Dann Coakwell, tenor, has been praised by The New York Times as a “clear-voiced and eloquent … vivid storyteller;” Stark Insider of San Francisco has complimented his “rare warmth and depth;” and The Dallas Morning News has commended him as “the standout vocal soloist … with utterly natural diction,” and “a gorgeous lyric tenor that could threaten or caress on the turn of a dime.” Much sought-after as a performer of Bach, Handel, and their contemporaries, Coakwell specializes in J.S. Bach’s Evangelist roles. Additionally versed in the repertoire of Benjamin Britten and other composers within the last century, he also actively seeks out opportunities to collaborate with modern composers and perform new music.
At Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall in New York, Coakwell has appeared as a soloist in Handel’s Funeral Anthem for Queen Caroline directed by William Christie, Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings with horn player William Purvis, and as the lead role of Andrey in the world premiere of Prokofiev’s newly discovered and reconstructed opera act, Dalyekie Morya (Distant Seas), directed by Boris Berman. Internationally, he has performed the role of Evangelist in J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion on tour in Italy under Masaaki Suzuki, and he has served as soloist under Helmuth Rilling in Germany for a series of J.S. Bach’s cantatas. Under Helmuth Rilling and Matthew Halls at the Oregon Bach Festival, Coakwell has appeared numerous times as a soloist, where he has shared the stage with such internationally acclaimed singers as Thomas Quasthoff and James R. Taylor. With Grammy Award-nominated Conspirare, under Craig Hella Johnson, Coakwell has performed as a featured soloist in major works such as Handel’s Messiah, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Mass in B-minor, and Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis. He can be heard as a soloist on the Harmonia Mundi record label in the 2009 Grammy-nominated album, Conspirare: A Company of Voices, and upcoming in 2014 on The Sacred Spirit of Russia (working title). World premieres in 2012 included the role of Ted Deakin in Paul Crabtree’s new chamber opera, The Ghost Train, in North Carolina, and The Illuminator in David Evan Thomas’s new oratorio, The First Apostle, in Houston.
Other recent and upcoming highlights include appearances with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in the San Francisco Bay area, where Coakwell performed Handel’s Alexander’s Feast under Nicholas McGegan in April 2012, and then returned under Masaaki Suzuki in December 2012 for Handel’s Messiah, J.S. Bach’s Magnificat, and cantata BWV 63, Christen, ätzet diesen Tag. As Bach Evangelist in 2013, he performs St. Matthew Passion with the Colorado Bach Ensemble and Christmas Oratorio (including arias) under Julian Wachner at Trinity Wall Street Church in New York. In 2014, he will perform St. John Passion as Evangelist under Craig Hella Johnson in Victoria and San Marcos, Texas. As Bach aria soloist, Coakwell performed St. Matthew Passion under Helmuth Rilling at the Oregon Bach Festival in 2012 alongside rising star Nicholas Phan as Evangelist; in 2013, he reprised the same role with world renowned English-German Evangelist Rufus Müller under John Scott at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue; and he performed St. John Passion with Voices of Ascension in New York. Additionally, after having concluded 2012 with performances of Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings in New Haven and Norfolk, Connecticut, Coakwell rang in 2013, the 100th anniversary of Benjamin Britten’s birth year, with a performance of Britten’s Canticle III: Still Falls the Rain in Houston.
Originally from Austin and central Texas, Coakwell currently lives near New Haven, Connecticut, where he also teaches a voice studio of Yale University undergraduate students. He holds an Artist Diploma in Vocal Performance from the Yale University School of Music and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, a Master of Music degree in Vocal Performance from Texas Tech University, and a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Texas at Austin.