". . . appealing bell-like clarity and surpassing sweetness." The New York Times
". . . one of the vocal highlights of the evening." The Roanoke Times
". . . performances filled with passion, charm, and coquettishness." New York Concert Review
". .. sparkling coloratura perfection." New York Concert Review
". . . confident and assured." New York Concert Review
"Penelope Shumate sang the soprano
solos with appealing bell-like clarity
and surpassing sweetness.
- The New York Times
In her performance career, Penelope Shumate has been described as having a “voice with power” and a “welcome fire” on stage. The New York Times praised her recent performance as the Soprano Soloist in Messiah for her David Geffen Hall (formerly Avery Fisher Hall) debut at Lincoln Center, stating she “sang the soprano solos with appealing bell-like clarity and surpassing sweetness.” For her return to David Geffen Hall, she performed as a soloist in Carmina Burana; a work that also marked her Carnegie Hall debut and return engagements. Additional Carnegie Hall soloist appearances include performances in Messiah, St. Nicolai Mass, Coronation Mass, Requiem (Verdi and Mozart), and Stabat Mater (Mealor). Also in New York City, she performed the title role in Naughty Marietta in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center.
This 2023-2024 season marks her 18th soloist appearance at Carnegie Hall in New York City where she will perform Messiah with Distinguished Concerts International New York. Her season's soloist debuts include appearances with Paducah Symphony Orchestra in Mahler's Symphony No. 4 , Lansing Symphony Orchestra in Carmina Burana, and Opéra Louisiane in the role of Hélène in their opera production of Hell's Bell (Le Timbre d'Argent). She also performs her "Bach to Broadway" recital at the Clarksville First Presbyterian Church. Her future season performances include returning to the Fourth Presbyterian Church "Noonday" Concert Series in downtown Chicago in her "Bach to Broadway" recital.
Penelope Shumate and Amy Tate Williams perform "Se giunge un dispetto" from Agrippina by Handel
"The mellifluous soprano Penelope Shumate puts her lines across with sincerity and attractive lucidity.”
- Opera News
2020/21, 2021/22, and 2022/23 season performances included appearances in both contemporary and traditional operas, concerts, orchestral works, and album recordings. Returning to Carnegie Hall in New York City, she performed as the soprano soloist in Carmina Burana and Messiah with Distinguished Concerts International New York. Her debut and return engagements with the Gateway Chamber Orchestra included performing as the soprano soloist in Mahler's Symphony No. 2 , La Pasión según San Marcos by Golijov, and Bach's Magnificat. Opera roles with the Muddy River Opera Company included Adina in L'Elisir d'Amore and the world premiere of the new opera Helen in the roles of the Aunt and Annabella. Returning to the Quincy Symphony Orchestra Association, she performed as the soprano soloist in Te Deum by Dvořák.
She recorded the title role in the new opera Kassandra, released by Parma/Navona Records and was the soprano soloist on the recording, "as the fireflies watched . . . chamber music of James M. Stephenson," released by Klavier Records. She also returned to the Galesburg Community Chorus and Knox-Galesburg Symphony Orchestra as the soprano soloist in the Fauré Requiem.
Her 2019-2020 season included debuts and return appearances. She debuted with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London for a CD recording of Messiah at Abbey Road Studios. She was the First Place Winner of the Oratorio division in The American Prize for Vocal Performance. For her debut with Opera in the heights, she performed the title role in the world premiere of the new opera, Kassandra. She was complimented in the New York Concert Review for her performance in Messiah at Carnegie Hall presented by DCINY; "bright, clear sound, excellent diction, real emotional involvement, and spot-on coloratura," and also performed this work with the Downers Grove Choral Society and the Morton Community Chorus and Orchestra. Her sixteenth soloist engagement at Carnegie Hall to perform Carmina Burana and Magnificat (Arnesen) was canceled due to COVID-19.
Penelope Shumate and John McMurtery perform
"Verde Verderol" and "Pájaro del Agua"
from Dos Poemas de Juan Ramón Jiménez by Joaquin Rodrigo
Her 2018-2019 engagements included performing Messiah at Carnegie Hall, and for her third consecutive season with the Muddy River Opera Company, she performed Laurie in The Tender Land. She appeared with Opera on the James for a concert of Opera and Musical Theatre favorites, and with the Peoria Area Civic Chorale for "An American Family Christmas." For her debut with the Downers Grove Choral Society she performed The Creation and Vesperae solennes de confessore, and she presented a recital of Opera, Musical Theatre, and Art Song selections at the Wayne Theatre Ross Performing Arts Center.
