Attend a Summer Choral Festival Without Leaving New York City

Have you considered participating in our Summer Choral Festival? A new Van.org interview with Artistic Director Matthew Lewis by Vice President Claire Marinello answers all your questions about the Festival and gives insight into the process and repertoire:

Claire Marinello: How does the Summer Choral Festival work?

Matthew Lewis: Basically, it’s a way of attending a summer choir festival without leaving New York City. A sort of “staycation” for choral groupies. There are wonderful opportunities to leave New York to attend choir festivals, but this one allows people to continue their summer routine while participating in a two-week intensive workshop with a performance at the end.

For me, it started when we used to host “summer sings.” These were evenings when we would gather to read through a big choral piece, often with a guest conductor. The singers had so much fun, but often wished they could get to know the piece a bit better, allowing them to enjoy it more. So, we started this festival with that thought in mind. After four rehearsals, the singers know the piece better than they would with only one reading! Not to mention we have professional section leaders, which really helps. The result has been wonderful – an outstanding choral sound after only two weeks.

CM: This year’s program consists of Aaron Copland’s In the Beginning and Randall Thompson’s The Peaceable Kingdom. Why did you choose those two pieces?

ML: We are in our bicentennial year, so I thought it would be great to pay homage to two American composers. Furthermore, since people enjoy singing so much, a program of unaccompanied music seemed due. Randall Thompson came to mind immediately, as one of the most significant American composers of choral music. The Peaceable Kingdom is a wonderful work, not performed very often, that I am certain singers and audience will enjoy. And, of course, Aaron Copland is one of the great American composers. His In the Beginning is a masterpiece for unaccompanied chorus with alto solo. The two share some similarities, but are varied enough to offer a great program.

I should also add that the Church of the Incarnation is a great space for a cappella music. The acoustic is warm for chamber music without being too distant. It’s not a cathedral acoustic, but one that allows the audience to hear what is going on with a warm acoustic enhancement.

Read more on Van.org >>

Sing With Us This June

Where will you be this June?

If your answer is "In New York City, wishing I were away at a choral festival," we have an opportunity for you.

Beginning Tuesday, June 6, we will host a two-week choral intensive, with two rehearsals a week, culminating in a free performance of Copland's "In the Beginning" and Thompson's "The Peaceable Kingdom" on Saturday, June 17 at 7:00 pm.

We want you to participate!

Never sung with us before? Apply online by May 22 for an early-bird discount.

Sung with us before? No need to fill out the application form. Pay by May 22 for an early-bird discount.

Can't sing in the Festival? We can't wait to see you at our free concert on June 17.

Click for more details, including rehearsal dates and costs.

Learning the Brahms Requiem in Two Weeks: Report from the Summer Choral Festival

DESIGN BY ANDREW SPINA © 2015

The best treat after a hard day’s work? Ice cream? Binge tv watching? Relaxing in a bath with a glass of wine? No, no, and no: Challenging ourselves with German words set to the Romantic music of Johannes Brahms. This year, the Summer Choral Festival hosted by St. George’s Choral Society will present Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem on June 18 after only two weeks of rehearsals.

Committed to this challenge, the participants of the choral festival came to the first two rehearsals this past week with their pipes in working order and phenomenal focus (there was only one “where are we?”). The chorus’ high level of engagement has allowed Artistic Director Matthew Lewis to concentrate on dynamics, phrasing, and diction, rather than on note learning.

For example, in the opening and closing movements (“Selig sind”), we used dynamics to convey the sense of peace imparted to the blessed mourners and blessed dead. Honing our German pronunciation (forte consonants, piano vowels!) brought out the hair-raising reminder of mortality found in “Denn alles Fleisch.” The joyous fugues sprinkled throughout the piece (“Der Gerechten Seelen sind in Gottes Hand,” “Herr du bist wurdig,” to name a few) elevated the phrasing and highlighted the gorgeous blend of each vocal section as the theme swept through the different parts.

Rehearsing the Brahms Requiem for the JUNE 18, 2016 Summer Choral Festival concert. Photo: Blessing Agunwamba.

By the end of the second rehearsal, we have now gone through the entire piece in depth. Exploring such a beautiful composition with a committed group of individuals is an amazing summer treat. The melodious musicality that Dr. Lewis achieved from the group during this first read augurs an excellent concert. 

If you are not singing in the festival, come be uplifted and comforted on June 18 at 7pm at the Church of the Incarnation on Madison Avenue and 35th Street. The concert is free and will be followed by a choir benefit ($25 to attend the benefit).

Hear the Brahms Requiem and Support the Choir

Please join us on June 18 at 7PM for our end-of-season concert and a benefit to kick-off our 200th Anniversary season.

Design by andrew spina © 2015

Design by andrew spina © 2015

Our concert is free, and features Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem. 

Our benefit, immediately following the concert, is $25 and will feature:

Drinks and desserts
Auctions for homemade goodies (custom cupcakes, cases, and more!)
Raffles for gift baskets
A wine pull with mystery bottles of wine worth $20 and more

Space for the benefit is limited to 70, so register today! 

Register and pay online:

Both the concert and benefit will be held at Church of the Incarnation at the corner of Madison and 35th Street.

Summer Choral Festival Featured on the Vocal Area Network

DESIGN BY ANDREW SPINA © 2015

DESIGN BY ANDREW SPINA © 2015

Beginning Tuesday, June 7, St. George's Choral Society will host a two-week choral intensive, with two rehearsals a week, culminating in a free public performance on June 18 at 7 PM of Brahms's Ein deutsches Requiem. This performance will feature Brahms's arrangement of the work for chorus and piano, four hands. Both the choral intensive and public performance will take place at The Church of the Incarnation on Madison Avenue and 35th Street, New York City.

I spoke with Dr. Matthew Lewis, Artistic Director, about his founding of the Summer Choral Festival when summer sings abound.

Laura Daly: What did you think was lacking in the usual summer sings that prompted you to start St. George’s Choral Society Summer Festival?

Michael Lewis: My goal is to allow the singers more time to become more comfortable and confident with the music. Summer sings are great fun, but it always seemed to me that singers would enjoy themselves more if we had more time to rehearse. So, the Summer Festival really allows for that. At the same time, there is a fun aspect to it. It’s summer time; we are all here to enjoy ourselves through music, and camaraderie. So, there is a certain comfortable aspect to it.

>>Read on at Van.org

Apply for our 2016 Summer Choral Festival

DESIGN BY ANDREW SPINA © 2015

Though it certainly doesn’t feel like it outside today, summer will be here before you know it. In preparation, we are now accepting applications for our 2016 Summer Choral Festival.

Beginning Tuesday, June 7, St. George's Choral Society will host a two-week choral intensive, with two rehearsals a week, culminating in a performance of Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem, featuring Brahms' arrangement of the work for chorus and piano, four hands, on Saturday, June 18 at 7:00 pm.

Participation costs $175.00 for those who apply early and are accepted and pay by May 8 and $225.00 for those who apply and are accepted and pay by June 2. In certain instances, financial aid may be available.

Learn more and apply.