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The Dessoff Choirs Announces 2024-2025 And 100th Anniversary Season

Kicking off Dessoff's centennial season is Brahms Ein deutsches Requiem, led by Malcolm J. Merriweather, on Saturday, November 2, 2024 at 4:00 pm at The Town Hall.

By: Jun. 27, 2024
The Dessoff Choirs Announces 2024-2025 And 100th Anniversary Season  Image
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The Dessoff Choirs has announced its 100th anniversary and 2024-2025 season. Founded in 1924 by Margarete Dessoff, The Dessoff Choirs has been a fixture on the New York classical music scene ever since. Known for introducing unknown, long-forgotten, or newly composed works to American audiences, Dessoff's nine music directors have continued expanding Margarete's legacy, each in their own way. Malcolm J. Merriweather, Dessoff's current music director, has used this podium to reintroduce the works of Black women composers including Margaret Bonds, Florence Price, and Valerie Capers, along with commissioning new works. Dessoff's next season combines a tribute to the past with works performed under Margarete Dessoff's baton, as well as Brahms's Requiem, Verdi's Requiem, and a new commission by Tania León.

Music Director Malcolm J. Merriweather shares, “This centennial season is a tribute to Dessoff's enduring legacy and its role in New York City's vibrant cultural landscape. From the monumental requiems of Brahms and Verdi to the music of Florence Price, we honor our past, celebrate our present, and look forward to the future."

Kicking off Dessoff's centennial season is Brahms Ein deutsches Requiem, led by Malcolm J. Merriweather, on Saturday, November 2, 2024 at 4:00 pm at The Town Hall. As the inaugural program of the 100th anniversary season, Dessoff is inviting all Dessoff Alumni to join on stage for this beloved work. In addition, Dessoff will welcome back former conductors Kent Tritle, James Bagwell, and Christopher Shepard who will be speaking and conducting some of the Requiem movements. This program is significant as Brahms and Otto Dessoff (founder Margarete Dessoff's father) were friends. Brahms provided Dessoff the opportunity to conduct the premiere of his Symphony No. 1, and Dessoff dedicated his String Quartet in F, Op. 7 to Brahms. Further, The Town Hall has been an important partner to The Dessoff Choirs, as the group has performed at the venue over 50 times since its initial concert in 1926.

Dessoff then offers its annual holiday concerts: Messiah Sing on Friday, December 6, 2024 at 7:30 pm at James Chapel, Union Theological Seminary, which provides audience members the opportunity to join the choir for Handel's vibrant choruses, with Dessoff members performing the arias; and two renditions of Welcome Yule: Willkommen, süßer Bräutigam on Saturday, December 7, 2024 at 4:00 pm at James Chapel, Union Theological Seminary and Sunday, December 8, 2024 at 4:00 pm at St. Philips Episcopal Church (Brooklyn). Dessoff continues to honor its past by including three works on the Welcome Yule program first performed under Margarete Dessoff's baton in 1929: Vincent Lübeck's Weniachts-Kantate, Willkommen, süßer Bräutigam, Edward Nunn's Un flambeau, Jeanette, Isabelle, and F. A. Gevaert's Chanson joyeuse de Noël.

In its first concert of 2025, Dessoff presents works from its history alongside a cantata by Florence Price at James Chapel, Union Theological Seminary. The first half of the Thursday, February 20, 2025 at 7:30 pm performance celebrates Margarete Dessoff and her directorship of women's choirs. Dessoff programmed Schubert's Psalm 23 and Brahms' Vier Gesänge für Frauenchor for her choirs in Germany before introducing the music to her choirs in New York in the 1920s; The Dessoff Choirs brings these works back to audiences on this concert, which also includes a set of variations for women's choir and harp written for Dessoff by Hugo Hermann (premiered on December 19, 1933, in New York). Continuing its mission of unveiling choral orchestra works of Black women composers, Dessoff will additionally perform a new edition of Florence Price's Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight for harp, strings, and organ on the second half of the program.

Rounding out Dessoff's 100th Anniversary season is Verdi's Requiem, presented in collaboration with Trinity Church. The performances will take place at 7:00 pm on Thursday, May 1, 2025 and Friday, May 2, 2025 at Trinity Church. Music Director Malcolm J. Merriweather will conduct the Dessoff Choirs, Trinity Choir, Downtown Voices, and NOVUS. In addition to Verdi's Requiem, this performance will include the world premiere of a new choral work by Tania León, commissioned in honor of Dessoff's centenary.

