Highlights of the 2018–2019 Season in New England

The New England choral community is as vigorous as ever, and many great performances are scheduled throughout the coming year. Listed below are just a few highlights for the season that starts in September 2018. Currently, about 450 performances are listed on the Choral Arts New England events calendar through June 2019; that number will probably double by the end of the year. See the online calendar for complete, up-to-date listings.

The season includes several particularly noteworthy events. In November, CONCORA will perform Considering Matthew Shepard, Craig Hella Johnson's moving response to the brutal murder of a University of Wyoming student due to his sexual orientation (later in November, the Kearsage Chorale will perform the final movement of the work). In May, Andover Choral Society will perform (possibly premiere) a major work by Florence Price (1887-1953), who was the first African-American woman to have a composition played by a major orchestra. Price, who graduated from high school in Little Rock, Arkansas at age 14, attended New England Conservatory and composed over three hundred works in her lifetime. Later that month, the Manchester Choral Society will perform music of William Grant Still (1895–1978), who was the first African-American to conduct a major symphony orchestra in the United States, in a program that also includes living composer Kirke Mechem’s Songs of the Slave. Also in May, Bella Voce Women's Chorus of Vermont performs Robert De Cormier's They Called Her Moses, based on the lfe of Harriet Tubman (music about Tubman is also part of a May program by Cantilena in Arlington, Mass.).

There are several commemorations of the centenary of the Armistice ending World War I (November 11, 1918), with thoughtful programs by Boston Cecilia in October, the Mendelssohn Choir of Connecticut in November, and the Rhode Island Philharmonic (with the Providence Singers), also in November. Celebrations continue of the centennary of Leonard Bernstein's birth with two full performances of his ambitious composition Mass (in October, in Hartford—paired with the Brahms Requiem—and in May, in Keene N.H.), and excerpts of Mass in November by the Heritage Chorale, as well as four performances of Chichester Psalms.

Large-scale choral performances this season include Dvořák's Stabat Mater (Boston Symphony Orchestra), Anotonio Estévez's Cantata Criolla (Boston Symphony Orchestra), Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 2, "Lobgesang" (Greenwich Choral Society, Hartford Symphony), and Rachmaninoff's The Bells (Commonwealth Chorale, Portland Symphony), as well as J.S. Bach's B Minor Mass (Back Bay Chorale), Mahler's Symphony No. 2 (Boston Symphony Orchestra, Springfield Symphony Orchestra), and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 (Claflin Hll Symphony, Wellesley Symphony, Pioneer Valley Symphony, Mendelssohn Choir of Connecticut, Chorus of Westerly).

Requiems remain popular, with the "regular" performances of Requiems by Mozart (6), Fauré (4), Brahms (3), Verdi (2), and Duruflé (1), but there are also Requiems by Herbert Howell and Bob Chilcott, and a "New England Requiem" by Scott Perkins. New works with New England themes are Ron Perera's Merrimack, commissioned by the New England Classical Singers, and Erich Stem's Arlington, commissioned by the Arlington-Belmont Chorale. A major new commission this year is James Kallembach's Audubon, a concert-length oratorio about the famous naturalist and frontiersman, written for Chorus pro Musica.

This is a good year for J.S. Bach's Magnificat: there are seven performances, most during the pre-Christmas season. There are also performances of Magnificats by Imant Raminsh, Arvo Pärt, and Antonio Vivaldi. It also seems to be a good year for odes to British royalty, with several performances of music by Purcell and Handel in honor of Queen Anne and Queen Mary.

More can be found in the lists below, on the choral calendar, and on the websites of the performers.

Note: The following listing is an expanded version of that in the September 2018 printed newsletter.

Premieres and choral commissions (by composer)

“Great” or especially interesting works

Old Favorites

Special programs (a few of many)—Chronological.

