Judith Clurman to Conduct Essential Voices USA with New York Pops at Carnegie Hall, 12/19-20

Judith Clurman's Essential Voices USA will be performing as part of The New York Pops holiday concerts, under the baton of Steven Reineke, at Carnegie Hall on December 19 and 20, 2013. Ms. Clurman will perform Stephen Paulus' choral work Wishes and Candles with her chorus and the orchestra, to honor her friend and colleague Stephen Paulus. It will be performed in a newly orchestrated version by Steven Mercurio. Wishes and Candles was composed in 1998. The text is by Alan and Marilyn Bergman. It is dedicated to Judith Clurman and the Lincoln Center Tree Lighting.

Wishes and Candles was originally written for unison chorus and piano. It was later arranged and published (Paulus Publications) for SATB chorus and harp, and recorded on the CD, A Season's Promise (The New York Concert Singers, Judith Clurman, conducting, New World Records 80592).

Carol J. Oja, Harvard University's William Powell Mason Professor of Music, wrote the following description in the notes in the New World CD:

Stephen Paulus (Wishes and Candles. Composed in 1998. Text by Alan and Marilyn Bergman. Dedicated to Judith Clurman and the Lincoln Center Tree Lighting. Returning to the simplicity of an American carol, Paulus's Wishes and Candles sports the kind of frank, catchy melody that could win a place at sing-alongs across the country. It is strophic, with each verse built of a traditional AABA form, and is as reminiscent of Stephen Foster songs as camp-meeting hymns. The work was first performed by Sesame Street's Big Bird and Telly Monster, together with Project Youth Chorus (the educational division of The New York Concert Singers, which on this occasion included choruses from the Spence School in New York City and the Clifton T. Barkalow School in New Jersey).

Judith Clurman's Essential Voices USA (EVUSA), one of New York's preeminent choral ensembles, brings together a roster of seasoned professionals and auditioned volunteers. With this unique choral model, created by Clurman, the size of the ensemble is constantly changing, dictated by the specific musical needs of each project. The ensemble is completely at home in New York's iconic performance venues. It performs regularly on the Carnegie Hall subscriptions series with The New York Pops and at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music. EVUSA participated in the spirited Leonard Bernstein Celebration at Symphony Space. EVUSA also produces its own classical choral, musical theater, and operatic readings, workshops, and recordings. The ensemble's wide-ranging and adaptable musicality is evident from the variety of its activities. EVUSA was in residence with National Public Radio the month of February 2011. That same year the ensemble launched The Composer Speaks, a series of concerts in workshop format moderated by Judith and designed to encourage dialogue with composers. Past events have included the music of established and up-and-coming composers and librettists such as Linsey Abrams, Larry Hochman, Bruce Ruben, Paul Schoenfield, Shulamit Ran, and Joshua Schmidt. The group performed on the critically acclaimed CD Celebrating the American Spirit (Sono Luminus) featuring Kelli O'Hara and Ron Raines. The repertoire ranged from Milton Babbitt to Irving Berlin. The disc includes the exciting cycle, "Sing Out, Mr. President," a collection of sixteen short pieces based on the words of sixteen American presidents. EVUSA recorded the song "The Music in My Mind" for Marvin Hamlisch's children's book, Marvin Makes Music, and was honored to be invited to participate in Hamlisch's stirring memorial at The Juilliard School. In 2011 and 2012 EVUSA rocked 'the rock' on NBC's national broadcasts of the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting. A highlight of its 2012-2013 season was EVUSA's participation in the Presidential Inaugural activities, including a sing-along of the "Sing Out, Mr. President" song cycle at the "Church of the Presidents" in Washington, D.C. The ensemble's CD was featured on NPR on Inauguration Day 2013. In 2012, EVUSA premiered the SATB arrangement of Stephen Schwartz's important and deeply moving work, "Testimony," at Carnegie Hall, under Judith's direction. In 2013-2014 the ensemble's versatility will be on display once again. Performances include Carnegie Hall concerts, exciting Composer Speaks programs, and a performance and recording of Mozart's Raunchy Canons. In addition, a new recording is on the way-the Clurman-Hochman-Mitchell arrangement of "Songs of Freedom: A Celebration of Chanukah" and "Set Me as a Seal" by Nico Muhly.

More On: Judith Clurman, Steven Reineke, Carnegie Hall, Stephen Paul, Steven Mercurio, Marilyn Bergman, William Powell.

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by Peter Danish