Musician Bios | November 3, 2018

Bach and More:  James Bagwell conducts Baroque Songs of Praise

12 Voices | A Cappella



James Bagwell



Hailed by the Dallas Morning News for her “glowing tone, effortless facility and vivid expressivity,” Sarah Abigail Griffiths has appeared as soloist and chorister with professional ensembles throughout the United States. She is a founding member of the baroque chamber ensemble, Armonia Celeste, whose first album was released in 2015 on the Centaur label. She is also featured on a 2017 Gothic recording, singing Alice Parker’s song cycle Dickinson: On Recollecting. She has performed U.S. premieres by Bob Chilcott and Thea Musgrave; world premieres include works by Katherine Hoover, Edward Smaldone, and Martha Sullivan. Ms. Griffiths holds degrees from the University of North Texas, Westminster Choir College, and Earlham College, and she is an adjunct professor at Ramapo College of New Jersey. 

Japanese Soprano Aine Hakamatsuka is the winner of the 2013 Yokohama International Music Competition. She has performed roles including Papagena (Die Zauberflöte), Gretel (Hansel & Gretel), Lucy (The Telephone), Blonde (Die Entführung aus dem Serail), Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Nanetta (Falstaff), Silberklang (Der Schauspieldirektor), Lucia (The Rape of Lucretia), and Belinda (Dido & Aeneas). In concerts, she appeared as a soloist in Paukenmesse (Haydn), Magnificat (Schubert), Requiem (Faure), 9th Symphony (Beethoven), Cantata No. 51 (Bach), and Gloria (Vivaldi). Ms. Hakamatsuka has performed in solo and choral capacities at such venues as St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Queens Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, and Lincoln Center. Ms. Hakamatsuka received her Master’s of Music from Manhattan School of Music and Bachelor’s of Arts from Kansas Wesleyan University.

Praised for her affecting voice, striking presence, and committed performances, Elizabeth Smith is a soprano based in New York City. Accomplished in concert and choral work, Elizabeth has appeared as soloist in Luigi Nono’s “Intolleranza”, Song of Norway, Yotam Haber’s I Am, and David Lang’s Battle Hymns.  She enjoys collaborating with emerging composers, and recently premiered Matthew Brown’s “The Beautiful America” with The Astoria Choir, as well as appearing as a featured soloist on the New York Virtuoso Singers recording of music by Katherine Hoover. In 2016, Elizabeth co-founded The Pleiades Project, a non-profit dedicated to telling women’s stories through classical music and film. In addition to her musical work, Elizabeth enjoys working as a photographer, videographer, and teacher.

Mezzo-soprano Donna Breitzer enjoys a varied schedule of solo and ensemble performance in NYC and beyond. A member of the Extra Chorus of The Metropolitan Opera since 2014, she appears regularly with top professional ensembles including the Bard Festival Chorale, New York Virtuoso Singers, and Concert Chorale of New York, among many others. Recent highlights include solo appearances with the American Classical Orchestra, the New York Festival of Song, American Lyric Theater, and the Nashoba Valley Chorale, and recitals for Art Song at Old Stone House in Brooklyn and the American Society of Jewish Music. Donna maintains a private voice studio and is the co-founder and Executive Director of Five Boroughs Music Festival, a celebrated chamber music series in NYC. 

Soprano Michèle Eaton is known primarily for her Baroque oratorio performances, but she has also toured internationally with the Philip Glass Ensemble in performances of Einstein on the Beach.  She performs around the U.S. with Prof. Peter Schickele, known for his “discoveries” of the putative music of P.D.Q. Bach.  She has appeared as the Child Grendel in the NYC premiere of the opera Grendel, directed by Julie Taymor.  She is a member of Pomerium, an a cappella Renaissance ensemble.  She has performed with the Carmel Bach Festival, Sacred Music in a Sacred Space, the Waverly Consort, and Musica Viva NY; and she has appeared as soloist with the Pasadena Symphony, the Louisville Orchestra, and the Jacksonville Symphony.

Alto Suzanne Schwing first trained for the Shakespearean stage at LAMDA, subsequently receiving her music degrees at Boston University and Manhattan School of Music.  She has sung with countless conductors including Seiji Ozawa, Zubin Mehta, Sir Simon Rattle, Manfred Honeck, and Gianandrea Noseda.   As a member of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, the John Oliver Chorale, The New York Virtuoso Singers (NYVS), and as a soloist in her own right, Suzanne’s discography includes Bruce Adolphe’s The End of Tonight (St. Urban), Katherine Hoover’s Requiem for the Innocent (4Tay), NYVS’ 25 x 25: 25 Premieres for 25 Years (Soundbrush), With Peace in Mind: Choral Music of Nancy Wertsch (MSR Classics), and A Splash of Pops (RCA Victor).  Suzanne is a proud member of Actors’ Equity, AGMA, and SAG-AFTRA.