Program Information

Brahms Requiem
Saturday, November 2, 2024 at 4:00 pm
The Town Hall | 123 W 43rd St | New York, NY
Tickets: $25-$100

JOHANNES BRAHMS: Ein deutsches Requiem

The Dessoff Choirs & Orchestra
Dessoff Alumni
Malcolm J. Merriweather, conductor
Kent Tritle, conductor
James Bagwell, conductor
Christopher Shepard, conductor

Messiah Sing
Friday, December 6, 2024 at 7:30 pm
James Chapel, Union Theological Seminary | 3041 Broadway | New York, NY
Tickets: $15-$100


The Dessoff Choirs
Malcolm J. Merriweather, conductor

Welcome Yule: Willkommen, süßer Bräutigam
Saturday, December 7, 2025 at 4:00 pm
James Chapel, Union Theological Seminary | 3041 Broadway | New York, NY
Tickets: $20-$100

Sunday, December 8, 2025 at 4:00 pm
St. Philip's | 334 MacDonough Street | Brooklyn, NY
Tickets: $20-$100

John Francis WADE (arr. David Willcocks): Carol: O come all ye faithful
VINCENT LÜBECK: Weniachts-Kantate, Willkommen, süßer Bräutigam*
Felix Mendelssohn (arr. Daniel Fortune): Carol: Hark the herald angels sing
EDWARD NUNN: Un flambeau, Jeanette, Isabelle**
F. A. GEVAERT: Chanson joyeuse de Noël**
FRANZ XAVER GRUBER: Carol: Silent night
GEORGE FRIDERIC HANDEL: Hallelujah from Messiah

The Dessoff Choirs
Malcolm J. Merriweather, conductor

*First performed by the Adesdi Chorus and the **A Capella Singers (together they are The Dessoff Choirs) on Sunday, December 22, 1929 at The Town Hall.

Florence Price: Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight
Thursday, February 20, 2025 at 7:30 pm
James Chapel, Union Theological Seminary | 3041 Broadway | New York, NY
Tickets: $20-$100

Franz Schubert: Psalm 23, op. 132, D. 706*
Richard Strauss: Zueignung**
Robert Schumann: Widmung**
JOHANNES BRAHMS: Vier Gesänge für Frauenchor op. 17***
     Es tönt ein voller Harfenklang
     Lied von Shakespeare
     Der Gärtner
     Gesang aus Fingal
HUGO HERMANN: Chorvariationen****
HUGO HERMANN: über die Sonnengesänge des Franziskus von Assisi, op. 85
Florence Price: Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight

The Dessoff Choirs & Orchestra
Malcolm J. Merriweather, conductor & baritone
Steven Ryan, piano

*December 22, 1929
**May 20, 1925 (performed on The Dessoff Choirs' first concert)
***April 15, 1930
****December 19, 1933 (world premiere performance by The Dessoff Choirs)

Verdi Requiem
Produced by Trinity Church
Thursday, May 1, 2025 at 7:00 pm
Friday, May 2, 2025 at 7:00 pm
Trinity Church | 89 Broadway | New York, NY 10006
Tickets: Free (RSVP Required)

Giuseppe Verdi: Requiem
TANIA LÉON: New work (World Premiere)

The Dessoff Choirs
The Choir of Trinity Wall Street
Downtown Voices
Malcolm J. Merriweather, conductor

About The Dessoff Choirs

The Dessoff Choirs, one of the leading choruses in New York City, is an independent chorus with an established reputation for pioneering performances of choral works from the Renaissance era through the 21st century. Founded in 1924 by Margarete Dessoff, the chorus is celebrating its centennial during the 2024-25 season with programs that reflect music from its rich history and move us forward into the next 100 years with new collaborations and commissions.

The ‘s' in Choirs connotes the group's various incarnations – from Dessoff's core group of 50 singers, to the Symphonic Choir assembled for larger engagements and Chamber Choir selected to present more intimate works. Since its founding in 1924, Dessoff's mission is to enrich the lives of its audiences and members by giving voice to new or rarely heard, forgotten music and composers; and to bring great choral works to New York audiences in new ways. Dessoff concerts, professional collaborations, community outreach, and educational initiatives are dedicated to stimulating public interest in and appreciation of choral music as an art form that enhances the culture and life of these times.

With repertoire ranging over a wide variety of eras and styles, Dessoff's musical acumen and flexibility has been recognized with invitations from major orchestras for oratorios and orchestral works. Past performances include Britten's War Requiem and Mahler's Symphony No.8 with Lorin Maazel in his final performances as Music Director with the New York Philharmonic. Over the course of its near-100-year history, Dessoff has presented many world premieres, including works by Virgil Thomson, George Perle, Paul Moravec, and Ricky Ian Gordon; the first American performance in nearly 100 years of Montemezzi's opera La Nave with Teatro Grattacielo; and the American premieres of Philip Glass's Symphony No.5 and John Tavener's all-night vigil, The Veil of the Temple.

