Press Release – Haydn & Stravinsky Finale

Contact: Caleb Bailey, [email protected]; 860-443-2876

Haydn & Stravinsky Finale – Saturday, April 27, 2024, 7:30 pm

Garde Arts Center, 325 State St., New London, CT 06320

Click here to view the press release

 The guiding motif of the ECSO’s April 27 concert, the last of its 2023-24 season at the Garde, is a magical bird consumed and reborn in fire: the phoenix of Greek mythology. With the rise of Christianity, the phoenix became a symbol of the resurrection. In this connection, the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Chorus, led by Music Director Dr. Daniel McDavitt, will perform Joseph Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass. Written in 1798, the piece was originally called Missa in angustiis (Mass for Troubled Times), as Napoleon had repeatedly defeated Austria in the months prior. Yet Austria was to recover, phoenix-like, following Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of the Nile by Admiral Horatio Nelson’s British forces.

Over time, the piece took on Nelson’s name in honor of that victory. Music Director & Conductor, Toshiyuki Shimada will then take the podium for the remainder of the concert. Three short works will follow. First, Phoenix will be performed, a dramatic piece by Dan Perttu, a music theory and composition professor at Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. Next on the program is a work by beloved ECSO Personnel Manager and trumpet player, Richard Dumas; his Higher Than High tune dedicated to his wife Julie has been arranged by his son Curtis Dumas, as a tribute to him in his memory and honor. To close out the first half, the audience will be transported by Fawkes the Phoenix, a theme from John Williams’s score for the 2002 film Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The concert and the season will conclude not with a phoenix but with its counterpart from Russian fairy tales, the firebird. The 1919 Firebird Suite is one of three concert versions of the mystery-rich, episodic music composed by Igor Stravinsky for the Firebird ballet, presented in Paris in 1910 by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.

This concert is generously sponsored by Olde Mistick Village. There will be a complimentary post-concert reception, sponsored by Eric Cooper.

To purchase tickets:
Single tickets to events are available for purchase through the ECSO and Garde Arts Center website at and, or by calling the Garde Arts Center box office at 860-444-7373, ext. 1.

In addition to a range of affordable single-ticket options—from $65 to as low as $12—the ECSO offers those under 40 years of age and active or retired military members $12 tickets in selected sections.

Artist Biographies:

Dr. Daniel McDavitt, Eastern Connecticut Symphony Chorus Director:

Dr. Daniel McDavitt is Director of Cadet Vocal Music at the United States Coast Guard Academy, where he oversees a vocal music program that includes four choral ensembles, a robust touring schedule, and a yearly musical production. He was also recently appointed Director of the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Chorus, an ensemble specializing in the performance of major choral works of both historical and modern composers. Previous to these appointments, he was associate professor of music and director of the Goucher College Choirs and Orchestra, director of choral studies at Loyola University Maryland, and acting director of choirs at Knox College.

An award-winning composer and educator, Dr. McDavitt’s compositions and arrangements have been performed and broadcast throughout the United States and abroad. His music is published by Walton Music, E. C. Schirmer Publishing, Gentry Publications, and Jackman Music, along with a number of self-published works. He has received a commission from the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, won first prize in the Magnum Opus Composition Competition, and regularly accepts commissions from community, university, and school choral ensembles from around the country. He has also received numerous grants for music research and to promote new works by living composers. In 2017, he was honored with the Excellence in Teaching Award at Goucher College and has presented his research multiple times at the Oxford Conducting Institute at St. Anne’s College at the University of Oxford (UK).

Born and raised in Missouri, he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in music and humanities and a master of music degree in choral conducting from Brigham Young University, and a doctor of musical arts degree in choral conducting and literature, with a minor in theory/composition, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Dr. McDavitt is a member of the American Choral Directors Association and the National Collegiate Choral Organization, where he serves on the national board, as well as the College Music Society, and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).
He lives in Old Lyme, Connecticut, with his wife, writer and photographer Jenika Beck McDavitt, and their two children.

Sarah Yanovitch Vitale, Soprano:

Consistently recognized for her rich sound and musical sensitivity, Boston-based soprano Sarah Yanovitch Vitale is in demand as a concert soloist and ensemble musician. Ms. Yanovitch Vitale has been a frequent soloist with Boston’s Handel and Haydn Society under the artistic direction of Harry Christophers, singing the role of Belinda in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, and soprano solos in Bach’s B minor and G major masses, as well as in cantatas 10, 36, 61, 140, and 179. She made her solo debut at Tanglewood in the summer of 2017 with H+H in Purcell’s Fairy Queen.

Other notable solo credits include the roles of Cupid and Venus in King Arthur with the Henry Purcell Society of Boston, Mozart’s Mass in C minor and Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus and Dixit Dominus at Boston University Marsh Chapel, Handel’s Messiah and the Mozart Requiem with Arcadia Players, Bach’s Mass in B Minor with Masaaki Suzuki and Juilliard 415, the Fauré Requiem and Beethoven Symphony No. 9 with the Eastern Connecticut Symphony, and the Brahms Requiem, Carmina Burana, and Vaughan Williams’ Dona nobis pacem with Yale Glee Club. Outside of Boston, Sarah has sung with such leading choral ensembles as Bach Collegium San Diego, The Thirteen, Yale Choral Artists, and GRAMMY® nominated Seraphic Fire.

