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Hope Briggs and Shawnette Sulker, Sopranos; Robert Sims, Lyric Baritone; Daniel Lockert, Piano
December 19, 2017
Hope Briggs and Shawnette Sulker, Sopranos; Robert Sims, Lyric Baritone; Daniel Lockert, Piano

A Holiday Program of Carols and Spirituals

Rise Up Shepherd and Follow            Traditional

Rejoice Greatly (Messiah)                    G.F. Handel

Oh Holy Night                                        Adolphe Adam

Thus Saith the Lord…But Who May Abide? (Messiah)

Gesu Bambino                                        Pietro Yon

Sister Mary Had-a But One Chile     arr. Roland Hayes

Mary Had a Baby                                 arr. Jacqueline B. Hairston

The Virgin Had-a Baby Boy               arr. Jacqueline B. Hairston

 Lit’l Boy                                                   arr. Roland Hayes

Go Tell it in the Mountain                    Traditional

Shawnette Sulker                                                                   

Acclaimed for her “heart-breaking poignancy” and “beautifully tuned soprano” by the San Francisco Chronicle and for her “enchanting vocal splendor” by the Leipziger Volkszeitung, soprano Shawnette Sulker is a sought-after artist in the United States and abroad. A consummate performer, her recent operatic roles include singing The Queen of the Night (The Magic Flute) with Opera Fairbanks and Hamster in the contemporary opera Animal Tales (Brazelton) with the Garden State Philharmonic in New Jersey. Recent concert performances include singing as a soloist for Fremont Symphony’s Valentine’s Day Concert, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Santa Rosa and Peninsula Symphonies, and Orff’s Carmina Burana with Sacramento Choral Society & Orchestra. Internationally, Ms. Sulker has sung Adele throughout the Netherlands and Belgium in a tour of Die Fledermaus, a recital at Red Door Studios in Amsterdam, and an orchestra concert featuring Porgy and Bess highlights and Mendelssohn’s Psalm 42 in Leipzig’s Gewandhaus and Prague’s Smetana Hall.

The soprano has sung with the San Francisco Opera, Mark Morris Dance Group, American Bach Soloists, Hawaii Opera Theatre, Opera Memphis, Eugene Symphony, Union Avenue Opera, Opera Naples, Pacific Opera Project, West Edge Opera, and the Natchez Opera Festival, to name a few. Her roles include Zerbinetta (Ariadne auf Naxos), Cunegonde (Candide), Constanze (Abduction from the Seraglio), Lucy (The Telephone), Musetta (La Bohème), Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro) and Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi). Some works on Ms. Sulker’s concert repertoire list include Mozart’s Grand Mass in C minor, Bach’s Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen, Mozart’s Exsultate, Jubilate, Bach’s Mass in B minor, and Scarlatti’s Su le sponde del Tebro. Upcoming engagements will feature her performing the soprano solos in Rossini’s Stabat Mater with the Oakland Symphony and in The Messiah with Pacific Chamber Symphony and Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzer for Noontime Concerts.

Hope Briggs

Hope Briggs, a native of New Jersey, drew a rave review from Opera News for her San Francisco Opera debut as the Duchess of Parma in Busoni’s Doktor Faust “… Hope Briggs was stellar, delivering one of the evening’s highlights with her lusciously intoned, lovelorn aria.” 

Most recently Ms. Briggs made her successful debut in the title role of Madama Butterfly with Opéra Louisiane, debuted at Carnegie Hall with the New England Symphonic Ensemble, and sang Verdi’s Messa da Requiem with the San Francisco Choral Society at Davies Symphony Hall. In 2017, she will appear as Marschallin in excerpts of Der Rosenkavalier with Fremont Symphony Orchestra, perform Bruckner’s Te Deum with Oakland Symphony, return to Baton Rouge for Opéra Louisiane ‘s 10th Anniversary Gala, and make two important debuts: Nedda in I Pagliacci with Festival Opera and the title role in Joplin’s Treemonisha with Mississippi Symphony Orchestra.

As a critically acclaimed Verdi soprano, Ms. Briggs is known for the depth and beauty of her voluptuous voice. Ms. Briggs is hailed as “an artist of vocal sensitivity, theatrical wisdom, and integrity.” Her commanding stage presence and moving interpretations have brought her to great success singing the title role in Aida with Nevada OperaSacramento Opera and Cedar Rapids Opera and Leonora in Il Trovatora with El Paso OperaOpera Roanoke and Festival Opera of Walnut Creek as well as Amelia in Un Ballo in Maschera with Festival Opera of Walnut Creek.