Equally well-versed in classical and jazz styles, Nathaniel Adams is a New York based tenor and pianist originally from Chicago, Illinois. He sings regularly with The Saint Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, Early Music New York, and the Manhattan Chorale. In addition to his active performance career, he is an accomplished choral composer, with performances of his works in Canada, Colombia, Indonesia, Sweden, Switzerland, and Venezuela. He has been commissioned by the World Youth Choir, the St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys at St. Thomas 5th Ave (Daniel Hyde), the St. Charles Singers (Jeff Hunt, conductor), and Cantamus (Iowa State University – Kathleen Rodde, conductor), among others.

Noted for his beautiful lyric voice, The New York Times has praised tenor Alex Guerrero for his “apt comic timing” as Ali in André Grétry’s Zémire et Azor with American Classical Orchestra, and as “solid” in all-Handel program conducted by William Christie. He has performed Handel and Bach with Amor Artis under Ryan Brandau. He was also featured with Yale Choral Artists, American Symphony Orchestra, and on the Grammy-nominated Tania León album, Inura for Voice, Strings and Percussion. He has premiered several operatic roles, performed the role of Tinca in Il Tabarro, and regularly performs as a choral artist with the New York City area’s premier ensembles, including The New York Virtuoso Singers, Musica Sacra, the Bard Festival Chorus, and The Metropolitan Opera Chorus.

American tenor John Kawa is an active performer in concert and opera throughout the New York Metropolitan area, both as a soloist and an ensemble member. He frequently works with such groups as The Choir of Saint Ignatius Loyola, The Concert Chorale of New York, The New York Choral Artists, Voices of Ascension, The New York Virtuoso Singers, Musica Sacra, The Saint Andrew Chorale, The Russian Chamber Chorus of New York, New York City Ballet, American Symphony Orchestra, St. George’s Choral Society, and various others. He holds a Bachelor of Music in vocal performance from Mercer University in Macon, GA, and a Master of Music in opera performance from the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC where he was a recipient of the A.J. Fletcher Opera Institute Fellowship. 


Blake Burroughs, bass-baritone, first took the stage performing numerous principal roles in musical theatre classics before going on to earn his Bachelor of Arts in Music at Iowa State University, where he was mentored by world-renowned bass-baritone, Simon Estes. Blake has performed with American Symphony Orchestra, New York Virtuoso Singers, Bard Festival Chorale, and MasterVoices.  He has taken the stage in opera productions with Bard SummerScape, American Lyric Theatre, and Center for Contemporary Opera and has been featured in concert across the NYC Metro area, Palm Beach, Miami, Baltimore, and Dallas. His latest performances were as baritone soloist in Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem, and bass soloist in several Masses and oratorios. When he is not singing, Blake is busy pursuing a secondary career as a voiceover artist. 

Gregory Purnhagen enjoys an eclectic career encompassing many eras and genres.  His long association with composer Philip Glass includes La Belle et la Bête, Monsters of Grace, Galileo Galilei, Einstein on the Beach (‘92 & ’12) and concerts of song repertoire. Gregory has been a soloist at major world venues; created critically acclaimed cabaret shows in New York, including Babalu-cy! The Art of Desi Arnaz (2008 Backstage Bistro Award winner); recorded Early Music, New Music, various cast albums, guest vocals on Bjork’s CD Medulla; created roles in contemporary opera for Nick Brooke, Yoav Gal, Fred Ho, Michael Kowalski, and in Lisa Bielawa’s groundbreaking video opera Vireo.  As bandleader of The New Xavier Cugat Orchestra, he has toured Florida and headlined at the Montreal Jazz Festival.

John Rose has been a professional choral singer in cities across the U.S. for more than three decades, with credits including the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, New York Virtuoso Singers, Bard Festival Chorale, Musica Sacra, and many others. Outside his choral work, he is also active in New York’s downtown experimental theater scene, most recently starring as folk-music collector Alan Lomax in oyster, a “spoken-word opera” written and composed by Joe Diebes; is a freelance writer/editor for classical music publicist 21C Media; and is a published authority on the madhouse poems of 18th-century English poet Christopher Smart. Occasionally he deviates to other instruments, other kinds of theater, and other styles of writing.   


Hailed by The New York Times as “one of New York’s finest organists,” Renée Anne Louprette has established an international career as organ recitalist, accompanist, conductor, and teacher. She is University Organist and Organ Area Coordinator at Mason Gross School of the Arts – Rutgers University, and a former member of the organ faculty at the Manhattan School of Music, The Hartt School – University of Hartford, and Montclair State University. She recently performed solo recitals at Royal Festival Hall in London and Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and will make her debut at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in December. Louprette is completing a Master’s degree in choral conducting at Bard College where she is a student of James Bagwell.