Bass-baritone Joe Damon Chappel, a native of Nashville, Tennessee, is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester. At Eastman, he was a William Warfield Scholar and had many solo credits with the Eastman Chorale and the Eastman Opera Theater. His career has demonstrated proficiency in a wide range of musical genres, from early music to opera and musical theater. He is the principal bass soloist with Bach Vespers at Holy Trinity (NYC), under the baton of Cantor Richard Erickson, and is an accomplished specialist in the performance of Bach’s cantatas, passion settings, and other large works. In 2008, Maestro Georg Cristoph Biller, Bach’s current living successor as Kantor of Thomaskirche, Leipzig, was a visiting guest conductor at Holy Trinity, and Mr. Chappel was honored to work with him on several cantatas as a featured soloist. He has also performed with groups such as Bachworks, NY Collegium, Early Music New York, Les Gouts-Reunis, Vox Vocal Ensemble and The Tiffany Consort (founding member), an 8-member ensemble of soloists which received a 2006 Grammy nomination for its debut recording project, O Magnum Mysterium. He has been hailed by the New York Times as a “warm bass anchor…” and after his first Verdi requiem, The State of Columbia, SC wrote “Chappel’s ‘Mors Stupebit’ kept the audience hanging on every breathy syllable, filling the hall with his strength even in the softest moments.” As a member of the Carolina Chamber Chorale (C3) at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC, he was bass soloist in world premieres by American composers Dan Locklair and Anthony Davis. Mr. Chappel sang his first Verdi Requiem with the South Carolina Philharmonic, Nicholas Smith, conductor. Subsequently, he and Maestro Smith have worked on several projects, including a Verdi Requiem at the Bollington Festival (UK), the Palmetto Opera’s production of Marriage of Figaro (as Figaro), and a return to the South Carolina Philharmonic as soloist in Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast.
A champion of new and/or rarely heard music, Mr. Chappel is frequently sought as a soloist in world premieres of newly written or newly discovered works. In 2007, he made his Lincoln Center debut as bass soloist in the world premiere ofAndrew Fowler’s Directions for Singing. In 2006, he gave the New World premiere of a recently unearthed Kuhnau mass for solo Bass and strings. He has performed several works composed around the events of 9/11, including the role of the Pilot in the world premiere of Anthony Davis’ Restless Mourning at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, and the world premiere of Joelle Wallach’s Firefighter’s Prayer at Powell Hall as part of the Saint Louis Symphony’s “On Stage at Powell” recital series. In 2008 he performed Orestes/Athena in the U.S. premiere of Iannis Xenakis’ Oresteia at Miller Theater, Columbia University.
On the opera stage, Mr. Chappel has performed roles which include Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro), Porgy (Porgy and Bess), Tobit (Tobias and the Angel), Mustafa (L’Italiana in Algieri), Frere Laurent (Romeo et Juliette), Mr. Gobineau (The Medium), Giove (La Calisto), Angelotti (Tosca), Sparafucile and Monterone (Rigoletto). He has participated in productions by One World Symphony, Dicapo Opera, the American Singers’ Opera Project, New Hampshire Opera, Connecticut Grand Opera, the Bollington Festival (UK), Opera at Eau Claire, and Palmetto Opera.
A believer in the power of educational outreach, Mr. Chappel has performed roles in A Band of Angels and The Orphan Singer, two children’s musicals created by the New York City based company, Making Books Sing, and most recently as Noye in the Eau Claire High School production of Noye’s Fludde, as part of the Columbia, SC “Opera in Schools”program.
Recent projects include singing in the Bard Summerscape 2011 production of Richard Strauss’ Die Liebe der Danae, and the Bard Summerscape 2012 production of Chabrier’s Le Roi Malgré Lui. Most recently Mr. Chappel has been a vocalist in the critically acclaimed two year world tour of Philp Glass and Robert Wilson’s Einstein on the Beach, with performances in Europe, Asia, North and Latin America.