LSM Newswire

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Phila Singers in Concert at Verizon Hall is Centrepiece of National Conference


500 arts leaders from across the United States and Canada expected to attend Conference and The Philadelphia Singers Centerpiece Concert in The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts

PHILADELPHIA, PA – The Philadelphia Singers will host the 32nd Annual National Chorus America Conference in Philadelphia from June 10th through the 13th at the Hyatt at Penn’s Landing and has the distinct honor of presenting the Centerpiece Concert in Verizon Hall at The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Broad and Spruce Streets, on Thursday, June 11 at 8:00 p.m. The concert will include Donald Martino’s a cappella Seven Pious Pieces and Charles Martin Loeffler’s gorgeous By the Rivers of Babylon performed by The Philadelphia Singers fully professional chorus. The finale will feature Anton Bruckner’s exquisite and seldom performed masterpiece, Mass in E Minor, featuring the glorious 150-voice Philadelphia Singers Chorale. The concert is open to the general public. Tickets are $36, $51 and $61 and may be purchased by calling 215-893-1999 or online at

Music Director David Hayes said, “The Centerpiece Conference will put the artistic focus almost exclusively on the chorus, showcasing The Philadelphia Singers’ artistry and virtuosity.” Bruckner’s Mass in E Minor combines moments of quiet a cappella tranquility with passages of soaring beauty. The Philadelphia Singers Chorale will be joined by woodwinds and brass from the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. A unique combination of flutes, harp, cello and organ will accompany the women of The Philadelphia Singers on Loeffler’s By The Rivers of Babylon and will feature organist Michael Stairs on The Kimmel Center’s magnificent Fred J. Cooper memorial organ. An expanded chorus of fifty-voices from the fully-professional ensemble will perform Martino’s a cappella Seven Pious Pieces.

Bruckner’s Mass in E Minor for chorus, wind and brass instruments is considered his first great work, premiering in 1866 when he was 42 years old. It is a beautiful combination of intricate Italian Renaissance polyphony and the dark sonorities and lush harmonies of the Romantic period. His use of a wind band makes it unique among the composer's works and among 19th-century liturgical works in general. Bruckner's choral writing is among the most glorious and powerful in all Romantic music: the polyphony for eight-part chorus in the Kyrie and the Sanctus is matched by few of his contemporaries. Bruckner's harmonic language is enormously expressive throughout, and much of the music is obviously inspired by the music of Wagner, whose Tristan und Isolde Bruckner had just heard.

American Donald Martino, who died in 2005, won the Pulitzer Prize in Music in 1974 and was the former chair of the New England Conservatory’s composition department. His Seven Pious Pieces is an a cappella work for mixed chorus set to texts by 17th century poet Robert Herrick. The Philadelphia Singers previously performed the piece in 1994 at its Philadelphia Premiere. Although Martino was known as an academic and a serialist composer, in an interview with the Boston Globe in 1980, he said, ''My music is not austere and academic. It is a fantasy that anyone writes academic music. I write music for people to listen to, to react to; I want them to say, 'Hey, this is nice!' " It is in this spirit that he set out to write Seven Pious Pieces, which he composed with an intent to demonstrate that a twelve-pitch piece could be made to sound tonal.

Charles Martin Loeffler was born in Germany, but lived most of his life in America, becoming a U.S. Citizen in 1887. By the Rivers of Babylon is set to text from Psalm 137. It is typical of his choral writing, which he often set to texts that reflect the sadness and transience of life, the loss of something once known and loved. To express this quality, he used a unique instrumentation of two flutes, harp, cello and organ. The melodic line is reminiscent of the reciting tones of Gregorian chant and the unusual orchestration provides an intriguing contrast to the women’s chorus.

The 32nd Annual Chorus America Conference and Centerpiece Concert will shine a national spotlight on The Philadelphia Singers, and welcome the service organization back to its birthplace. Michael Korn, who founded The Philadelphia Singers in 1972, established Chorus America in 1977 as the Association of Professional Vocal Ensembles. The association has since expanded and in 1993 officially changed its name to Chorus America to reflect its role as a service organization that embraces the broad spectrum of choruses. For more information on Chorus America Conference and the Conference visit

The Philadelphia Singers, a professional choral ensemble, engages and inspires a broad range of audiences in the Philadelphia region with compelling concert experiences. The Singers has a special commitment to preserve and strengthen America’s rich choral heritage through performances, commissions, and music education. It seeks to enrich the broader community through embodying the highest standards of classical musicianship and providing a platform for its musicians to serve the community in a wide variety of formats.

Founded in 1972 by Michael Korn, The Philadelphia Singers has been under the dynamic leadership of Music Director and Conductor David Hayes since 1992. For 36 years, The Philadelphia Singers has contributed to the city’s vibrant cultural community through presenting choral music of the highest caliber, meaningful education and community programs, and significant collaborations with local, national and internationally recognized performing arts organizations. In 2001, The Philadelphia Singers Chorale was named Resident Chorus of The Philadelphia Orchestra, the first time in the orchestra’s history that a chorus has received this distinction. The Philadelphia Singers Chorale appears on all of the orchestra’s choral subscriptions concerts including performances at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts annual performances of Handel’s Messiah and the “Glorious Sounds of Christmas” as well as appearances at the Saratoga Performance Arts Center. Maestro Wolfgang Sawallisch, Conductor Laureate of The Philadelphia Orchestra, hails The Singers as “one of the musical treasures of Philadelphia.”

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