Featuring Timberdale Brass, pianist Ting Ting Wong, organist Andrew Kotylo, and guest composer Marques L.A. Garrett

Saturday, December 9, 2023
Two performances * 2pm & 5pm
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
22 E. Chestnut Hill Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19118

In December, we present our beloved holiday tradition of carols familiar and fantastical, featuring Timberdale Brass, organist Andrew Kotylo, and pianist Ting Ting Wong.

As part of our ongoing intention to advance the work of living composers, this year’s A FEAST OF CAROLS will include a world premiere commissioned work by Marques L. A. Garrett, who is in high demand as a composer, conductor, and scholar. He is the world’s leading researcher and presenter on the non-idiomatic choral music of Black composers, and he is the author of the recently published anthology The Oxford Book of Choral Music by Black Composers. Garrett’s compositional output is wide-ranging, always exuding the uplifting warmth that characterizes the composer himself.

Continuing a new holiday tradition, Mendelssohn Chorus will also premiere four new Postcard Carols commissioned last season for loved ones composed by our very own Artistic Director & Conductor Dominick DiOrio.

Our time-honored performance will take on a particular glow for our 150th season. Join us immediately following our 5pm performance for a post-concert reception honoring long-time singers and supporters Tom and Ellie Elkinton. Be sure to secure your tickets before they sell out!

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Saturday, February 17, 2024
One performance *4pm
Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral
19 S 38th St, Philadelphia, PA 19104

In February we present, LOVE, LOSS, LONGING: an intimate afternoon at Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral with three song cycles that span centuries, continents, and cultures, unified by universal desire to connect with one another.

Brahms’ beloved Liebeslieder Waltzes, for chorus and piano four hands, exudes the vitality and vulnerability of its pining romantic texts and the distinctive Ländler folk dances on which the songs are based.

Two shorter song cycles, Abbie Betinis’ From Behind the Caravan: Songs of Hâfez, performed by the sopranos and altos of Mendelssohn Chorus, and Eric Whitacre’s Five Hebrew Love Songs are set to poems from Persian and Israeli poets respectively. With solo violin and percussion, each evokes the poet’s language and culture with atmospheric tenderness and rhythmic exuberance. With the addition of riq (and Iranian goblet drum) Betinis imbues Hafez’s Farsi text with her study of Persian speech, scales and modes, evoking a distant memory of her own Greek heritage. Whitacre’s Love Songs were inspired by a vacation in the Swiss alps with his then lover, and author of the text, Hila Pittman, a deservedly oft-performed work that is lush, romantic, and captivating.

Additional works performed by Jennifer Higdon, Morten Lauridsen, Reginal Wright, and the premiere of Dominick DiOrio's A Bright Morning Dawns set to a newly commissioned poem by Philadelphia playwrite Jaqueline Goldfinger. 

Join us on this February afternoon to connect in ways myriad and magical with a collection of songs that are hopeful, heartfelt, and human.

This concert is sponsored in part by Roberta Rote and Martin Levitas; and, the Cassel Family in memory of Sam Cassel.

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A World Premiere by Melissa Dunphy

Saturday, April 27, 2024
One performance * 4pm
Girard College Chapel
2101 S College Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19121

The final concert of our 150th anniversary season will, quite literally, be one for the ages. We continue our partnership with Commonwealth Youthchoirs, supported in part by the Presser Foundation, to present a concert devoted to climate justice. ON THE HORIZON will include a major world premiere by Philadelphia-based composer of global renown, Melissa Dunphy. Scored for adult chorus, children’s chorus, brass, and percussion, with texts written by members of Commonwealth Youthchoirs, the work will address this defining issue of our future as part of a global effort to forge a better world for our children.

As part of Melissa Dunphy’s personal mission statement, she desires to write music “relevant to the world around it that exists in that world,” and music that “is inspired by and explores real-world issues of social justice and personal relationships.” Equally comfortable writing works for choirs of all ages, works both intimate and incisive, there is no composer better suited to take on this powerful and important task.

Commonwealth Youthchoirs, with an impressive history of performances at home and across the globe, “empowers their singers to express themselves boldly, and to strive for excellence in rehearsal, on the stage, and as members of the community.” We are proud to join forces with such powerful musicians to continue a decades-long tradition of commissioning significant new additions to the choral repertoire, and to bring this timely new work to life as the moving finale of our 150th anniversary season.

Additional funding provided by: Alan Harler New Venture Fund, Musical Fund Society, National Endowment for the Arts, and The Presser Foundation.

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