New Amsterdam Singers to Present LIFE IS BUT A DREAM
New Amsterdam Singers (NAS), led by Music Director Clara Longstreth, will present its final concert of the season titled "Life Is But a Dream," featuring premieres of works by American composers Robert Paterson, Ronald Perera, and Ben Moore inspired by poetry and folk melodies, and a World-Premiere Commission based on Shakespeare texts by Matthew Harris in honor of the chorus's upcoming 50th anniversary. The concert will take place Thursday, June 1, 2017, at 8:00 p.m., at Saint Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church, 554 West End Avenue (at 87th Street).
NAS commissioned Matthew Harris to write a new set of songs on texts from Shakespeare plays adding to his series of a cappella Shakespeare Songs, which he began writing three decades ago, and which have been featured on at least three recordings of pieces with Shakespeare texts. NAS recorded several from the early volumes on an Albany CD in 1993. On June 1 the chorus will present the World Premiere of Book VII.
Ronald Perera wrote his cycle When Music Sounds for Thomas F. Kelly's "First Nights" course of 2015 at Harvard University. NAS will sing the New York Premiere of the set for chorus and piano, on texts by Walter de la Mare, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Emily Dickinson.
Robert Paterson's Life Is But a Dream, which has been recorded by Musica Sacra under Kent Tritle, will receive its New York Premiere on this concert. The text begins with the familiar round, "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" but then turns into an exuberant treatment with excursions into German, French, Italian, and Latin versions of the original, and harmonic excursions into unrelated keys. It received its world premiere at a European festival in Germany in 2010.
Ben Moore has written solo songs for singers such as Deborah Voigt, Audra McDonald, and Nathan Gunn. He has recently arranged several of these songs - composed originally for solo voice - for chorus and piano. The NAS concert includes World Premieres of the choral versions of When You Are Old and When I Was One and Twenty.
The concert also includes folk songs, including Amazing Grace in an arrangement by the Latvian composer Eriks Es?enwalds; a Brazilian song in a dialect of Portuguese; and Civil War songs. A famous poem by Emily Dickinson has been set by Andrew Rindfleisch, and one of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Colin Britt.
Clara Longstreth has conducted New Amsterdam Singers since its formation in 1968. She has served on the faculty of Rutgers University, where she conducted the Voorhees Choir of Douglas College. A student of conductor G. Wallace Woodworth at Harvard University, Ms. Longstreth trained for her master's degree at The Juilliard School under Richard Westenberg. Further study included work with Amy Kaiser and Semyon Bychov at the Mannes College of Music, and with Helmuth Rilling at the Oregon Bach Festival.
Ms. Longstreth has guest-conducted the Li?mon Dance Company in performances with NAS and the Riverside Choir. She has conducted NAS and the Mannes College Orchestra in the folk opera, "Down in the Valley" during a Symphony Space "Wall to Wall Kurt Weill" program. In 2009 she received an Alumnae Recognition Award from Radcliffe College for her founding and longtime direction of New Amsterdam Singers. Of Ms. Longstreth's programs, Allan Kozinn wrote in The New York Times, "When a director takes up the challenge of building a cohesive program around a broad theme, we are reminded that programming can be an art."