Derek Lee Ragin is regarded as one of the foremost countertenors of our day. In great demand as a master of Baroque vocal style, he is also an inspired interpreter of contemporary music. His performances of such diverse repertoire are characterized by an unusual warmth and expressivity, and he has received unanimous accolades from critics and audiences throughout the world.
In recent seasons Mr. Ragin sang the 1739 (first performance) version of Handel's
Israel in Egypt
in Budapest, debuted
Der Name der Rose
by Munich composer Enjott Schneider (a composition for countertenor and organ written especially for him), and with the London-based group Florilegium, returned to the Budapest Early Music Festival and the Handel Festival in Halle, Germany. Mr. Ragin appeared in the Munich Opera's production of
Rinaldo, and toured Austria and Germany with the Vienna Konzertverein. He sang Handel's
in Cleveland with Apollo's Fire, collaborated with the Aulos Ensemble in a Christmas program at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and appeared in San Francisco with the American Bach Soloists. He also returned to Australia for performances in Sydney and Melbourne with the Brandenburg Orchestra. Last season he sang
and several other roles in the world premiere of Peter Eötvös'
Angels in America
at the Châtelet in Paris, appears in the world premiere of Jonathan Dawe's
at the Guggenheim, and will tour throughout the US with the baroque ensemble Rebel.
Other highlights include the New York Philharmonic world premiere of Kancheli's "And Farewell Goes Out Sighing"; performances of Bach's
St. John Passion
with the London Philharmonic; Gluck's
Orfeo ed Eurydice
in Vienna and at the Rheingau Music Festival; and Kancheli's
with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra at the Lucerne Festival and again in Stuttgart when the work was recorded for ECM. He performed Handel's
in St. Paul, Minnesota; concerts with the Cologne Chamber Orchestra in Cologne and Munich; and Bach cantatas with the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra in Milan and London which were recorded for Deutsche Grammophon. Other engagements include performances of
with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Louisville Bach Society; and the role of
Il Ritorno d'Ulisse
in Patria with the Netherlands Opera in Sydney.
In the summer of 1998, Mr. Ragin sang in Leonard Bernstein's
at Tanglewood with Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony. He has appeared at the Schleswig-Holstein Festival and at Salzburg, most recently in Gy?rgi Ligeti's re-written opera
Le Grand Macabre, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen and directed by Peter Sellars. The production was also presented in Paris at the Théâtre du Châtelet. He appeared in recital at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; sang the role of
at the Seattle Opera, and in a return engagement at the Metropolitan Opera, sang the role of
A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Derek Lee Ragin was born in West Point, New York and raised in Newark, New Jersey. He first studied the piano, and went on to begin his formal vocal training at the Newark Boys Chorus School. He later attended the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, where he majored in piano and music education. With a swiftly moving career, he made a series of highly acclaimed debuts, notably at the Metropolitan Opera in Handel's
; in recital at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1991, and at the Salzburg Festival in Gluck's
with the Monteverdi Choir and Orchestra in 1990. He made his London recital debut at Wigmore Hall in 1984, and was immediately re-engaged for the following year.
Mr. Ragin's discography includes Italian lute songs, Handel cantatas, and a disc of spirituals entitled
Ev'ry Time I Feel the Spirit, all for Channel Classics. He recorded the role of
Orfeo ed Euridice
for Philips Classical, the title roles in Handel's
for Erato, and the role of
Poro in the world premiere recording of Johan Adolf Hasse's
on the Capriccio label. With the Atlanta Symphony and Robert Shaw, Mr. Ragin performed and recorded Bernstein's
and the world premiere of the composer's
Missa Brevis. The recording subsequently won a 1995 Grammy Award, and his recording of Giulio Cesare with Concerto K?ln received a Gramophone Award in 1992.
Among Mr. Ragin's other awards are first place winner in the Purcell-Britten Prize for Concert Singers in England, and First Prize at the 35th International Music Competition in Munich. He also lent his voice to
Farinelli, a film about the famed 18th century castrato which won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Film in 1995. The soundtrack won the Golden Record award the following year in Cannes.