A singular desire to bring to Boston’s listeners music that isn’t being heard anywhere else has inspired Cantata Singers’ programming for 50 years.
In 1964, that music included the cantatas of J.S. Bach. Today, it may be hard for us to believe, but when Cantata Singers was founded in 1964, live performances of Bach cantatas were quite a rarity. In fact, Cantata Singers’ early concerts featured the first Boston performances of many of the cantatas.
Bach’s music, from the cantatas to the B-minor Mass to the Passions, remains an essential part of Cantata Singers’ repertoire. However, the ensemble’s repertoire has expanded to include music from the 17th century to today. Cantata Singers has commissioned 13 works for choir and orchestra—including one that was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Music—and has presented more than fifty Boston premieres of music both old and new.
Many of Boston’s most talented musicians perform regularly with Cantata Singers. The chorus is made up of singers who have careers as musicians, educators, doctors, and architects. Many of these members appear as soloists with Cantata Singers, as well as with other highly respected organizations; some conduct other choruses and orchestras in the area. Although many of our musicians perform actively as solo singers, they choose to sing with Cantata Singers because of the reward they find in performing music of the choral canon at the highest possible level.
Cantata Singers has always focused on the music—be it by Bach, Verdi, Harbison, or Pärt—and its audiences do, too. Our audiences return year after year to hear fresh visions of iconic music, or an intriguing unfamiliar work that is—in fact—quite approachable. Each Cantata Singers concert is often surprising, sometimes challenging, always beautiful, and ultimately inspiring.
Cantata Singers announces its 50th Anniversary Season in 2013-14 – a celebration of the organization’s longstanding and varied musical contributions and leadership.
“This 50th anniversary season connects us to the founding principle of Cantata Singers, the depth and richness of J.S. Bach,” said Music Director David Hoose. “In fact, the entire season is bound together by his spirit.”
The 50th Anniversary Season will commence on Friday, September 20, 2013 at 8:00pm at NEC’s Jordan Hall in Boston with a reprise of Cantata Singers’ inaugural program. Cantata Singers’ first concert, presented in November 1964 at the First Church in Boston, featured Bach’s Cantata BWV 131 “Aus der Tiefen,” Cantata BWV 82 “Ich habe genug,” and Cantata BWV 72 “Alles nur nach Gottes Willen.” Cantata Singers’ 50th anniversary “Celebration of Bach Cantatas” will feature those same three exquisite cantatas. Beloved baritone and Bach specialist James Maddalena will join Cantata Singers to perform Cantata 82.
Cantata Singers will give its first-ever holiday concert—Claudio Monteverdi’s stunning Vespers of 1610 (Vespro della Beata Vergine)—in the beautiful acoustics of St. Paul’s Church in Cambridge on Saturday, December 7, 2013 at 8:00pm. Monteverdi’s Vespers, which was last performed by the ensemble in 1992, will be presented with a full period instrument ensemble.
Then, in the spirit of Cantata Singers’ groundbreaking performances of the Brahms Requiem, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, and the Verdi Requiem, Cantata Singers will present a free performance of another choral icon, Felix Mendelssohn’s Elijah, in the original German. Elijah is one of the few choral-orchestral icons of the classical canon that Cantata Singers has never tackled in its 50-year history. “Mendelssohn’s efforts to present and promote J.S. Bach’s music are credited for reviving Bach’s reputation and popularity in the 19th century. It was Mendelssohn who presented the first performance of the St. Matthew Passion after Bach’s death” said Music Director David Hoose. “Elijah is a fitting musical centerpiece for Cantata Singers’ 50th Anniversary Season, and it will be a rare opportunity to hear the work in German, the language that Mendelssohn conceived the music for.” With the support of the Free for All Concert Fund, this special performance will be presented for free on Saturday, February 22, 2014 at 8:00pm at NEC’s Jordan Hall. Mark Andrew Cleveland will sing the title role.
With its final concert of the 50th Anniversary Season, Cantata Singers will celebrate its commitment to the continually rewarding exploration of Bach’s cantatas as well as to the creation of new repertoire for the canon. Cantata Singers and Emmanuel Music have co-commissioned Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Harbison to write The Supper at Emmaus, a new work for soloists, chorus and chamber orchestra. The world premiere performance of Harbison’s new work will be paired with Bach’s Chorale Prelude BWV 649, “Ach, bleib bei uns” orchestrated by David Hoose, Jan Dismas Zelenka’s Miserere in C minor, ZWV 57, Zelenka’s Motets from Responsoria pro Hebdomada Sancta, ZWV 55, and Bach’s Cantata BWV 6, “Bleib bei uns, den es will Abend werden” (which is Bach’s setting of the same text as Harbison’s Supper at Emmaus) and will be held on Friday, May 9 at 8:00pm at NEC’s Jordan Hall.
