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The New York Choral Society to Perform Schubert and Thompson at Francis Xavier Church on November 18th, 2017

October 11, 2017 | By Hemsing Associates

The New York Choral Society (NYCHORAL), under the baton of music director David Hayes, will begin its season with Roads Less Traveled a performance of works by Schubert and Randall Thompson on Saturday evening, November 18, 2017 8 p.m. at St. Francis Xavier Church, 46 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011. The concert will feature soprano Gabriella Reyes de Ramírez and pianist Zalman Kelber from the Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. Program information follows:

Schubert            Mirjam’s Siegesgesang, D. 942
                            Der 23. Psalm, D. 706
                            Widerspruch, D. 865
Thompson          Frostiana           

Tickets are $30 and available for purchase at http://roads.bpt.me/

The repertoire consists of Partsongs, songs composed for male, female, and mixed ensembles. While Schubert is most recognized for his Lieder- solo songs- he also has an extraordinary body of vocal music written for ensembles, which are rich and varied in expression. Although based on religious texts, such as Psalm 23 or Miriam’s Song of Victory, Hayes considers the works selected for the concert as religiously inspired secular poems. Randall Thompson’s famous cycle, Frostiana, based on poetry by Robert Frost, consists of seven short pieces to be sung by choruses, much in the style of Schubert’s Partsongs. Thompson has been praised for his knowledge of the voice and command of vocal color, and his musical iteration of Frost’s words is uncanny as he sets them in a natural musical language that sounds perfectly organic to the text. Although Frostiana is a highly regarded vocal work, the full cycle is rarely performed in its entirety, and it is probably unique to find it paired with these lesser-known Schubert works.

The juxtaposition of these two composers provides an exploration of secular music for various ensemble combinations. It is interesting to observe the commonalities of their approach to this genre, even though they are separated by about 100 years; Schubert having been born in 1797 and Thompson in 1899. Both composers wrote magnificently in the sacred as well as secular genres. The vast majority of Schubert’s vocal and choral output is secular, though he left many masterly sacred pieces as well. Thompson can be viewed in the same way, even though his most famous work, the “Alleluia” could arguably be considered a sacred piece. Ultimately it is poetical text from which these composers derive their inspiration, and the imagery of the poetry creates a perfect framework for the composition.

 

Nicaraguan-American soprano Gabriella Reyes de Ramírez is in her first year of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. This season she appears with New York Choral Society and with New Haven Symphony as the soprano soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Prior to arriving at the Met, she completed a year’s training at Boston University’s Opera Institute. She made her debut with the Opera Institute as the soprano in Philip Glass’s Hydrogen Jukebox, followed by the title role in Tobias Picker’s Emmeline. In the spring of 2017, she sang the Countess in the Institute’s production of Le Nozze di Figaro, directed by David Paul.  She has also sung Minskwoman in Jonathan Dove’s Flight, and a Greek Woman and Priestess in Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride. In the summer of 2016, she debuted in OperaHub’s production of Montsalvatge’s El Gato con Botas as La Princesa and was selected by Houston Grand Opera to participate in their Young Artists Vocal Academy.  She reached the finals of the 2017 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and received her bachelor’s degree from Boston Conservatory.

 

Pianist/Coach Zalman Kelber is in his second year of the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. This season he debuts on the Met’s music staff as assistant conductor for The Exterminating Angel and appears in concert with New York Choral Society and The Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach. In summer 2016 he was a participant in Ravinia’s Steans Music Institute and prepared Gianni Schicchi at Crested Butte Music Festival. Other past engagements include Le Nozze di Figaro with Summer Opera Tel Aviv, pianist and continuo player for Don Giovanni at Venture Opera, and serving on the music staff at American Lyric Theater. Mr. Kelber has completed training programs at Glimmerglass Festival, Palm Beach Opera, Aspen Music Festival and School, Castleton Festival, and Shreveport Opera. He earned a bachelor’s degree in music and African History from Northwestern University and his master’s degree in music from the University of Oxford. 

