Sing with Us!

Rehearsals for our Fall 2018 concert begin on September 5. We have an exciting season planned, and we want you to sing with us! 

Want to join for the first time? We will hold auditions for all voice parts on September 5 and 12, from 6:00-7:00. Contact us to schedule an audition. 

We rehearse from 7:00–9:30 PM on Wednesday evenings at St. George's Chapel, 5 Rutherford Place, one block east of Third Avenue between 16th and 17th Streets. Find out more about membership in the Members section of our website.

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Member Dues To Increase for the 2018–2019 Season

This summer, the St. George's Choral Society Board met and had a very productive meeting, covering everything from member engagement to fundraising to operations. St. George's Choral Society has made every effort to keep member costs low. In surveying other choirs throughout the greater New York Metropolitan area, it became evident that we were below market with membership dues and ticket prices—two key components in meeting our annual budget. 

The board decided to raise member dues to market value. Beginning this season, dues will be $225 per year plus the cost of mandatory score purchase, $70 for this season. The board decided not to raise the member ticket costs; they will remain at $25 each, with the requirement of four tickets per concert. This will enable the choir to better meet its goals for this and upcoming years. As always, members are not turned away during times of financial hardship. Please speak to Matthew Lewis directly about this.

2018–2019 Season Announcement

We are pleased to announce our repertoire for the 2018–2019 season. Sing with us! We welcome new members of all vocal parts.

Fall Concert with Orchestra
Sunday, November 18

Bach: Der Geist hilft unsrer Schwachheit auf, BWV 226
Haydn: Missa Cellensis, "Cecilia Mass," Hob XXII:5

The motets of J. S. Bach are brilliant works, posing challenges and rewards to choral singers. They are filled with technical demands (fast passages, sustained singing, German diction, rhythmic precision, to name a few). Scored for double chorus, Der Geist hilft unsrer Schwachheit auf (The Spirit gives aid to our weakness) is in three sections: an opening Allegro for double chorus, a contrapuntal section for four parts, and a closing chorale, all sung in German. Haydn's Missa Cellensis in Honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary is rarely done. With so many wonderful masses by Haydn, it is still surprising that this one is often overlooked. Exciting, dramatic choral movements, together with some of the most amazing solo movements of any mass setting, make this piece a spectacular concert item. The orchestra writing is particularly tricky—Haydn is never predictable! Singers will enjoy the opportunity to focus their technique with these two masterworks, and audiences, unaware of the technical demands, will enjoy a delightful concert.

Spring Concert with Organ
Sunday, May 5


Milhaud: Sacred Service

French composer Darius Milhaud (1892-1974) was a member of Les Six, a group of French composers that included Poulenc and Honegger. He composed the Service Sacré pour le Samedi matin in 1948. It is one of only two such settings for the Jewish liturgy, along with that of Ernest Bloch. This colorful, varied, and poignant work is a masterpiece of the 20th century sacred repertoire. Sung in Hebrew with narrations in English, it is scored for baritone soloist, narrator, choir and organ. This program will appeal to a broad variety of singers and will be a unique offering on the NYC choral concert scene.

Summer Choral Festival with Orchestra
Saturday, June 15
Rehearsals begin June 4


Durante: Magnificat
Handel: Laudate pueri, HWV 237

Until recently, Pergolesi was thought to be the composer of this Magnificat, but recent scholarship credits Francesco Durante. The music remains the same—a delightful setting of the Virgin Mary's song of praise, for string orchestra, chorus and soloists. Handel's Laudate pueri is a brilliant work for strings, oboes, chorus and soprano soloist. While the Durante is a well-known piece, the Handel is a unique opportunity for choral singers. Both pieces will be sung in Latin. A sunny program for summer!

Notes on the Verdi Requiem

On April 29, we will present a joint concert of the Verdi Requiem with the Greenwich Village Orchestra, a 70-person community orchestra under the baton of Barbara Yahr.  Tickets are now on sale. Learn more about this piece of music in these program notes, by John Bawden.

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When Rossini died in 1868, Verdi proposed that a Requiem should be written in honour of the great man. Thirteen leading Italian composers, including himself, would each be invited to contribute a movement. Somewhat predictably, initial enthusiasm for the idea soon gave way to all sorts of professional rivalries, and when it also became clear that the piece would be little more than an unconvincing pot-pourri, the scheme had to be abandoned.

