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Countertenor David Daniels sings Bach and Handel on US tour

“The most electrifying singer of the present day …
.  A voice of matchless beauty at
the service of the finest musical sensibility.”

BBC Music magazine

his recorded excursions into repertoire rarely sung by countertenors (Berlioz’s
Les nuits d’été,
also available on Virgin Classics), superstar countertenor David Daniels has
been heard most recently on a stunning all-Bach recital with the English
Concert and conductor Harry Bicket that features the composer’s incomparably
sublime sacred arias and cantatas. 
The album was released in the fall at the time Daniels and the English
Concert began a highly successful European tour.  Now, Daniels and his disc-mates come to North America for a
five-city tour that will feature works by the composer with whom Daniels is
most closely associated – George Frideric Handel – alongside the music by Bach
that is showcased on his Virgin Classics album.  Concerts will take place at the Chan Centre in Vancouver
(Mar 22), Walt Disney Concert Hall in L.A. (Mar 24), Herbst Theatre in San
Francisco (Mar 26), Harris Theater in Chicago (Mar 29), and New York’s Carnegie
Hall (Apr 1).

a performance by the artists in London in October, the Guardian reported:

“In the ever-deepening
countertenor pond, David Daniels remains the biggest fish.  This Bach and Handel program with the
English Concert was a relatively subdued one for a singer who has even batted
his lashes at Broadway.  But on
this occasion, it was when the music was least razzle-dazzle that he captivated
most.  Gymnastic ability has never
really been the point of Daniels’s voice; instead, it’s his sound that is
unmistakable, vibrant and vibrato-rich when many of his colleagues offer
cleaner, duller tones.”



“Last night’s concert by
David Daniels and the English Concert under the direction of Harry Bicket at
London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall … was an object lesson in matching music to vocal
resources at the peak of their powers. 
Anyone who has followed the American countertenor’s illustrious career
over the past 15 years or so would not have been surprised by either the apparent
effortlessness of execution or sheer musicality of expression throughout the
evening.  However, what might have
taken them aback is the fact that this is the first time Daniels has essayed
seriously the world of J. S. Bach in both concert form and with his recently
released CD of Bach Arias and Cantatas on EMI/Virgin.  Some might also quite reasonably have questioned if this was
the right repertoire for him, particularly those only acquainted with his work
in opera.

“Renowned for his
interpretations of Handel’s great alto castrato roles, the countertenor has
taken the voice type to new heights on the opera stage and, inevitably, has
swept a whole new generation of young singers up in his wake – to both follow
and inevitably challenge.  With
this new repertoire, he answers those young pretenders in no uncertain style …
. It was Daniels’s night, and if it’s taken him a while to bring us his Bach as
well as his Handel, the waiting was worth it.”

In the conversation
that follows, David Daniels discusses his long association with Bach’s music
and looks ahead to some of his upcoming engagements, including his debut at
Milan’s La Scala.

How has your season been going thus far?

Doing Handel’s Partenope recently
in Vienna was wonderful.  It’s my
favorite role and it was great to finally sing it in Europe.  The Bach tour that I did with Harry
Bicket and the English Concert in Europe was also very successful and I’m
looking forward to continuing it in five really wonderful cities in North

Tell us about the tour program.

I sing more on this program than I’ve ever sung in a concert.  I begin with four Bach arias from the
disc, and then sing four Handel arias in the second half of the program – arias
that I’ve not performed in the U.S. 
So this is all new repertoire, both for me and for the audience. 

Why did you decide to sing both Bach and Handel on this program?

Although I think the Bach arias out of context work well as a CD, I
wasn’t convinced it would make an entire program.  So I thought it was best to combine the two and add more
variety for a concert tour

How do the demands each composer makes on the performer differ in
the case of Bach and Handel?

Stylistically it’s very different, but technically and vocally and
interpretatively I think it’s much the same.

So, after these concerts, have people been asking you which of
these two composers you prefer to sing 

I certainly wouldn’t ever pick a favorite – they are very different
types of geniuses.  And I’m never
going to choose anybody over Handel – that composer has been very good to me!

Does it make you proud to think that your performances of Handel’s
music have really helped to revitalize his reputation on stage?

If I sit down and think about it, I know I played a part in bringing
this music to people’s attention, especially in the U.S., but I don’t concern
myself with that kind of thing. 
It’s great to know that I am part of how this has evolved – it’s
certainly a nice reward for all the hard work.

What’s it like working with Harry Bicket and the English Concert?

I know many of the players from other orchestras, but what’s exciting
for me is that Harry deservedly got this position a year or so ago and it’s
nice to collaborate with his new orchestra so quickly and for them to be a part
of this new disc and of the two tours. 
People really seem to love the disc!

Tell us more about the recording.

What’s great about this disc – and especially rewarding – is that all of
it is music I’ve performed in concert in the complete works.  I think you can tell that this music
has been performed and lived with for years.

What’s up for you music-wise in the near future?

I’m making my La Scala debut in June in Britten’s Midsummer Night’s
.  It will be my very first time in the building!  I’ll be working with Sir Andrew
Davis.  I’m really looking forward
to the summer too – I’ll have three months off!  In September I’m doing a project called “Handel Revisited”
at the Barbican [in London]. 
September 18 is the opening of the season there and I’ll be singing with
the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. 
The first half features Handel arias, and the second half features six
composers alive today [including John
Tavener, Nico Muhly, Jocelyn Pook, and Craig Armstrong], each doing their own twist on other Handel
arias.  I think it’s going to be
great fun and I’m looking forward to it.

For further information, see David Daniels’s
website at, and
the list of his upcoming North American tour dates that follows below.

Daniels with the English Concert / Harry Bicket – North American tour dates

22  Chan Centre (Vancouver, Canada)

24  Walt Disney Concert Hall (Los
Angeles, CA)

26  Herbst Theatre (Pittsburgh, PA)

29  Harris Theater (Chicago, IL)

Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall (New York, NY)


S. Bach:

   Orchestral Suite No. 1 in C
major, BWV 1066

   “VergnügteRuh” from Vergnügte Ruh, BWV 170

   “Qui sedes” from Mass in B

   Sinfonia from Am Abend aber
desselbigen Sabbats
BWV 42

   “Schlummert ein” from Ich habe
, BWV 82

   “Erbarme dich” from St.
Matthew Passion

F. Handel:

   Concerto Grosso in A major, Op.
6, No. 11

   “Ombra cara” from Radamisto

   “Furibondo spira il vento” from Partenope

   Passacaglia from Radamisto, Act II

   Mad Scene from Orlando

For further
information contact:

Glenn Petry, 21C Media
Group:    (212)
625-2038,  [email protected]

Mariko Tada, EMI Classics:           (212)
786-8964,  [email protected]

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