"radiant in her high-flying “Dulcissime,” a high D sounded nowhere near the top of her capability. Her “In trutina” had a lovely hushed eroticism." - New York Concert Review
Her 2017-18 season performances included her thirteenth appearance at Carnegie Hall in Messiah to perform the Thomas Beecham/Eugene Goossens' 1959 re-orchestration for full symphony orchestra and full chorus presented by Distinguished Concerts International New York; "Soprano Penelope Shumate projected her bright sound quite powerfully, and there was never a hint of being overwhelmed by the substantial forces of chorus and orchestra. Her “How beautiful are the feet” was delivered with devout feeling, but perhaps her most memorable moments were in “I know that my redeemer liveth,” in which her softer dynamic levels were absolutely haunting" (New York Concert Review). The Roanoke Times complimented her debut performance with the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra in Messiah; "her shimmer suited the recitatives about the angel and the shepherds in the fields. Her aria “Rejoice greatly” had the necessary energy and exaltation, providing one of the vocal highlights of the evening." She was also complimented in the New York Concert Review for her fourth soloist appearance at David Geffen Hall (formerly Avery Fisher Hall) at Lincoln Center where she performed Carmina Burana presented by DCINY; "radiant in her high-flying "Dulcissime," a high D sounded nowhere near the top of her capability. Her "In trutina" had a lovely hushed eroticism." She also returned with the Heartland Festival Orchestra (Symphony No. 9), Muddy River Opera Company (Pamina/Die Zauberflöte), and the McDonough County Choral Society (Requiem/Rutter). Her debuts included performing with the Galesburg Community Chorus and Orchestra (Dona nobis pacem and Missa in tempore belli), Fourth Presbyterian Church Concert Series in Chicago and Drake University ("Of Love and Peace"), Southern Illinois University (Carmina Burana), and the Lyric Opera of Chicago Northfield Chapter Community (Opera and Musical Theatre concert).
For her twelfth appearance at Carnegie Hall, during the 2016-2017 season, she was complimented by the New York Concert Review for her performance in Messiah presented by Distinguished Concerts International New York; “soprano Penelope Shumate and her sparkling coloratura perfection in “Rejoice greatly” and a very affecting “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” She debuted with the Muddy River Opera in the role of Micaëla in Carmen. Returning to the Rapides Symphony Orchestra she performed Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, and for her return with the Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, she performed Benedicite by Vaughan Williams.
For the 2015-2016 season, she returned to Carnegie Hall, where she performed in the Mozart Requiem and the NYC premiere of Mealor's Stabat Mater, presented by Distinguished Concerts International New York. The New York Concert Review described her singing as "the embodiment of light." Her many soloist debuts in this season included appearances with the Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra & Chorus (Requiem/Brahms), the Heartland Festival Orchestra (Carmina Burana), the Quincy Symphony Orchestra Association (“Ah! perfido" Op. 65), the Lynchburg Symphony Orchestra ("Carols and Candles"), The Virginia Consort (Requiem/Rutter), and the Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra (Symphony No. 9). She was also selected as the winner of the 2016 Chicago Oratorio Award.
Photo by JT Dozier
Photo by JT Dozier
“Soprano Penelope Shumate was a real find for me,
with a voice that has been described previously in the
New York Concert Review as “radiant,” and I can see
The clear tones were true and expressive, one of the
best “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion” that I have
ever heard live.
Her “I know that my redeemer liveth” was lovely.”
- New York Concert Review
Her 2014-2015 season engagements included her third appearance at David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center where she performed in Messiah presented by Distinguished Concerts International New York; “Soprano Penelope Shumate was a real find for me, with a voice that has been described previously in New York Concert Review as “radiant,” and I can see why. The clear tones were true and expressive, one of the best “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion” that I have ever heard live. Her “I know that my redeemer liveth” was lovely.” (New York Concert Review). She appeared in this same work with Peoria’s Cathedral of St. Mary. Returning to Carnegie Hall, she performed in the Verdi Requiem, also presented by DCINY. “Penelope Shumate created some lovely pianissimo floaty high notes, and these were her best quality, which is no small achievement.” (New York Concert Review). She also performed a recital and presented a Master Class at Liberty University. For her debut with the McDonough Choral Society, she performed in Fauré’s Requiem. Returning to Acadiana Symphony Orchestra, she appeared in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. She was also recognized by The American Prize in their 2015 Vocal Competition with a citation for "Excellence in Oratorio Performance."