  • Vermont Sings For Peace. Eleventh annual concert joining area choruses in song to raise money for social justice. Counterpoint [VT], 9/22/18.
  • Music of the Sistine Chapel. Gregorio Allegri: Miserere; and music of Palestrina, Anerio, Josquin, and Morales. Music is accompanied by a showing of ceiling frescoes and tapestries. Cantilena Chamber Choir [MA], 10/14/18.
  • Jeffrey Van: A Procession Winding Around Me (text by Walt Whitman); Herbert Howell: Requiem. Boston Cecilia [MA], 10/28/18.
  • Psalms and Sonnets. Franz Schubert: Psalm 23; Felix Mendelssohn: Psalm 43; Jean Berger: Brazilian Psalm; Ralph Vaughan Williams: Sonnet 71; David Rakowski: Sonnet 22; George Shearing: Songs and Sonnets. Master Singers of Lexington [MA], 11/3/18.
  • Dan Forrest: Lux (Worcester premiere); Bob Chilcott: Requiem. Salisbury Singers [MA], 11/10/18.
  • Henry Purcell: Funeral Sentences and Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary; Jubilate Deo; Scott Perkins: A New England Requiem; Jubilate Deo; John Taverner: A Song for Athene. Crescendo [CT], 11/11/18.
  • Leonard Bernstein: Mass (selections); West Side Story suite; selections from Peter Pan; selections from Candide. Heritage Chorale [MA], 11/18/18.
  • Abbie Betinis: Jerusalem Luminosa; Emma Lou Diemer: Four Carols; Joan Szymko: The Peace of Wild Things; Frances McCollin: In the Bleak Midwinter; and others. Cantilena [MA], 12/2/18.
  • Martin Luther King in This Time: A Concert of Spirituals. With the Baltimore Urban Choral Arts Society. Cantilena Chamber Choir [MA], 1/13/19.
  • Passport to America. Peter Boyer: Ellis Island: the Dream of America; Igor Stravinsky: The Star Spangled Banner;Circus Polka: for A Young Elephant; Ernest Bloch: America, An Epic Rhapsody in Three Parts (Part 3); Franz Waxman: Sunset Boulevard Suite; Bright Sheng: Overture to Dream of the Red Chamber. Cape Symphony/Chatham Chorale [MA], 1/22, 1/23/19.
  • James Primosch: Matins for solo oboe, chorus, and string orchestra; Arvo Pärt: Te Deum; Bela Bartók: Divertimento for Strings. Cantata Singers [MA], 1/25/19.
  • Women Composers of Europe. Chamber music by Fanny Mendelssohn, Francesca Caccini, Pauline Viardot, Dora Pejačević, and Clara Schumann. Cantata Singers [MA], 2/8/19.
  • American Folk Songs. Gwyneth Walker: River Songs; Aaron Copland: American Folk Songs; and folk song arrangements by Mack Wilberg. Assabet Valley Mastersingers [MA], 3/17/19.
  • J.S. Bach: Singet dem Herrn; William Bolcom: Lady Liberty; Johannes Brahms: Five Songs, opus 104; Benjamin Britten: Two Part Songs; Michael Haydn: Te Deum; Thomas Stumpf: New work. Master Singers of Lexington [MA], 3/23/19.
  • John Corigliano: Fern Hill; Jake Runestad: Hope of Loving; Eric Whitacre: Five Hebrew Love Songs; Tarik O’Regan: Triptych. Boston Cecilia [MA], 3/24/19.
  • Voices of Freedom. A multicultural event featuring the Zamir Chorale of Boston, VOICES 21C, and the Boston Community Gospel Choir. Each group will separately perform songs from the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian cultures, respectively, and then join together to perform music that transcends the collective cultures. Zamir Chorale of Boston [MA], 3/24/19.
  • City on the Hill: Early Hymns and Spirituals of New England. Songs by the religious groups who came to New England, from the Puritans to the anthem-singing Universalists of the 18th century, to the utopian Shakers, performed by voices, fiddle, flute, guitar and cello. Boston Camerata [MA], 4/5/19.
  • Settings of Psalm 116 by Heinrich Schütz, Christoph Demantius, and Johann Hermann Schein, as well as Gregorian Chant and works by Benedictus Ducis and Orlando di Lasso and J.S. Bach; modern settings of the psalm Jonny Priano and others with contemporary poetry by Bruce McEver, Frances Roth and Juliet Mattila. Crescendo [CT], 4/7/19.
  • Songs of the Lights: A Salute to Canada. Imant Raminsh: Magnificat; Ave verum corpus; folksong settings of Stephan Chatman and Donald Patriquin. ChoralArt [ME], 4/14/19.
  • Women Composers of America. Chamber music of twentieth and twenty-first century American women composers, including Ruth Crawford Seeger, Amy Beach, Missy Mazzoli, Katharine Parker, and Libby Larson. Cantata Singers [MA], 4/26/19.
  • Music and Art: American music inspired by pieces at the New Britain Museum of American Art, including the premiere of a commissioned work by Andrey Stolyarov, with music by Virgil Thomson, Norman Dinerstein, Michael Conley, Randall Thompson, and Gwyneth Walker. CONCORA [CT], 4/28/2019
  • What Binds Us Together: The Binding of Isaac Story in Music. Music by Carissimi, Britten, Aharon Harlap, Howard Franzen, and John Tavener. Oratorio Chorale [ME], 5/2, 5/4/19.
  • Sheldon Rose: In the Garden of Shushan; Walter Robinson, arr. Kathleen McGuire: Harriet Tubman; Susan Borwick: And Ain't I a Woman! Margaret Dryburgh: The Captives' Hymn. Cantilena [MA], 5/4, 5/5/19.
  • A Festival of Psalms. Antonio Vivaldi: In exitu Israel, RV 604; Niccola Porpora: Lauda Jerusalem; Arvo Pärt: Zwei slawische Psalmen; Anton Bruckner: Psalm 23, WAB 34; Johannes Brahms: Schaffe in mir, Gott, op. 29, No 2; Salamone Rossi: Haleluya. Haleli nafshi; Simon Sargon: Psalm 8; Louis Lewandowski: Halalujoy, halalu el b'kod'sho; Dave Brubeck: 23rd Psalm; Will Todd: Durham Jazz Psalms. Heritage Chorale [MA], 5/11/19.

Premium or “special” Messiahs (alphabetical)

Effective date: 
Saturday, September 8, 2018