Soprano Hope Koehler reached a musical milestone recently when she made her Carnegie Hall debut.
Koehler, a Lipscomb alumna and adjunct faculty member in music from 1987-94, was featured in an Oct. 9 performance in the venue’s Weill Recital Hall. The theme of the program was American music and included works by John Jacob Niles, known as the dean of American folk music. An associate professor of voice at West Virginia University, Koehler is emerging as the preeminent interpreter of his works. She was accompanied by James Douglass, with whom she has recorded two CDs featuring Niles’ songs.
“In the course of the Carnegie Hall recital, we highlighted John Jacob Niles’s music by performing songs from our first Niles recording, ‘The Lass from the Low Countree,’ and introducing songs from the new Niles recording, ‘Lost Melodies,’ which is due to be released this fall,” Koehler said.
“The songs on ‘Lost Melodies’ are either unpublished or out-of-print, so many people will never have heard them. They show a side of Niles we don’t often hear, many times reflecting his study of music in Lyon and Paris, France, and the influence of French composers, like Debussy and Ravel.”
In coming months, Koehler will be featured in recitals and concerts for the Lipscomb board of trustees and in Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia. She serves on the voice faculty of the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts, the Tennessee Governor’s School for the Arts and the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria. She completed her doctorate at the University of Kentucky.
Koehler has appeared with many opera companies and orchestras, such as Nashville Opera, Tennessee Opera Theatre, Blair Opera Theatre, MTSU Opera Theatre, University Opera Theatre in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Northland Opera Theatre Experience, Lyric Opera of the North, Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra, Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra, Lake Superior Chamber Orchestra, Lexington Symphony Orchestra and Itasca Symphony Orchestra. With these companies, she has appeared in such productions as “Carmen,” “Il Trovatore,” “Lucia di Lammermoor,” “Rigoletto,” “The Impressario,” “The Old Maid and the Thief,” “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” “Gianni Schicchi” and many others. At the Northland Opera Theatre in Duluth, Minn., she has appeared in the title roles of Tosca, Carmen, Fidelio and Madama Butterfly. In addition, she has appeared in “La Boheme” (Musetta), “Der Freischutz” (Agathe), “The Tales of Hoffmann” (Giulietta) and others.
Koehler’s other stage credits include operetta and musical theatre, in such productions as “The Mikado,” “The Sound of Music,” “The Pajama Game,” “Oklahoma,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” and “West Side Story.”
Koehler has performed as a soloist in oratorio and other choral orchestral works, such as Handel’s “Messiah,” Haydn’s “Lord Nelson Mass,” Mendelssohn’s “Elijah,” Verdi’s “Requiem,” Mozart’s “Requiem,” and Rossini’s “Stabat Mater,” Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 “Resurrection,” and others.
She is a regular performer and soloist with the American Spiritual Ensemble, a group that performs around the world and whose mission is to keep American spirituals alive and vibrant. She can be heard on the CDs “The Lily of the Valley,” “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” “The Spirit of the Holidays” and the DVD “The Spirituals,” recorded with the American Spiritual Ensemble. “The Lass from the Low Countree” was released in 2008 by Albany Records, and “Lost Melodies” will be released in 2012 by Multigram Records.