Sunday in Toulouse

Posted in Performing Arts on December 5, 2016 by patrickdmccoy

The Old Lady's Travels

Today I went to mass and walked around town a bit before rehearsal. I didn’t stay for all of the mass, but I did get to hear the organ prelude and the choir. I also  sang some of the Kyrie eleisons and Christe eleisons, which I  believe are the most significant part of the prayers!!! I have to admit that I was praying lots of Kyrie eleisons when I was passing the combination of armed soldiers and people begging, on the way in and out of the church! France is still on alert after the terrorist events they have experienced in the past few years.

After a lovely breakfast at home, ok so maybe the bread was slightly out of proportion, it was my premier croissant in Toulouse, it was time to leave for rehearsal. After only four days of staging, we actually had a run of Act I!! This is one…

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Echos of the Eras:  Sept 3, 2016

Posted in Performing Arts on December 3, 2016 by patrickdmccoy

Handel’s Messiah: Nostalgic Melodies

Posted in Performing Arts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 3, 2016 by patrickdmccoy

A Holiday Favorite:  Handel’s Messiah continues to delight listeners for a variety of reasons.

by Patrick D. McCoy


After a 2010 performance of Handel’s Messiah at Nineteenth Street Baptist Church conducted by David Charles Griffiths (center) with soloists Patrick D. McCoy, Pamela Simonson, Lori Bryan and Johnny Butler.

For many people, the memories of Handel’s Messiah-the great seasonal choral work got far beyond the Christmas holiday. It brings back thoughts of childhood and even professional accomplishment. The first time I experienced Messiah as a young singer was as a teenager in the early 90s at West End Baptist Church in my hometown of Petersburg, VA. My mentor, James (Jim) F. Peak, Jr. conducted several performances of Messiah there with full orchestra and professional soloists. Those experiences set the stage for my love and appreciation for the work for years to come. Last year, ‘Jim’ sent me the very Messiah score that I sang with as a teenager, with all of my markings that I noted from his rehearsals. As the years moved on, as a young soloist, I was featured with the Petersburg Symphony Orchestra under the direction of conductor Ulysses Kirksey on several occasions. Messiah has certainly been a major part of my development as a professional musician.

My favorite recordings of the work is actually an Atlanta Public Radio broadcast of the Altanta Symphony performing it. Many years ago, I found the VHS tape at a Rite-Aid storage bin of holiday tapes for sale. On that video, among the soloists was mezzo-soprano Marietta Simpson. A full circle moment for me when was in 2010 I had the opportunity to hear her as soloist at Washington National Cathedral under the direction of Michael McCarthy, who I also interviewed about the same performance. A review that I wrote about the performance at the cathedral was published in The Afro American Newspaper said of Ms. Simpson’s performance “Mezzo-soprano Marietta Simpson sang with a vocal warmth that has inevitably become her trademark. In the aria O Thou That Tellest, she brought a jubilance to the work that was matched by the McCarthy’s lilting tempo.”


After hearing mezzo-soprano Marietta Simpson as soloist at Historic Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, DC (2013)

You would think that a famous soprano would be singing “Messiah” all around the world. That is not necessarily true. In 2012, I had the opportunity to interview soprano Renée Fleming for the 2012 Holiday Issue of Washington Life Magazine. In that interview, Ms. Fleming state that though she was courted for a large recreation of the first performance of Messiah, she has never performed the work in its entirety as a principal soloist.wlrenee


A 2010 performance of Messiah at Trinity Church DC with conductor Adam Graham with soloists Vashawn McIlwain, Jennifer Randall, Schauntice Marshall and Patrick D. McCoy.

So over the years, I personally have had some great experiences of Messiah, as a listener, chorister and conductor! In 2010, the choirs of Trinity Episcopal Church (DC) and Takoma Park Baptist Church presented a joint performance at Trinity under the direction of former music director Adam Graham. In that performance, I was the tenor soloist. Just a few years later, I was named music director and conducted my first performances of Messiah at the same church. A major full circle moment was having soprano Lisa Edwards Burrs (my former professor at VSU) and Chase Peak (My mentor’s son) both as my principal soloists.


Conducting Messiah in 2015 with Chase Peak, Lisa Edwards-Burrs, Bridgette Cooper and Darnel Roulhac.

Over the years, I have been blessed to experience Messiah in many ways. Dr. Owen Burdick who was formerly music director at Trinity Church Wall Street relocated to Washington, DC. At his new post at the Church of Ascension and Saint Agnes, Burdick established his place in the DC musical crown with his performances of the work there. 

Dr. Owen Burdick rehearsing the choir of Ascension and Saint Agnes.

An interview between us marked the occasion and he is continuing the tradition. One of the remarkable aspects of Burdick’s rendering is the subtle dramatic flair that is inherently felt.

At Historic Shiloh Baptist Church, Dr. Thomas Dixon Tyler is known for adding the dimension of multi-media, the interpolation of special Christmas spirituals and anthems and visuals that bring Messiah to a whole new audience.


