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Co-Founders, Joe Damon Chappel & Michele Kennedy

Joe Chappel headshotJOE DAMON CHAPPELBASS-BARITONE JOE DAMON CHAPPEL, a native of Nashville, is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, where he was a William Warfield Scholar. For many years, he was principal bass soloist with Bach Vespers at Holy Trinity (New York City) and has performed with Bachworks, NY Collegium, Early Music New York, Les Gouts-Réunis, Vox Vocal Ensemble, and was a founding member of the Grammy-nominated Tiffany Consort, now known as TENET. A champion of new and rarely heard music, Joe made his Lincoln Center debut in 2007 as the bass soloist in the world premiere of Andrew Fowler’s Directions for Singing and has made debuts at Alice Tully Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, and Carnegie Hall. He has performed several works composed around the events of 9/11, including the world premieres of Anthony Davis’s Restless Morning at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival, and Joelle Wallach’s Firefighter’s Prayer as part of the St. Louis Symphony’s “On Stage at Powell” recital series. Most recently, Joe was a vocalist in the award-winning four-continent world tour of Philip Glass and Robert Wilson’s critically acclaimed Einstein on the Beach. In 2018 he rejoined composer Matthew Welch at National Sawdust for the world premier of And Here We Are, a work which he helped workshop at Merkin Hall, as part of the Experiments in Opera series. In April 2017, he joined director James Darrah as the Immigration Officer in Opera Omaha's production of Jonathan Dove's Flight, and he also made his debut that same year at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, as Fodder in the world premiere of Roddy Bottum’s Sasquatch. Joe will rejoin director Thaddeus Strassberger in the spring on 2022 for a production of Salome with Tulsa Opera.

Michele Kennedy headshotMICHELE KENNEDYSOPRANO MICHELE KENNEDY is a versatile specialist in early classical and new music. Praised by The Washington Post as “a fine young soprano with a lovely voice" possessing "a graceful tonal clarity that is a wonder to hear" (San Francisco Chronicle), Michele's recent venues include Carnegie Hall, Davies Symphony Hall, Bard Summerscape, Getty Museum, Lincoln Center, Powell Symphony Hall, and Washington National Cathedral.

Michele has been pleased to sing the Bach Magnificat, St. John Passion, and Christmas Oratorio, Charpentier In Nativitatem, Handel Messiah & Dixit Dominus, Mozart Coronation & C Minor Masses, Faure Requiem, and Undine Smith Moore's Scenes from the Life of a Martyr in recent seasons. She has been featured in The Monteverdi Vespers with Dark Horse Consort & Voices of Ascension, Bach Cantatas with American Classical Orchestra, and works of Caccini/Strozzi with Folger Consort. Last season Michele debuted with Bach Society of Saint Louis (Poulenc Gloria), San Francisco Choral Society (Christmas Oratorio), Trinity Wall Street Choir (Messiah), and The San Francisco Ballet (Mendelssohn's Midsummer). Under the pandemic, she’s recently debuted with Opera Lafayette – From Lamentation to Liberation – and with Les Délices in their recent Baroque Women in Music digital salon, profiled here by Cleveland Classical.

Michele's new music adventures include Aaron Siegel's I Will Tell You The Truth About This at New York City's Schomburg Center, David Lang’s True Pearl as well as selected songs with Contemporaneous, and featured art songs by Florence Price and a world premiere by Dina Shilleh in recital with Mimesis Ensemble at Carnegie Hall. After debuting Julia Wolfe's Fire In My Mouth with The New York Philharmonic & The Crossing in 2019, Michele will do a national tour with Lorelei Ensemble next year in the world premiere of Wolfe's Her Story – a celebration of women’s right to vote – with the Nashville, San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, and National Symphony Orchestras.

A graduate of Yale University and NYU, Michele is committed to working toward greater equity and programmatic representation for BBI, LGBTQ, and female voices across the field. She aspires to further this work from her living room while sheltering at home. A lover of the California redwoods and bay vistas, Michele lives in Oakland with her husband, visual artist Benjamin Thorpe. www.michele-kennedy.com

Open Gates Project is a project of Gotham Early Music Scene, and works towards engaging more artists of color on stages and growing the diversity of our audiences.