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Meet the stars of Handel’s “Messiah”


ATHENS, Ga. — The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Chorus are returning to Hodgson Hall Dec. 15 to perform Handel’s “Messiah,” which has become a beloved Athens holiday tradition. The 3 p.m. concert will include the Christmas portion and “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s masterwork, along with Mozart’s “Exsultate, jubilate” and selections from Vivaldi’s “Gloria.”

Conducted by Director of Choruses Norman Mackenzie, the program will feature four acclaimed soloists: soprano Jeanine De Bique, who impressed Athens audiences with her 2017 “Messiah” performance, mezzo-soprano Meg Bragle, tenor Thomas Cooley and baritone William Berger.  

Hailing from Trinidad, soprano Jeanine De Bique’s 2019-20 season appearances include important house debuts as Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro for San Francisco Opera, Helena in Ted Huffman’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Deutsche Oper Berlin and Micaëla in Calixto Bieto’s production of Carmen at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona.

De Bique holds a master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music, and her awards include First Prize at the Young Concert Artists Music Competition, the Arleen Auger Prize at the Hertogenbosch International Vocal Competition and Third Prize in the Viotti International Music Competition. She is a recipient of the Ambassador for Peace, awarded by the National Commission of UNESCO, Trinidad and Tobago.

Meg Bragle has earned an international reputation as one of today’s most gifted mezzo-sopranos. A frequent featured soloist with Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the English Baroque Soloists, she has made four recordings with the group, including Bach’s Easter and Ascension Oratorios – the vehicle for her BBC Proms debut − and the 2015 release of Bach’s Mass in B Minor.

Bragle is an accomplished recording artist who has recorded with the English Baroque Soloists, Apollo’s Fire and the New York’s Ensemble for Early Music, among others. She is based in Philadelphia where she is Artist-in-Residence at the University of Pennsylvania.

Minnesota-born tenor Thomas Cooley has established a reputation on both sides of the Atlantic — and beyond — as a singer of great versatility, expressiveness and virtuosity. Recent and upcoming appearances of note include Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Milwaukee Symphony, Britten’s War Requiem with the Indianapolis and Oregon Symphonies, Peter Quint in Britten’s Turn of the Screw with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Bob Boles in Britten’s Peter Grimes with the St. Louis Symphony in Carnegie Hall.

He will also perform the title role in Handel’s Samson with the American Classical Orchestra at Alice Tully Hall, the world premiere of Christopher Theofanidis’ Creation Oratorio with Atlanta Symphony and Acis in a new production of Handel’s Acis and Galatea and L’Allegro with the Mark Morris Dance Group. Cooley is Artist-in-Residence with Chicago’s Music of the Baroque.

South African baritone William Berger studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London and is a former member of the Young Singers Programme at English National Opera. He performs widely in opera and as a recitalist with critically acclaimed appearances that include Marcello in La bohème with Opera Vlaanderen; Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte with the Liceu, Barcelona; Oreste in Iphigénie en Tauride with Teatro Nacional de São Carlos, Lisbon and Escamillo in Carmen with Cape Town Opera.

Berger’s many recordings include two solo albums, Insomnia: A Nocturnal Voyage in Song and Hommage à Trois, and Duet, a duo album of works by Mendelssohn, Schumann and Cornelius with soprano Lucy Crowe.

Tickets for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s “Messiah” start at $45 and can be purchased at the Performing Arts Center box office, online at pac.uga.edu or by calling 706-542-4400. A limited number of discounted tickets are available to current UGA students for $10 with a valid UGA ID (limit one ticket per student).

The concert is supported by Gregory and Jennifer Holcomb, The Dixen Foundation and Virginia M. Macagnoni.