NEW YORK, NY, March 20, 2019 – On Saturday, May 11, Lone Star State choral conductor Lahonda Sharp, Director of the Chancel Choir of First Fulshear United Methodist Church, will bring a sizeable vocal contingent from Texas to New York’s Carnegie Hall to perform Vivaldi’s popular choral masterwork, Gloria. Also on stage will be vocal soloists Eilana Lappalainen, soprano, and Kimberly Sogioka, mezzo-soprano, and the New England Symphonic Ensemble. The performance, part of MidAmerica Productions’ 36th concert season, is at 8 pm.
“Conducting in Carnegie Hall is a thrill I’ve enjoyed twice before,” says Ms. Sharp. “This time will be special on many levels, particularly since the chorus will have so many of my First Fulshear UMC singers and other friends; and also because the Vivaldi Gloria has to be one of the happiest, most affirmative pieces of music for singers and audiences alike. I cannot wait to work with all the musicians to present this beautiful, timeless piece.”
Two of the participating choirs will be singing at Carnegie Hall for the first time. “The Dripping Springs United Methodist Chancel Choir is honored to be invited to perform in such a prestigious venue as Carnegie Hall,” says Adam Miller, director of the ensemble. “We look forward to singing Vivaldi’s masterpiece under the baton of a gifted conductor, Lahonda Sharp.”
Karen Andrews, Director of the First United Methodist Church Boerne Choir, Boerne, Texas, adds: “Lahonda Sharp is one of the finest people and musicians I have the privilege to know. It is an honor to sing in this renowned venue with such a wonderful conductor.”
David R. Thye, who spent a decade leading choruses in Fort Worth, has gathered a group of “alumni” to contribute their voices. “We are thrilled to be joining Maestra Sharp for this fabulous concert in Carnegie Hall. The Vivaldi Gloria is a favorite choral work of ours. We look forward to a life-changing musical experience in world-renowned Carnegie Hall.”
Also participating are “Friends of First Fulshear,” singers from Houston, Katy and Sugar Land, and members of the 2018 Honor Choir of Missouri, who all love to sing under Ms. Sharp’s direction, and are looking forward to performing at Carnegie Hall with her again.
Barry Barrios, the Director of Music and Worship Arts at Katy First United Methodist Church, says, “We have been privileged to sing with Lahonda Sharp for more than 20 years, this being the choir’s third time in Carnegie Hall under her direction. Lahonda conducts with detailed precision, grace and beauty, nurturing the relationship of conductor, singer and music most effectively. It is an honor to be her colleague and friend.”
“The Chancel Choir of Westbury United Methodist Church in Houston has twice hosted Ms. Sharp as a clinician,” says Bodie Gilbert, director of the choir. “Representative voices of Westbury’s choir, and I, are eager to make our Carnegie Hall debut with Lahonda at the helm.”
The Vivaldi Gloria, a masterpiece of economy and invention, probably dates from 1715. It is one of his most popular works, even though it was only rediscovered relatively recently, in 1939. The text, from the Ordinary of the Catholic mass, is thought to have originated as a hymn sung by angels announcing the birth of Christ. Vivaldi here divides the text into twelve alternately festive and tender movements, with sections for full chorus, for soprano and mezzo-soprano soloists, and for chorus and soloists together.
The massed chorus of more than 100 singers will be drawn from the following ensembles (one of which is not actually from Texas):
- First United Methodist Church Boerne Choir, Boerne, TX (Karen Andrews, Director)
- Dripping Springs United Methodist Chancel Choir, Dripping Springs, TX (Adam Miller, Director)
- Central Regional High School Choir, Bayville, NJ (Elizabeth Moore, Director)
- Chancel Choir of First Fulshear United Methodist Church, Fulshear, TX (Lahonda Sharp, Director)
- Friends of First Fulshear UMC, Fulshear, TX (Lahonda Sharp, Director)
o Katy First United Methodist Church Choir, Katy, TX (Barry Barrios, Director)
o Westbury United Methodist Church Choir, Houston, TX (Bodie Gilbert, Director)
o 2018 Missouri Choral Directors Association Honor Choir (Lahonda Sharp, Director)
- Fort Worth Master Singers, Fort Worth, TX (David R. Thye, Director)
Sharing the Playbill
The May 11 concert will also include Dona Nobis Pacem by Vaughan Williams, in a new arrangement for reduced orchestra by Jonathan Rathbone. Jeshua Franklin will conduct two Indiana choirs that he directs – the Bethel College Choral Union of Mishawaka, and the Vesper Chorale of South Bend – as well as members of the Central Regional High School Choir, Bayville, New Jersey (Elizabeth Moore, Director); soloists Eilana Lappalainen, soprano and Kenneth Overton, baritone, and the New England Symphonic Ensemble.
