Highlights of the 2019–2020 Season in New England

The New England choral community continues to grow, and many great performances were scheduled throughout 2019-2020. Originally, about 480 performances were listed on the Choral Arts New England events calendar through June 2020; but that has changed significantly since the coronovirus. See the online calendar for complete, up-to-date listings.

The season included several particularly noteworthy events. In November, the New Hamshire Master Chorale premiered Kim André Arnesen's Voices of the Silenced, for chorus and string orchestra, which explores social issues related to suicide, mental health, isolation, and incarceration. In May, Coro Allegro was planning to introduce Andrea Clearfield's Letters to our Children, a commissioned work that focuses on the experiences of transgender and queer children and their parents, particularly regarding "conversion therapy." There were numerous other new works planning to be premiered this season, including Jessica Meyer's setting of poetry by Sappho, I long and seek after by the Lorelei Ensemble. Craig Hella Johnson's Considering Matthew Shepard is increasingly performed in New England, with ChoralArt giving the Maine premiere in March, coincidentally on the same day as a performance by Polymnia Choral Society in Massachusetts.

In May 2020, the Outer Cape Chorale planned to  commemorate the 400th anniversary of the immigrant Pilgrims landing on the shores of the Wampanoag nation at the tip of what is now known as Cape Cod with a performance in Provincetown and Ortleans including a new work by John Thomas that merges the natural world, indigenous communities, and the hopes and dreams of those who were among the first immigrants to our country. 

In November, Chorus pro Musica and the Metropolitan Chorale jointly give a rare performance of Mendelssohn's Die erste Walpurgisnacht, together with Kodály's Budvári Te Deum and Janáček's Amarus. In March CpM, with the Bang on a Can All-Stars, planned to give the Boston premiere of Julia Wolfe's Anthracite Fields, a 2014 oratorio about Pennsylvania coal miners.

Large-scale choral performances planned for this season include five performances of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (one in Cambridge paired with John Adams's Harmonium) and one of his Missa Solemnis by the Masterworks Chorale in May; performances of J.S. Bach's B Minor Mass by Emmanuel Music in October and CONCORA in March; two performances of Verdi's Requiem in May, within days of each other, in Providence and Portland; Hartford Chorale's performance of Berlioz's Te Deum in May; and three performances of Orff's Carmina Burana, in Lexington, Springfield and Boston. The June performance in Boston, by Berkshire Choral International, also includes Poulenc's Gloria (a popular work this year).

This season there are four performances of Duruflé's Requiem, including one in February by the Boston Symphony Orchestra with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. Fauré's Requiem will be performed five times; paired in November by the Providence Singers with James Whitbourn's Luminosity; in January, by the Newton Community Chorus with Handel's Dettingen Te Deum; in March, by the Cantata Singers with Parry's Six Songs of Farewell; and in May, by the Assabet Valley Mastersingers, with Poulenc's Gloria. The Brahms Requiem has only two scheduled performances at almost the same dates in April, by the Blanche Moyse Chorale in Vermont and the Chorus of Westerly in Rhode Island. There are also five performances of Mozart's Requiem this season. 

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 November 2019 printed newsletter.

Premieres and choral commissions (by composer)

“Great” or especially interesting works

Old Favorites

  • J.S. Bach: Magnificat; Antonio Vivaldi: Gloria. Aurora Chamber Singers [VT], 11/9/19.
  • J.S. Bach: Magnificat in D; Cantata No 50, Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft; No 130, Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir. The Spectrum Singers [MA], 11/23/19.
  • J.S. Bach: Magnificat in D; John Rutter: Magnificat anima mea; Marco Frisina: Magnificat. Outer Cape Chorale [MA], 12/13, 12/14, 12/15/19.
  • Gustav Holst: The Planets. Rhode Island Philharmonic/Providence Singers [RI]. 10/19/19.
  • Randall Thompson: Frostiana: Seven Country Songs; Gwyneth Walker: Psalm 23; with music of Alice Parker. Salisbury Singers [MA], 11/17/19.
  • Antonio Vivaldi: Gloria; Dixit Dominus; Claudio Monteverdi: Christe, adoramus te, SV 294; Adoramus te, Christe, SV 289. Masterworks Chorale [MA], 11/9/19.
  • Antonio Vivaldi: Gloria; G.F. Handel: Four Coronation Anthems;. Harvard-Radcliffe Chorus [MA], 11/23/19.

Special programs (a few of many)—Chronological.

