Julianne Baird has one of those magical voices that can slide easily from a Baroque opera to an oratorio without missing a beat.
It's one of the reasons she is one of the most recorded women in America, said Justin Raffa, artistic director for the Mid-Columbia Mastersingers.
Baird will be the featured guest soloist when the choral group opens its 2010-11 season at 7 p.m. Sept. 24 at Central United Protestant Church in Richland.
Joining Baird and the Mastersingers for this first concert will be harpsichordist Kraig Scott. The blend of music from composers Bach and Vivaldi should make for an evening of sublime sound.
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Baird is a professor of music at Rutgers University in New Jersey when she isn't performing across the country.
"Kraig is an early music specialist and a faculty member at Walla Walla University (in College Place)," Raffa said. "He's a graduate of the Eastman School of Music and he travels throughout the country performing as well as presenting master classes."
The concert repeats at 3 p.m. Sept. 26 at St. Patrick's Church in Walla Walla.
Collaborating with local and national artists to bring outstanding choral music to the Tri-Cities and surrounding regions is what the Mastersingers are all about, Raffa said.
Here's a glimpse at the rest of the group's regular season:
-- A Christmas Cantata, with music by composer Nils Lindberg, is 7 p.m. Dec. 17 in the auditorium at Hanford High School in Richland and Dec. 18 in the auditorium at Chiawana High School in Pasco.
The evening of holiday music features the Big Band sounds of the Columbia Basin Jazz Orchestra, under the direction of Randy Hubbs.
-- Son of the God Mass, by composer James Whitbourn, as well as other works by Benjamin Britten, John Rommereim and Reginald Unterseher, is 8 p.m. Feb. 4 at First Presbyterian Church in Pendleton, 7 p.m. Feb. 6 at St. Joseph's Chapel in Kennewick and 3 p.m. Feb. 6 in the auditorium at Hanford High in Richland.
Featured guest soloist will be saxophonist Barry Bergstrom.
-- Cantos de la Vida, a mix of compositions by Tomas Luis de Victoria, Pablo Casals and Paul Basler, is at 7 p.m. April 15 at St. Joseph's Church in Kennewick, and at 2 p.m. April 17 at Christ the King Catholic Church in Richland.
Guest artist will be Latin American poet and painter Gabriel Navar.
Season tickets are $50 for adults and $40 for seniors and college students. Individual tickets to each concert are $20 for adults and $15 for seniors and college students. All concerts are free to kids in grades K-12.
The Mastersingers also will have three special concerts that are not part of the regular season. On Nov. 28, starting at 3 p.m. the group will join the Mid-Columbia Symphony for a Mid-Columbia Christmas event that includes sing alongs for all ages at the Three Rivers Convention Center. Tickets are $10 to $20 and available at the Toyota Center box office.
Then on April 29 the Mastersingers will hold its annual "friendraiser" concert titled A Night in Vienna, featuring a selection of Brahms waltzes.
The Mastersingers wrap up the season by again joining musical forces with the symphony for A Sea Symphony starting at 8 p.m. May 21 at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick.
The event features the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams and the symphony will be conducted by Nicholas Wallin.
Tickets are $25 to $50 and are available at the coliseum box office or call 737-3722.
More information about the Mastersingers new season is at midcolumbiamastersingers.org.