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Alumna Penelope Shumate highlighted in New York Times review for her debut at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City in the production of Messiah

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Alumna Penelope Shumate highlighted in New York Times review for her debut at Avery Fisher Hall in New York City in the production of Messiah

Featured photo: Penelope Shumate as Adele in Die Fledermaus

LSU School of Music alumni Penelope Shumate was highlighted in a New York Times review of her debut at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City, in the production of Messiah.

Penelope Shumate sang the soprano solos with an appealing, bell-like clarity and surpassing sweetness. – New York Times, November 27, 2012

Penelope Shumate is proud to report a GPA of 4.0 and is currently in her second year of her DMA at the LSU School of Music. This semester, Shumate is one of two cast members in the lead role of The Governess in LSU Opera’s ghost story, The Turn of the Screw, directed by Dugg McDonough.

Read the review in full at the New York Times website

Full text:

‘Messiah,’ a Perennial, Returns in a Rare Form
By STEVE SMITH
Published: November 26, 2012

With Thanksgiving behind us, it is not just the shopping season that has commenced at full gush: “Messiah” season has arrived as well. It is nearly impossible to track every performance of this splendid, celebrated 1741 Handel oratorio in New York during a given year, but as far as I can tell, credit for the first arrival of 2012 goes to Distinguished Concerts International New York, a producing organization known for mounting choral extravaganzas with singers from around the world.

On Sunday at Avery Fisher Hall, Jonathan Griffith, the organization’s artistic director, conducted “Messiah” in a version now seldom encountered: a 1959 orchestration jointly credited to the conductor Thomas Beecham and the composer and conductor Eugene Goossens. The program was titled “Messiah … Refreshed!,” but here was a charming paradox: The present vogue for light, fleet performances that use period instruments, or that are at least mindful of their sound and style, was partly a response to latter-day corruptions of Baroque and Classical composers’ original intent.

It speaks to Handel’s genius that such accounts lose none of the work’s intended impact. But Beecham catered to audiences raised on Beethoven, Brahms and the Romantics, and worked in sizable halls that raised concerns that smaller forces might fail to register. In 1959 he engaged Goossens to refurbish and reinforce the version of “Messiah” heard on Beecham’s RCA recording of that year. (Beecham subsequently denied Goossens credit, raising a dispute resolved only in 1999.)

In came the two harps, the tuba and the bass drum and cymbals you couldn’t help noticing the minute you walked into the hall on Sunday. Working with a chorus 208 members strong, according to a spokeswoman, and a large orchestra that rendered Handel’s music with the timbres and heft of Berlioz or even Verdi, Mr. Griffith turned in a steady-handed account with keen attention to dynamic shading.

Penelope Shumate sang the soprano solos with an appealing, bell-like clarity and surpassing sweetness. Jorge Garza, a tenor, offered ardent sound and impeccably projected diction, particularly in his important arias during the oratorio’s second part. Doris Brunatti, a contralto, and Liam Moran, a bass, sang with conviction but resounded less clearly in the hall.

The chorus, as you might expect from an ad hoc aggregation, was uneven at times but handled some of the work’s most involved passages confidently and produced a ravishing sound at climaxes. Two further participants warrant mention: the trumpeter Kevin Gebo, whose bright, precise work enlivened “The Trumpet Shall Sound,” and the timpanist Jeremy Levine, promoted by Goossens’s orchestration from bit player to virtual co-star.