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The Dessoff Choirs Announces 2017-18 Season


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 Dessoff Choirs today announced its 2017-18 season. Now in its 93rd year, The Dessoff Choirs has crafted a season of concerts dedicated to combining works by Leonard Bernstein to commemorate his centenary with diverse, contemporary musical programming.

Led by music director Malcolm J. Merriweather, the 65 singers will be joined by a chamber ensemble, pianist Steven Ryan, guest organists, youth choirs, and dancers. Season highlights include a multimedia performance of Blest pair of sirens, a trio of holiday concerts, a spring Oh Freedom concert expanding on Coretta Scott King's original concept, and a newly commissioned work by composer David Hurd. Celebrating the centenary of Leonard Bernstein, Dessoff honors his rich legacy by performing a piece of his choral music at each concert.

"This season will get to the heart of how a new generation of listeners is experiencing music in urban spaces," says Malcolm J. Merriweather, Dessoff's ninth Music Director. "It is an opportunity to explore contemporary themes in our culture with our rich choral tradition as a vehicle of discovery "

The season kicks off with Multidimensional Magnificence, a fall concert inspired by American composer/conductor Gregg Smith, who sought to create aural experiences for audiences. This surround-sound concert features the electro-acoustic piece filament, a multi-media performance of Blest pair of sirens, pairing dance and movement with choral music, and more. In December, Dessoff presents a trio of holiday events featuring seasonal repertoire and contemporary arrangements of carols, including a sing-in of Handel's Messiah (the quintessential classical music highpoint of the Christmas season), Bernstein's Simchu na celebrating the start of Hanukkah, and works by New York City based composers: Ola Gjeilo, Nancy Wertsch, Gregg Smith, and James Bassi-to name a few.

Dessoff welcomes 2018 with the fourth installment of Bach's six motets, Komm Jesu, komm, Bernstein's II. Adonai, roi, lo ehsar from Chichester Psalms and David Lang's Pulitzer Prize-winning work, a little match girl passion. And the 2017-18 Dessoff season concludes with the April 28th Oh Freedom concert inspired by the late Coretta Scott King. In this dynamic program, Dessoff offers a choral tapestry reflecting on the civil rights movement of the past while promoting hope for the future. The program includes Ralph Vaughan William's plea for peace, Dona nobis pacem; Robert Sirota's homage to the nine victims of the Mother Emanuel AME massacre, Prelude and Spiritual for Mother Emanuel; works by female composers; and a commissioned work written by David Hurd. The concert closes with the well-known civil rights freedom song, "Oh Freedom."

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. 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 92-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.

Dessoff's recent discography includes 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 for more information.

About Malcolm J. Merriweather

Malcolm J. Merriweather, appointed as the ninth Music Director and conductor of the Dessoff Choirs in May 2017, is now in his second season. Conductor, baritone, and educator, he is also Assistant Professor and Director of Choirs at Brooklyn College of The City University of New York, Artist in Residence at Union Theological Seminary, and the Music Director of the "Voices of Haiti," a 60-member children's choir in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, funded by the Andrea Bocelli Foundation. Merriweather was previously Associate Choirmaster at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine under Kent Tritle.

Recent conducting highlights have included Mozart's Requiem, Vivaldi's Gloria, Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, and Orff's Carmina Burana. A protégé of Kent Tritle, Merriweather holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Conducting from the Manhattan School of Music, and Master of Music degrees in Choral Conducting and in Vocal Performance from the Eastman School of Music, as well as his Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from Syracuse University. His professional affiliations include membership in Pi Kappa Lambda, the American Choral Directors Association, the Association for Anglican Musicians, and Chorus America.

Tickets: All concert tickets may be purchased by visiting 2017-18 tickets go on sale June 1, 2017!

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