David Hoose has been Music Director of Cantata Singers for thirty years. When he became the ensemble’s sixth music director, in 1984, he had already appeared as guest conductor during each of the three previous seasons and, before that, had performed with the ensemble on several occasions as horn player. Mr. Hoose also serves as Music Director of Collage New Music, a position he has held since 1987; with Collage he also had established a relationship before becoming its director, having conducted the ensemble many times. Since 1987, he has been Director of Orchestras at the Boston University School of Music, where he is Professor of Music. From 1994 to 2005, he was also Music Director of the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra.
Mr. Hoose has appeared as guest conductor of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Philharmonic, Saint Louis Symphony, Utah Symphony, Korean Broadcasting Symphony (KBS), Orchestra Regionale Toscana (Italy), Quad Cities Symphony Orchestra, Ann Arbor Symphony, Opera Festival of New Jersey, and at the Warebrook, New Hampshire, Monadnock and Tanglewood Music Festivals. In Boston he has appeared as guest conductor with the Boston Symphony Chamber Players, Handel & Haydn Society, Back Bay Chorale, Chorus Pro Musica, and numerous times both with the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra and with Emmanuel Music. He has also conducted the new music ensembles Auros, Alea III, Dinosaur Annex, Fromm Chamber Players, and the Brandeis Contemporary Players.
As Professor of Music in the School of Music of Boston University, Mr. Hoose has mentored numerous young conductors who now serve in distinguished professional conducting positions, from professional orchestras and opera companies, college and youth orchestras, and major U.S. orchestras. He has conducted the orchestras of the Manhattan School, Shepherd School at Rice University, University of Southern California, and the Eastman School, and has been guest conductor several times at New England Conservatory. From 2006-2010, he served on the faculty of the Rose City International Conducting Workshop, in Portland, Oregon. For twenty summers he has conducted the Young Artists Orchestra at Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute. His own musical studies were at the Oberlin Conservatory (composition with Walter Aschaffenburg and Richard Hoffmann) and at Brandeis University (composition with Arthur Berger and Harold Shapero). He studied horn with Robert Fries (Philadelphia Orchestra), Barry Tuckwell, Joseph Singer (New York Philharmonic), and Richard Mackey (Boston Symphony Orchestra), and his principal conducting study was with Gustav Meier at the Tanglewood Music Center.
Mr. Hoose is recipient of Choral Arts New England’s 2008 Alfred Nash Patterson Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2005 Alice M. Ditson Conductors Award for the Advancement of American Music, the Walter W. Naumburg Chamber Music Award (with the Emmanuel Wind Quintet), the ASCAP/Chorus America Award for Adventurous Programming (with Cantata Singers), and the Dmitri Mitropoulos Award at the Berkshire (Tanglewood) Music Center. His recording of John Harbison’s Mottetti di Montale, with Collage New Music, was a 2006 Grammy Nominee for Best Recording with Small Ensemble, and his recording with Collage of Donald Sur’s chamber works was recently released on Albany Records. Other recordings appear on the New World, Koch, Nonesuch, Delos, Composers’ Recordings (CRI), and GunMar, and Neuma labels.
During Mr. Hoose’s tenure as Cantata Singers Music Director, the organization has continued its devotion to the emotional, intellectual and spiritual riches found in the music of J.S. Bach, having performed more than thirty cantatas, most of the motets, several of the Lutheran masses, orchestral works, the Magnificat, the two passions, and the Mass in B minor, many of them several times. The ensemble has also enriched its commitment to music of our time, commissioning twelve works for chorus and orchestra, from ten composers: John Harbison (twice), Peter Child, Donald Sur, Andrew Imbrie, Andy Vores (twice), T.J. Anderson, James Primosch, Stephen Hartke, Lior Navok, and Yehudi Wyner. Many of these works respond to challenging issues: Sur’s Slavery Documents, Anderson’s Slavery Documents 2, and Navok’s Slavery Documents 3: The Trains Kept Coming…form the beginning of a stream of compositions that grapple with extraordinarily difficult subjects, American slavery and the Holocaust; Child’s Estrella protests 1980s American policy in Nicaragua; Harbison’s The Flight into Egypt suggests, through the metaphor of Mary and Joseph, the pain of the homeless; and Hartke’s Precepts, drawing upon Biblical verse, stands as a stern admonition against those who would use the Bible to hypocritical purpose. Cantata Singers has also commissioned three smaller works, one each from Edward Cohen, Thomas Oboe Lee, and Andy Vores, inspired by George Gershwin songs, and a brief a cappella work by William Cutter, in acknowledgement of Mr. Hoose’s twentieth anniversary as music director.
