With La Chapelle de Québec and four specially selected soloists, Jonathan Cohen offers the complete Christmas Oratorio by J.S. Bach as an invitation to the holiday festivities. Flamboyant music and spectacular choruses celebrate an age-old tradition.
Conductors and soloists
Jonathan Cohen has forged a remarkable career as a conductor, cellist and keyboardist. Well known for his passion and commitment to chamber music Jonathan is equally at home in such diverse activities as baroque opera and the classical symphonic repertoire. He is the new Artistic Director of the Handel and Haydn Society, in addition to continuing as Artistic Director of Arcangelo, Music Director of Les Violons du Roy and Artistic Director of Tetbury Festival.
Throughout the 23-24 season, Jonathan continues to have a strong presence on both sides of the Atlantic. In Europe he guest conducts Budapest Festival Orchestra, Kammerorchester Basel, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liege and Hessischer Rundfunk Sinfonieorhcester. In his first season as their new Artistic Director, Jonathan leads the Handel & Haydn Society in Baroque masterpieces including Handel’s Israel in Egypt and Messiah. He conducts further performances of Messiah with San Francisco Symphony whilst projects with Les Violons du Roy include Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and a US tour with Milos Karadaglic.
Jonathan founded Arcangelo in 2010 to create high quality bespoke projects. The ensemble was the first named Baroque Ensemble in Residence at Wigmore Hall, where it enjoys a continuing close association, and has toured to exceptional halls and festivals including Philharmonie Berlin, Vienna Konzerthaus, Barbican Centre, Kölner Philharmonie, Salzburg Festival, MA Festival Bruges, with three appearances at the BBC Proms including the premiere of Handel Theodora (2018) and a televised performance of Bach St Matthew Passion (2021).
Arcangelo’s founding commitment to the recording studio has produced 28 critically lauded albums including Arias for Guadagni and Bach Cantatas with Iestyn Davies (Hyperion; Gramophone Award 2012 and 2017), Mozart Violin Concertos with Vilde Frang (Warner; ECHO Klassik Award 2015) C.P.E. Bach Cello Concertos with Nicolas Altstaedt (Hyperion; BBC Music Magazine Award 2017), Buxtehude Trio Sonatas Op.1 (Alpha Classics; GRAMMY Nominee 2018), Tiranno with Kate Lindsey (Alpha; Sunday Times Records of the Year 2021). Arcangelo’s latest recordings include Sacroprofano with Tim Mead (Alpha; released 2023), Handel Theodora and Buxtehude Opus Posthumous (Alpha; releasing 2024), Handel Chandos Anthems (Alpha; releasing 2025) and a landmark project with Nicolas Altstaedt to make the first survey on period instruments of Boccherini’s Cello Concertos (Alpha).
Young coloratura soprano Myriam Leblanc is the recipient of several prizes: first prize and Audience Choice Award at the Trois-Rivières Symphony Orchestra Competition, Young Lyric Ambassador 2014 (Québec Bavaria prize), winner of an Audience Choice Award in the Center Stage competition of the Canadian Opera Company, third prize in the Auditions Nouvelles Découvertes competition of the Ottawa Choral Society, winner of the excellence grant awarded annually by the Atelier lyrique de l’Opéra de Montréal, and first prize in the Mathieu Duguay Early Music Competition at the Lamèque International Baroque Music Festival in 2017. Myriam is a versatile artist who is equally at home in the classical repertoire as in bel canto and Baroque. She is recognized for her pure timbre, her supple and warm voice, and her technical and expressive mastery.
She has shone in the roles of Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto (Opéra de Montréal), Micaëla in Carmen by Bizet (Opéra de Québec), Donna Anna in Don Giovanni (Opera in Saskatoon), Milica in Svadba by Sokolovic (Opéra de Montréal), the Flower Girl in Parsifal by Wagner (Orchester Métropolitain), the High Priestess in Aïda by Verdi (Opera de Montréal) and Juliette in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette (Jeunesses Musicales du Canada). She also specializes in oratorios and concert singing and has sung Bach’s “Christmas Oratorio” (Ensemble Caprice), Dixit Dominus by Vivaldi (I Musici), Bach’s Magnificat (Les Violons du Roy), Symphony No. 2 “Lobgesang” by Mendelssohn (Orchestre Métropolitain), several cantatas by Bach including “Ich habe genug,” and various other works.
After reading Archaeology at St John’s College, Cambridge, Iestyn Davies studied at the Royal Academy of Music, London.
An esteemed Handelian, he has delighted audiences globally with his vocal agility in roles such as Bertarido, Orlando, Rinaldo, Ottone Agrippina and David Saul. Committed also to contemporary music, his intelligent and considered interpretations have led to fruitful collaborations with Thomas Adés, George Benjamin and Nico Muhly.
On the opera stage, he has appeared at the Metropolitan Opera, New York; the Lyric Opera of Chicago; Teatro alla Scala Milan; the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; English National Opera; Glyndebourne Festival Opera; Welsh National Opera; Teatro Real Madrid; Salzburg Festival and in Munich, Vienna and Zurich. Highlights in the 2021/22 season included Arsace Partenope in Madrid, Ottone Agrippina in Hamburg and Munich and Bertarido Rodelinda for the Metropolitan Opera, New York.
Concert engagements have included performances at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan with Dudamel, the Concertgebouw and Tonhalle with Koopman and at the Barbican, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Lincoln Centre, Carnegie Hall and at the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall with orchestras that include the New York Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic, English Concert, Britten Sinfonia, Concerto Köln, Concerto Copenhagen, Ensemble Matheus, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Academy of Ancient Music and Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Recent highlights include a French tour of Handel Duets with Ensemble Jupiter; and Bach’s Mass in B minor and Handel’s Radamisto with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in California.
