HAITHAM HAIDAR

Haitham Haidar is a Lebanese-Palestinian Canadian tenor, currently based in Montreal. He is a proud graduate of Yale’s Institute of Sacred Music, McGill’s Schulich School of Music, and the University of British Columbia.

Praised for his ‘ductile,’ ‘bright,’ and ‘robust’ tenor, Haitham enjoys performing oratorio, opera, and chamber music across North America, Europe, and Asia. He has recently joined Kaleidoscope Vocal Ensemble, a group that develops opportunity for music excellence and diversity to exist in one space.

When he’s not performing, Haitham spends his time playing the recorder, taking care of his cat Tonks, and going for long walks along the canal. He also enjoys incorporating Arabic music into his performances.

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DAPHNA MOR

Daphna Mor has performed throughout Europe and the United States as both a soloist and ensemble player. Mor’s “astonishing virtuosity” (Chicago Tribune) has been heard in solo recitals in the United States, Croatia, Germany and Switzerland. She has performed as a soloist with the New York Collegium, the New York Early Music Ensemble and Little Orchestra Society, and as a member of the orchestra with the New York Philharmonic, New York City Opera and Orchestra of St. Luke’s. Mor was awarded First Prize in the Settimane Musicali di Lugano Solo Competition and the Boston Conservatory Concerto Competition, and has appeared in a duo with Joyce DiDonato on the singer’s promotional tour for the album In War and Peace. Devoted to new music, Mor has recorded on John Zorn’s Tzadik label, and has performed the world premiere of David Bruce’s Tears, Puffes, Jumps, and Galliard with the Metropolis Ensemble. Also active in the world music community, Mor has performed in festivals and on stages worldwide, including New York’s Summer Stage and Munich’s Gasteig. She can also be heard on Sting’s album If On A Winter’s Night for Deutsche Grammophon. Mor serves as the Music Director of Beineinu, a New York initiative dedicated to the modern cultivation of Jewish culture, and is a performer and teacher of liturgical music of the Jewish diaspora. She leads programs for the Education Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

JACOB PERRY

Jacob Perry Jr., tenor, based in the Washington Metro Area, receives praise for his “gorgeous and stylish” interpretations of Renaissance and Baroque repertoire. He has been featured as a soloist with Apollo’s Fire, Handel Choir of Baltimore, Mountainside Baroque, Tempesta di Mare, The Thirteen, Washington Bach Consort, and The City Choir of Washington. Mr. Perry was selected as the tenor participant of the Virginia Best Adams Masterclass of the 2020 Carmel Bach Festival (postponed).

Deeply immersed in vocal chamber music, Mr. Perry enjoys playing with Les Canards Chantants, a soloist-ensemble based in Philadelphia, as well as engagements with ensembles such as The Thirteen, the Art of Early Keyboard, New Consort, and Cathedra. Additionally, he can be heard singing with larger choirs such as Yale Choral Artists, The Clarion Choir, Washington Bach Consort, and the Choir of Washington National Cathedral. He has explored vocal works by contemporary composers through engagements with Third Practice, hexaCollective, and Great Noise Ensemble. As Co-Artistic Director of Bridge, a genre-defying vocal ensemble based in Washington, he draws on his instincts for theatricality and story-telling, as the group explores the connections between early masterpieces and ground-breaking new works.

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POLINA SKOVORODA SHEPHERD

Polina Skovoroda Shepherd is an internationally renowned Yiddish and Russian singer. Praised for her “breathtaking vocals” (Musician Magazine), she performs the songs of the Shtetl and the Steppes with passion and haunting soul.

Born in Siberia, Polina learned music as a child from her grandfather, a button accordionist, and her mother, a singer. She soon became her mother’s accompanist, playing at the dark theatres of Tatarstan to wildly responsive audiences.

Following her training at Kazan State Conservatory, she specialised in vocal techniques based on instrumental ornamentation and Yiddish and Russian folk songs. She joined Russia′s first klezmer band after Perestroika, and soon became the principal Yiddish choir leader of the former Soviet Union, touring internationally with her Quartet Ashkenazim (1991-2007).

Now based in the UK with her husband Merlin Shepherd, an internationally renowned Klezmer clarinetist, Polina is a member of the Merlin Shepherd Quartet who bring together the music of Jewish Eastern Europe, Greece and Turkey. The Merlin and Polina Shepherd Duo travel the world and have a reputation of ‘the magical sound’ on the Ashkenazi music scene. Their CD “A Blade of Grass” was released in 2012.

Polina serves as the Choir Director of the London Yiddish Choir, the London Russian Choir, and the award-winning Russian choir of Brighton & Hove. As an educator, she leads choral workshops internationally, using teaching methods based on specific East European sound, ornamentation, and modal experimentation with attention to stylistic details, history and context. For Jewish music workshops, she teaches Yiddish songs and Hasidic nigunim, the age-old songs without words.

Polina has served as Programme Director for the International Klezmer Music Festival in Moscow and the International Festival of Jewish Culture in Kazan, Russia. She is in demand as a Jewish song teacher at international Jewish events and festivals such as KlezKanada, Klezfest London, Klezmer Paris, Klezmer Moscow, Klezfest Kiev, Klezfest Lviv, and many others. She has lectured on Jewish music at the Centre of History and Culture of Jewish People, Kazan State University.

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JEFFREY STRAUSS

Praised as “an authoritative artist” (Cleveland Plain Dealer) and “an elegant and energetic singer” (Seen and Heard International), baritone Jeffrey Strauss has performed with leading period music ensembles including Tafelmusik, the Consort of Musicke with Emma Kirkby and Anthony Rooley, the Taverner Consort under Andrew Parrott, The Handel & Haydn Society, Seattle Baroque, The Newberry Consort, and Tempesta di Mare, among many others. Trained at an early age in Jewish liturgical music by Cantor Daniel Gildar, he later studied voice and art song in London with Yvonne Rodd-Marling and Martin Penny, and in Paris with Gérard Souzay. He has been a regular soloist with Apollo’s Fire since 1995, and is especially known for his appearances in Handel’s Messiah, the Bach St. John and St. Matthew Passions, Sephardic Journey, O Jerusalem!, and music of Monteverdi including the 1610 Vespers, Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, and the title role in L’Orfeo. A longstanding proponent of contemporary music, he has collaborated with Ralph Shapey and the Contemporary Chamber Players of the University of Chicago (Contempo), the Chicago Chamber Musicians, the Pacifica Quartet, and Eighth Blackbird, and has premiered works by Babbitt, Bernstein, Axelrod, and Shapey. He has appeared twice with the Omaha Symphony, and performed the role of Mephistopheles in Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust. An accomplished stage actor, his 2014 performance as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof at the Lancaster Opera House—reprising a role he first played at age 17—was hailed as “masterful” (Buffalo News).

“The U.S.A.’s hottest baroque band.” –CLASSICAL MUSIC MAGAZINE (UK)