This New Years’ Eve, I have the honor of performing the evangelist in Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with Choral Arts Philadelphia, under the direction of Matthew Glandorf. I am thrilled to take on this role, and I am grateful to Matt and Choral Arts for this opportunity. This will be my first performance of one of the crown jewels of tenor repertoire.
For a young tenor, learning the evangelist roles from Bach’s major vocal works is a rite of passage. The endeavor of preparing an evangelist role is one full of tradition and lineage. Both of my teachers, James Taylor and Kurt Hansen, are first-rate evangelists and storytellers. When we consider their teachers, then those teachers’ teachers, and so on, we come to a startling realization: only about six generations of evangelists separate today’s young singers from Bach’s own original tenor. The result is a sort of oral history passed down from Bach’s time which still informs how we portray the evangelist today.