Our 2016-17 Soloists
Eloquence in Brass: Jongen, Messe
Heinrich Christensen, Organ
A native of Denmark, Heinrich Christensen received the Church Music and Soloist Diplomas from the Århus Conservatory of Music with further studies at the Conservatoire de Saint-Maur with Olivier Latry. After a stint as a music director in Malmö, Sweden, he came to the US in 1998 and received an Artist Diploma in Organ Performance from the Boston Conservatory where his teacher was James David Christie.
He was appointed Music Director King's Chapel in the year 2000 after serving as the affiliate organist under Daniel Pinkham for the last two years of Dr. Pinkham’s 42-year tenure at the church. At King's Chapel, he manages the Tuesday Noon Hour Recitals as well as the King's Chapel Concert Series, and directs the fully professional choir. Heinrich was a prizewinner at the international organ competitions in Odense and Erfurt and has given solo recitals on four continents.
An avid proponent of contemporary music, he has premiered works by Daniel Pinkham, Carson Cooman, Graham Gordon Ramsay, James Woodman and several others. He has worked extensively as an accompanist for many choral groups in the Boston area, and has recorded with Philovox, Boston Secession and Seraphim Singers, and Daniel Pinkham’s works for solo voice and organ with Florestan Recital Project. The solo CD "Heinrich Christensen plays the C.B. Fisk Organ at King's Chapel" (available at www.arsisaudio.com) was hailed by Gramophone Magazine as a "smorgasbord" of "enormous stylistic flexibility". Since 1998 he has performed an annual recital as a featured soloist of Boston’s venerable First Night celebrations. In February 2011, he released a recording of Clavierübung III. In October 2011, Albany Records released “The Sacred Voice” with works of Graham Gordon Ramsay.
His articles have been published in Denmark and the UK, he was a recitalist at the American Guild of Organists's Region IV convention in 2011, and he presented a workshop on Scandinavian Organ Repertoire at the AGO National Convention in Mineeapolis in 2008. Mr. Christensen is a past dean of the Boston chapter of the AGO, served on the steering committee for the Regional Convention 2009, and is currently on the New Music and steering committees for the National Convention slated for 2014 in Boston.
Mozart's Masterpiece: Requiem
Joananna Mongiardo, Soprano
Versatile soprano Joanna Mongiardo is recognized for her effortless coloratura and spellbinding charisma on stage, and is in high demand for both operatic and symphonic repertoire internationally. Most recently, she has had great success as Cinna in Mozart's Lucio Silla with Odyssey Opera and in the title role of Flotow's Martha with Boston Midsummer Opera. The 2014-2015 season included a role debut as Rossini’s Semiramide with Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur, her Dallas Opera debut as Brigitta in Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta, and a return to the Back Bay Chorale for Mozart’s Mass in C minor.
In recent seasons, Joanna has brought the “energy and charm [of] her delicious Blonde" (ForumOpera Magazine) to more than 30 performances of Die Entführung aus dem Serail, including productions at Grande Théâtre de Genève, Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur, and Deutsche Oper am Rhein. A gifted comedienne, her Rosalina in Il Re with Teatro Grattacielo was named “Best Individual Performance of 2011” by Das Opernwelt Jahrbuch, with Opera Today writing, “Joanna Mongiardo, who has a voice of impressive size and warmth, as well as a technique with ornament…also has a putty face, capable of expressing several emotions at once and making fun of herself while expressing them.” Opera News raved, "As the besotted Rosalina, lyric coloratura Joanna Mongiardo scored a triumph, effortlessly negotiating the fiorature, extended trills and stratospheric high notes."
Vera Savage, Mezzo-Soprano
Vera Savage recently performed the role of Sesto in Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito at Opera in the Heights to rave reviews. The Houston press said of her portrayal of Sesto, "...this was Savage's show. What a subtle powerhouse she is... her singing is a dream: supple and powerful with a deep velvet shimmer.Whatever she sings, we believe." And from broadwayworld.com, " Savage sings and acts brilliantly. She has a handsomely glowing voice that soars on her arias and also embodies the great emotion of Sesto's torment with moving restraint."
Her recent performances in and around the Boston area include Judith in Bluebeard's Castle, Verdi's Requiem with the MIT concert chorus, and a complete performance of Dominick Argento's From the Diary of Virginia Woolf. With the Opera Institute in Boston, Vera was seen as Flora in Verdi’s La Traviata, Almera in Nico Muhly's Dark Sisters, the Old Prioress in Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites and Madeline Mitchell in Jake Heggie’s Three Decembers. The Boston Music Intelligencer described her portrayal of Mitchell as playing “a convincing diva… able to sing powerfully both operatically and as a Broadway baby”, and from the Bostonist, “Vera Savage was… stunning – a radiant and solid sound that brazenly approached even the most challenging moments of Heggie’s score”.
