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The Washington Bach Consort led by Artistic Director, Dana Marsh presents George Frideric Handel’s Messiah: The Greatest of Oratorios on Sunday, March 19 at 4 p.m. at the Music Center at Strathmore. Soloists include Sonya Headlam, soprano; Patrick Dailey, countertenor; Dann Coakwell, tenor; and Jonathan Woody, bass.

Messiah became a Christmas classic in recent years, however audiences first heard the piece during Lent in 1742. Returning to this tradition, on the fourth Sunday of Lent, the Washington Bach Consort will perform an uncut version of the piece, closest to that which Handel himself directed at London’s Foundling Hospital in 1753. Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased at https://bachconsort.org/messiah/

Messiah takes listeners through Jesus Christ’s Nativity, Passion, Resurrection and Ascension. Handel composed the piece in only 24 days, after receiving the texts from Charles Jennens in 1741.

With tight restrictions on music in churches during Lent, Handel often orchestrated the oratorio in theaters and other venues. Yearly London performances of Messiah in the 1750s catapulted the work into fame and popularity for over 250 years.

“I directed Messiah for the first time with period instruments over 30 years ago, and I find something new, vibrant, and musically fresh every time I return to it, Dana Marsh said. “Messiah is a limitless source of inspiration.”





Soprano Sonya Headlam enjoys a vibrant career performing music that spans from the Baroque period to the 21st century. Born of Jamaican parentage, she champions the music of her heritage, and  regularly performs and lectures on the life and music of the 18th-century writer and composer Ignatius Sancho. Headlam holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts, as well as bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from Miami University of Ohio. https://sonyaheadlamsoprano.com/

Countertenor Patrick Dailey is a 2012 graduate of Morgan State University and received his master of music from Boston University. He currently serves on the voice faculty of Tennessee State University where he established the Big Blue Opera Initiatives (BBOI) and the annual Harry T. Burleigh Spiritual Festival. Additionally, he is the founding artistic director of the W. Crimm Singers (aka Wakanda Chorale), professional ensemble in residence of BBOI. He is a co-founding member of historically informed crossover ensemble, Early Music City. Most recently, Dailey was named to the 2020 class of the Nashville Black 40 Under 40 and he was recognized for Outstanding Service from the Coalition for African Americans in the Performing Arts of Washington, DC earlier this summer. https://www.patrickdaileyct.com/

Dann Coakwell, tenor, has been praised as a “vivid storyteller” (The New York Times), with “a gorgeous lyric tenor that could threaten or caress on the turn of a dime” (Dallas Morning News). Coakwell can be heard as a soloist on the Grammy-winning The Sacred Spirit of Russia (2014), the two Grammy-nominated albums Considering Matthew Shephard by composer/director Craig Hella Johnson (2016), and Conspirare: A Company of Voices (2009). Dr. Coakwell also serves as Assistant Professor of Voice at Ithaca College, and he holds an Artist Diploma from the Yale School of Music and Institute of Sacred Music, a Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degree from Texas Tech University, and a Bachelor of Music from the University of Texas at Austin. https://www.danncoakwell.com/

Bass Jonathan Woody is an accomplished chamber musician, and often performs as a member of the GRAMMY®-nominated Choir of Trinity Wall Street, where he has earned praise from the New York Times for his “charismatic” and “riveting” solos. He has also recently performed in collaboration with Kaleidoscope Ensemble, Les Délices, Seraphic Fire, Byron Schenkman and Friends, and TENET Vocal Artists. Woody is committed to racial equity in the field of the performing arts, and currently serves on Early Music America’s Task Force for Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access. Presently living on traditional Lenape lands now known as Brooklyn, NY, he holds degrees from McGill University and the University of Maryland, College Park.  https://www.athloneartists.com/artists/jonathan-woody/


Artistic Director Dana Marsh has been called “an energetic and persuasive conductor,” (LA Times) and “a superb choral conductor, energetic and precise,” (Washinton Post). Marsh has enjoyed fruitful collaborations with the Studio de Musique Ancienne Montreal, Cappella Romana, Magnificat (U.K.), the Choir of St. Thomas Fifth Avenue, Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra, Portland Baroque Orchestra, the Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra, and the London Mozart Players, among others. Marsh is Professor of Music and Director of the Historical Performance Institute at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. Previously, he taught early music history at both Oxford and Cambridge universities, additionally publishing original research and review articles through the scholarly presses of both institutions. https://bachconsort.org/about-the-artistic-director/

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