At a recent church service at St. Stephen’s in Worcester, vocalist Monica Hatch ended the Mass with a pitch perfect note. She was singing the spiritual Precious Lord, Take My Hand, by Thomas Dorsey. The last word in the song is “home,” and Hatch lifted her voice to a high G — two octaves above middle C – and brought us there.
The performance was typical of the excellence local audiences have witnessed many times and have come to expect from this accomplished singer. One of the more in-demand vocalists on the New England classical circuit, Hatch is also a member of WPI teaching fraternity. Since 2010, she has taught Music Theory and Intro to Music and Voice, and is just one of the many hidden treasurers on this campus of such offerings.
“My philosophy is that learning should not be intimidating or discouraging for any student, regardless of their level of experience or knowledge,” she says. “Paying attention to how students learn makes me a better teacher.”
Hatch comes to WPI with a master’s degree in music, vocal performance from New England Conservatory, a bachelor’s from Eastman School of Music, and undergraduate studies in vocal performance at Julliard. She is a singer’s singer with impeccable diction, style, and grace.
Who: Soloist Monica Hatch, featured with the Master Singers of Worcester, the WPI Stage Band, and pianist Olga Rogach
What: Myriad Colors, featuring Mass In Blue
Where: First Unitarian Church, 90 Main St., Worcester
When: Sunday, Dec. 7, 4 p.m.
“Monica has a beautiful crystalline sound, and is a versatile musician, able to sing in many styles, from Bach to Brubeck,” says Malcolm Halliday, director of the Master Singers. “She is an excellent ensemble singer as well as a soloist, allowing her to participate in many capacities as a valuable member of both the Boston and Worcester musical communities.”
Her next public performance is part of the first presentation of the fall season by the Master Singers of Worcester. The concert is called “Myriad Colors,” showcasing music that celebrates color in both sound and text, including the Worcester premiere of Mass in Blue, by the English composer Will Todd. Hatch is the soprano soloist.
Composed in 2003, Mass in Blue has been performed more than 100 times since it premiered. The work is in six movements. Each is a section from the standard Latin Mass text. In October, composer Todd was on campus to conduct a workshop and rehearse the piece. At the time, he said, “When I was writing I was trying to keep the music as simple and powerful as possible, which is why so much of the harmony is simple blues harmony.” Todd also noted that the important thing in Mass in Blue is “to make sure the band is giving a really strong groove against which the singers can perform the words. It needs a lot of energy.”
WIDE VOCAL RANGE
Hatch will perform four of the six movements, Kyrie, Credo, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei. “One of the challenges is managing the two octaves-plus vocal range,” Hatch says. “I am constantly moving from chest voice to head voice, which can be vocally taxing. I rely totally on my breath and allow the transition from low- to high range to just happen. The other challenge is combining the classical soprano sound with the jazz inflection and nuance.”
Hatch is no stranger to the world of jazz. She has recorded a series of critically acclaimed CDs in the genre and was a longtime radio host at WICN. “This is where classical training and experience as a jazz vocalist come together,” she says of the Mass. “Somehow they just work. These two challenges are precisely what I love about this piece. They allow me to explore my entire range both vocally and stylistically.”
The concert will also feature other such colorful works as Mood Indigo by Duke Ellington, Sunday (from Sunday In The Park With George) by Stephen Sondheim, The Rose of Midnight by Randall Stroope, Nigra Sum, by Pablo Casals, and White Horses by Gwyneth Walker.