Conductor Andrew Megill to Lead Manhattan Choral Ensemble in REQUIEM IN STONE, Today

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Conductor Andrew Megill to Lead Manhattan Choral Ensemble in REQUIEM IN STONE, Today

The Manhattan Choral Ensemble (MCE) will present an imaginative program titled Requiem in Stone under the baton of guest conductor Andrew Megill. The concert will include early Baroque masterworks by Heinrich Schütz and Johann Hermann Schein and a new piece commissioned by the MCE from Caleb Burhans-works that render the subjects of spirituality, grief and death in exquisite detail.

The program is named after Burhans' new work, which was produced in collaboration with members of the MCE. The text of Requiem in Stone comes from the epitaphs found on tombstones in historical New York City graveyards.

Similarly, Schütz's striking Musikalische Exequien features biblical passages that were inscribed on the coffin of the 17thcentury German prince Heinrich Posthumus Reuss. This deeply religious music was commissioned for the prince's funeral, which took place during the devastation of the Thirty Years War. Scored for ten vocal parts, six viols and continuo,Musikalische Exequien will be performed by the MCE with period instrument accompaniment and with the movements of Caleb Burhans' work interspersed.

"Musikalische Exequien is the most important piece of German choral music before Bach. One of the reasons people keep coming back to it is because of its incredible pairing of music and text. Even if you don't speak German, you can't help but understand the piece on a profound level. Written at a time when death was everywhere, it so beautifully illustrates what it means to be human," said Andrew Megill.

A specialist in Baroque repertoire, Megill will also lead the choir in a performance of three motets by Johann Hermann Schein's. As colleagues during the early Baroque period, both Schein and Schütz bear the imprint of Italian musical ideas in their German liturgical music.

Requiem in Stone is the 32nd piece commissioned by the MCE and the ensemble's first collaboration with Mr. Burhans. Maestro Megill and Caleb Burhans recently collaborated on the composer's critically-acclaimed debut studio albumEvensong.

The MCE's 2013-2014 season will continue on May 10, 2014 with guest conductor Joseph Flummerfelt conducting the last of three concerts taking place during MCE Music Director Thomas Cunningham's one-year sabbatical in New Zealand. The evening will feature a selection of favorites from Maestro Flummerfelt's 30-year conducting career-works by Mendelssohn, Brahms, Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky, with a closing set of Flummerfelt's own arrangements of well-loved folk songs.

Requiem in Stone will be performed Saturday, March 15, 2014 at 8:00pm at the German Evangelical Church of St. Paul's at 315 West 22nd Street, New York City. Tickets are $35 for Premium Reserved, $25 for General Admission, and $15 for Seniors and Students.

Formed in 2000, the Manhattan Choral Ensemble (MCE) is one of the premier volunteer choirs in New York City, performing an historically-varied repertoire for mixed a cappella choir and choir with orchestra. Performing throughout Manhattan and beyond, the MCE strives to connect its programs to the city it calls home through its focus on local composers, concerts in historical landmarks and neighborhood-themed programming. Over its history, the MCE has premiered nearly 40 works and has commissioned over 30. In 2004 the MCE began its commissioning project, New Music for New York, and has commissioned works from leading New York composers, including George Andoniadis, George Steel, Patrick Castillo, Charles Griffin, Greg Brown, Victoria Bond and Nico Muhly. The group has lent its voices to cultural events at the United Nations, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the soundtrack to the 2004 feature film The Manchurian Candidate.

Thomas Cunningham holds a master's degree in Choral Conducting from Westminster Choir College of Rider University, where he has served as adjunct assistant professor of conducting, and a bachelor's degree in Music from Yale University. He formed the Manhattan Choral Ensemble with Matt Laufer in the fall of 2000 to provide audiences in New York with high-quality choral music through engaging and inviting concerts, and to provide singers in New York with an opportunity to explore challenging choral music in a mutually supportive group of committed musicians. In addition to the MCE, Mr. Cunningham was the founder and director of the Boston Choral Ensemble, and he has served as the director of the Dartmouth Chamber Singers and as the associate conductor of the Masterwork Chorus of New Jersey.

Andrew Megill is recognized as one the leading choral conductors of his generation, known for his passionate artistry and unusually wide-ranging repertoire, extending from early music to newly composed works.

Mr. Megill leads three of North America's finest professional choirs: the Carmel Bach Festival Chorale, the Montreal Symphony Chorus, and Fuma Sacra. In addition, he serves on the faculty of Westminster Choir College and as Music Director of the Masterwork Chorus. Mr. Megill has guest conducted for the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, the Juilliard Opera Center, and Emmanuel Music (Boston), and served as interim choirmaster for Trinity Church (Wall Street) in Manhattan. He has collaborated with the Mark Morris Dance Company, folk singer Judy Collins, puppeteer Basil Twist, and filmmaker Ridley Scott.

He has prepared choruses for performances with many leading orchestras, including the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, the National Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, and the Dresden Philharmonie, collaborating with conductors such as Pierre Boulez, Charles Dutoit, Rafael Fruhbeck du Burgos, Kurt Masur, and Kent Nagano.

Mr. Megill is especially admired for his work in Baroque music. He frequently collaborates with leading Baroque specialists, including Masaaki Suzuki and Ton Koopman. Mr. Megill's repertoire also extends to newly commissioned works. He has conducted regional or world premieres of works by Caleb Burhans, Paul Chihara, Sven-David Sändstrom, Lewis Spratlan, Stephen Stuckey, Jon Magnussen, and Arvo Pärt.

Composer, violinist/violist, singer, and multi-instrumentalist Caleb Burhans was born in Monterey, CA, and has lived in New York with his wife, Martha Cluver, since 2003. Caleb's early musical influences were widespread both musically and geographically, ranging from his father (who in the 60′s and 70′s played with Ray Charles, Kenny Rogers and the Everly Brothers), to his training as a boy soprano in Houston, TX, to his early studies in Janesville, WI, where he studied violin, piano, music theory and composition, as well as picking up viola, cello, bass, percussion, mandolin, guitar, electric bass, and conducting. He attended Interlochen Arts Academy as well as the Eastman School of Music, where he received a bachelor's degree in viola performance and composition.

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