This concert will conclude with a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, conducted by MidAmerica Productions’ General Director, Peter Tiboris, leading the New England Symphonic Ensemble.
Concerts in the Isaac Stern Auditorium/Ronald O. Perelman Stage are $150, $100, and $50. Tickets may be obtained by contacting CarnegieCharge at 212-247-7800, visiting the Carnegie Hall Box Office at 57th Street and 7th Avenue in New York, NY, or by going online to www.carnegiehall.org). For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Lahonda Sharp, Conductor
Lahonda Sharp, a graduate of Texas Christian University, studied conducting under the late Dr. B.R. “Bev” Henson, and sacred music at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University. Active in the United Methodist Church at all levels, she has directed various choirs by invitation for Texas Annual Conferences, the General Conference in 2008 and the most recent World Conference of the United Methodist Church in 2016.
At home with a wide variety of choral literature, Ms. Sharp is known for excellent, exciting and enthusiastic performances. She has conducted concerts in historic churches and concert halls in 15 countries throughout the world including Germany, Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Russia, Poland, Switzerland, France, Italy, Turkey and Greece. Memorable concerts include the Hermitage Theatre, St. Petersburg; Wesley Chapel, London; Mathias Church on Castle Hill, Budapest; and Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Italy. She was a featured guest conductor with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra in the Festival of White Nights in St. Petersburg, Russia, performing in the Throne Room of the Grand Peterhof Palace, and also conducted the Fauré Requiem with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra. Sharp was a guest conductor at the International Church Music Festivals in Coventry, England (1996) and Bern, Switzerland (2003), both with Sir David Willcocks; guest-conducted at the Sing Mit Festival with Gerald Wirth of the Vienna Boys Choir at St. Stephens Cathedral in Vienna, Austria (2014); and was a featured guest conductor at the International Festival of Granada, Spain (2016).
Ms. Sharp retired from Christ Church Sugar Land UMC after 33 years, during which the church membership grew from 125 to 5,000. She now serves at First United Methodist Church of downtown Fulshear, the fastest growing city in Texas. Active as a clinician, Sharp regularly leads choir tours abroad and serves on the Board of Directors for five organizations in the Houston area. This will be her third conducting engagement with MidAmerica Productions.
About Chancel Choir of First Fulshear United Methodist Church – Lahonda Sharp, Director
The singers from First Fulshear UMC Chancel Choir are part of an active church located west of Houston. Formed 175 years ago, First Fulshear UMC is positioned to experience continued growth in what is currently the fastest growing city in Texas. The music program is vital to this growing church, offering a variety of music for church and community. “It has been a joy to ‘come out of retirement’ and serve as their Director of Music and Worship,” states Ms. Sharp. “We welcome all to come and sing with us!”
About First United Methodist Church Boerne Choir – Karen Andrews, Director
The Chancel Choir of First United Methodist Church in Boerne, Texas, under the direction of Karen Andrews, has a long-standing reputation for musical excellence as well as compassionate worship. All are welcome, both in the church and in the choir. Only some of the choir is able to come to Carnegie Hall on this trip, but they are proud to come with their friends from neighboring Dripping Springs, Texas.
About Dripping Springs United Methodist Chancel Choir – Adam Miller, Director
The Methodist Church in Dripping Springs, Texas is among the founding organizations of the town – dating back to its beginning in 1854 – and the chancel choir has enjoyed a presence in the community for decades. Currently numbering around 35 members, the choir regularly performs both small- and large-scale works, and enjoys collaborating with other local choirs and musicians to premiere new compositions and offerings in worship.
About MidAmerica Productions
Maestro Peter Tiboris created and conducted his first concert in New York on January 7, 1984, at Lincoln Center, featuring The American Symphony Orchestra, soloists, and three choruses, the Louisiana Chorale of Acadiana, Camerata Singers of Baton Rouge, and Collegiate Chorale of New York. Although he didn’t realize it at the time, Mr. Tiboris had just started his own successful production company, MidAmerica Productions, which would become the foremost independent producer of choral concerts in Carnegie Hall.
During its 36 years, MidAmerica Productions has brought together conductors, soloists, and choral and instrumental ensembles from the U.S. and abroad to appear at New York’s top venues, including Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, Weill Recital Hall, and Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall; and Alice Tully Hall and Avery Fisher Hall (now David Geffen Hall) at Lincoln Center. In addition to presenting instrumental and classic choral works, MidAmerica Productions has championed the works of contemporary composers with approximately 92 World Premieres, 21 United States Premieres and 99 New York Premieres.
Additionally, MidAmerica Productions has presented concerts in numerous U.S. cities and in countries throughout the world, including Greece, England, Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Italy, France and Russia.