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The Western Wind Vocal Ensemble, Inc is a
Since 1969, the internationally acclaimed vocal sextet The Western Wind has devoted itself to the special beauty and variety of a cappella music. The Ensemble’s repertoire reveals its diverse background – from Renaissance motets to Fifties rock ’n’ roll, from medieval carols to Duke Ellington, from complex works by avant-garde composers to the simplest folk melodies.
In addition to maintaining a demanding performance schedule, which has included such venues as Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, ArtPark, The Ordway Theater, The Metropolitan Museum, The Frick Museum, The Jewish Museum, Folger Shakespeare Library, Library of Congress, and the Cleveland Museum of Art, The Western Wind regularly conducts Workshops in Ensemble Singing. The workshops, attended by vocalists ranging from novice to professional, address the particular challenges of singing in small, largely un-conducted ensembles.
As part of its non-profit mission to spread the joy of music to people of all ages, The Western Wind coordinates a highly-acclaimed arts-in-education program in the New York City public school system called The Western Wind Goes To School for children ages 8–18. The curriculum ranges from the fundamentals of music notation and rhythm to highly refined interpretation of challenging vocal repertoire.
Since 1989, The Western Wind has produced a series of radio programs distributed throughout the United States by National Public Radio and Public Radio International. The programs address topics ranging from settings of love songs throughout the centuries to a musical narrative of the Jewish High Holy Days.
The Western Wind has also produced twenty recordings, twelve of which have been released on Western Wind Records, the group’s own record label, distributed in the US and Canada by Albany Music Distributors.
Elijah Blaisdell (baritone) performs with ensembles across the country as both a soloist and a chorister. An early and new music specialist, his most recent credits include performing as an Adams Fellow with The Carmel Bach Festival, featured soloist with Grammy-Award winning ensemble The Crossing, St. Matthew Passion with Bach Society of St. Louis, Coffee Cantata and Dido and Aeneas with Madison Bach Musicians, and a chorister with The Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Grammy-nominated ensemble True Concord, Grammy-winning ensemble Seraphic Fire, and Boston Lyric Opera. Elijah holds a Master of Music in vocal performance from New England Conservatory and resides in New York City.
Eric S. Brenner (countertenor) has been hailed for his “penetrating eloquence,” (NY Times), “astonishing musicality,” (NY Classical Review), & “Mr. Roboto majesty” (Stage Mage). You may recognize Eric as the angry monk just to Madonna’s right in footage from the 2018 Met Gala. Eric is countertenor soloist in recent performances & recording of Hannah Lash’s Requiem (Naxos), as well as Du Yun’s Pulitzer Prize Winning Angel’s Bone (VIA Records). Other engagements include: alto soloist in Vivaldi’s Introduction & Gloria at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue; soprano & alto soloist in Handel’s Messiah at Avery Fisher (Geffen) & Alice Tully Hall; Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms” at St. Thomas Church, St. John the Divine, & St. Ignatius Loyola; soprano in collaborative concerts with Les Canards Chantant and the Folger Consort at the National Cathedral; Doodle in Stefan Weisman’s & David Cote’s Scarlet Ibis; Poet in Virko Baley’s Holodomor in Ukraine. Eric is also co-composer with Matt Shloss of music for Rob Reese’s Yahweh’s Follies, writes fiction, & persists in being an incorrigible Mets fan. www.ericsbrenner.com
Todd Frizzell (tenor) was featured on ABC-TV’s Nightline, singing music from a Mass written in the first millennium, which he performed in Limoges, France in May 2001. Todd has performed widely with New York’s Ensemble for Early Music, with whom he has been a resident artist for the past 5 years. Performances have included Sponsus: The Tale of the Wise and Foolish Virgins and featured solos on three of the group’s CDs. Todd serenaded Dame Judi Dench in June 2000 at Broadway’s Ethyl Barrymore Theater during a special performance of Her Majesty the Queen honoring Ms. Dench’s receipt of the Golden Quill award. He was the tenor soloist in Handel’s Israel in Egypt at Avery Fisher Hall with the National Chorale, and is a featured soloist on the CD Responsoria. Todd has appeared at the Bard College Festival and performed with the New York Virtuoso Singers, Musica Antica at St. Bart’s, and the New York Concert Singers.
Linda Lee Jones (soprano), a New Orleans native, is active as a soprano, teacher and massage therapist in New York City and Central New Jersey. Her work as an ensemble singer has afforded her the opportunity to perform with the area’s most prominent choral groups, including the choirs of Trinity Wall Street Church, Musica Sacra, the New York Choral Artists, St. Ignatius Loyola Church and the Mostly Mozart Festival, along with some of the world’s finest orchestras and conductors. Ms. Jones is a member of the professional Chorale of the Carmel Bach Festival in Carmel, CA and sings regularly with the choir of St. Mary the Virgin in New York. As a soloist she has appeared with the Symphony Chorus of New Orleans, the Louisiana Vocal Arts Chorale, the Masterwork Chorus of NJ and the Argento Chamber Ensemble in New York. Before relocating to New Jersey she served as Director of Music for Munholland United Methodist Church in New Orleans, where she worked with choristers of all ages. Ms. Jones hold a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance from Loyola University and a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting and Voice from Westminster Choir College of Rider University.
David Vanderwal (tenor) is a native of Portland, Oregon. He has performed as a soloist with The American Bach Soloists, Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra, Austin Symphony Orchestra, Oregon Symphony, New York Collegium and Tafelmusik. Recently Mr. Vanderwal performed Handel’s Messiah with the St. Paul’s Cathedral Choirs of Buffalo, NY, Pax Christi of Toronto, ON, Danbury (CT) Symphony Orchestra, the Mendelssohn Choir (CT), and First Congregational Church of Greenwich, CT. He performed Bach’s Easter Oratorio, and a new concert Mass of John Tavener with the Choir of St. Thomas Church, in New York. Mr. Vanderwal appeared at the Carmel Bach Festival in California, and taught at the International Bachakademie’s Stuttgart Festival in Überlingen, Germany. He also presents a set of song recitals throughout the year.
Soprano Elizabeth van Os is one of New York City’s most dynamic performers, making waves not only as soloist and ensemble member but also as a co-founder of the non-profit Pleiades Project. For her efforts, opera-zine parterre noted her “striking impression,” with additional praise from Voce di Meche for her “lovely, affecting” voice and “justifiable passion.” Born Elizabeth Smith, she holds performance degrees from the Eastman School of Music and Brigham Young University in Idaho. Learn more by visiting elizabethvanos.com.
William Zukof (countertenor) is a founding member and executive producer of The Western Wind. He sang countertenor with the ensemble from 1969 to 2019. A New York City native, he was born in Manhattan and received his BA degree from The City University of New York. In his early twenties, he became a student of the noted American countertenor Russell Oberlin. He has appeared as a soloist with the St. Thomas Choir of Men and Boys, the Roger Wagner Chorale, the Gregg Smith Singers, the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston, Musica Sacra of New York, and the Zamir Chorale. Mr. Zukof performed the Bach Magnificat under the direction of Leonard Bernstein at the Vatican in Rome. His operatic appearances include roles with the Washington Opera, the Center for Contemporary Opera, the Eastman School, and the University of California at Berkeley. He is executive producer for Western Wind’s recordings, including the latest release, We Are Still Here – The Holocaust Through Music & Memory, the ninth in a series of Judaica recordings. A version of this program narrated by Danny Burstein and Jessica Hecht is being distributed nationwide by Public Radio International.