In the 2022/23 season, highlights include a world premiere production of music by Dowland at the Barbican with lutenist Thomas Dunford, featuring visuals by Netia Jones, concerts at Carnegie Hall, New York and the Berliner Philharmonie, and Ottone L’incoronazione di Poppea in Versailles.
An outstanding recitalist, he has performed in Vienna, Tokyo, Paris and New York in repertoire ranging from Dowland to Clapton. He is a regular favourite at London’s Wigmore Hall and Kings Place where he has curated residencies.
His recital discs have won three Gramophone Awards, and he performed on the Grammy-winning recording of Thomas Adès’s The Tempest. He is the recipient of a Royal Philharmonic Society Award and was nominated for an Olivier Award for his singing role in Farinelli and the King opposite Mark Rylance (premiered at London’s Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, transferring to Broadway). Iestyn is also featured on soundtracks for the Ridley Scott films Kingdom of Heaven and The Last Duel singing the music of Harry Gregson-Williams. In 2017 he was awarded an MBE by the Queen for his services to music.
British tenor Samuel Boden has developed an international opera and concert career with particular success in the fields of early and contemporary music. He is a highly-regarded interpreter of Monteverdi, Bach, Handel, the French baroque as well as Britten.
Recent highlights include creating the roles of Boy and Young King in George Benjamin Lessons in love and violence at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden followed by performances at the Dutch National Opera, Hamburg State Opera, Opéra de Lyon and Gran Teatre del Liceu Barcelona, as well as the title roles of Monteverdi L’Orfeo and Gluck Orphée et Euridyce for the Nederlandse Reisopera and Idamante in Campra Idoménée for Opéra de Lille.
He has sung several of the Rameau and Charpentier haute-contre parts as well as Cavalli L’Ormindo. Other roles include Oronte Alcina at the Karlsruhe Handel Festival, Poet in Thomas Larcher The Hunting Gun at Aldeburgh Festival, Anthony Sweeney Todd for Bergen National Opera and the title role Acis & Galatea at the Buxton Festival.
Samuel regularly appears with the foremost period ensembles: Collegium Vocale Gent under Philippe Herreweghe, Le Concert d’Astrée with Emmanuelle Haïm, Les Arts Florissants and William Christie, Les Musiciens du Louvre with Marc Minkowski and Wiener Akademie with Martin Haselböck.
American bass-baritone Michael Sumuel, lauded as having “vocals that are smooth and ingratiating” (Daily Camera), returns to the Metropolitan Opera in the 22/23 season, singing Belcore in L’Elisir D’amore. Other debuts include the Father in Blue with English National Opera, Elviro in Xerxes with Detroit Opera, and Figaro in Le nozze di Figaro with Pittsburgh Opera. In concert, Mr. Sumuel performs Mozart’s Requiem with the Cincinnati Symphony and James Conlon, Bach cantatas BWV 61 and 140 with the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston, open Washington Concert Opera’s season, performing in a gala with soprano Tammy Wilson, and returns to Mercury Houston for Handel’s Messiah. Finally, with Pacific Chorale, Mr. Sumuel takes part in a European tour, performing in Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass and Florence Price’s Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight.
Last season, Michael Sumuel made his debut as Jesus in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with LA Opera, Figaro in Le Nozze di Figaro with Seattle Opera, Escamillo in Carmen for his debut with The Santa Fe Opera, a concert of arias to open The Dallas Opera season, the King in Massenet’s Cinderella with the Metropolitan Opera, Leporello in Don Giovanni with Opera San Antonio and Escamillo with Chicago Opera Theater. In concert, Mr. Sumuel returned to the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Walt Disney Concert Hall to sing Mozart’s Mass in C minor with Zubin Mehta, Bach’s Easter Oratorio with Music of the Baroque and Mozart’s Requiem with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s.
Highlights of past opera seasons have included the Lyric Opera of Chicago as Masetto in a new production of Don Giovanni, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, the San Francisco Opera to perform the title role in a new production of Le nozze di Figaro, Tom in the world premiere of Christopher Theofanidis’ Heart of a Soldier, Escamillo in Calixto Bieito’s production, Masetto, conducted by Marc Minkowski, and Elviro in Handel’s Xerxes. At Houston Grand Opera, he has performed Belcore in L’elisir d’amore, Papageno in The Magic Flute, Frank in Die Fledermaus, Masetto, Sharpless, Marcello and Schaunard in La bohéme. With Glyndebourne Festival Opera, he performed Sharpless, Junius in The Rape of Lucretia, Schaunard and Theseus.
La Chapelle de QuébecChamber choir
Created in 1985 by founding conductor and music director Bernard Labadie, La Chapelle de Québec is one of North America’s premiere voice ensembles. The group is made up exclusively of professional singers who are hand picked from all over Canada. This unique chamber choir specializes in the choral/orchestral repertoire of the 17th and 18th centuries. The choir performs regularly with its other half, chamber orchestra Les Violons du Roy, and as a guest choir with some of the finest orchestras in North America. Its interpretations of the oratorios, requiems, masses, and cantatas of Bach, Handel, Mozart, and Haydn, as well as Fauré and Duruflé, are frequently hailed in the Canadian and international press.
La Chapelle de Québec is heard regularly at Palais Montcalm in Quebec City and Maison symphonique in Montreal, as well as at the Walt Disney Concert Hall with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, at Carnegie Hall with Les Violons du Roy and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and in Ottawa with the National Arts Centre Orchestra. The choir’s concerts are often broadcast by the CBC and Radio-Canada in Canada and by National Public Radio in the United States.
La Chapelle de Québec is also known for its role in Chemin de Noël, an annual event that brings music lovers from throughout the Québec City region together every December.
Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248