New Amsterdam Singers Performs TANGO MASS: May 16, 19
For its final concerts of the 2018-2019 season, New Amsterdam Singers, led by Music Director Clara Longstreth, will present music with roots in Argentina and Spain, featuring Misa a Buenos Aires/Misatango for chorus, strings, bandoneon, and piano by Argentine-born Martín Palmeri; two works by Astor Piazzolla from his cycle, Four Seasons of Buenos Aires; and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco's Romancero Gitano for chorus and guitar, on poetry by Federico Garcia Lorca. The concerts will take place Thursday, May 16, at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday, May 19, 2019, at 3:00 p.m., at The Church of the Holy Trinity, 316 East 88th Street (between First and Second Avenues).
Martín Palmeri's Misa a Buenos Aires/Misatango is an unusual pairing of the ordinary of the Latin Mass with the tango. It will feature the Argentine-born bandoneon player Rodolfo Zanetti, 2017 winner of the First Prize at the "Che Bandoneon International Competition," and mezzo-soprano soloist Kara Dugan.
Written in 1996, Misa a Buenos Aires has been performed worldwide, often with Palmeri as pianist or conductor. Palmeri has won many prizes for his compositions, which include an opera, oratorios, bandoneon concerto, and a recent work for chorus and tango orchestra.
Romancero Gitano is a seven-movement choral work written in 1951 by Mario Castlenuovo-Tedesco - one of a handful of works for chorus and guitar. The title and the poetry are by the Spanish playwright and poet Federico Garcia Lorca. Castlenuovo-Tedesco, an Italian of Spanish and Jewish descent, was born in Florence in 1895 where his career flourished. He emigrated to America in 1939, settling first in New York, and ultimately in southern California. The guitarist for these performances will be Pierre Ferreyra-Mansilla.
The program will also include two short works by the great tango composer and bandoneon player Astor Piazzolla from his cycle, Four Seasons of Buenos Aires. They are arranged for chorus by the choral conductor/composer Oscar Escalada, using nonsense syllables.
A native of Argentina, Rodolfo Zanetti plays the bandoneon, a type of concertina particularly popular in that country and an essential instrument in most tango ensembles. Dedicated to playing tango from an early age, he joined the Mancifesta Orchestra and Tango & Punto before co-founding the Quintet Bandó, with which he made well-received tours to Washington, Chicago and New York. In 2009 he founded El Despunte Tango Club, a traditional tango trio, and in 2013 he performed as soloist in the very international wine event of Mendoza, the Fiesta Nacional de la Vendimia. In the U.S. Zanetti has performed as soloist with the Pan American Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center, the Lisner Auditorium of George Washington University, Embassy of Argentina, Organization of American States and other notable venues. In New York he performed as soloist at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.
Mezzo-soprano Kara Dugan has been praised by The New York Times for her "vocal warmth and rich character." Her 2018-19 season included her Los Angeles Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall debuts, with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting. Ms. Dugan also sang the role of Mrs. Van Buren in a workshop performance of Ricky Ian Gordon's new opera, Intimate Apparel, with a libretto by Lynn Nottage. The piece was commissioned by The Metropolitan Opera/Lincoln Center Theater's New Works Program. Additional highlights include performances with the Mistral ensemble singing Mahler's Rückert-Lieder.
Music Director Clara Longstreth
In 1968 Clara Longstreth became conductor of what was then called the Master Institute Chorus. When the Master Institute dissolved in 1971, the singers regrouped as the New Amsterdam Singers, with Ms. Longstreth at the helm, where she remains today. From 1972-78, NAS was associated with the Bloomingdale House of Music; it became fully independent in 1978 under the management of its own elected Board of Directors. Over these five decades, Ms. Longstreth's tenure and programming instincts with NAS have been acknowledged by audiences and the press alike.
"Clara Longstreth, the longtime music director of the estimable New Amsterdam Singers, has a gift for devising adventurous programs with interesting juxtapositions," wrote Anthony Tommasini in The New York Times. Allan Kozinn, writing in the same publication, noted: "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."
Clara Longstreth has also served on the faculty of Rutgers University, where she conducted the Voorhees Choir of Douglass 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 Westenburg. Further study included work with Amy Kaiser and Semyon Bychkov at the Mannes College of Music, and with Helmuth Rilling at the Oregon Bach Festival. She has guest-conducted the Limón Dance Company in performances with NAS and the Riverside Choir, and with 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.
New Amsterdam Singers
New Amsterdam Singers, which celebrated its 50th anniversary during the 2017-18 season, has been hailed as an "outstanding avocational choir" by The New Yorker, and is known for the breadth and variety of its repertoire. The ensemble specializes in a cappella and double chorus works, presenting music from the 16th century to contemporary pieces, including many it has commissioned.
Over the course of its five-decade history, the chorus of 70-plus singers has performed numerous world, American, and New York premieres. This programming reflects Ms. Longstreth's desire to focus efforts on lesser-known works by pre-eminent composers and on new works by living composers. Among them have been Matthew Harris, Paul Alan Levi, Ronald Perera, Ben Moore, Elizabeth Lim, Katherine Hoover, Alla Borzova, Charles Fussell, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Richard Rodney Bennett, Petr Eben, Robert Paterson, Abbie Betinis, Kirke Mechem, Steven Stucky, Luna Pearl Woolf, Ruth Watson Henderson, and Daniel Pinkham.
New Amsterdam Singers has performed with the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein; American Russian Youth Orchestra at Carnegie Hall; at Tanglewood's Ozawa Hall under Leon Botstein; Concordia Orchestra and Anonymous Four in Richard Einhorn's Voices of Light with Marin Alsop at Avery Fisher Hall; and with the Limón Dance Company in Kodály's Missa Brevis. On March 13, 2016, NAS presented Golgotha, a 90-minute oratorio for chorus, orchestra, organ, and soloists by the Swiss composer Frank Martin in its first performance since 1952, as part of the Trinity Wall Street Concert Series. In 2013 the singers performed in South Africa, in 2015, in Greece, and in 2017, Iceland.
For further information, call (914) 712-8708 or go online to www.nasingers.org. Tickets are available at the door for $30. Tickets are also available in advance online for $25 (general admission), and $20 (students); by phone at the above number; or by mail (New Amsterdam Singers, P.O. Box 373, Cathedral Station, New York, NY 10025).