Mendelssohn Choir Of Pittsburgh Presents THE PROMISE OF LIGHT At Six Free Concerts

This season marks the choir's first-ever sensory-friendly concert.

By: Nov. 19, 2021

December 10-18, Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh (MCP) presents The Promise of Light, a light-hearted meditation that draws from the vast wealth of music and poetry about winter, the solstice, the holidays, and most importantly, why we celebrate at the darkest time of the year.
This season marks the choir's first-ever sensory-friendly concert, and all six performances are all free thanks to the generous support of the Buncher Family Foundation and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. Additionally, Urish Popeck & Co., LLC provided funding to underwrite the performance at St. Kilian Catholic Church.

"We are looking forward to inviting as many community members as possible to reunite and share live performances with the members of our choir after a long hiatus," says Robert Page Music Director Matthew Mehaffey.

At 114 seasons in operation, MCP is the city's most celebrated chorus. Composed of approximately 120 singers, it is led by Mehaffey. With its 2021-'22 season, the choir returns to live shows after more than a year.

"Live music is symbiotic," says MaryBeth Salama, who's been singing with MCP since 1981. "We can certainly sing into an empty church or rehearsal hall, and there is bliss in that. But interacting with the audience, singing for them, and then seeing and feeling their reactions - that's what live music is all about. The Promise of Light is a return to that relationship between the chorus and the patrons."

The Promise of Light features pieces by some of choral music's most popular composers, such as Randall Thompson and ?'riks Ešenvalds; fresh new voices in choral music, including Melissa Dunphy and Georgia Stitt; and well-known songs by the Fleet Foxes, Carole King, and Dolly Parton. The 70-minute concert also includes seasonal poetry and reflections by the likes of Robert Frost, Ogden Nash, Mary Oliver, Amy Gerstler, Margaret Atwood, and Joseph Campbell.

"You'd never expect music this beautiful to come out of the world we live in," says MCP singer Earle Ashbridge, "and what Matthew Mehaffey inspires this choir to do with these pieces is just incredible. I think audiences will leave The Promise of Light and never forget the experience."

Mehaffey himself notes, "From the beginning of time, our ancestors looked forward to the longest night of the year. Why? As the days shortened, ancient peoples feared the sun would disappear completely, and deprive the world of heat, light and life; yet, the end did not come, and the sun granted them a reprieve from death with just a few seconds more of light.
"Thus, over the millennia, to celebrate the resurrection of the sun back into the cosmic cycle, and eventually the birth of godheads who bring light into the world, they made the winter solstice a day of celebration. All of them, in every corner of the globe, in every corner of history."

He adds, "Whatever you celebrate, when you celebrate, your soul shares something with that first someone who looked up at the sun standing still in the mid-winter sky and knew it was not an end but a beginning. And if we strip away the stress and demands of the holiday season that we have created for our modern selves, we will understand the absolute necessity to celebrate the joy that all humanity has felt at this time of year, across time - joy in the promise of light, and in new beginnings."

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