Modern American choral music showcased in BMC concert

BRATTLEBORO — Do Americans love choruses? Check out the statistics: according to research done by Chorus America, 42.6 million people in the U.S. sing in more than 270,000 choruses today.

More Americans sing in choruses, chorales, choirs, glee clubs, and other vocal groups than engage in football, baseball, or tennis, making choral singing the ultimate participatory event in America.

The Brattleboro Concert Choir's American Idols concert brings together three of America's great choral composers - Eric Whitacre, Moses Hogan, and Alice Parker - along with one energized chorus and some of director Susan Dedell's favorite soloists and guest musicians. The concert will be held at the First Baptist Church on Main Street, on Saturday, May 19, at 7:30 p.m., and again on Sunday, May 20, at 3 p.m.

American choral music spans the emotional, spiritual, and technical gamut, with influences from a wide variety of ethnicities. Composer Alice Parker feels a strong affinity for American roots music, and has been vital in researching and presenting authentic settings of early American hymns and spirituals. In this concert, the choir will sing a grouping from her “Holy Manna” collection.

At 87, Parker continues to inspire and lead choral conventions and workshops across the country. The Concert Choir was thrilled to have a chance to work personally with her in early May. Her vibrant philosophy of music-making is inspirational, as is her dedication to help build strong singing communities.

Another American composer who has created an enduring body of authentically American choral music is Moses Hogan.

Hogan is recognized as a leading force in rejuvenating the genre of African American spirituals. His arrangements of over 70 works have become staples in the repertoires of choirs the world over. The chorus will be joined by soloists alto Jennifer Hansen, tenor/baritone Peter Shea, and soprano Margery McCrum.

Finally, the chorus will present to the community some of the works of Eric Whitacre, who has become perhaps the most recognized contemporary American composer to emerge in years. His first album as composer and conductor, “Light and Gold,” won a Grammy in 2012, and became the No. 1 classical album on the U.S. and UK charts.

Whitacre's ground-breaking Virtual Choir, Lux Arumque, received over a million views on YouTube in just two months. His “Virtual Choir 2.0, Sleep,” was released in April 2011 and included more than 2,000 voices from 58 countries.

For this program, the Concert Choir will sing “Five Hebrew Love Songs,” scored for choir, violin, piano, soprano, and alto. Joining the choir for this exotic sounding cycle are soprano Margery McCrum, alto Jennifer Hansen, violinist Kathy Andrew, and pianist Bruce Griffin. The choir will also sing Whitacre's arrangement of ee cummings's poem “i thank you god, for most this amazing day.”

“This piece has really resonated with the chorus,” said Dedell. “The combination of this fantastic poem and Whitacre's gorgeous sounds is magical.”

Tickets are $15, $10 for students, and can be purchased by calling the Brattleboro Music Center at 802-257-4523 or by visiting

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