In 1873 the Italian poet, novelist and national hero Alessandro Manzoni died. Verdi had been a lifelong admirer and was deeply affected by his death. He decided to write a Requiem in Manzoni’s memory, and began by re-working the Libera me which he had composed five years earlier for the ill-fated Rossini project. Though it is Verdi’s only large-scale work not intended for the stage, the Requiem is unashamedly theatrical in style, with passages of great tenderness and simplicity contrasting with intensely dramatic sections. Writing at the time, the eminent conductor and pianist Hans von Bülow aptly described it as “Verdi’s latest opera, in church vestments.” 

The first performance of the Messa da Requiem took place on May 22, 1874, the first anniversary of Manzoni’s death, in St. Mark’s Church, Milan. Special permission had to be obtained from the Archbishop for the inclusion of the female choristers, who were hidden behind a screen and clad in full-length black dresses and mourning veils. Though it was a successful performance, the restrained circumstances and prohibition against applause produced a somewhat muted reaction. In contrast, the second performance three days later, at La Scala Opera House, was received by the capacity crowd with tumultuous enthusiasm. The Requiem became an overnight sensation, and was equally ecstatically received at the many European performances that soon followed. Its British premiere took place in May 1875 at the Albert Hall, conducted by Verdi himself, with a chorus of over 1000 and an orchestra of 140. One journalist described the work as “the most beautiful music for the church that has been produced since the Requiem of Mozart” – a view that was echoed by most people. However, a significant minority found it offensive that Verdi, an agnostic, should be writing a Requiem. For them the very qualities which made his music so ideally suited to the theatre made it wholly unacceptable for the church. Today this difference between traditional sacred music and Verdi’s operatic treatment of the Requiem text no longer presents a problem. 

The work begins with a hushed and solemn falling phrase on the cellos, a motif that recurs later. After the opening Requiem aeternam (Rest eternal), the Kyrie follows, introduced by the four soloists. Here the operatic nature of the piece is clearly revealed, with its expansive rising melody and wide dynamic contrast. 

The lengthy second movement, Dies irae (Day of wrath, day of judgement), is a sequence of nine widely contrasting sections containing some of Verdi’s most dramatic and emotional music, notably the terrifying Dies irae theme with doom-laden thunderclaps provided by the bass drum; the on- and off-stage trumpets representing the “last trump” of Biblical prophecy; and the tender pleading of the Salva me (Save me). The Dies irae motif is never far away, but eventually the terrors of the Last Judgement give way to the heartfelt Lacrymosa dies illa (That tearful day), and quiet final prayer, Dona eis requiem (Grant them peace).

For the Offertory Verdi adopts a much more liturgical idiom, with a predominantly four-part vocal texture over a restrained accompaniment for the soloists’ Domine Jesu. Trumpet fanfares announce the exhilarating Sanctus & Benedictus, an animated fugue for double chorus based on an inversion of the opening cello motif, with colourful, scurrying orchestral writing 

The Agnus Dei sounds at first as if it is from some remote region. After the rich romanticism of much of the earlier music, Verdi presents us with an austere, unaccompanied duet, in bare octaves. The chorus answers, also in octaves but with the addition of a small group of instruments, and then, as the second and third statements of the Agnus Dei text progress, the music grows in richness and warmth. Lux aeterna (Light eternal) is a short movement for a trio of solo voices, sometimes unaccompanied and sometimes supported by shimmering strings. 

After the chant-like opening of the final movement, Libera me (Deliver me), and a short arioso for the soprano soloist, Verdi returns to the original Dies irae and Requiem aeternam themes. The extended final section of the work is another energetic fugue, again loosely based on a version of the cello motto. After a tremendous climax the work gradually moves towards a quiet end, though the concluding prayer of supplication, surely reflecting Verdi’s own uncertainty, noticeably lacks the final serenity and assurance of salvation found in most other Requiems. 

