Dr. Ian Howell is a member of the voice faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music where he directs the graduate voice pedagogy program, teaches studio voice, and coaches students in Baroque voice repertory.
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.
As a classical countertenor, Ian Howell has sung on most major international concert stages as both a soloist and a member of the Grammy Award winning ensemble Chanticleer, and has extensively toured North America, Japan, Europe, and parts of Central and South America.
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.
Equally at home on the opera and concert stages, recent seasons 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.
Previous seasons 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). He has also sung 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.
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"). That year returned to the Bay Area to reprise Handel’s Messiah for the second year in a row with the American Bach Soloists.
Dr. Howell's scholarly work explores the special psychoacoustics of the singing voice, with an eye toward practical applications for singers and voice teachers. Human senses interpret reality according to a dependable set of rules. These same senses also perceive greater detail once we internalize more precise labels and conceptual models. Dr. Howell’s work produces new aural/visual models that better characterize the perceptual qualities of sung vowels and voice registration. He unpacks and identifies the perceptually coherent components of a vowel, showing how absolute, objective labels apply to the relative scale of tonal brightness.
Dr. Howell has presented original research at the Pan American Vocology Association's Symposium (2015, 2016), The National Association of Teachers of Singing's National Convention (2016, 2018), Harvard's ArtTechPsyche III (2017), The Society for Music Perception and Cognition (2017), and the Voice Foundation (2018). He is a guest faculty member at the Vocal Pedagogy Professional Workshop at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee (2017, 2018), and the Acoustic Vocal Pedagogy Seminar held in the summers at NEC.
Ian Howell 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, and has been published in the Journal of Voice, the Journal of Singing, Classical Singer, and VOICEPrints. He holds a Master of Music Degree in Voice from Yale University and a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from the New England Conservatory.
M.M., Yale University; D.M.A. New England Conservatory