Concert Biography of Nancy Armstrong, soprano
Nancy Armstrongís luminous performances extend across the musical spectrum from early Renaissance to American musical theatre. Her voice is "a plaintive, humane instrument ... she is an intelligent artist who cherishes words".1 She has "a voice of quicksilver agility and radiance, and she dispenses it with wit and a keen sense of musical characterization".2 Justly called "the Purcell Prima Donna of our day",3 she is "capable of bringing a rapt spiritual dimension to what she sings ... singing out of her own life and speaking to ours".4
Highlighting her career are her portrayals of seventeen Handelian opera and oratorio heroines to date. Her numerous Messiah performances include several at Carnegie Hall. She recently was soprano soloist in Bach's St. Matthew Passion at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C., in a historic concert commemorating the 30th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's death. For eight years, Miss Armstrong toured internationally as soprano soloist with the Boston Camerata. She sang Belinda in the Camerataís Parisian production of Purcellís Dido and Aeneas. She received wide critical acclaim for her singing in Purcellís King Arthur at the Ojai Music Festival with the San Francisco Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra. At the American Repertory Theatre, she sang excerpts from Purcellís The Fairy Queen, woven as incidental music to A Midsummer Nightís Dream. Through the Boston Early Music Festival, Miss Armstrong assumed principal roles in Monteverdiís Coronation of Poppea, Rameauís Zoroastre (American premiere), The Play of Daniel, Handelís Teseo and Mozartís Mass in C Minor. She concertized in the Czech Republic with the Boston Museum Trio, performing works of Bach, Buxtehude, Purcell and Vivaldi.
Equally at home in the contemporary repertoire, Miss Armstrong gave world premiere performances of Ronald Pereraís The Outermost House, Libby Larsonís Now I Become Myself and Benjamin Searsí Mass, all major choral works. She recently gave two chamber music premieres: Eric Chasalow's Five Simic Songs (with the Lydian String Quartet) and James Russell Smith's The Presence of Things (with the Dinosaur Annex Music Ensemble). She appears annually to sold-out audiences in her treasured Valentineís Day recitals of American Broadway composers.
Miss Armstrong has just released her first solo CD, 'What Magic Has Victorious Love', on VAI, featuring her interpretations of Handel's powerful cantata Lucrezia (with Peter Sykes and Phoebe Carrai) and selected favorite songs of Purcell (with the Boston Museum Trio). Another new CD, 'Starlight and Sweet Dreams', with songs of Gershwin and Porter, is a joint project with baritone Robert Honeysucker, violinist Daniel Stepner and viola da gambist Laura Jeppesen, and has appeared on Centaur. She is showcased on CDs of Handelís LíAllegro ed il Penseroso ed il Moderato (with Boston Baroque, on Arabesque), Mozartís Mass in C Minor (with Andrew Parrott, on Denon), Virgil Thomson's songs (on Northeastern), Pereraís The Outermost House (on Albany Records) and Trimble's Four Fragments from the Canterbury Tales (on Albany). Another upcoming CD release for her is Steven Finchís The Thin Rain. She has also recorded with the Boston Camerata on the Erato, Harmonia Mundi, Nonesuch and Ventadorn labels.
Miss Armstrong has been Artist in Residence for the Brandeis University Theatre Arts Graduate Program since 1996. She maintains a large private voice studio at her home in Charlestown, Massachusetts.