In honor of the inauguration of President Carol Quillen, soprano Melissa Givens returned to Davidson on October 18, 2011, to offer a recital in celebration of Davidson's Eighteenth President. Her Common Hour performance in Tyler-Tallman Hall in Sloan Music Center moved audiences, as her melodious voice carried a challenging vocal program with intense feeling and poise. Later in the afternoon, Givens performed once again in the inauguration ceremony, accompanied by Dr. William Lawing, trumpet, and Mr. Michael Rowland, piano. As a member of the Class of 1989, Givens also proudly led all in attendance in the singing of the Alma Matter. Her exuberance in taking part of this milestone in Davidson's history was mirrored only by the joy she shared with all who were able to attend her powerful performances.
Givens has long been resoundingly praised by audiences and critics alike for her rich, liquid tone, intelligent, musical interpretations, and her expressiveness and elegance on the stage. A singer whose music making is “consistently rewarding” and “a pleasure to hear,” Givens is also known for her versatility, regularly performing repertoire from the Baroque era through music of the 21st century. Indeed, a performance of Bach’s St. John Passion, led Charles Ward of the Houston Chronicle to proclaim her “the best, singing with effortless tone and gracious musicality.”
She most recently appeared as Dido in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas at the Baroque Music Festival in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and, in 2010, premiered the Friedenskantate of noted Houston composer Ann Gebuhr, in Leipzig’s Thomaskirche. In 2009, Givens sang the role of Maria in the European tour of Pitié!, a production by Belgium’s Les Ballets C de la B and recorded the soundtrack for Cypres Records. Other recent performances include Porgy and Bess with the National Philharmonic Orchestra and Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy with the Houston Symphony Orchestra.
Givens is an Assistant Professor of Voice at Houston Baptist University and performs with various chamber ensembles, including Ars Lyrica Houston and the Grammy© nominated Conspirare: Craig Hella Johnson and Company of Voices. Givens is featured on the latest compact discs from both Ars Lyrica and Conspirare. She can also be heard on her solo compact disc, let the rain kiss you, available at www.melissagivens.com.
Davidson hopes to welcome back Givens soon for another visit and encore performance.