Dessoff Choirs Announces Holiday Concert Series, December 2-11
The Dessoff Choir today announced their annual holiday concert series. Now in its 98th year, The Dessoff Choirs continues to lead audiences into the holiday spirit with three performances at some of New York’s finest churches. This season’s offerings include the popular choir sing-along of Handel’s Messiah followed by a pair of concerts featuring Christmas carols and season favourites.
The holiday season kicks off with what has become an annual tradition for singers across New York City: the annual singing of Handel’s Messiah at Harlem’s Union Theological Seminary. The 40+ member The Dessoff Choirs will be joined by audience members of all ages and singing abilities. “One of the highlights of our season is singing ‘Hallelujah!’ side by side with our neighbors,” says Malcolm J. Merriweather, Dessoff’s ninth musical director. “It doesn’t get more festive and warmer than that!” The following weekend, Dessoff performed a pair of Welcome Yule! concerts celebrating Mother and Child, the miracle of childbirth, and Mary in her universal aspect as mother of all the Prophets and co-redemptrix with Christ. John Tavener’s Mother and Child (2022) will accompany dishes by standard holiday and contemporary arrangements of classics, including a candlelit rendition of Silent Night.
The Dessoff Choirs, one of New York’s premier choirs, is an independent choir with an established reputation for pioneering interpretations of choral works from the Renaissance to the 21st century. Since its founding in 1924, Dessoff’s concerts, professional collaborations, community outreach and educational initiatives have aimed to stimulate public interest and appreciation for choral music as an art form that enhances culture and the life of our time. With a repertoire spanning a wide variety of eras and styles, Dessoff’s musical insight and flexibility have been recognized with invitations from major orchestras for oratorios and orchestral works. Past performances include Britten’s War Requiem and Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with Lorin Maazel in his final performances as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic.
Over its nearly 100-year history, Dessoff has presented many world premieres, including works by Virgil Thomson, George Perle, Paul Moravec and Ricky Ian Gordon; the first American performance in nearly 100 years of Montemezzi’s La Nave with the Teatro Grattacielo; and the American premieres of Philip Glass’ Symphony No. 5 and Sir John Tavener’s Night’s Vigil, The Veil of the Temple.
Dessoff’s recent discography includes Margaret Bonds: THE BALLAD OF THE BROWN KING AND SELECTED SONGS, an early recording of Margaret Bonds’ coronation, which was cited as “Best Classical Recording of 2019” by WQXR-FM Radio; REFLECTIONS, with music by Convery, Corigliano, Moravec and Rorem; and GLORIES ON GLORIES, a collection of American songs featuring composers from Billings to Ives. The Dessoff Choirs are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and by funds from the New York State Council of the Arts with support from the Bureau of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. Please visit dessoff.org for more information.
Conductor and baritone Malcolm J. Merriweather leads a versatile career with performances ranging from songs by Margaret Bonds to gems of the symphonic choral repertoire. The baritone can be heard on the GRAMMY nominated recording of Paul Moravec’s Sanctuary Road (NAXOS). Hailed by Opera News as “moving…expertly performed”, Margaret Bonds: The Ballad of the Brown King & Selected Songs (AVIE) has received tremendous praise worldwide.
He is Director of the New York Philharmonic Chorus and Music Director of the Dessoff Choirs of New York, known for their interpretations of great choral works from the pre-Baroque era through the 21st century. Associate Professor, Director of Choral Studies and Coordinator of the Vocal Department at Brooklyn College, City University of New York, he also joined the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music. He was the founding artistic director of “Voices of Haiti”, a 60-member children’s choir in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, run by the Andrea Bocelli Foundation.
Maestro Merriweather’s 2022-2023 year began with conducting the Trinity Wall Street Choir in three (staged) performances of Considering Matthew Shepard. In his new appointment as director of the New York Philharmonic Chorus, he prepares the professional chorus for three programs throughout the season for Maestro Jaap van Zweden, including Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony for the reopening of David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center . With the Dessoff Choir, he conducts Duruflé’s Requiem, Bach’s Saint John Passion and the motets of Vicente Lusitano, the first published black composer. This season includes the long-awaited release of the debut recording of Margaret Bonds’ Creed and Simon Bore the Cross with the AVIE label. His solo baritone engagements include Messiah at Carnegie Hall; Sanctuary Road with the Cincinnati May Festival and the Penn Square Music Festival.
Merriweather holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in Orchestral Conducting from Kent Tritle’s studio at the Manhattan School of Music, where her doctoral dissertation “Now I walk in Beauty, Gregg Smith: A Biography and Complete Works Catalog” was compiled the first complete list of works. for the composer and conductor. He earned a Master of Music in Choral Conducting and Vocal Performance from Rita Shane’s studio at the Eastman School of Music, as well as a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Syracuse University, summa cum laude. His professional affiliations include membership in Pi Kappa Lambda, the American Choral Directors Association and Chorus America. Connect with him on Twitter and Instagram @maestroweather.
COVID policy: Proof of vaccination and mandatory masks.
Tickets: All concert tickets can be purchased by visiting dessoff.org.
THE MESSIAH SINGS!
Friday, December 2, 2022 at 7:30 p.m.
Union Theological Seminary, 3041 Broadway @ 121st Street, Manhattan
George Friderick Handel (1685-1759)
WELCOME YULE: MOTHER AND CHILD
Friday, December 9, 2022 at 7:30 p.m. St. Paul the Apostle, 405 West 59th Street, Manhattan
Sunday, December 11, 2022 at 4 p.m. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 199 Carroll Street @ Clinton Street, BrooklynTickets: $35 General, $24 Seniors/Students
Program: Carol: Oh come all faithful John Francis Wade (1711-1786) arr. David Willcocks (born 1919-2015)
Verbum Caro factus est Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612)
Loquebantur Thomas Tallis (1505-1585)
Regina Caelli Vicente Lusitano (1520-1561)
Carol: Hear the Herald Angels Sing Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) arr. Daniel Fortune
CoventryCaro Gregg Smith (1931-2016)
Go Tell It On The Mountain Evelyn Simpson-Curenton (b. 1953)
Mother and Child (2002) John Tavener (1944-2013)
Song: Silent Night Franz Xaver Gruber (1787-1863)
Hallelujah of the Messiah George Friderick Handel (1685-1759)