NYCHORAL 2016-2017 CONCERT SEASON
Richard Tucker Music Foundation Gala
Sunday, October 30, 2016 at 6:30 p.m.
Asher Fisch, Conductor
2016 Richard Tucker Award Winner Tamara Wilson
NYChoral has appeared at the annual Richard Tucker Music Foundation Gala since 1993, with many of the performances broadcast on PBS. Dubbed the “Heisman Trophy of Opera,” the Tucker Award is conferred annually on an American singer who has reached a high level of artistic achievement and who is on the threshold of a major international career. The 2016 winner is soprano Tamara Wilson. NYChoral has been privileged to perform at the Gala with many of the brightest stars of the opera world including Reneé Fleming, Stephanie Blythe, Stephen Costello, Joyce DiDonato, Isabelle Leonard and many more.
Joseph Vella The ‘Hyland’ Mass: A Prayer for Unity in Diversity (U.S. Premiere)
Presented by the Order of Malta, American Association, U.S.A.
David Hayes, Conductor
Wednesday, November 9, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York, NY
New York philanthropist Christopher Hyland commissioned renowned Maltese composer Joseph Vella to write a Mass with an underlying theme of universal peace. The result was The ‘Hyland’ Mass: A Prayer for Unity in Diversity. Vella’s approach to composing this Mass was to combine traditional sections of the Mass (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei) with non-liturgical, semi-religious texts to highlight the universal theme of the piece. The texts Vella incorporates use five different languages: English (John Donne), Maltese (The Old Testament), German (Niemayer), French (Lamartine) and Italian (Dante). The work is written for solo quartet, boy soprano, mixed choir and orchestra.
This performance is presented by the Order of Malta, American Association, U.S.A. in collaboration with the St. Patrick’s Cathedral Choir, Dr. Jennifer Pascual, Music Director.
Eugene Kohn, Conductor
Thursday, December 15, 2016
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Sunday, December 18, 2016
Prudential Center, Newark, NJ
NYChoral has regularly appeared with superstar tenor Andrea Bocelli since 2000. That performance was broadcast live from Liberty State Park on PBS. The Italian classical crossover singer, recording artist and singer-song writer has recorded fourteen solo studio albums, of both pop and classical music, three greatest hits albums, and nine complete operas, selling over 80 million records worldwide. Bocelli has had success as a crossover performer bringing classical music to the top of international pop charts and to sell-out audiences around the world.
Christmas at Alice Tully Hall
David Hayes and Michael A. Ciavaglia, Conductors
Justin Hopkins, Baritone
Frederick Ballentine, Tenor
Wednesday, December 21, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.
Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center
This year’s annual Christmas concert will celebrate two of the greatest composer/arrangers and conductors of choral music, Robert De Cormier and Robert Shaw. Their choral arrangements are performed by choral groups of all kinds throughout the United States and around the world and are beloved by singers and audiences alike.
NYChoral Music Director Emeritus Robert De Cormier is the 2016 recipient of Chorus America’s Michael Korn Founders Award and is one of the most prolific arrangers of American and international folk music in the world. De Cormier studied conducting at the Juilliard School with Robert Shaw, and Alice Parker, Shaw’s longtime collaborator, was a classmate. De Cormier was music director of NYChoral for 17 years and was the founder and conductor of The De Cormier Singers and the Vermont-based professional ensemble Counterpoint.
Born 100 years ago in 1916, Robert Shaw was arguably the most significant figure in American choral music in the twentieth century. He was founder of New York’s Collegiate Chorale and the Robert Shaw Chorale. During his long career he came to be considered the “dean” of American choral conductors and his work set new choral standards in the United States. Although best known for classical repertoire, Shaw’s recordings include sea shanties, sacred music and spirituals, Irish folk tunes and Christmas albums that have remained bestsellers since their release. Shaw joined forces with choral composer and conductor Alice Parker on arrangements of folksongs, hymns, spirituals and Christmas music that are considered a mainstay of choral music.
Joseph Haydn Missa in angustiis ('Lord Nelson' Mass)
Maurice Duruflé Requiem, Op. 9
David Hayes, Conductor
Vanessa Vasquez, Soprano
Abigail Fischer, Mezzo-soprano
Zach Borichevsky, Tenor
Sava Vemic, Bass
Monday, February 6, 2017 at 8 p.m.
Haydn scholar and biographer H.C. Robbins Landon wrote that Haydn’s Missa in angustiis (Mass for troubled times) is “arguably Haydn’s greatest single composition.” Written in 1798, it is one of the six late masses composed for the Esterhazy family, his lifelong patrons. 1798 was a troubling time for Haydn and the monarchies of Europe. Napoleon had won four major battles with Austria in less than one year. He invaded Egypt to destroy Britain’s trade routes to the East and the prospect of Napoleon gaining control over the Mediterranean had European noblemen seeing visions of the guillotine. What Haydn did not know when he wrote the mass, but what he and his audience learned, possibly on September 15, the date of the first performance, was that on August 1 British Admiral Horatio Nelson cornered Napoleon’s fleet near Alexandria and blew it to pieces. Because of this coincidence the mass gradually came to be known as the Lord Nelson Mass.
The Lord Nelson Mass is Haydn’s largest mass and is one of his most well-known choral compositions. The Mass, written for chorus, orchestra and solo quartet, is notable for the “fireworks” demanded of the soprano soloist throughout the piece and displays the full technical mastery, variety and surprise of Haydn’s late period. This is the only one of Haydn’s masses where minor keys predominate. His mastery of counterpoint is on full display in the extensive two-part choral canon that opens the ‘Credo,’ in the fugues that conclude the ‘Gloria’ and in the triumphant ‘Dona nobis pacem.’ Nothing but genius is on display in every note of the Lord Nelson Mass.