As a concert soloist, she has received critical acclaim as the Soprano Soloist in Carmina Burana; “Penelope Shumate looked stunning,” “a beautiful, flexible, dramatic voice,” “magnificent with her brilliant lyric voice caressing her music and soaring effortlessly,” She has performed this work with Heartland Festival Orchestra, Rapides Symphony Orchestra, Acadiana Symphony Orchestra, Oklahoma City Philharmonic/Canterbury Choral Society, Distinguished Concerts International New York, Berkshire Choral Festival, MidAmerica Productions, Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra, Schola Cantorum of Waynesboro, and Southern Illinois University. She has been equally praised for her performances in Messiah; a work she has sung with the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, Santa Fe Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Distinguished Concerts International New York, MidAmerica Productions, Drexel University Chorus and Orchestra, Lynchburg College Choral Union and Orchestra, and at the Peoria Cathedral of St. Mary.
Penelope Shumate and Lise Keiter perform "Art is calling for me" from The Enchantress by Victor Herbert
Other oratorio performances have included Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Heartland Festival Orchestra, Rapides Symphony Orchestra, Acadiana Symphony Orchestra, Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra, Berkshire Choral Festival, and Louisiana State University Chorus and Orchestra. With Drexel University Chorus and Orchestra, she has performed in Magnificat (Bach and Vivaldi), Theresienmesse, and Elijah; the later work she also performed with Schola Cantorum of Waynesboro. She also appeared with Little Orchestra Society of New York in Vivaldi's Dixit Dominus. With the Louisiana Sinfonietta, she sang Beethoven’s tour-de-force, concert aria, “Ah! perfido!”
In the genre of opera, she has been praised for her portrayal of Violetta in La Traviata; “affecting coloratura and convincing actress who breathes life – and death – into Violetta in convincing fashion,” “crystal clear soprano . . . an exquisite Violetta . . . very beautiful,” “always in control of her powerful and supple voice,” “a beautiful vocal and dramatic performance from start to finish.” She has performed this role with Opera on the James, Duluth Festival Opera, and Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra, as well as excerpts of the opera with Lake George Opera; a company where she also performed the role of Donna Anna in excerpts of Don Giovanni. In the role of Galatea in Acis and Galatea with Opera Roanoke and Duluth Festival Opera, she has also been complimented; “. . . wonderful as Galatea,” “a pleasing clear soprano well suited to the role.” With Opera Roanoke, she has also performed the High Priestess in Aïda, and Gilda in excerpts of Rigoletto, in addition to opera galas and recitals.
Penelope Shumate and Michael Borowitz perform
"Aus alten Märchen" from Dichterliebe by Schumann
Her portrayal of Musetta in La Bohème, has been praised as “sexy and feisty,” “a particular delight,” “her tone was shimmering and clear” (Baltimore Concert Opera, Opera on the James, Center City Opera Theatre). With Opera on the James, she also performed the role of Fiordiligi in Così Fan Tutte, and appeared in many opera gala concerts. Additional operatic performances have included Pamina in Die Zauberflöte and Micaëla in Carmen (Muddy River Opera), Adele in Die Fledermaus (Opera on the James, Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra), Juliette in excerpts from Roméo et Juliette (Opera Company of Philadelphia), and performing in an opera gala for Annapolis Opera. A favorite of the Baltimore Opera, she performed the roles of Esmeralda (The Bartered Bride), Lisa (La Sonnambula), Papagena (Die Zauberflöte), High Priestess (Aïda), Dew Fairy (Hansel and Gretel), Shepherd Boy (Tannhäuser), and performed numerous opera concerts. Her roles with Philadelphia Concert Opera have included Konstanze (Die Entführung aus dem Serail), Belinda (Dido and Aeneas), Miss Silverpeal (The Impressario), and Don Ettore (La Canterina). For the Jacksonville Lyric Opera, she performed Hanna in The Merry Widow. She also performed Cunegonde in excerpts from Candide with Opera Roanoke and Drexel University Chorus and Orchestra.
She has also been an award winner with the Gerda Lissner Foundation, Marie E. Crump Vocal Arts Competition, MacAllister Awards, New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera Vocal Competition, Annapolis Opera Vocal Competition, The American Prize, Octave Artist Management Excellence in Arts, James Parkinson Opera Competition, Kennett Symphony Orchestra Vocal Competition, and the Altamura/Caruso International Vocal Competition.