Few choral works have captured the public imagination in the way that Verdi’s Requiem has. The uncomplicated directness of his style, his soaring, lyrical melodies which lie perfectly for the human voice, the scintillating orchestration and, most significantly, the work’s extraordinary dramatic and emotional intensity, all contribute to the Requiem’s status as one of the great icons of Western music.  -  John Bawden

Meet our Soloists for the Verdi Requiem

On April 29, we will present a joint concert of the Verdi Requiem with the Greenwich Village Orchestra, a 70-person community orchestra under the baton of Barbara Yahr. This fiery and intense, powerful and transcendent Requiem will feature a stellar line-up of soloists. Tickets are now on sale.

 Rebecca Farley, Soprano

Rebecca Farley, Soprano

Soprano Rebecca Farley holds a master's degree from The Juilliard School where she appeared as the Controller in Flight, Bubikopf in Der Kaiser von Atlantis, and covered Amina in the Met+Juilliard production of La Sonnambula. She premiered the role of Mary in Angela Rice's oratorio Thy Will Be Done at David Geffen Hall and has performed as soloist with the Cecelia Chorus in Bach's Magnificat and in his Christmas Oratorio at Carnegie Hall.


 Raehann Bryce-Davis, Mezzo-soprano

Raehann Bryce-Davis, Mezzo-soprano

George London award winner Raehann Bryce-Davis, hailed by the New York Times for her "striking mezzo soprano" recently sang Verdi’s Requiem with Marywood University, joined the Aspen Music Festival for John Corigliano’s Of Rage and Remembrance, and performed Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. This season she joins Theater an der Wien as Wellgunde in Wagner’s ring cycle and makes her Carnegie Hall debut with the New York Oratorio Society in the world premiere of Paul Moravec’s Sanctuary Road.


 Jonathan Tetelman, Tenor

Jonathan Tetelman, Tenor

Tenor Jonathan Tetelman is also an old hand at the Verdi Requiem, having performed it with the Milan Festival Orchestra last season in Lake Como, Italy. This season he joins the Metropolitan Opera roster for Norma, makes his New Orleans Opera debut as Marco in Chadwick and Barnet’s Tobasco. Upcoming engagements include Rodolfo in La Bohème with English National Opera and Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly with Virginia Opera. He has previously performed with St. George’s Choral Society as a soloist for Dvorak’s Stabat Mater and Dvorak's Requiem.


 Christian Zaremba, Bass

Christian Zaremba, Bass

Bass Christian Zaremba, described by the New York Times as "a stage animal with a big bass voice" is currently singing the role of Angelotti in Tosca at the Metropolitan Opera. This season he has also sung Sparafucile in Rigoletto at Michigan Opera Theater, and Zuniga in Carmen with Austin Opera. Recent engagements include Il Re in Aida with the National Symphony and the Bass Soloist in The Little Match Girl Passion with the Glimmerglass Festival and Portland Opera.

SGCS at 200: The National Television Broadcast of Noye’s Fludde

This is the final piece in a series of posts celebrating St. George's Choral Society's history during our bicentennial year.

 CBS broadcast of  Noye's Fludde , 1964.

CBS broadcast of Noye's Fludde, 1964.

At Christmas time in 1964, CBS broadcast St. George's production of Benjamin Britten’s Noye's Fludde to a national audience. The performance featured the Choral Society and members of St. George's Church, ages 4 through 90.

The program included an interview with St. George’s Church’s Rev. Dr. Edward O. Miller. He discussed the relevance of the performance and reasons the Church and its music program undertook such an enormous production:

"We decided that the time had come to have a parish church present something which would draw together the entire community. People of all ages. In this performance were people from preschool age through their 80s. Which would bring together people of all religions or of no religion. Which would give them something of high standard, which was first-rate musically. In which they could all throw themselves and join. This is why we chose this particular performance. And we called together 200 people in the cast. As you’ve seen, there were 100 animals and birds. We had a few unexpected difficulties. We had planned to have the animals and birds come in two by two. At the first performance however, we discovered that one of the weasels had come down with the measles.

 The birds enter the ark. From CBS broadcast of  Noye's Fludde , 1964.

The birds enter the ark. From CBS broadcast of Noye's Fludde, 1964.

