Five Fridays IV: Mezzo-Soprano and Piano

Friday March 2nd at 7:30pm

Chrystal E. Williams (mezzo-soprano) and José Meléndez (piano)

Purchase tickets for this concert. General Admission: $25, Students: $5


Intorno all’idol mio – Antonio Cesti
Sopra un aria antica – Ottorino Respighi
Canciones – Carlos Guastavino
Americana – George Gershwin and Jerome Kern
Spiritual Medley – arr. Hall Johnson

About the artists

Five Fridays concerts are held by candlelight in the beautiful sanctuary of Saint Paul’s, typically in the intimate setting of the labyrinth at the west end of the church. Each concert is followed by a reception to greet the artists. Contributions from our generous sponsors help to defray costs, and together with ticket revenue, allow us to pass on all net proceeds to Saint Paul’s outreach partners, Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network and Face to Face Germantown. This is a unique opportunity to hear world-class music while supporting good work in our local community.

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About the artists

Mezzo-soprano Chrystal E. Williams has been described as “strong and so assured,” “lithely
negotiating the coloratura demands before descending into a robust low register,” and
“poised, polished, in complete command of the vocal calisthenics.” She is a winner of
Astral Artists’ 2014 National Auditions. Upcoming, Ms. Williams sings Charlotte in Werther with
both Baltimore Concert Opera and Opera Delaware, Mary in Ricky Ian Gordon’s Morning
Star with New York’s Onsite Opera, and returns in 2019 to the Birmingham (U.K.) Opera
Company. She also revisits the role of Rebecca in Charlie Parker’s YARDBIRD for Arizona
Opera, a role she created for Opera Philadelphia and has also revisited at the Apollo
Theater in Harlem, and in a co-production with Hackney Empire and English National
Opera. Most recently, she sang the role of Olga in Eugene Onegin with the Northern Lights
Music Festival, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Springfield Symphony, and a concert
with the North Carolina Philharmonic. She also made her Philadelphia Orchestra debut
under Yannick Nézet-Séguin, in Bach’s Nach dir, Herr, verlanget mich, BWV 150 and has
appeared at Washington National Opera as Elizabeth Keckley/Coretta Scott King in Philip
Glass’ Appomattox, sang Dido in Dido and Aeneas for Birmingham Opera Company, and
Hänsel in Hänsel und Gretel with Knoxville Opera. The First Prize and Audience Choice
Award winner at the 2014 Wilhelm Stenhammar International Music Competition, Ms.
Williams is the recipient of numerous other awards, including Second Prize as well as the
Audience Favorite Award in the Giargiari Bel Canto Competition, and Third Prize from the
Liederkranz Foundation, Inc. She holds degrees from the Academy of Vocal Arts, the Yale
School of Music, and Carnegie Mellon University. The Chrystal E. Williams Scholarship was
founded by the artist in 2004 to help students wishing to pursue a career in the performing
arts. The scholarship is funded in part by her concert, “An Evening with Chrystal E.,” held
each June in Norfolk, Virginia.  Chrystal E. Williams is represented by Astral Artists.

Pianist José Meléndez holds a full-time position at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, where he is Assistant to the Music Director, Orchestra Librarian, and part of the music staff. He serves as Assistant Conductor, Collaborative Pianist, and Vocal Coach for various AVA productions and events, and he is also the Music Director of Concert Operetta Philadelphia, an organization dedicated to the performance of operetta in concert. Mr. Meléndez has held professional positions with opera companies across the country. He made his Carnegie Hall debut as a solo pianist in a recital with pianist José Ramos Santana in May of 2011. He continues his role as Principal Coach and Pianist for the Puerto Rico Metropolitan Council District and Regional Auditions, a position he has held for over 21 years. He has worked with the Castleton Music Festival (C.A.T.S. Principal Coach), Curtis Institute of Music (Music staff), L’Académie Internationale d’Été de Nice (France), Casals Festival (Puerto Rico), Culturarte (Puerto Rico), Francisco Viñas International Voice Competition (Barcelona), and Operalia, Plácido Domingo’s World Opera Competition. As a collaborative pianist, Mr. Meléndez is known for his colorful and sensitive playing, as well as his innovative programming. He is a frequent guest artist at the University of Hawaii, where he has presented master classes on the art of collaboration and has played for several seasons on the Music at Mãnoa concert series. He has served on the faculty of the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and in summer 2014, he joined the Music Staff of Seagle Music Colony as Coach for their Young Artist Studio. In the summer 2016, Mr. Meléndez joined, Opera Company of Middlebury as Principal Coach/Assistant Conductor, and as music staff at Opera Saratoga for their production of Daniel Catán’s Il Postino. José Meléndez holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from the Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico and a Master of Music degree in Piano Accompanying and Coaching from Westminster Choir College of Rider University, where he studied with Dalton Baldwin, José Ramos Santana, and J.J. Penna.