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Ian Howell

  • Vocal Pedagogy
  • Voice

Since 2014, countertenor Ian Howell has taught NEC's graduate vocal pedagogy curriculum, supported by the implementation of a new Voice and Sound Analysis Laboratory, the first of its kind in Boston. Howell is also a member of the studio faculty for voice.

Praised by the New York Daily News for his “rich voice, capable of great dramatic force,” San Francisco Classical Voice for the “heart at the core of his soulful sound,” and Classical Voice of North Carolina for his “lovely, supple, and crystal-clear” voice, Ian Howell sings with a warm and seamless tone rarely heard from countertenors.

In 2006, Howell won First Prize at the American Bach Soloists International Solo Competition with an acclaimed performance of Bach’s Cantata BWV 170, "Vergnügte Ruh," and Third Prize at the Oratorio Society of New York’s Vocal Competition.

Ian Howell’s debut solo CD, 1685 and the Art of Ian Howell with American Bach Soloists, was released in 2009 and features repertory by Domenico Scarlatti, J.S. Bach, and G.F. Handel. He can also be heard with the all-male chamber choir Chanticleer on one DVD and eight CDs, including the Grammy Award–winning Tavener: Lamentations and Praises and the Grammy-nominated Our American Journey. He has recorded for the Warner Classics, Rhino, Gothic, Yale, Chanticleer, and American Bach Soloists labels.

Last season included repeat engagements with Florentine Opera in Handel's Giulio Cesare (Tolomeo), the Boston Early Music Festival in Sebastiani's St Matthew Passion, the American Bach Soloists in Bach Cantatas (with a featured masterclass at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music), and Musica Sacra (N.Y.) in Handel’s Messiah at Carnegie Hall. For his December 2011 performance of Messiah with the Choir of St Thomas Fifth Ave. (New York City), The New York Times singled Howell out as "the most effective … fully supported and consistently expressive." The following year, San Francisco Classical Voice commented that he “lit a brightly flaming ‘Refiner’s Fire,’ flickering with expert ornaments and trills” in his performance of Messiah with the American Bach Soloists at San Francisco’s monumental Grace Cathedral.

Howell's 2012–13 season included debuts with New York City Opera’s education department (Chin’s Alice in Wonderland (White Rabbit/March Hare)) and the Boston Early Music Festival (Bach’s "Vergnügte Ruh"). Recent engagements include a “Distinguished Artist” solo concert as a part of the American Bach Soloists summer Academy, Bach’s Trauerode with the American Bach Soloists at the Berkeley Early Music Festival, and repeat engagements with Los Angeles’s Musica Angelica (Bach’s Christmas Oratorio), The New Mexico Symphony Chorus (Handel’s Messiah), Chatham Baroque (Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater), and the American Bach Soloists (Handel’s Messiah).

Equally at home on the concert and operatic stage, Howell’s 2010–11 season included debut performances with Florentine Opera (Blow’s Venus & Adonis—Cupid, and Purcell’s Dido & Aeneas—Spirit), Seattle Baroque (Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater), and the New Mexico Symphony (Bach’s Christmas Oratorio). He returned for engagements with Chatham Baroque (Bach’s St John Passion), New York’s St Ignatius Loyola (Handel’s Jephtha—Hamor), and the U.C. Davis Choirs (Bernstein’s Missa Brevis and Chichester Psalms, and in a new work by Pablo Ortiz). Howell was one of nine singers selected to perform and commercially record a one-to-a-part St Matthew Passion with the orchestra of the Oberlin Baroque Performance Institute.

In his 2009–2010 season, Howell debuted with Canada’s Orchestra London/Opera London as Tolomeo in Handel’s Giulio Cesare, for which critics called his portrayal “chilling,” “remarkable,” and “heart-rending,” and noted that he “handled the intricacies of Handel’s vocal writing with marvelous finesse.” Howell also debuted as a featured soloist on the Ravinia Festival’s Rising Stars Series ("Beginner’s Ear" Recital), with the St Louis Symphony (P.D.Q. Bach’s Iphigenia in Brooklyn), the Handel Choir of Baltimore (Messiah), the Hudson Valley Singers (Handel’s Susanna—Joachim), Chatham Baroque (Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater and J.C. Bach’s Lamento), Musica Angelica (Bach’s St John Passion), and in recital with the Columbus (Ohio) Guitar Society ("The New Music: 1602–Present"). He returned to the Bay Area to reprise Handel’s Messiah for the second year in a row with the American Bach Soloists.

Ian Howell is currently the Vocal Pedagogy Director at New England Conservatory. He has taught at Yale, Swarthmore, and Rutgers Camden, and was a 2013 NATS Teaching Intern. He was the founding editor of TheCounterTenorVoice.com, an online journal covering career and technique issues for singers. He holds a Master of Music Degree in Voice from Yale University and is completing a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree at New England Conservatory, where his research focuses on practical applications of a timbre-based framework for hearing vocal registration events.

M.M., Yale University; D.M.A. in progress, NEC.

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