A performance of Messiah at Historic Shiloh Baptist Church, Washington DC.  In this picture, Evelyn Simpson Curenton conducts.

 Other performances that I have experienced since coming to the Washington Area are those performances at Metropolitan AME Church under the direction of former music director Dr. Lester Green and at the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church under the direction of David Charles Griffiths.  But perhaps, one of the most unique performances that I have participated in was the rendering of the Christmas portion at the 60th Birthday of Terri Allen.  I along with soprano Pamela Simonson, mezzo-soprano Sylvia Twine and baritone Gregory Watkins performed in quartet accompanied by pianist Victor Simonson.

Messiah is special to so many people for so many reasons. Whether it is listening to a recording or attending the performance by your favorite choir, Messiah has stood the test of time.

A Few Messiah Picks of the Season:

Washington National Cathedral,  The Cathedral Choir and Baroque Orchestra conducted by Michael McCarthy
December 2nd – 7:30 PM
December 3rd – 4:00 PM
December 4th – 4:00 PM

3101 Wisconsin Ave., NW-Washington, DC 20016

Metropolitan AME ChurchSunday, December 4, 5. p.m. conducted by Dr. Roland Carter

1518 M Street, NW-Washington, DC 20005

Trinity Church DC, Friday December 9, 7 p.m., conducted by Steven M. Allen and David Cole, 7005 Piney Branch Rd, NW Washington, DC

Shiloh Baptist ChurchSunday, December 11, 5 p.m. conducted by Dr. Thomas Dixon Tyler-1500 Ninth Street, NW-Washington, DC 20001

The Church of Ascension and Saint AgnesWednesday, December 14, 7 p.m. conducted by Dr. Owen Burdick

Corner of 12th & Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20005








A Great Day: This Sunday-soprano Kathleen Battle returns to The Metropolitan Opera in a Recital of Spirituals.

Posted in Classical Music, Opera, Performing Arts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 11, 2016 by patrickdmccoy

A Musical Balm in Gilead:  The legendary soprano Kathleen Battle returns to The Metropolitan Opera, Sunday, November 13, 2016 at 4 p.m in a sold-out recital of spirituals with pianist Joel A. Martin, choir and special guests.

by Patrick D. McCoy


Soprano Kathleen Battle makes a long awaited return to The Metropolitan Opera in a sold-out recital of spirituals on Sunday, November 13, 2016 at 4 p.m. (Photo Credit:  The Afro-American Newspaper)

There is an old saying that proclaims that “time heals all wounds.”    That adage will be put to the most glorious test on this Sunday afternoon as the legendary soprano Kathleen Battle returns to the stage of The Metropolitan Opera after her 22 year absence from that stage.  The evening could easily just be about her ‘wound’, but with the painful upheaval and uncertainty that our nation is experiencing-her recital choice of spirituals could have not come at a more appropriate time.

Kathleen Battle has a gift for breathing life in the spiritual in such a way that it continues to resonate in the hearts and minds of the listener.  “Spirituals have the power to uplift and to heal, and we certainly need that in today’s world…This is a program which brings together my musical background and my cultural heritage, in the acoustical splendor of the Met” Ms. Battle said in a statement in an article in The New York Times recently surrounding her return.

Her program “Underground Railroad” received some of its earliest performances at The Music Center at Strathmore with The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and has continued similarly at prestigious concert halls across the United States and Canada, most recently at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto with the R. Nathaniel Dett Chorale.  Of her 2013 presentation of “Underground Railroad” with The Heritage Signature Chorale and pianist Cyrus Chestnut at The Music Center at Strathmore, Washington Life Magazine noted “The program not only showcased Battle’s gifts as a soloist, but also highlighted her scholastic abilities as a curator.”

For her sold-out recital of spirituals, Ms. Battle will be joined by pianist Joel A. Martin, choir and special guests in this program recreated on the stage of The Metropolitan Opera. Debuting at The Metropolitan Opera in 1977 as the Shepherd in Wagner’s Tannhäuser , soprano Kathleen Battle sang 224 performances of 14 roles with the company.  Acclaimed performances included numerous roles by Mozart— Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Susanna in

kathleen battle performing

Soprano Kathleen Battle as Cleopatra in Handel’s Giulio Cesare.

Le Nozze di Figaro, Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Blondchen in Die Entführung aus dem Serail, and Despina in Così fan tutte—and Richard Strauss— Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier, Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos, and Zdenka in Arabella—as well as Rosina in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia and Elvira in his L’Italiana in Algeri, Adina in Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’Amore, Cleopatra in the first-ever Met performances of Handel’s Giulio Cesare and Sophie in Massenet’s Werther and

Handel’s Giulio Cesare.