"We had a second reason for doing this, and this was to give people a sense of the roots in the past in a day when many people are frightened that humanity may be blown off the face of the earth. Here is a story, a biblical story, written probably 1,000 years before the time of Christ, but based on legends long before that. The Babylonian myth of the flood, which is preserved for us in certain of the ancient epics. Here is a miracle play, and written by a great contemporary British composer. This is why we chose to perform this particular work, and this is why the people have been so enthusiastic that we are not only going to show it on television at this performance, but we are going to have other performances at St. George’s Church from May 13 to 16, 1965."

 

As our 200th year comes to a close, Rev. Miller’s words about the importance of bringing together a community ring as true now as they did more than 50 years ago. We thank you for being a part of our community today.

Happy New Year!

Join our community this #GivingTuesday

Tomorrow is #GivingTuesday, a day to give back to the community through charitable giving.

For 200 years, St. George’s Choral Society has focused on community. We are a community of diverse singers, amateur and professional. We are a community of audience members, who come from the New York City area and beyond to experience live choral music.

This #GivingTuesday, join or continue your membership in a third community: The community of supporters that has enabled St. George’s Choral Society to perform great works of choral music throughout our 200-year history.

Your support ensures our continued dedication to our community. Thank you.

Meet the Soloists

Learn more about the soloists for our performance of Dvorak's Requiem on Sunday, November 19 at 2:30 pm:

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Praised by The Washington Post for her “clarion” voice with “a wealth of shades," French and Canadian soprano Chloé Olivia Moore makes her role debut this season as as Liù in Turandot with both Dayton Opera and Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, and sings performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with both The Orchestra Now and the Rogue Valley Symphony. Last season she sang Nedda in I pagliacci (Dayton Opera), Donna Anna in Don Giovanni (Bar Harbor Music Festival), and made her Kennedy Center debut in the Art Song Discovery Series; with Vocal Arts DC. Other recent performances include: Leïla in Les pêcheurs de perles (Dayton Opera) and Donna Anna in Don Giovanni (Castleton Festival). While a Resident Artist at the prestigious Academy of Vocal Arts she performed numerous roles including: Violetta in La Traviata, Manon Massenet’s Manon, Tatyana in Eugene Onegin, Adina in L'elisir d’amore, Mélisande in Pelléas et Mélisande, Antonia in Les contes d’Hoffman, Garcias in Don Quichotte, Zdenka in Arabella, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni, and Ms. Brown in the world premiere of The Scarlet Letter. On the concert stage, Ms. Moore has performed Rossini’s Stabat Mater, Poulenc’s Gloria, Mozart’s Requiem, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and Haydn’s Creation. Ms. Moore has won top prizes with the George London Foundation (George London Award), Gerda Lissner Foundation (1st Prize), Giulio Gari Foundation (2nd Prize), Liederkranz Foundation (3rd Prize, Opera Division), Loren Zachary Vocal Competition (3rd Prize), and in her native Canada with the Prix Jeune Espoir Lyrique Canadien with Les Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques.


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Hailed as a “vibrant stage personality” matched with a “sizable creamy mezzo,” Carla Jablonski’s vocal versatility has captivated audiences across the globe. Ms. Jablonski was most recently praised for inhabiting the title role in Dido and Aeneas with “impressive sophistication.” She returns to The Metropolitan Opera this season to sing in productions of Cavalleria Rusticana, Parsifal and Verdi’s Requiem. She also sings as soloist in Dvorak’s Requiem. Past seasons include her role debut as Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte followed by performances of the Secretary in The Consul with Florida Grand Opera, with whom she also sang Annina in La Traviata and 3rd Lady in Die Zauberflöte. Previously, she’s sung various roles with Wolf Trap Opera, Opera Santa Barbara, Central City Opera, and Chautauqua. Equally at home on the concert stage and an advocate of new music, Ms. Jablonski made her Lincoln Center debut at Alice Tully Hall singing Five Songs by Charles Ives arranged for orchestra by John Adams, followed by her Carnegie Hall debut as the alto soloist in Handel’s Messiah. She also has sung as a featured soloist with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, New York Festival of Song, Caramoor International Music Festival, and American Opera Projects, among others. She holds a Master of Music from The Juilliard School and a Bachelor of Music from Manhattan School of Music and is a recipient of a Drama Desk Award.


