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Davóne Tines’ Recital No. 1: MASS

“COVID has meant a lot of change,” says Northern Virginia-raised vocalist Davóne Tines, “and for me it’s meant slowing down, taking time to reflect, whether you want to or not, on how things have been in life.” One of those things, the bass-baritone says, is his Recital No. 1: MASS, a program that builds on his background performing in both the Black and European church traditions and uses the liturgical mass as a template. He pulls on works from Johann Sebastian Bach, 20th century African American composers, and contemporary works written specifically for him. Accompanied by Adam Nielsen on piano, he uses these works to interrogate each part of the ceremony, and he says his background performing in a functional context allows him to step into the lyrics. “One of the foundational things I learned while singing in the church,” he says, “was [that] music was never nebulous or abstract … you were saying words to communicate something to people.” “Credo” by Caroline Shaw is particularly intense, but moves smoothly into a piece from Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. Nielsen on piano is mesmerizing to watch, and the dynamic filmmaking of the recording keeps you locked in. Vocal performance was one of the first things to go during COVID, and of course we haven’t forgotten what a strong voice sounds like, but Tines’ performance reminds you how powerful it can be. By “Give Me Jesus” from Moses Hogan (1957-2003), you can see the sweat beading up on Tines’ face. “Recital No. 1: Mass” is available to watch at vocalartsdc.org to Feb. 1. $20.