Jason Tramm Leads The Morris Choral Society 'Songs Earthly And Divine'
The Morris Choral Society (MCS) will present their annual Holiday Concert entitled "Songs Earthly and Divine" in two performances, Saturday December 8 at 8PM and Sunday December 9 at 3PM at St. Virgil's Parish, 250 Speedwell Avenue in Morris Plains, New Jersey. Tickets range from $25 for General Admission, $20 Seniors (60+) and $15 Students and may be purchased online at www.morrischoralsociety.org .
The seventy-member Morris Choral Society will be led by noted conductor and MCS Music Director Jason Tramm. The concert will feature soloists Stephanie Babirak, harpist and Michael Shane Wittenburg, piano.
The Morris Choral Society's highly anticipated Holiday Concert "Songs Earthly and Divine" continues a 35-year, Morris County tradition and will showcase spirited and inspirational holiday music designed to delight the entire family. The holiday concert program reflects 300 years of musical gems from Bach to Berlin. The centerpiece of the concert will be Benjamin Britten's exquisite "A Ceremony of Carols" composed for choir and harp. Written in 1942 while returning to England, following the composer's residence in New York City between the war years of 1939 and 1942. In NYC Britten had the chance to meet and know several of our nation's most influential musicians, artists and writers including Aaron Copeland, Leonard Bernstein, Edward Hopper, Salvador Dali and W.H. Auden. "A Ceremony of Carols" reflects America's influence on Benjamin Britten's evolving musical style. This beautifully melodic work, which recounts the Christmas story, is inspired by a collection of English poems written in Latin and Middle English between the 14th -16th century. Britten found "The English Galaxy of Shorter Poems published by Gerald Bullett in Nova Scotia during Britten's 1942 voyage from NYC to England and composed "A Ceremony of Carols" at sea. Britten's cantata is made up of 11 movements or carols, 10 with voice and one for solo harp.
The MCS will also perform new settings of "Deck the Halls" and "The Holly and the Ivy" as well as holiday selections from John Rutter and contemporary New Jersey composers David Eddleman and Wayne Walters.
Featured guest, harpist Stephanie Babirak has been lauded by The Huffington Post as "seraphic" and "a lovely harpist," Ms. Babirak is both a classical and contemporary musician as well as a much sought- after teacher of the harp. Her performance experience is as extensive as it is diverse: including engagements at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, rock concerts at Terminal 5 and warehouse spaces with Brooklyn LoftOpera. Stephanie has performed professionally with orchestras, chamber groups, vocal ensembles as well as in the recording studio working for Indie and Major label artists including The Joy Formidable, Adele, and Andra Day. Her playing has been featured on USA Network's television series "Mr. Robot." Stephanie holds a M.M. from Mannes School of Music where she studied with Susan Jolles, and a B.M. from the conservatory at SUNY Purchase where she also studied ballet at the dance conservatory.
The Morris Choral Society, now celebrating its 45th year is one of Northern New Jersey's oldest and most active and beloved not for profit arts organizations dedicated to enhancing community life by performing and presenting the highest quality classical choral repertoire from the last three centuries.
Since its founding in 1973 the Morris Choral Society (MCS) has dedicated itself to the residents of Morris County and has played a significant role in Northern New Jersey's artistic community, nominated by its peers for the 2018 New Jersey People's Choice Award, Choral Group Division.
Traditionally each performance season includes two major concerts as well as several concert appearances at many of Morristown's annual celebrations: Independence Day, the 911 Observance, its Holiday Festival on the Green and First Night. The MCS has performed with Judy Collins in her Christmas Show; with Dave Brubeck in La Fiesta de la Posada, at the Mayo Performing Arts Center. The Morris Choral Society has received international recognition performing successful concerts in England in 1990, Ireland in 1994, Scotland and Wales in 1996, France in 1998 and Italy in the summer of 2000. The MCS has been represented by "ambassadorial" choral contingents in multi-choral units in Eastern Europe in 1997 and 2000. Over the past 5 decades the MCS has assembled a vast and varied musical repertoire, the cornerstone of which is an impressive library of music from the Renaissance to the present. MCS is home to the popular sextet, Express Male a lively, fun-filled sextet with a dazzling repertoire consisting of serious choral pieces, traditional gospel songs, Broadway favorites and a variety of popular tunes. Formed four years ago as an independent vocal ensemble within The Morris Choral Society, Express Male continues to entertain audiences at major MCS concerts and is featured in concerts throughout the region.
The MCS is funded in part by the Arts Council of the Morris Area through the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding has also been provided by the Arts Council of the Morris Area/Dodge Foundation Partnership. To learn more about the Morris Choral Society and its programming visit www.morrischoralsociety.org.
Morris Choral Society's Music Director Jason Tramm is recognized as one of the most dynamic young conductors on the podium today. Appointed to the position in 2016 Tramm has led the MCS in the New Jersey premiere of Karl Jenkin's "The Peacemakers" in 2017 as part of MCS Spring Concert "Peace, Triumphant Peace. "Tramm also serves as Director of Music in Residence of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association for the past 11 years, where he leads the choral, orchestral, and oratorio performances in the 6500-seat historic Great Auditorium, appearing in two National Public Radio broadcasts with organ virtuoso, Gordon Turk and orchestra. The 2009 HDTV broadcast presentation with PBS affiliate NJN, "Verdi Requiem: Live from Ocean Grove" with Tramm at the podium, garnered a regional Emmy Award nomination. Tramm is an Assistant Professor at Seton Hall University, College of Communication and the Arts where he leads the University, Choir, Chamber Choir and teaches voice and conducting. Tramm currently serves as principal conductor of the MidAtlantic Opera with whom he made his Carnegie Hall debut.
A frequent guest conductor, Tramm has led operatic and symphonic performances in Italy, Romania, Albania, and in Hungary, where he recorded an album of rarely heard French operatic arias with the Szeged Symphony. He was Guest Conductor on the Narnia Festival (Narni, Italy) during the 2017 season. Guest conducting/Masterclass engagements for the 2018 season include the Adelphi Orchestra, the Long Island Concert Orchestra, The Mid-Manhattan Performing Arts Foundation, Light Opera of New Jersey, and the University of Hawaii at Manoa.