History of Choral Arts New England

Choral Arts New England, originally known as the Alfred Nash Patterson Foundation, was formed in 1980 as a memorial to Alfred Nash Patterson, who organized his first civic chorus in the mid-1940s and for the next thirty-five years exerted to the utmost his talent, musical intelligence, charm and élan to the furtherance of the choral arts. He lifted choral music in the Boston area from a kind of doldrums—largely rewarmed chestnuts—by means of innovative programming, merciless auditioning, and meticulous (albeit merry) rehearsals. Introducing earliest liturgical works unheard for generations and daring new compositions being heard for the first time, he added to audience enjoyment, choral skill, and the programming potential for symphony conductors. By turns he prepared choruses for Koussevitsky, Munch, Monteux, Bernstein, Shaw, Leinsdorf, Haitinck, and others.

Mr. Patterson taught choral conducting at the Berkshire Music Center, Tanglewood, and was a frequent member of the regional auditions committee for the Metropolitan Opera. He served as organist and choir director first at Christ Church, Cambridge, and later at The Church of the Advent and at the Old South Church in Boston. He conducted, at various times (in addition to that first invention, the Chorus Pro Musica) the Brandeis University Chorus, the Cape Cod Chorale, the Worcester County Music Association, and the Worcester Festival Chorus.

"Bud" Patterson loved the choral arts and all those who practiced them, and so it is in his memory that grants in his name seek to further the cause of these arts in New England. On his death in 1979, many spontaneous gifts were received, and donors suggested the commissioning of new choral works, building a library of choral music, festivals, tours, and workshops would be fitting projects for funding. A temporary committee appointed a Board of Directors and assembled a committee of distinguished music specialists to review project proposals and to recommend awards. The initial goal of $75,000, set by the Board's campaign committee, was nearly 100% pledged, and the funds were deposited with the Permanent Charity Fund of Boston (now known as the Boston Foundation) for prudent investment management. In November of 1989, the Board of Directors voted to organize a campaign to add $250,000 to the Endowment Fund, said fund drive to take place in 1990 and 1991. In 1995, a fundraising concert featuring the Boston recital debut of baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky was held in Symphony Hall. Appearing with Mr. Hvorostovsky was Boston's Russian Chamber Chorus, conducted by Andrei Roudenko. $15,000 was added to the endowment from concert receipts.

The Board adopted the following Mission Statement in 1996:  Choral Arts New England provides resources to encourage choral excellence in New England, primarily through Alfred Nash Patterson Grants.  At the same time, the Board adopted the tag line, “Encouraging choral excellence through Alfred Nash Patterson grants,” which is to be used with the organization name whenever possible.