A sought after recitalist, Ms. Battle has also performed at the world’s major opera houses and concert halls, including a celebrated 1990 concert of spirituals with fellow soprano Jessye Norman at Carnegie Hall. She has also appeared in solo recital at the opera houses of London’s Covent Garden, La Scala (Milan, Italy), Sydney Opera House (Australia) and Teatro Colón (Buenos Aires).   Ms. Battle most recently sang recitals in NYC’s Carnegie Hall in 2008 with pianist Ted Taylor, 2009 with pianist Joseph Joubert and 2010 with Olga Kern.

It is indeed a historic return for Ms. Battle’s return and so timely.  Though there was much discussion about the recital being  of all spirituals, there probably could not be a better time for this program-than now.

Ms. Battle sings a recital of spirituals at NYC’s Metropolitan Opera this Sunday, November 13, 2016 at 4 p.m.  It is certainly the most anticipated ticket in town!

The Death of Talented Actor Owiso Odera-last performed in Washington with The Folger Consort

Posted in Performing Arts on November 10, 2016 by patrickdmccoy

It is with great personal shock and disbelief that I share the news of the death of the talented actor Owiso Odera, 43.  I just saw him in a wonderful performance at The Kennedy Center with The Folger Consort.  Out of respect for his family, details of his death will not be published here until further notice.  Odera was slated to appear next in performances of Detroit ’67 with The Louisville Theatre.


Owiso Odera last performed at The Kennedy Center in an evening of readings and Baroque Music with The Folger Consort.  (Credit:  Website)

After the performance at The Kennedy Center, I happened to be passing through a small reception, when Odera spotted the blazer that I was wearing.  He got my attention, I stopped and we shook hands.  He said “That is a really nice blazer.”  I thanked him and congratulated him  on the wonderful performance with The Folger Consort and told him that I hoped to see him perform again.  He had a wonderful smile and we clasped hands as we met at that reception for the first time.  He was very gracious.   It was such a quick, but meaningful interaction with a young actor, who’s life has been cut short.


Owiso Odera (center) taking bows with The Folger Consort at the conclusion of Measure+Dido recently at The Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater. (Photo:  Patrick D. McCoy)

Owiso Odera was a ’96 alumnus of Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana and was highlighted for his accomplishments by the institution.

A memorial service celebrating the life of Owiso Odera will be held in Los Angeles at the Skirball Cultural Center on November 19th 2016 at 2pm. Further details to follow.

BEL CANTO: Superstar Tenor Lawrence Brownlee interviewed in Nov 2016 issue of Washington Life Magazine

Posted in Performing Arts on November 1, 2016 by patrickdmccoy

Lawrence Brownlee performs with Washington National Opera’s upcoming performances of Donizetti’s The Daughter of the Regiment. Photo: Derek Blanks

Superstar tenor who stars in Washington National Opera’s upcoming performances of Donizetti’s “The Daughter of the Regiment” sat down with Washington Life Magazine Performing Arts Columnist Patrick D. McCoy. Check the interview out on page 53.Superstar tenor who start in Washington National Opera’s upcoming performances of Donizetti’s “The Daughter of the Regiment” sat down with Washington Life Magazine Performing Arts Columnist Patrick D. McCoy. Check the interview out on page 53.

Music Director Designate of the NSO set to lead first NSO performances

Posted in Performing Arts on October 22, 2016 by patrickdmccoy

A New Baton:  Gianandrea Noseda leads first two National Symphony Orchestra concerts featuring the music of Prokofiev

(From a Press Release)

Gianandrea Noseda, the National Symphony Orchestra’s music director designate during the 2016–2017 season, makes his much anticipated return to the NSO for the first time since his appointment in January as the Orchestra’s seventh music director, on November 3, 4, and 5, 2016, to lead three performances of Prokofiev’s ballet score Romeo and Juliet in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.


These performances mark the conclusion of the NSO’s season-opening “Shakespeare at the Symphony” theme—honoring this year’s 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death—as well as the first of four weeks of programs during 2016–2017 that salute the NSO’s beloved former music director, Mstislav “Slava” Rostropovich. Slava would have been 90 years old in 2017, and the NSO honors his memory with programs by composers that he not only knew well and collaborated closely with, but whose music he and the Orchestra were particularly well known for performing. Prokofiev was the first of the three great composers (the other two being Dmitri Shostakovich and Benjamin Britten) with whom Slava formed intensely productive artistic and personal relationships.

Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet was some the most-frequently performed music by Slava and the NSO. Noseda leads the NSO in the complete score in this tribute to one of his predecessors at the helm of the Orchestra. His broad repertoire includes many of the major Russian orchestral works especially given his tenure as principal guest conductor at the Mariinsky Theatre from 1997–2007.


Thursday, November 3, 2016, at 7:00
Friday, November 4, 2016, at 8:00
Saturday, November 5, 2016 at 8:00
National Symphony Orchestra
Gianandrea Noseda, conductor

PROKOFIEV Romeo and Juliet

Tickets: $15-$89.

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