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Praised by Opera News for his “galvanizing presence,” this season tenor Jonathan Tetelman makes his New Orleans Opera debut as Marco in Chadwick and Barnet’s Tobasco. He also joins both the Berkshire Opera Festival and Gulf Shore Opera for Duca in Rigoletto, the Metropolitan Opera’s roster for their production of Norma, and sings Dvorak’s Requiem with St. George’s Choral Society. Last season, Mr. Tetelman sang his first performances of Rodolfo in La bohème with the Fujian Grand Theatre in China, joined the Milan Festival Orchestra in Lake Como, Italy for Verdi’s Requiem, the Orchestra Now for Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, and made his Carnegie Hall debut with the New England Symphonic Ensemble for Mozart’s Coronation Mass. Additionally, he joined St. George’s Choral Society for Dvorak’s Stabat Mater, Gulf Shore Opera for concert performances including selections of Alfredo in La Traviata, Rodolfo in La bohème, Duca in Rigoletto, and was a finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions New York District. Other recent performances include: Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus(Martina Arroyo Foundation); Gnecchi’s Cassandra (Teatro Grattacielo); and Steven Sankey in Weil’s Street Scene, Freddy Eynsford-Hill in My Fair Lady, and Alfredo in La Traviata (Opera North). Mr. Tetelman is the First Prize winner in the 2016 New York Lyric Opera Competition, 2016 prize-winning finalist in the Mildred Miller (Opera Theater of Pittsburgh) Competition, and was a semi-finalist in both the Giulio Gari International Vocal Competition and the Gerda Lissner International Vocal Competition.


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A recipient of the prestigious Lenore Annenberg Fellowship in the Arts, baritone Alex Lawrence made his Vancouver Opera debut in the 2017 season as the title role in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, and will debut the role of Il Conte in the same opera in the 17/18 season with Opera Naples. Formerly a member of the ensembles of Theater Basel and Opernhaus Zürich, Lawrence made his European debut in Switzerland singing The Hunter in Rusalka, Moralès in Carmen and L’Ami in Debussy’s rarely performed La Chute de la Maison Usher. Since then, he went on to make several further role debuts in Zürich, including Silvio in Pagliacci under Alexander VedernikovNed Keene in Peter Grimes under Erik Nielsen, and the three baritone roles of Bohuslav Martinu’s rarely performed Juliette, under Fabio Luisi. Previous noteworthy engagements included his principal role debut with the Glimmerglass Festival in Cooperstown, NY, singing Belfiore in Verdi’s King For a Day, of which The New York Times noted the debut of a “sensational” new talent. In 2014, Lawrence performed in a high profile gala concert for the 85th Anniversary of the Ópera de Bellas Artes alongside legendary tenor Franzisco Araiza, soprano Maria Katzarava and bass Eric Halfvarson. He made his Lucerne Festival debut as Don Quixote in Manuel De Falla’s El Retable del Maese Pedro conducted by Clement Power, performed as the baritone soloist in Mendelssohn’s Die Erste Walpurghisnacht with the Orchestra Symphonique de Mulhouse, and debuted the role of Sam in Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti for the opening festival of Opernhaus Zürich’s 2012/13 season. A 2007 B.M. graduate of Northwestern University, Alex Lawrence received an Artist Diploma from the Academy of Vocal Arts in 2011, and has been a top prizewinner in several major international competitions.

We Rely on Your Support

When Mayor Bill De Blasio proclaimed April 30, 2017 to be “St. George’s Choral Society Day,” his proclamation read:

“St. George’s Choral Society has used music to pave the way to a better and brighter future for our communities. For two centuries, it has been enriching the cultural life and vitality of our great city.”

We celebrate the close of our 200th year with a performance of Dvorak's Requiem on November 19.  Please support our 200th anniversary concert. Our goal is to raise $20,000 to help present this momentous performance to the community.

2018 Cultural Development Fund Award

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We are thrilled to announce that once again we have received a 2018 Fiscal Year Cultural Development Fund grant from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA).

This year, the DCA awarded us $6,600 in support of our 2017–2018 season, including our Fall and Spring concerts and Summer Choral Festival. 

We are grateful for the DCA's continued support.