Performing works by Vaughan Williams and Finzi.
Anne Sears

The Westminster Choir College Faculty Recital Series will continue with a performance tenor by Thomas Faracco on Wednesday, February 9 at 7:30 p.m. in Bristol Chapel on the campus of Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton.

He will be joined by J.J. Penna, piano; Ruotao Mao, violin; Hanfang Zhang, violin; Jacqueline Watson, viola and Elizabeth Thompson, cello.  They will perform two works by Ralph Vaughan Williams:  Songs of Travel, a setting of texts by Robert Louis Stevenson and On Wenlock Edge with texts by A. E. Housman.  The program will also include Let Us Garlands Bring by Gerald Finzi, with texts by William Shakespeare.

Thomas Faracco, a frequent oratorio and concert soloist, has appeared with a number of orchestras throughout the country including the St. Louis, Minnesota and Vermont symphonies as well as the Cincinnati Opera and Marlboro Music Festival. His chamber music appearances include the world premiere of Four Cavalier Settings for tenor and guitar by Milton Babbitt at Merkin Hall in New York and Ravel’s Chansons Madecasses with the Lyrica Chamber Ensemble of Chatham, which was hailed by the Newark Star-Ledger as the best chamber music performance of a single work that season. His television and recording credits include a Christmas special featuring music from the Victorian era filmed in the historic Ballantine House in Newark for New Jersey Public Television.

Pianist J.J. Penna has performed extensively with a variety of eminent singers, including Kathleen Battle, Ying Huang, Kevin McMillan, Susan Narucki, Roberta Peters, Florence Quivar and Andreas Scholl. He recently assisted soprano Renée Fleming in her preparation for several recitals and orchestral appearances. His 2009-10 season included appearances in North and South America with Denyce Graves. He currently teaches at Westminster Choir College and The Juilliard School.

A native of Beijing, China, violinist Ruotao Mao graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music and earned his master’s degree in music from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University.  He was one of the founding members of the Beijing Piano Quartet, winning an Artists International audition and performing at Weill Hall of Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall of Lincoln Center. Mr. Mao serves as the concertmaster of the Delaware Valley Philharmonic Orchestra, Riverside Symphonia, the Bay-Atlantic Symphony and most recently, the Glimmerglass Opera Orchestra.

Violinist Hanfang Zhang is a native of Beijing, China. She received her Bachelor of Music from the Oberlin Conservatory and a Master of Music from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. In April 2000, as a result of winning a concerto competition, she performed Bela Bartok’s Rhapsody No.1 with the Rutgers University Orchestra. She also won the Oberlin Conservatory Concerto Competition in 1995 and performed Edward Elgar’s Violin Concerto with the Oberlin Orchestra under Louis Lane.

Violist Jacqueline Watson is an active freelancer in the tri-state area. She performs with the Princeton Symphony and as principal viola for Princeton Pro Musica. As a former member of the Meridian String Quartet, she appeared on numerous occasions at Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall and served on the faculty of both Queens College and the Turtle Bay Music School in New York City.

Cellist Elizabeth Thompson is a member of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and the Princeton Symphony Orchestra. She is principal cellist of the Riverside Symphonia as well as principal and continuo cellist for Princeton Pro Musica. She also performs with the New Philharmonic of New Jersey in Morristown and the Masterworks Chorus orchestra in New Jersey and New York.

Admission to the performance is free. Westminster Choir College of Rider University is located at 101 Walnut Lane in Princeton. To learn more call 609-921-2663 or go to