News Highlights 2005
2005 Alfred Nash Patterson Grants Awards Ceremony
Choral Arts New England presented its 2005 Alfred Nash Patterson Grants on Sunday, October 16, 2005 at All Saints Parish, Brookline, Mass.
2004 Alfred Nash Patterson Grants Awarded
Choral Arts New England presented its 2004 Alfred Nash Patterson Grants at a ceremony in Amherst, Mass., on November 14, 2004.
Grant Profile: Coro Allegro And Patricia Van Ness
The choral arts are, by definition, supremely collaborative — and when C.A.N.E. awards a grant, it is always recognizing collective effort. Nothing demonstrates this truth better than the commissioning of a new choral work. Over the past twenty years, Coro Allegro, Boston’s chorus for members and friends of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, has developed a reputation for unparalleled choral excellence. Seeking to promote multi-cultural harmony, the group regularly commissions new works from composers of diverse backgrounds.
Patricia Van Ness has been working with Coro Allegro for nearly half its existence; she was CA’s artist in residence in 1998. In 2002, based upon their history of successful collaboration, director David Hodgkins, chorus president Willis Emmons and composer Van Ness came to a meeting of the minds, and her Requiem was commissioned. In this spirit of “zeitgeist,” renowned baritone Sanford Sylvan was enlisted for the project as well.
The completed work was dedicated to the memory of dancer and choreographer Julie Ince Thompson. According to the composer, it had always been her intention to do a Requiem of consolation and, although it had been commissioned long before, the evolution of the piece was profoundly shaped by her friend’s death. During the year she gave herself to write it, Van Ness was moving through the process of grieving.
The chorus walked through this process with her. They did a read-through at the beginning of the summer, when the piece was two thirds finished. As a result of what she heard, and feedback from David Hodgkins and accompanist Darryl Hollister, the work “changed dramatically.” At that point, says Van Ness, she also “turned a corner in her grieving.” The Requiem became more joyous, less dark. It was then, for example, that all the soprano voices at the beginning of the piece were added.
Modifications continued through the first rehearsal in September. Coro Allegro tenor and Choral Arts supporter John Kefferstan remembers this well. As a singer, he was fascinated by this dialogue which, in a very real sense, drew the singers into the creative process.
On October 31, 2004, at the Church of the Covenant in Boston’s Back Bay, Coro Allegro and Sanford Sylvan premiered the Requiem for chorus, baritone solo, two violins, viola, cello, bass and oboe, by Patricia Van Ness.
Choral artists from around New England met in November to celebrate, sing and carry on the legacy of Alfred Nash Patterson. To honor the legendary “Bud” on the 25th anniversary of his death, Choral Arts New England hosted a glorious weekend of musical events. What better way to keep alive his memory than to enact our mission to encourage education and public awareness about the choral arts — and, in so doing, boost the endowment that supports these activities?
The board commissioned a new work from Daniel Pinkham on the text of Dryden’s “Hymn to St. Cecilia” to serve as a fitting centerpiece of the celebration. As he wrote, Pinkham had in mind soprano Carole Haber, baritone Robert Honeysucker and Boston’s Chorus pro Musica, the group founded by Bud Patterson in 1948. Nevertheless, as he explained in his program notes, “The work should be accessible for other choruses.” It was to be one “that offered challenges but not one filled with excessive difficulties, and a score which would be modest in its instrumental requirements.” The result: “A Song for St. Cecilia’s Day,” for SATB chorus, two soloists, two horns, double bass and organ (available from ECS Publishing).
The composer himself participated in a pre-concert choral workshop conducted by Scott Jarrett, Director of the Back Bay Chorale. The November 7, 2004 world premiere, at the Church of the Advent, Beacon Hill, took place in the company of works by other New England composers, including William Billings and Charles Ives. And Sing Eternally by Alice Parker, winner of this year’s C.A.N.E. Lifetime Achievement award, also was featured on the program.
Related festivities included a gathering of long-time and former members of Chorus pro Musica and a gala post-concert reception, all orchestrated by event organizers Peter Pulsifer, Kristin Odmark, Nathaniel Pulsifer, Cynde Hartman and Clementine Brown. Choral Arts New England owes them a tremendous debt of gratitude; their vision and tireless efforts culminated in a fantastic celebration that would have made Alfred Nash Patterson very proud indeed.