Angela Young Smucker, Alto Soloist in Chorale's Matthew Passion
Four of the singers seen and heard in the St. Matthew Passion are not Biblical characters at all. Rather, the dramatic action of the passion narrative halts, and these singers, functioning as spokespeople for the community of believers, step out from the chorus and deliver soliloquies—settings of contemporary, contemplative poetry--reacting to the actions taking place with personal expressions of fear, sorrow, faith. These soliloquies are set as virtuosic recitatives and da capo arias, in the style of eighteenth century baroque opera. Bach intended that these solos be sung by members of the chorus; but they are phenomenally demanding—vocally, musically, emotionally—and require highly-skilled singers who specialize in this particular repertoire, to be sung convincingly.
Angela Young Smucker will sing the alto solos in Chicago Chorale’s production of the Passion. Chorale audiences will remember her as the alto soloist in our 2011 performance of Bach’s Mass in B minor. Angela is a Chicago-based singer, known to area audiences largely through her performances with the Haymarket Opera Company, Chicago's 17th and 18th century opera troupe. As a founding member, Ms. Smucker has appeared in productions of Handel’s Acis, Galatea e Polifemo (Galatea) and Clori, Tirsi e Fileno (Fileno); Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas (Sorceress); and Charpentier’s Actéon (Hyale).
Highlights of her 2014-15 season include a recital featuring the music of Abraham Lincoln’s life; debut performances with the Chicago Bach Ensemble; performances of Handel’s Messiah with Chicago’s Bella Voce and Callipygian Players as well as the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra; Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (Parts IV-VI) with the Bach Institute of Valparaiso University; a recital collaboration with Baroque cellist Craig Trompeter; and performances of early Polish music with the Newberry Consort.
As a concert artist, Angela has been recognized for her artistry in the repertoire of J.S. Bach: “Her discerning interpretation of the texts matched her creamy alto sonority and perceptive traversal of Bach’s serpentine vocal lines… Smucker demonstrated how astutely Bach fused such rhetoric into his music” (SanDiego.com). She has performed all of his major works, as well as numerous cantatas, and is a regular soloist with the Bach Collegium San Diego and the Bach Cantata series at Grace Lutheran Church. She has been a featured soloist under the direction of Bach scholars Helmuth Rilling and Hermann Max, and has performed at Leipzig’s St. Thomaskirche with the Leipzig Baroque Orchestra. She was also a Virginia Best Adams Master Class Fellow at the Carmel Bach Festival, has been the alto soloist for the Oregon Bach Festival Discovery Series.
Concert work from past seasons includes Mozart’s Coronation Mass (Music of the Baroque), Mendelssohn’s Elijah (Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Oregon Bach Festival), Haydn’s Creation (Oregon Bach Festival), Bolcom’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience under the baton of Philip Brunelle, Mozart’s Requiem, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Handel’s Israel in Egypt and Messiah, Duruflé’s Requiem. She has been a featured artist in the U.S. premieres of Robert Kyr’s O Word of Light and Thunder (Evangelist), Francis Grier’s The Passion (Herod), and Siegfried Matthus’ Te Deum (Mezzo Soloist). Angela has also been featured on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion and WFMT’s Impromptu.
Angela’s work as a chamber artist has also earned high praise. Her debut performances with French Baroque ensemble Les Délices were chosen as a 2013 “Cleveland Favorite” by The Plain Dealer. In addition to the Bach Collegium San Diego, Newberry Consort, and Bella Voce, she has worked with Grammy-nominated ensemble Seraphic Fire, as well as the Grammy-winning Conspirare, Chicago Symphony Chorus and Oregon Bach Festival Chorus. Other choral work includes the Grant Park Music Festival Chorus, Chicago A Cappella, VocalEssence Ensemble Singers, Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Heartland Chamber Chorale, and Festival Ensemble Stuttgart.