Elisa Sutherland is a mezzo-soprano known for her detailed, stylistic interpretations of both early and new music. This upcoming season, she will perform with New York ensemble Ekmeles, DC chamber choir The Thirteen, Philadelphia's contemporary music choir The Crossing, Grammy-award winning octet Roomful of Teeth, Chicago's Fonema Consort, the Bach Vespers series at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on the Upper West side, and her own early and new music sextet, Variant 6. 

Elisa has performed as a soloist with the American Bach Soloists and the Apollo Chorus of Chicago, singing Bach's Mass in b minor and Handel's Messiah. She recently starred as Dido in Brooklyn Music School's production of Dido and Aeneas. In addition to winning the Philadelphia District of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions in 2015, Elisa is the 2014 winner of the Lynne Harvey Cooper Award, and was the first-place winner of the inaugural Handel Aria Competition at the Madison Early Music Festival in 2013.

Elisa has performed at the Lucerne Festival in Switzerland, and was selected to represent Northwestern University in the Kennedy Center’s Millenium Conservatory Project in Washington D.C. In May of 2015, she was involved in the world premiere of Iddo Aharoney’s work, Kolot, with University of Chicago’s Contempo ensemble. Elisa has performed many new works by Chicago composers, including Michal Novotny’s A Birthday Present, Stacey Garrop’s In Eleanor’s Words, and as a cover for Robert Lombardo’s Against Forgetting with Fulcrum Point Ensemble. In 2014, she traveled to Miami and Mexico with Chicago’s Fonema Consort, a group dedicated to experimental and avant-garde chamber music.

Elisa graduated from Northwestern University, where she performed as Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, Meg in Little Women, Lucrezia in William Bolcom's one act, Lucrezia, Ottavia in L’incoronazione di Poppea, and Nancy in Albert Herring. Elisa is also remembered for her portrayal of Madeline Kahn in a production of Die Fledermaus.

Photo by Charles Mueller

Photo by Charles Mueller


Baroque Marathon Concert at the American Bach Soloists 2015 Summer Festival:

"Among the vocal soloists, Elisa Sutherland was one of the better performers as she traversed Ich bin vergnugt in meinem Leiden from the cantata for the Sunday after New Year, Ah Gott, wie manches Herzeleid." - Michael Strickland, SFCiviccenter


2015 performance of John Cage's Four Solos for Voice (93-96) with Ekmeles:

"The vocalists here catapulted an onslaught of words and textures from the stage as the lights periodically dimmed and got brighter. They warbled, clucked, croaked, rasped, mumbled, groaned and belted out incongruous snatches of lyrics ... At one point Ms Sutherland squeaked out, “Dandelions make nice candles if they are dried up... make a wish and blow out the candles.” - Rebecca Lentjes, Bachtrack

Regarding Elisa's solo in the Bienen Contemporary and Early Music Choir's 2014 performance of The Little Matchgirl Passion:

"It was painful." - David Lang, composer

From the 2013 Handel Aria Competition: 

"Sutherland's expressive "Dopo notte" from Ariodante was particularly impressive, her melismatic passages exhibiting an obvious ease in phrasing. Her singing range was broad, with very distinct contrasts in timbre between pitches and a distinctively lush tone on lower notes. Sutherland sang each piece with great attention to detail and near-flawless intonation, getting into character while embodying the technical and artistic facets of the music." - Marie Loeffler, The Daily Page

As Nancy in Albert Herring :

"Elisa Sutherland was a poised and affecting Nancy." - Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review