Maurice Duruflé was a composer atypical for his time. A contemporary of Bernstein, Stravinsky, Shostakovich and Britten, he lived in Paris during one of its most chaotic and creative periods (think Sartre, Picasso, Chagall) and yet he chose not to be part of the salons of the literary, artistic and musical elite. He was a conservative in a radical world. In 1969 he expressed outrage after hearing a jazz mass!
Duruflé was a prodigy who at age 10 was sent to be a chorister at the school serving the Cathedral at Rouen. Later he studied in Paris with Charles Tournemire, a noted composer and organist who was known for his chant-like organ improvisations. Duruflé was considered one of the greatest organists of his time for his virtuosic playing and possessed an unparalleled understanding of harmony and Gregorian chant that give his compositions purity and grace.
Duruflé composed very little and the Requiem, Op. 9, written for chorus, mezzo-soprano and baritone soloists, organ and orchestra, is his most well known and most performed work. Written in 1945 and dedicated to the memory of his father, the music, inspired by Gregorian chant, is traditional in form but is rich in nontraditional harmonies. Unlike many settings of the Requiem Mass, Duruflé omitted the fiery ‘Dies irae’ (‘Day of Wrath’) and included the more contemplative ‘Pie Jesu,’ ‘Libera me’ and ‘In Paradisum’ from the burial service just as Fauré did. This makes Duruflé’s Requiem calm and meditative unlike the dramatic Requiems of Mozart, Verdi and Berlioz. Duruflé’s Requiem is a work of lucent beauty and is a favorite of choral singers, organ enthusiasts and audiences alike.
James MacMillan St. Luke Passion (New York Premiere)
David Hayes, Conductor
Jason Roberts, Organist
Brooklyn Youth Chorus
Saturday, April 8, 2017 at 8 p.m.
St. Bartholomew’s Church, New York, NY
NYCHORAL will host “A Conversation about James MacMillan’s St. Luke Passion” on Sunday, April 2, 2:30 p.m., at the Bruno Walter Auditorium at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. Panelists will include Music Director David Hayes, Chief of the Music Division of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts George Boziwick, and theologian Rev. Dr. Richard J. Dillon. The entrance is at 111 Amsterdam Avenue, between 64th and 65th Streets. Admission is free, and reservations are strongly encouraged and can be made here.
James MacMillan is the pre-eminent Scottish composer of his generation. His music combines rhythmic excitement, raw emotional power and spirituality. His choral music embraces sacred and secular, ancient and modern, meditative simplicity and rich ornamentation. MacMillan's faith is central to his creativity and informs much of his choral music, whether capturing a mood of medieval meditation or reaching towards a state of spiritual ecstasy or contemplative peace.
His St. Luke Passion, written in 2013, is the second of four planned works, each based on one of the Gospels which aim to approach the differing passion accounts from contrasting stylistic perspectives. The St. Luke Passion is written for mixed chorus, children's chorus, chamber orchestra and organ. The adult chorus assumes the roles of evangelist and persecutors in music that is often highly dramatic. The words of Jesus are sung by a children's chorus representing the innocence of Christ. The writing for the children is either in unison, symbolizing the oneness of Christ, or in three parts signifying the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The piece is framed by a Prelude exploring the Annunciation to set the scene, and a Postlude that goes beyond the Crucifixion to the Resurrection and Ascension.
NYChoral will be joined by the acclaimed Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Dianne Berkun Menaker, Artistic Director and Organist Jason Roberts at New York's historic St. Bartholomew's Church on Park Avenue. This performance is the evening before Palm Sunday which marks the beginning of Holy Week.
BROOKLYN YOUTH CHORUS, celebrating its 25th anniversary, was recently named WQXR's 2016-2017 Artists-in-Residence. The Chorus is a collective of young singers and vocal ensembles re-envisioning choral music performance through artistic innovation, collaboration, and their distinctively beautiful sound.
With an incredibly versatile range and unique repertoire, Brooklyn Youth Chorus combines intensive vocal training and music study with exceptional performances. The Chorus has been praised by The New York Times as a "consistently bold organization" that regularly commissions and presents new music in genre-defying forms. The Chorus encompasses over 650 students in its core after-school and public school outreach programs. Classes take place at their Cobble Hill headquarters and locations in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Sunset Park, East Flatbush, and Red Hook, Brooklyn. For more information about the Brooklyn Youth Chorus please visit http://brooklynyouthchorus.org/.
Organist, JASON ROBERTS became St. Bartholomew's Associate Director of Music, Organist and the Director of the Boy and Girl Choristers in May 2014. Previously Mr. Roberts was at St. James's Church in West Hartford, CT, where he built one of the largest choral programs in the Hartford area, which included 35 children and more than 30 adults. He holds degrees from Rice University, Yale University and the Manhattan School of Music. Mr. Roberts is a sought-after recitalist in the U.S. and last summer was chosen to play at the Regional Convention of the American Guild of Organists in Hartford, CT. An avid improviser, Mr. Roberts won first prize at the AGO National Competition in Organ Improvisation in 2008 and was a finalist at the St. Alban's International Organ Competition in 2011(Improvisation).
The Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ at St. Bartholomew's Church is the largest in New York City and one of the great examples of the American Classic Organ. Over several decades the organ was enlarged through successive rebuilding to become an exceptional instrument for accompanying large choral works and the performance of a broad spectrum of organ literature. For more information about St. Bartholomew's organ please visit http://stbarts.org/music/pipe-organ/.