Meet the Musicians: Handel’s Messiah

Join Ars Musica for one of Bergen County’s favorite holiday traditions! This year’s performance of Handel’s beloved masterpiece also includes beautiful settings of holiday favorites both old and new. Ars Musica Composer-in-Residence Joshua Groffman provides an original work sure to join the canon of holiday favorites. Take a moment and meet Ars Musica’s talented collaborators!

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Sarah Hawkey

Sarah Hawkey, soprano 

Sarah’s clear, agile soprano voice can be heard in venues across New York City and the world. This season, Sarah appeared in the roles of First Lady and Papagena in Mozart’sThe Magic Flute with the Metropolitan Opera Guild and covered the role of Johanna in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd.  She performed in a recital entitled In the Valley with the recital series Marble Music Next Door, and sang at the Metropolitan Opera’s List Hall as part of the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s Artist Showcase.

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Hanne Dollase, contralto

Hanne Dollase is an international concert artist with a powerful and unique contralto voice that has been described by critics as “lush,” “spell-binding” and “full of emotionally unfolding depth.” Born and reared in Denmark, she brings particular insight and emotional resonance to the works of Bach, Handel and Mahler as well as to the repertoire of the great Scandinavian composers such as Grieg, Sibelius, Gade and Nielsen.

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Stephen Sands

Stephen Sands, tenor 

A GRAMMY-nominated “crystalline tenor” (Backstage) who was praised by the New York Times as “a tenor with a focused, powerful tone“ who sings with “subtlety” and “poignancy“, Stephen Sands is highly sought after as a soloist, conductor, music educator and ensemble member by some of the most prestigious institutions and conductors in the United States. Mr. Sands holds his Bachelors and Masters degrees from Westminster Choir College. He is a founding member and Executive Director of the internationally award-winning Antioch Chamber Ensemble, widely regarded as one of the finest professional vocal ensembles in the country.

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Joe Chappel, bass-baritone

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.

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John J. Miller

John J. Miller, organ 

John J. Miller serves the Archdiocese of Newark as the Director of Music Ministries for the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Music Coordinator for the Office of Worship,  Artistic Director of the Cathedral Concert Series, and Chapter Director for the Newark Chapter of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians. As a frequent recitalist and clinician, John is in demand as both a performer and clinician in the areas of choral conducting and organ performance. He maintains a busy schedule of concerts and workshops as a speaker in the field of liturgical music. His European performances have taken him to Rome, Venice, Leipzig, Prague, Salzburg, and Vienna. He has served as solo organist and guest conductor with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

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Joshua Groffman

Joshua Groffman, Composer-in-Residence

Joshua Groffman has written works for orchestral, vocal, and chamber ensembles, as well as for electronic media, theater, and film. His works have been performed by groups including the American Composers Orchestra, Ensemble Laboratorium, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Delaware Valley Chorale, Duo 231,Indiana University Contemporary Vocal Ensemble, and the Cornell University Chamber Singers, and selected for performance at the Aspen Music Festival, June in Buffalo, SEAMUS National Conference, Florida State University New Music Festival, Cal State Fullerton New Music Festival, the CUNY POP! Conference, Midwest Composers Symposium, and the 60×60 VoxNovus East Coast Mix.

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Dusty Francis

Dusty Francis, Music Director

Conductor and bass-baritone Dusty Francis enjoys an active career as a performer, clinician, and adjudicator in the New York metropolitan area and across the country. Reflecting his diverse interests, Francis has conducted a breadth of ensembles, including high school, church, community, and university choirs, orchestras, and opera choruses. In addition to his duties as Music Director and Conductor of Ars Musica, he currently serves as Organist/Choirmaster at All Saints Episcopal Church in nearby Leonia, New Jersey. He was recently appointed the Assistant Conductor of the New York City Master Chorale. Francis holds the Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Maryland, where he studied with Edward Maclary and James Ross.

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(551) 226-9305

Mailing Address
Ars Musica
PO Box 525
Paramus, New Jersey 07653



Discover Jersey Arts

Ars Musica’s concert season is made possible in part by a grant administered by the Bergen County Division of Cultural & Historic Affairs from funds granted by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.



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