The American soprano, Mary Ellen Callahan, won, in the spring of 1995, first prize in the Musica Sacra Bach Competition and third prize in the New York Oratorio Society Competition. In 1996 she won fellowships to both the Carmel Bach Festival and the Stony Brook Bach Aria Festival. Invited to return to the Carmel Bach Festival as soloist in subsequent seasons, she received reviews which spoke of her "exceptionally pure tone" and "compellingly lovely voice".
Mary Ellen Callahan appears frequently as soloist in a variety of repertoires from Renaissance to contemporary. In her recent solo recital debut at Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall, critics said "impressive in every way....voice is perfectly produced....poised and natural stage presence." In a performance of George Frideric Handel's Messiah with the San Antonio Symphony, she was praised for her "liquid silver fluency." She recently sang the Messiah with the Buffalo Philharmonic and the Alabama Symphony Orchestra under conductor Richard Westerfield. In Carnegie Hall, she has performed J.S. Bachís Christmas Oratorio (BWV 248) and Gustav Mahler's Eighth Symphony, and in New York City's Town Hall she has sung G.F. Handel's Alexander's Feast with the Dessoff Choirs. In the spring of 1996, Mary Ellen Callahan sang J.S. Bach's Wedding Cantata in an enthusiastically received performance with Musica Sacra conducted by Richard Westenburg.
Familiar to New York City audiences as soloist with the Central City Chorus, the Riverside Choral Society and in other venues, she has performed works including G. Mahler's Second Symphony, Johannes Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem, Gabriel Fauréís Requiem, G.F. Handel's Judas Maccabeus, the Haydn Lord Nelson Mass, W.A. Mozart's Solemn Vespers, Purcell's Dioclesian, and Schubert's Mass in G. With the Austin Civic Chorus in Texas, she has performed L.v. Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, J.S. Bach's St. John Passion (BWV 245), W.A. Mozart's Great Mass in C Minor, W.A. Mozart's Requiem and many other works. Last season (1999-2000) she sang G. Mahler's Eighth Symphony with conductor Bill McGlaughlin in his farewell performance with the Kansas City Symphony.
Mary Ellen Callahan's upcoming engagements include G. Mahlerís Symphony No. 8 with the Hartford Symphony and J.S. Bachís B Minor Mass (BWV 232) with the Washington Bach Consort. In July 2000, she rejoined the Washington Bach Consort for their tour of Germany, singing J.S. Bach's Cantata Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen (BWV 51), B Minor Mass (BWV 232), and the Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's Magnificat.
Mary Ellen Callahan can be heard in the world premiere recording of G.F. Handel's opera Faramondo, a Vox Classics CD, and sings music by Amy Beach on the Newport classics CD entitled Distant Playing Fields. She is also featured on a Helicon Classics CD called A European Christmas, and she is the guest soloist with the Russian Chamber Chorus of New York in a CD of contemporary Russian music by Yuri Yukechev entitled My Heart Is Ready, released by Helicon Classics. She can also be heard with the Washington Bach Consort and conductor J. Reilly Lewis in the J.S. Bach. and C.P.E. Bach Magnificats, available from Newport Classics.