  • Vermont Sings For Peace. Twelfth annual concert joining area choruses in song to raise money for social justice. Counterpoint [VT], 9/28/19.
  • J.S. Bach – Sandy’s Cantatas. J.S. Bach: Cantata #100; Cantata #105; Cantata #131; Cantata #140. In memory of baritone Sanford Sylvan. Blanche Moyse Chorale [VT], 10/11, 10/13/19.
  • Music in the Barn. Nature-inspired music from Renaissance to modern, featuring music by Gregory Brown and James Kallembach on texts by John James Audubon, at the Mass Audubon’s Pleasant Valley Sanctuary. Cantilena Chamber Choir [MA], 10/19, 10/20/19.
  • Illuminations. Women clothed in Cistercian habit chant the hours in the medieval monastic day in 1554 in Belgium; in between each “hour” guest explore, inspect, read, listen to scholars, eat and drink as we display HighRes reproductions of the pages from the Salzinnes Antiphonal, bookmaking tools, food and drink from that time and place. Cappella Clausura [MA], 10/19, 10/20/19.
  • Prelude. Eric Whitacre: Lux Nova; Cloudburst; Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine; five movements from Sacred Veil; other works. Voce [CT], 10/22/19.
  • VOCES8 [CT]: An a cappella concert by the British Ensemble with repertoire spanning the ages from medieval to contemporary. 10/22/19.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach: Magnificat, BWV 234; George Frideric Handel: Coronation Anthems HWV 258–261; Aria and Chorales from J.S. Bach’s Christmas Oratorio BWV 248. Crescendo [MA], 10/26, 10/27/19.
  • Constellation Men's Ensemble [ME]: Caelo: Luceat. An uninterrupted hour of music exploring all of the lights we see in our sky, using the Compline end-of-day service as a guide. Music of Eriks Esenvalds, Augusta Read Thomas, Arthur Sullivan, and Gregory Brown. 11/1, 11/2/19.
  • Music on the Hill Festival Chorus [CT]: Songs of Thanksgiving.Familiar tunes alongside original pieces inspired by the Wabanaki tribes and the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. 11/3/19.
  • Every Voice. An uplifting concert for justice and peace, honoring the many voices of Boston and highlighting those of the Jewish and black communities. Handel and Haydn Society [MA] , 11/3/19.
  • The King’s Singers. Chorus of Westerly [RI], 11/2/19.
  • Free America! Songs of Resistance and Rebellion (1790–1860). Part songs, marches, anthems, jigs, and ballads from early prints and manuscript sources. Boston Camerata [MA] , 11/8/19.
  • W.A. Mozart: Coronation Mass; G.F. Handel: Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day; Zadok the Priest. Back Bay Chorale [MA], 11/9, 12/1/19.
  • Marc-Antoine Charpentier: Midnight Mass; Ola Gjeilo: Sunrise Mass. Heritage Chorale [MA], 11/24/19.
  • Fire Flowers: Hope and Resilience of the Human Spirit. Linda Tutas Haugen: Anne Frank: A Living Voice; Timothy Corlis: Fire Flowers. Cantilena [MA], 12/8/19.
  • Charles Ives: General William Booth Enters into Heaven; Psalm 67; Yehudi Wyner: Give Thanks for All Things; Aaron Copland: Appalachian Spring; Irving Fine: The Choral New Yorker. Cantata Singers [MA], 1/24/20.
  • Daniel: A Medieval Masterpiece Revisited. A new production by Anne Azéma of the musical play from the French Middle Ages. Boston Camerata [MA], 1/25/20.
  • Works featuring women composers and poets, subjects and storytellers, including a newly commissioned work by Indian-American composer Shruthi Rajasekar; Richard J. Clark: Woman of No Distinction; Mari Esabel Valverde: Border Lines, and more. Seraphim Singers [MA], 2/29, 3/1/20.
  • Tenebrae: From Darkness to Light. Lamentations of Jeremiah; Carol Gesualdo: Tenebrae Responsories; and other traditional and new works of the season. Oratorio Chorale [ME], 3/7, 3/8/20.
  • Giovanni Gabrieli: Jubilate Deo; Johann Hermann Schein: Nun danket alle Gott; Heinrich Schütz: Selig sind die toten; Musicalische Exequien; Claudio Monteverdi: Deus in adjutorium; Dixit Dominus, from the Vespers of 1610. Back Bay Chorale [MA], 3/7/20.
  • Britten Chamber Festival. A three-day celebration of the music of Benjamin Britten. Emmanuel Music [MA], 3/28, 3/29, 3/30/20.
  • Sub Rosa: Secrets Revealed. A collaboration with author Dan Brown and composer Gregory W. Brown. Skylark Vocal Ensemble [NH], 4/21, 4/22, 4/23, 4/24, 4/25/20.
  • J.S. Bach: Christ lag in todesbanden, BWV 4; Lobet den Herrn, BWV 230; Franz Schubert: Mass in G Major, D.167; W.A. Mozart: “Laudate Dominum” from Vesperae solennes de confessore, K.339; “Sancta Maria, mater Dei,” K.273; G.F. Handel: Concerto Grosso in D Major, HWV 323/V (Finale); W.A. Mozart: Divertimento in D Major, K.136/125a; Pietro Mascagni: Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana. GMChorale [CT], 4/26/20.
  • The Dinner Party, illuminated by the art of Fran Forman. Cappella Clausura and friends gather around a table to sing “after dinner” entertainment part-songs by Barbara Strozzi, Vittoria Aleotti, Rebecca Clarke, and Fanny Mendelssohn, all illuminated by the images of visual artist Fran Forman. Cappella Clausura [MA], 5/16, 5/17/20.
  • William Byrd: Mass for Five Voices; Francis Poulenc: Quatre motets pour un temps de pénitance; Maurice Duruflé: Quatre motets sur des themes grégoriens; Olivier Messiaen: O sacrum convivum. Zenith Ensemble [VT], 6/6, 6/7, 6/8/20.

Premium or “special” Messiahs (alphabetical)

Effective date: 
Sunday, November 3, 2019