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The Dessoff Choirs Begins Its 2019-20 Season on October 26

The Dessoff Choirs Begins Its 2019-20 Season on October 26

Hailed as "one of the great amateur choruses of our time" (New York Today) for its "full-bodied sound and suppleness" (The New York Times), the 50-member Dessoff Choirs begins its 2019-20 season highlighting choral works by esteemed composers of the 19th and 20th centuries. Featuring full orchestra, and soloists Laquita Mitchell (soprano) and Donovan Singletary (baritone), the program is centered around the original 1893 version of Gabriel Fauré's Requiem, the composer's masterpiece. Complementing the Requiem is Ich lasse dich nicht, a motet attributed to J.S. Bach, William Schuman's evocative Prelude for Voices, and the "Kyrie" from Louis Vierne's Messe solennelle.

Known for "singing with conviction, expressivity, and passion" (New York Arts), The Dessoff Choirs continues to wow audiences with its absorbing programming and inspiring performances. "Our singers are thrilled to be presenting Fauré's beloved Requiem" explains Malcolm J. Merriweather, ninth Music Director and conductor of The Dessoff Choirs. "Our season-opening concert offers something for everyone-from the serenity of Fauré's Requiem to the drama in works by Schuman and Vierne!

In the seven-movement Requiem, French composer/organist Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) "distilled some of the most beautiful melodies he ever composed," according to Classic FM Radio. Though Fauré lacked traditional religious beliefs, his Requiem is rooted in Christian faith and was performed at Fauré's own funeral. "In place of the sombre nature of many requiems that had gone before, Fauré's is noted for its calm, serene, and peaceful outlook."

A true leader both in and out of the concert hall, Pulitzer Prize-winning composer William Schuman (1910-1992), was an educator (president of The Juilliard School), an administrator (founding president of Lincoln Center), and a champion of American music, composers, and performers. Set to a text from Thomas Wolfe's 1929 novel, Look Homeward Angel, his Prelude for Voices (1939) was composed for women's voices. Soon after the premiere, it was revised for mixed chorus.

The program continues with Messe solennelle ("Solemn Mass") by French composer/organist Louis Vierne (1870-1937). First performed in 1901 at Saint-Sulpice in Paris, it is considered to be one of the most beautiful pieces ever written for organ and choir. Dessoff will perform the opening "Kyrie" from this five-movement work, in which the choir and organ alternate with flamboyant dialogue.

Bach's early motet Ich lasse dich nicht ("I will not let you go") from 1713 belongs to a different stylistic world than its better-known sister works. This eight-voice motet was from Bach's library, though it has never been conclusively proven that he composed the piece.

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. Since its founding in 1924, Dessoff's mission is to enrich the lives of its audiences and members through the performance of choral music. Its 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 our 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 94-year history, Dessoff has presented numerous world premieres, including pieces by Virgil Thomson, George Perle, Paul Moravec, and Ricky Ian Gordon, as well as 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 Sir John Tavener's all-night vigil, The Veil of the Temple. Be on the lookout for Dessoff's newest CD-Margaret Bonds: The Ballad of the Brown King & Selected Songs-being released in November 2019. Dessoff's other CDs include Reflections, featuring music by Convery, Corigliano, Moravec, and Rorem, and Glories on Glories, a collection of American song featuring composers ranging from Billings to Ives. Please visit dessoff.org for more information.


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