Greg Zavracky, Tenor
Praised for his fine musicality, “glowing intensity,” and “clarion tone,” Gregory Zavracky maintains an active performance schedule on concert and opera stages alike. Recent engagements include the Officer in The Barber of Seville with Boston Lyric Opera, Count Almaviva in The Barber of Seville with Townsend Opera, Tamino in Boston Lyric Opera’s family production of The Magic Flute, Gherardo in Gianni Schicchi and Buoso’s Ghost with Lake George Opera, Ferrando in Così Fan Tutte and Camille in The Merry Widow with Cape Cod Opera, Ernesto in Don Pasquale with Opera in the Heights in Houston, Lechmere in Owen Wingrave with Boston University Opera Institute, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni with Metrowest Opera, Face on the Barroom Floor with Charleston Chamber Opera, Don Ramiro in La Cenerentola with Capitol Heights Lyric Opera, and Prince Dauntless in Once Upon a Mattress and Schmidt in Werther with Chautauqua Opera, where he also covered Nemorino in the Elixir of Love.
Gregory received his Doctorate of Musical Arts from Boston University. Previous degrees include a Bachelor of Arts in music from Emory University, followed by two Master of Music degrees from New England Conservatory in voice performance and opera studies as a student of Edward Zambara. He currently teaches voice at the University of Connecticut, Brown University, Eastern Connecticut State University, and Boston University Tanglewood Institute.
Elijah Blaisdell, Baritone
Boston based professional baritone, Elijah Blaisdell is already gaining a reputation as a dedicated, versatile, and sensitive artist, and is rapidly becoming sought after as both a chorister and soloist by ensembles around the country. Recent engagements include Boston Lyric Opera, True Concord, The Crossing Choir, Cambridge Concentus, North End Music and Performing Arts Center, Cappella Clausura, Commonwealth Chorale, The Church of the Advent, Canto Armonico, and Genesis Chamber Singers. This summer he will be performing Schaunard in La Bohème with Crested Butte Music Festival.
Elijah is a recent graduate of New England Conservatory's Masters program in Opera. While there he performed Dr. Falke in Die Fledermaus, Ottone in Monteverdi's L'Incoronazione di Poppea, and David in L'Amico Fritz.
Elijah is originally from Seattle, Washington, and holds a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance from Central Washington University, where he studied with Dr. Gayla Blaisdell. He currently studies with Carole Haber.
Songs of Triumph & Homecoming
Dana Lynne Varga, Soprano
Praised for her "stunning voice", soprano Dana Lynne Varga was the first place winner in the 2016 Classical Singer National Vocal Competition. Dana continues to amass accolades for her numerous operatic roles that include Musetta in La bohéme, Fiordiligi in Cosi fan tutte, Anna Maurrant in Street Scene, Rosalinda in Die Fledermaus, Micaëla in Carmen, Alcina in Alcina, Hanna Glawari in The Merry Widow, First Lady in The Magic Flute and Giannetta (/Adina cover) in L’elisir d’amore, the latter performed at the prestigious Caramoor Festival in New York. Ms. Varga sings regularly with Boston Lyric Opera, and has performed with Opera Boston, Connecticut Lyric Opera, the Aldeburgh (Britten-Pears) Festival, PORTopera, Boston Opera Collaborative, PANopera, Commonwealth Opera and Boston Baroque, amongst others.
An avid concert soloist, highlights of Dana Varga’s recent concert and oratorio performances include the Beethoven Mass in C in Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall, the Dvořák Te Deum in NEC’s Jordan Hall, the Fauré Requiem and Neilsen’s Symphony No. 3 with the Springfield Symphony, Handel’s Messiah and the Bach B Minor Mass with the Rhode Island Civic Chorale and Orchestra and Dubois’ Seven Last Words with Coro Allegro. She has performed the Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony and Dona Nobis Pacem as well as the Brahms Requiem with the Metropolitan Chorale, Beethoven’s Mass in C and Handel’s Israel in Egypt with the Commonwealth Chorale, the Vivaldi Gloria and Handel’s Messiah with the New England Classical Singers and the Bach Magnificat, Mozart Requiem and Mendelssohn St. Paul with the Choral Art Society.