 

An essential force in the New York choral scene since its founding in 1958, The New York Choral Society (NYCHORAL) is widely known for the outstanding artistic quality of its performances of choral masterworks as well as rarely performed and new compositions. In addition to its regular season appearances at Carnegie Hall, the 180-voice strong New York Choral Society has appeared at every major venue in the New York City area, including Avery Fisher Hall, the Metropolitan Opera House, Madison Square Garden, NJPAC, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Under the visionary artistic leadership of Music Director David Hayes since the 2012-2013 season, the New York Choral Society has expanded its artistic mission to present a wide variety of choral repertory alongside masterworks of the 20th and 21st century, including John Adams’s On The Transmigration of Souls, Hindemith’s When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d, and the New York premiere of Jennifer Higdon’s The Singing Rooms, featuring noted violinist Jennifer Koh. Dedicated to carrying its tradition of musical excellence and community engagement beyond the Manhattan cultural centers, the New York Choral Society launched Christmas Around New York in December 2014, bringing family-friendly Christmas concerts to new audiences in all the boroughs of New York City.

In the 2017-18 season, The New York Choral Society continues its long association with the Richard Tucker Foundation and performs at the annual Richard Tucker Gala at Carnegie Hall alongside renowned soprano Nadine Sierra. The choir also returns to its traditional December engagement of singing in Andrea Bocelli’s Madison Square Garden concert with conductor Eugene Kohn, soprano Larisa Martinez, and Broadway sensation Heather Headley. February will bring the choir back to Carnegie Hall and will be joined by noted baritone Jarrett Ott for a program that includes Sir Charles Stanford’s Songs of the Fleet, Op. 117 and the East Coast premiere of American composer Frank Ticheli’s Symphony No.3 “The Shore.” The season will close in May 2018 with a performance of J.S Bach’s choral masterwork Mass in B Minor at Carnegie Hall.

In the 2016-17 season, NYCHORAL gave the New York City Premiere to James MacMillan’s St. Luke Passion at the St. Bartholomew’s Church, performed Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass and Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem at Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium, and returned to Lincoln Center for Christmas at Alice Tully Hall. The choir took part in the American Premiere of Joseph Vella’s The Hyland Mass: A Prayer for Unity in Diversity at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in a performance presented by the Order of Malta, American Association.

Highlights of previous seasons include performances of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s 1985 Te Deum, Beethoven’s Mass in C Op. 86, Handel’s oratorio Israel in Egypt, Mendelssohn’s St. Paul, Berlioz’ L'Enfance du Christ, Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony, Holst’s rarely- performed Hymn of Jesus, and Beethoven’s Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, all at Carnegie Hall conducted by Music Director David Hayes. The 2011-2012 season marked the 25th and final season of Music Director John Daly Goodwin and included world premieres of two compositions commissioned by the New York Choral Society, Robert De Cormier’s Legacy and Morton Gould’s Quotations, as part of an all-American program at Carnegie Hall.

A sought-after guest artist in New York City for many decades, the New York Choral Society has collaborated with the Lincoln Center Festival, Cirque de Soleil, New York Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, New York Youth Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, American Symphony Orchestra, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, Dallas Symphony, Juilliard Symphony, and the Opera Orchestra of New York and has performed with conductors such as Leonard Bernstein, Sergiu Comissiona, Dennis Russell Davies, Placido Domingo, Fabio Luisi, Zubin Mehta, Yehudi Menuhin, Julius Rudel, Robert Shaw, Leonard Slatkin, Patrick Summers, Robert Spano, and Michael Tilson Thomas.

International tours have included the Chinese premiere of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony in Beijing in 2002; performances of Mahler’s Symphonies No. 2 and 8 in Mexico City with the Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería conducted by Carlos Miguel Prieto in 2010 and 2011; a return to Beijing for performances at the Olympic Cultural Festival in 2008; and several European tours with appearances in France, Austria, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Romania, Greece, the Czech Republic, and Israel.

Each summer since 1960 NYCHORAL has produced a popular series of NYCHORAL Sings, participatory performances of choral music that are open to the public and feature emerging soloists from the New York area.


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