Ms. Yanovitch Vitale is a graduate of the Yale School of Music and holds a master’s degree in Early Music Voice through the Institute of Sacred Music. During her time at Yale, Sarah worked closely with esteemed conductors Masaaki Suzuki, David Hill, and Simon Carrington, touring as a soloist throughout the United States, Italy, France, The Baltics, India, and the UK.

Alyce Daubenspeck, Mezzo-soprano:

Alyce Daubenspeck is a classically-trained mezzo-soprano whose public performances have been described as “emotionally shattering.” Some of Ms. Daubenspeck’s favorite past roles have included the Tisbe (La Cenerentola), Marcellina (Le Nozze di Figaro),La Ciesca (Gianni Schicchi), the Witch (Hänsel und Gretel), Anita (La Navarraise), Augusta (The Ballad of Baby Doe), Berta (Il barbiere), Madame de Croissy (Dialogues des Carmélites), Third Lady (Die Zauberflöte), Lyubov (Mazepa), and Virginia (Billy Blythe). Alyce received her MM from Westminster Choir College in 2018, where she graduated with distinction. She holds a faculty voice position at DeSales University, and lives outside of NYC, where she enjoys a spot on Jim Harwood’s Management roster.

In the coming months, she is looking forward to debuting the role of “Mother” in Amahl and the Night Visitors (Boheme Opera NJ) and “Ruth” in Pirates of Penzance (Opera Raylynmor). To stay up to date on Alyce’s performances, please visit her website at

Ziwen Xiang, Tenor:

Tenor Ziwen Xiang has performed with the Metropolitan Opera Guild, New York City Opera, China National Opera, Turkish State Opera, and Teatro Regio di Parma.Under the auspices of those company, he was heard in operas and concerts in many countries across Asia and Europe. In the United States, Xiang has sung with the Verismo Opera of New Jersey at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, and at the Stern Auditorium stage with MidAmerica productions. In 2018, he sang Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi with the Metropolitan Opera Guild. He made his New York City Opera debut in the world premiere of Stonewall by Ian Bell and Mark Campbell. In 2021, he played Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Boheme in a movie co-produced by More Than Music LTD Hong Kong, Tri-Cities Opera, and Opera Omaha, which was broadcast by Boston Lyric Opera. Later that year, Xiang performed the role of Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni with Light Opera of New Jersey. He made his debut with the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice as Beppe in Pagliacci in August 2022. In September 2022, he returned to New York City Opera as Arturo in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lamermoor. Mr. Xiang just performing the role of Ferrando in Cedar Rapids Opera’s production of Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte.

Ziwen Xiang spent his developmental years at China National Opera where he quickly rose through the ranks to become a Principal Soloist. Under the auspices of this company he was heard in both opera and concert in numerous countries including Italy, Syria, and Turkey. Mr. Xiang moved to the USA and made his American Operatic debut as Alfredo in Verdi’s La Traviata in Martina Arroyo’s prestigious Artist Development Program in New York City. He completed a Master of Music Degree in Voice Performance at Manhattan School of Music and presented his New York recital debut at Weill Recital Hall in March 2017. Operatic performances to his credit include La Rondine (Prunier), Rigoletto (Duke), Otto Nicolai’s The Merry Wives of Windsor (Fenton), and Donizetti’s Don Pasquale (Ernesto). On the concert stage he has been heard as tenor soloist in Mozart’s C Minor Mass. He sang Bach’s Cantata BWV 140, and Handel’s Messiah at Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in NYC.

Eliam Ramos, Bass-baritone:

Eliam Ramos is a charismatic Puerto Rican bass-baritone who has performed opera and concert works with companies in the United States, Spain, Israel, Puerto Rico and Mexico. His artistic engagements range from traditional opera such as Leporello in Don Giovanni, to Luis Nogales in the zarzuela Luisa Fernanda, to symphonic concerts such as Fauré’s Requiem to the title role of the modern composition of El Cimarrón by Hans Werner Henze. The Metropolitan Opera Guild featured Mr. Ramos in their Verdi’s Baritones Serie in their 2022-2023 season.

Mr. Ramos engagements for 2023-2024 include Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass with the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra, Masetto for Opera in Williamsburg, Belcore from L’Elisir D’Amore for Geneva Light Opera, Angelotti from Tosca in Michigan, Clif Hardin’s Requiem for his Carnegie Hall debut, the world premiere of Song of the Nightingale with On Site Opera, Count Ceprano from Rigoletto with Regina Opera and the Doctor in the world premiere of The Extincionist with Heartbeat Opera.

The Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra is thrilled to announce our 2023-24 season lineup, curated by Music Director & Conductor Toshiyuki Shimada. Season highlights include the 100th Anniversary of Rhapsody in Blue, The Tom Brown 6, the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Chorus singing Haydn’s Lord Nelson’s Mass, and international guest artists. From early fall to late spring, the 75-plus member professional Symphony Orchestra presents six subscription concerts annually, most of which feature guest soloists. Subscription concerts are primarily performed at the historic award-winning Garde Arts Center on State Street in New London.

Visit for more information and follow us on social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube) @ectsymphony. In addition to a range of affordable single-ticket options—from $65 to as low as $12—the ECSO offers those under 40 years of age and active or retired military members $12 tickets in selected sections.

Founded in 1946 by Norwegian immigrant Victor Norman, the ECSO is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization serving the eastern Connecticut region, including New London, Norwich, Waterford, Groton, Mystic, Old Lyme, and East Lyme. Recent concerts in Norwich, Willimantic, and Stonington reflect our renewed dedication to serving a broader area.

Our mission is to inspire, educate, and connect our communities through live orchestral music.