Under his leadership, Cantata Singers has also given premieres—world, U.S. and Boston—and first complete performances of a considerable body of music, including Igor Stravinsky’s Threni, Charles Fussell’s Specimen Days and High Bridge, Seymour Shifrin’s Cantata to the Texts of Sophoclean Choruses, Marjorie Merryman’s One Blood and Jonah, Harbison’s Four Psalms and Emerson, Sur’s Kumdori Tasaeng—The Birth of the Dream-Elf, Lacrimosa, and Sonnet 97, Earl Kim’s The Twenty-sixth Dream, Kurt Weill’s Symphony No. 1, Die Propheten, The Legend of the Dead Soldier and The Lindbergh Flight, Nicholas Maw’s One Foot in Eden, Still, I Stand, and Heinrich Schütz’s Schwanengesang.
Cantata Singers has also explored a wide range of standard and not-so-standard repertoire, including the requiems by Mozart, Brahms, Verdi, Duruflé and Fauré, Die Schöpfung and Die Jahreszeiten of Haydn, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, several oratorios by Handel, Schumann’s Scenes from Goethe’s “Faust,” Schoenberg’s De Profundis, Friede auf Erden, Dreimal tausend Jahre, and the Kammersymphonie, op. 9, Dallapiccola’s Canti di Prigionia, Schreker’s Kammersymphonie, the Webern Kantate Nr. 1, Messiaen’s Trois petites liturgies, and Stravinsky’s Les noces, Symphony of Psalms, Oedipus Rex, Mass, Requiem Canticles, Threni, Introitus, and The Rake’s Progress in staged performances.
For Cantata Singers, Mr. Hoose has created orchestrations of Irving Fine’s The Choral New Yorker, Charles Fussell’s Invocation, Johannes Brahms’ Geistliches Lied, Max Reger’s Canzone, scenes from Kurt Weill’s Der Weg der Verheissung, Charles Ives’ Psalm 90, Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Mass in G minor, two orchestrations of Robert Schumann’s Vier Doppelchörige, and Franz Liszt’s Via Crucis. The four recent seasons that have focused, respectively, on the music and lives of Kurt Weill, Benjamin Britten, Heinrich Schütz, and Ralph Vaughan Williams, enabled a broad exploration of each composer’s work and brought a heightened urgency and continuity to more than two decades of already original and compelling programming.
In 12-session residencies, children work with Cantata Singers Teaching Artists and classroom teachers to compose and perform an original cantata. Working with texts and themes that are integrated into the core curriculum of the classroom, students explore the language of rhythm and melody, giving shape to their individual voices while deepening their understanding of the core subject matter. Over the course of the residency, the cantata is thoughtfully developed and rehearsed under the guidance of our Teaching Artists. A performance is held for their school community and again for other Classroom Cantatas partnering schools at a much anticipated culminating event. Students are fully engaged throughout, from first thought to final performance, sharing with their peers in the enriching process of composition, rehearsal and performance.
Residencies extend beyond musical and curricular frameworks, and into other valuable lessons, as well:"I learned you have to respect others and cooperate."
"I learned if you work together, it goes faster."
Classroom Cantatas brings out the best in students and visibly demonstrates, in both the students' performance and their written cantata, how much they are able to accomplish, and how unique and valuable their voice is in the world today. Through Classroom Cantatas, Boston children have had the opportunity to bring alive - in words and music - their own experiences, emotions and understanding of the world. Exploring subject matter through our integrated arts program leaves students with new skills and self-confidence, as well as a bound copy of their own cantata and a CD of their performance.
“ I learned if you work together, it goes faster. ” Classroom Cantatas has been a proud partner in urban Boston schools since 1992. In addition, Cantata Singers also offers free or significantly reduced concert tickets to all participating teachers and students, encouraging the development of a lifelong love of music.
JS Bach: Cantata - BWV 67 - 'Halt im Gedächtnis Jesum Christ' - Sung in English - Chorus: Hold in affection Jesus Christ2012
Cantata No 11 - BWV 11 - "Praise our God": Chorus "Wenn soll es doch geschehen"2015
Five Songs of Experience: II Earth's Answer2010