedagogy, Lyric Diction, and Vocal Literature. He is the former Director of the School of fine and Performing Arts at Stanislaus State, as well as a past Artistic Director and principal Stage Director for Townsend Opera of Modesto for which he produced operatic productions at the Gallo Center for the Performing Arts.  In 2012, he was awarded the Stanislaus Arts Council Excellence in Arts Award for Excellence in Music.  Accompanying the award were commendations from the U.S. House of Representatives, the State Senate and California Legislature, the City of Modesto and the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors in recognition of his “outstanding contributions to the Arts and Culture.”

As a past member of the Juilliard Opera Center, the Lyric Opera of Chicago Center for American Artists and the Prague Mozart Academy, he has performed over three-dozen operatic roles and brings a wealth of hands-on experience to the studio and stage.  He has given recitals and made concert appearances throughout the United States, Europe, China and the former Soviet Union and is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including three Birgit Nilsson prizes, as well as two grants from the Puccini Foundation. 

As a contest singer, Dr. Wiggett has ranked among the finest in the country and has taken first place honors in such renowned competitions as the Metropolitan Opera New England Regional Auditions, the Chicago Union Civic and Arts Leagues Competition, and the Center for Contemporary Opera International Competition.  He is also the only three-time winner of the prestigious, Lillian Nordica Prize.

Among his major debuts are roles with the New York City Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, a solo recital in the Carnegie Hall Weill Recital Series, and his Lincoln Center debut at Alice Tully Hall as the baritone soloist in Orff’s Carmina Burana.  As a concert performer, Dr. Wiggett has appeared with numerous orchestras including the Manhattan, Boulder, Modesto, Bangor, Portland, Milwaukee and Colorado Symphonies.  He holds degrees in Music Education from the University of Maine, a Masters Degree in Performance from the Manhattan School of Music and a Doctorate in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Recent performances include the baritone solos in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Winchester Symphony, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana and the Brahms Requiem with the Modesto Symphony, as well as recitals, master classes and concert appearances in Idaho, Los Angeles, U.C. Santa Barbara, West Valley College, San Jose State University, and Beijing and Shanghai China.

Click on the image above to download hi-res photo.

Conductor - David Lockington

Over the past thirty years, David Lockington has developed an impressive conducting career in the United States. A native of Great Britain, he served as the Music Director of the Grand Rapids Symphony from January 1999 to May 2015, and is currently the orchestra’s Conductor Laureate. He has held the position of Music Director with the Modesto Symphony since May 2007 and in March 2013, Mr. Lockington was appointed Music Director of the Pasadena Symphony. He has a close relationship with the Orquesta Sinfonica del Principado de Asturias in Spain, where he was the orchestra’s Principal Guest Conductor from 2012 through 2016, and in the 15/16 season was named one of three Artistic Partners with the Northwest Sinfonietta in Tacoma, Washington.

In addition to his current posts, since his arrival to the United States in 1978 Mr. Lockington has held positions with several other American orchestras, including serving as Assistant Conductor of the Denver Symphony Orchestra and Opera Colorado, and Assistant and Associate Conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. In May 1993 he accepted the position of Music Director of the Ohio Chamber Orchestra, assumed the title of Music Director of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra in September 1995 and was Music Director of the Long Island Philharmonic for the 96/97 through 99/2000 seasons.

Mr. Lockington's guest conducting engagements include appearances with the Saint Louis, Houston, Detroit, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver, Oregon and Phoenix symphonies; the Rochester and Louisiana Philharmonics; and the Orchestra of St. Luke's at Carnegie Hall. Internationally, he has conducted the Northern Sinfonia in Great Britain, the Israel Chamber Orchestra, the China Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra in Beijing and Taiwan,and led the English Chamber Orchestra on a tour in Asia.

Recent and upcoming guest conducting engagements include appearances with the New Jersey, Indianapolis, Vancouver, Utah, Pacific, Colorado, Nashville, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Edmonton, Alabama, Tucson and Kansas City symphonies, the Florida and Louisville Orchestras, the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa and the Buffalo, Calgary and Oklahoma Philharmonics. Mr. Lockington's summer festival activities include appearances at the Grand Teton, Colorado Music, Interlochen, Chautauqua and Eastern Music festivals.

David Lockington began his career as a cellist and was the Principal with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain for two years. After completing his Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Cambridge, where he was a choral scholar, Mr. Lockington came to the United States on a scholarship to Yale University where he received his Master's degree in cello performance and studied conducting with Otto Werner Mueller. He was a member of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra and served as assistant principal cellist with the Denver Symphony Orchestra for three years before turning to conducting.

Click on the image above to download photo.

Chorus Director - Dr. Daniel R. Afonso, Jr.

Daniel R. Afonso, Jr. has served as conductor of the Modesto Symphony Orchestra Chorus since its foundation in 2001 and has prepared several choral works with the ensemble. He is also Coordinator of Vocal and Choral Studies at California State University, Stanislaus. Afonso received a B.M.E. degree from the Universidade do Rio de Janeiro (UNI -Rio), a M.M. degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and a D.M.A. degree in Choral Conducting and Pedagogy from the University of Iowa. Dr. Afonso is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and has studied conducting with Carlos Alberto Figueiredo, Cees Rotteveel, Eph Ehly, and William Hatcher.
Dr. Afonso has performed with choral groups in Brazil, U.S., and Europe, and has previously taught music at the Conservatório Brasileiro de Música, Universidade do Rio de Janeiro (UNI-Rio), and Doane College, Nebraska. In 1988, he won the first prize and the best performance of Villa-Lobos work award at the Concurso Villa-Lobos de Canto Coral, a national choral competition sponsored by the Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro. Dr. Afonso is strongly committed to the performance of new music and has commissioned and premiered many new choral works in the last few years, including several of his own works as well as works by young composition students.  He had his New York debut in 2012, conducting Mozart’s Requiem with members of the MSO Chorus and students from CSU Stanislaus at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

He is also a composer, arranger, and editor of choral music and has choral works published by earthsongs, Colla Voce, and Alliance Music Publications. He served as composer-in-residence with the San Francisco Choral Artists during their 2014-2015 season and has also written works for the Los Angeles Children’s Choir, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, and other ensembles in the US and abroad. He has written innumerous arrangements for the Modesto Symphony Orchestra, including a new version of The Star-Spangled Banner for chorus and orchestra, recently premiered at the opening concert for the 2015-16 concert season. Dr. Afonso is widely recognized for his research and performance of Brazilian choral music and continues to frequently present workshops and lectures about the Latin American choral repertoire.