Dessoff's world-premiere recording of Margaret Bonds's Credo and Simon Bore the Cross was released in February 2023 and received rave reviews. WRTI wrote that “Margaret Bonds: Credo, Simon Bore the Cross brings new luster, and the utmost care of execution. Under the baton of Malcolm J. Merriweather, The Dessoff Choirs has a profound simpatico with Bonds' mature compositional style...” We are also featured on a new album from Roomful of Teeth, Rough Magic, in a recently commissioned Eve Beglarian work, None More Than You.

Other recent discography includes Margaret Bonds: The Ballad of the Brown King & Selected Songs, a debut recording of Margaret Bonds's crowning achievement, which was cited as a “Best Classical Recording of 2019” by WQXR-FM Radio; Reflections, featuring music by Convery, Corigliano, Moravec, and Rorem; and Glories on Glories, a collection of American song featuring composers from Billings to Ives.

The Dessoff Choirs is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and by funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

Learn more at

About Malcolm J. Merriweather

Grammy-nominated conductor and baritone Malcolm J. Merriweather is the ninth Music Director of New York City's Dessoff Choirs, known for its performances of great choral works from the pre-Baroque era through the 21st century.

In addition, Merriweather is the Director of the New York Philharmonic Chorus. He is the Tania León Chair of Music and Full Professor at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. He was the founding Artistic Director of “Voices of Haiti,” a 60-member children's choir in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, operated by the Andrea Bocelli Foundation.

He enjoys a versatile career with performances ranging from the songs of Margaret Bonds to gems of the symphonic choral repertoire. The baritone can be heard on the GRAMMY-nominated recording of Paul Moravec's Sanctuary Road (NAXOS). Hailed by Opera News as “moving…expertly interpreted”, Margaret Bonds: The Ballad of the Brown King & Selected Songs and Credo & Simon Bore the Cross by Margaret Bonds (AVIE Records) has earned considerable praise around the world. At the invitation of Solange Knowles, he joined the interdisciplinary studio and creative agency, Saint Heron, for performances with Voices of Harlem and The Clark Sisters in Glory to Glory: A Revival of Devotional Art. 

Highlights from his 2023-2024 season include a trip to China with The New York Philharmonic Choir for the world premiere of Émigré, An Oratorio with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra. He returns to The Metropolitan Museum of Art for the world premiere of Handel: Made in America with soloists, Latonia Moore, J'Nai Bridges, Noah Stewart, and Davóne Tines. Continuing in his role as Director of The New York Philharmonic Chorus, he prepares the professional choir for the reprise of Émigré, An Oratorio and Mahler 2 with The New York Philharmonic. With The Dessoff Choirs, he conducts Mendelssohn's Elijah, and two contemporary oratorios about the lives of Sojourner Truth (Valerie Capers) and Anne Frank (James Whitbourn).

Maestro Merriweather's 2022-2023 began leading The Choir of Trinity Wall Street in three performances (staged) of Considering Matthew Shepard. His new appointment as Director of The New York Philharmonic Chorus launched preparing the professional choir for three programs throughout the season for Maestro Jaap van Zweden including Beethoven's Ninth Symphony for the reopening of David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center. With The Dessoff Choirs, he conducted Duruflé's Requiem, Bach's St. John Passion, and motets by Vicente Lusitano, the first Black-published composer. Last season included the long-awaited release of the premiere recording of Margaret Bonds's Credo and Simon Bore the Cross with the AVIE label. His solo baritone engagements included Messiah at Carnegie Hall, and Sanctuary Road with the Cincinnati May Festival and the Penn Square Music Festival.

Merriweather has been featured as a soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, The Dessoff Choirs, the New York Choral Society, and Bach Vespers Choir and Orchestra at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in New York City. The baritone has premiered contemporary solo works by Eve Beglarian, John Liberatore, Ju Ri Seo, Douglas Fisk, and James Adler. He has been a fellowship recipient at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival and at the Tanglewood Music Center. 

Merriweather holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Conducting from the studio of Kent Tritle at the Manhattan School of Music, where his doctoral dissertation “Now I Walk in Beauty, Gregg Smith: A Biography and Complete Works Catalog” constituted the first complete works list for the composer and conductor. He received Master of Music degrees in Choral Conducting studying with William Weinert and in Vocal Performance from the studio of Rita Shane at the Eastman School of Music. He earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from Syracuse University, summa cum laude.

His professional affiliations include membership in Pi Kappa Lambda, the American Choral Directors Association, and Chorus America.

He was previously Music Director of the West Village Chorale, Organist and Choirmaster at the Church of St. Luke and St. Simon of Cyrene (Episcopal) in Rochester, NY, and, for five years, Associate Choirmaster at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City.