Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia Awarded $50,000 by Archie W. and Grace Berry Foundation to Support Upcoming Concert

Award-winning Chorus Performing The Sound of Spirit: Pärt/Haydn
in February 2014 as Part of its 140th Season

Composer Arvo Pärt(Philadelphia) Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia has been awarded $50,000 by The Archie W. and Grace Berry Foundation to fund The Sound of Spirit: Pärt/Haydn. The concert will be performed at the Church of the Holy Trinity on Rittenhouse Square on Sunday, February 23, 2014 with The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia.

“We’re delighted to be able to support this cultural treasure once again,” said Susan Kohlhas, a trustee of The Archie W. and Grace Berry Foundation. Kohlhas added, “The Sound of Spirit program is another great example of how Mendelssohn Club continues to combine the best of the masterworks with some of the most innovative modern compositions and bring them to life for audiences of all ages in the 21st century. The Foundation is especially glad to be able to play a role in helping present Mendelssohn Club’s 140th season here in Philadelphia.”

When asked how he chose this particular combination of choral works, Mendelssohn Club Artistic Director Alan Harler observed that, “Since 9/11, though most Americans have thankfully escaped the direct ravages war can bring within our borders, there is a war-related mental fatigue that colors our perceptions. The Sound of Spirit presents very different responses to the tragedy of war by two uniquely gifted composers writing across a gulf of two centuries.”

Arvo Pärt and Joseph Haydn were each deeply moved by the grim realities of war in their own times. Written during the incessant French aggression against the Austrians, Haydn’s Mass in Time of War embodies the sounds of battle juxtaposed to prayers for peace. Avro Pärt also sought to find common ground as a way to bridge warring factions through his music.

In addition to Haydn’s Mass in Time of War, Mendelssohn Club will present an encore performance of Arvo Pärt’s Adam’s Lament which was praised by critic David Patrick Stearns when it was first presented in October 2011 as “seethingly passionate” and “harmonically explosive.” Two shorter works by Pärt, including the North American premiere of his Estonian Lullaby and Salve Regina, complete the program.

Other recent grants awarded to Mendelssohn Club include the Samuel S. Fels Fund award for $3,000 to support general operating expenses and the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts award for $4,000 for technical assistance. During FY 2013, the Chorus received more than $210,000 in public and private grants.

Sound of Spirit program details:

The Sound of Spirit: Pärt/Haydn
with The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia

February 23, 2014 | 4 pm
Church of the Holy Trinity, Rittenhouse Square
1904 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103

$28, $38 online | $30, $40 at the door
Tickets for the 2013-2014 season, visit

Mass In Time of War, Franz Josef Haydn
France had been at war with Austria almost continuously since the French Revolution. Haydn composed the Missa in tempore belli (Mass In The Time of War) in 1796 while Austria was mobilizing its troops again after an ineffectual peace accord. The Austrians endured a series of defeats by the French, and Napoleon’s armies occupied Vienna in 1805 and again in 1809.

Salve Regina, Adam’s Lament, and Estonian Lullaby, Arvo Pärt
In Adam’s Lament, Pärt looked for themes that would speak to both the Christian and Islamic worlds. He chose the story of Adam, the father of all mankind. Likewise, the Salve Regina was conceived in the spirit of communal singing, originally written for the four choirs of the Essen Cathedral. The Lullaby is written in ways that defy meter, giving a sense of timelessness within the context of a mediation for peace.

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Alan Harler, Artistic Director
Artistic Director Alan Harler, who received the Michael Korn Founder’s Award for Development of the Professional Choral Art, is known for such a pairing of new works and the masterworks. During his twenty-five year tenure with Mendelssohn Club, he has commissioned over 50 new compositions, including David Lang’s battle hymns (2009), Jennifer Higdon’s On the Death of the Righteous, and Pauline Oliveros’ Urban Echo: Circle Told (2008) in his 20th anniversary season. Maestro Harler conducted Mendelssohn Club in a critically acclaimed recording of the Moran Requiem for Argo/London Records in 1994.

Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia
For the past 140 years, Mendelssohn Club Chorus has been devoted to sharing great choral music as a way to connect artists, audiences and communities. Mendelssohn Club, one of America’s oldest choruses, continues to expand its repertoire in the 21st century by collaborating with a wide range of musical organizations, each of which is devoted to representing or reaching out to new audiences in innovative ways. Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia performs choral music to create a shared transcendent experience among its singers and audiences. Through the excellence of its adventurous performances, Mendelssohn Club advances the development of choral music as an art form.

“Few organizations have so strategically embraced innovation and collaboration.” explains Tom Kaiden of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, “Mendelssohn Club constantly finds new ways to bring the audience into the experience. It’s why they are one of the most exciting choruses in America today.”

For information about Mendelssohn Club’s concerts and programs, or to order tickets for the 2013-2014 season, visit

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