Other career highlights include Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and The First Lady in Die Zauberflöte at Frankfurt Opera, the Duchess of Parma in Busoni’s Doktor Faust at Staatstheater Stuttgart, the role of Paula in the world premiere of Hector Armienta’s River of Women/Rio de Mujeres with Theater Artaud San Francisco, Donna Elvira with Opera San José and Opera Company of Brooklyn, Serena in Porgy and Bess with Tulsa Opera and New Orleans Opera as well as the title role in Suor Angelica with Pacific Repertory Opera and Opera Company of Brooklyn.

On the concert stage, Ms. Briggs has performed:  Verdi’s Messa da Requiem, Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Requiem, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Villa-Lobos’s Bachianas Brasileiras, Rachmaninoff’s Vocalise, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Dvorak’s Stabat Mater, Hanna in scenes from The Merry Widow with Pacific Symphony Orchestra, Hailstork’s I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes with the San Antonio Symphony and Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 (Marin Theater CompanyRedwood Symphony, and Symphony Parnassus).

As a featured soloist, Ms. Briggs’ numerous performances include: The Opening Night Gala Concert with Oakland East Bay Symphony, The Symphony Parnassus at Herbst TheaterThe Wondrous Sounds of Christmas at the San Francisco SymphonyHope Briggs and Friends: A Musical Valentine at San Francisco’s Herbst Theater, and the world premiere of Marion J. Caffey’s Three Mo’ Divas at the Lyceum Theater. A highly-acclaimed recitalist, she has performed for Oberlin Conservatory, African-Americans for Los Angeles Opera, Madewood Music Festival, Afrosolo Music Festival at the Yerba Buena Performing Arts Center, Concerts at the Abbey in Seattle, and Caio Melissa in Spoleto (Italy). By special invitation, Ms. Briggs performed for Jessye Norman at Alliance Française Trophée des Arts Gala and for Rev. Billy Graham at the Billy Graham Crusade.

Hope Briggs is a Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions National Finalist, Metropolitan Opera International Vocal Competition Award Winner, and recipient of an Encouragement Award from the Licia Albanese Puccini Foundation. Hope Briggs is also an ABC KGO-TV 2012 African American Salutes Honoree, Marion Anderson Historical Society Scholar and a 2013 Heritage Keeper Award Recipient from Friends of Negro Spirituals.

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Robert Sims

Robert Sims, Gold Medal winner of the American Traditions Competition, has been hailed by critics for his rich tone, energetic performances, and convincing stage presence.

Mr. Sims has been highly praised for his moving interpretations of African American spirituals and has given numerous recitals of them throughout the United States, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. He has appeared with many orchestras in the U.S. and toured Japan with the Pacific Music Festival Orchestra where he was featured in a nationally televised performance of Bernstein’s Opening Prayer. In 2005, Sims made his recital debut at Carnegie Hall and was invited by Jessye Norman to participate in Honor! A Celebration of the African American Cultural Legacy at Carnegie Hall in March of 2009. He recently appeared with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and made his debut in the United Kingdom with the Gibraltar Philharmonic. He has performed in concert at New York’s Lincoln Center, the Smithsonian Institution, the Ravinia, Chautauqua, Savannah, Grant Park, and Big Arts summer music festivals, the Latour de France International Music Festival, and the celebrated American Church in Paris. Under the auspices of Canti Classics, Community Concerts, and the Live On Stage Series, Sims has performed more than 150 recitals throughout the United States.

Robert has appeared several times in performance on the Hour of Power from the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, which is broadcast internationally, and was the focus of a Public Broadcasting Service special Artbeat Chicago. He has toured nationally in the ensemble Three Generations, a celebration of American spirituals and folk songs with renowned artists George Shirley, the late William Warfield and Benjamin Matthews. Recently, he debuted with Simon Estes and Jubilant Sykes in the trio Simon, Sykes & Sims, singing spirituals and American songs.

Recently Robert has releases a CD of Spirituals arranged by Roland Hayes and a biography entitled “Roland Hayes: The Legacy of an American Tenor” (Indiana University Press 2016) in collaboration with Christopher A. Brooks.

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Daniel Lockert

As a soloist or collaborator, Daniel Lockert is equally versatile on the piano, organ, and harpsichord. In his role as pianist-collaborator, his wide-ranging career has taken him around the globe, playing throughout the USA, Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.  In his role as coach and teacher, Daniel has been on the staffs and faculties of the Juilliard School, the San Francisco Opera, Opera San Jose, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Chapman University, Cal State East Bay, and the Aspen Music Festival.  This summer he was the accompanist for the chorus at the Mendocino Music Festival, conducted by his wife, Jenny Matteucci.  He currently is a professor of Collaborative Piano at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, CA as well as Staff Accompanist at Holy Names College, Oakland, CA.  He also is organist-choirmaster at Christ Episcopal Church in Sausalito.