Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia Begins Its 15th Decade on October 25, 2013

Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia Begins Its 15th Decade on October 25, 2013
With an Evening of Great Works for Chorus and Organ at the Kimmel Center

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACTS:
Janelle McCoy, Executive Director
Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia
215.735.9922

Edward McNally, Above The Fold
404.281.6419

(PHILADELPHIA) Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia opens its 140th anniversary season at Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center with a program of great works for chorus and organ. The 140 members of the famed symphonic chorus will perform music by Benjamin Britten, Louis Vierne, Marcel Dupré, Charles Ives and Zóltan Kodály.

Michael Stairs will command the Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ, the largest mechanical-action concert organ in the United States. Michael Barone, host of American Public Media’s Pipedreams, will provide special commentary from the stage. This concert is part of the Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ Series.

The audience will experience a tour of great organ composers from Europe and the United States beginning with Britten’s Festival Te Deum and Jubilate Deo in C, in honor of Britten’s birth centenary. Louis Vierne’s Messe Solennelle and Marcel Dupré’s Four Motets will represent the great French organ tradition. The program concludes with two works with American connections: Charles Ives’ setting of Psalm 90 and Zóltan Kodály’s Laudes Organi, which was commissioned by the American Guild of Organists. An historic footnote: In the early 20 their respective world tours and performed some of their most impressive organ recitals on the legendary Wannamaker organ.

“Verizon Hall’s pipe organ is a magnificent instrument with a very expansive palette of tonal colors,” declares Pipedreams host Michael Barone. “Like the great pipe organs around the world, it is capable of marvelous extravagances and very nuanced subtleties. In a program as rich and varied as this one, everyone in the hall will experience exquisite, fragile tones – mere musical whispers, as well as awesome waves of sound— avalanches of music! It promises to be a very moving and thrilling concert.”

The Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ (Dobson organ Op. 76) is the largest mechanical-action concert hall organ in the United States. This king of instruments has nearly 7,000 pipes, four blowers, 300 levels of memory, 111 stops, pipe sizes ranging from about the size of a drinking straw up to two feet wide by 32 feet high.

“Each of the very diverse pieces in this program were composed specifically for a chorus performing together with a pipe organ,” notes Mendelssohn Club artistic director Alan Harler. “These works will showcase all of our 140 singers in full voice while a truly mighty instrument provides symphonic-size sound. It’s exciting to have the chance to perform such beautiful music and also show our audience how much vocal power we are capable of….especially in a space as grand as Verizon Hall,” says Harler. “What a glorious way to ring in our 15th decade.”

Later in 2014, Mendelssohn Club will present Anthracite Fields, the world premiere of a new work by the award-winning American composer Julia Wolfe. The 140-member chorus will give four performances of the work in the historic Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral on April 26 and 27, 2014. Anthracite Fields is inspired by Wolfe’s own research into Pennsylvania coal mining culture and interviews with miners and their families. Wolfe’s folk-classical hybrid will incorporate the architecture of the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral’s sanctuary space as a dramatic backdrop. Mendelssohn Club will be joined by the musicians of the internationally renowned Bang on a Can All-Stars for all four performances of this important world premiere.

Anthracite Fields will be the fourth of five concert programs in Philadelphia featuring the historic chorus this coming season. The concerts will take audiences across a range of musical genres and performance spaces. Mendelssohn Club will open and close their season in Verizon Hall at The Kimmel Center.

For information about Mendelssohn Club’s concerts and programs, or to order tickets for the 2013-2014 season, visit www.mcchorus.org. You can also find Mendelssohn Club on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mcchorus.

October 25 Concert Details

Kimmel Center Organ Concert
featuring organist Michael Stairs
October 25, 2013 | 7:30 pm
Verizon Hall

Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
300 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Tickets available through Ticket Philadelphia (215) 893-1999

The Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ

• Weight: approximately 32 tons

• Number of Pipes: 6,938

• Largest Pipe: 2 feet square by 32 feet long and made of wood

• Smallest Pipe: the size of a drinking straw and made of metal

• Number of Combination Pistons: 48

• Number of Toe Pistons: 22

• Range of Wind Pressures: three blowers totaling 25 horsepower

• Levels of Memory: 300 ( refers to how many thousands of preset combinations that can be stored for the organists’ use during performance)

The Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ (Dobson organ Op. 76) is the largest mechanical-action concert hall organ in the United States. This king of instruments has nearly 7,000 pipes, four blowers, 300 levels of memory, 111 stops, and has pipe sizes ranging from about the size of a drinking straw up to two feet square by 32 feet high. In February 2006, the organ was named in honor of the late Fred J. Cooper, the father of Chara Cooper Haas. Fred J. Cooper was a jeweler and organist in Philadelphia for many years and passed on a love of music, and organ music in particular, to his daughter and to his grandson Frederick R. Haas, the current chair of the Kimmel Organ committee.

Festival Te Deum (1944)
Jubilate Deo in C (1961) – Benjamin Britten
Benjamin Britten (1913 – 1976) was a central figure of 20th-century British classical music with a very wide range of works including opera and other vocal music, orchestral and chamber pieces and film scores. His best-known works include the opera Peter Grimes (1945), the War Requiem (1962) and the orchestral showpiece The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra (1945). During his long career, he wrote 15 operas, establishing himself as one of the leading 20thcentury composers in the genre. Britten was also a celebrated pianist and conductor, performing many of his own works in concert and recording his own works as well as Bach’s Brandenburg concertos, Mozart symphonies, and song cycles by Schubert and Schuman.

Messe Solennelle (1906) – Louis Vierne
Louis Vierne (1870 – 1937) is considered one of the greatest composers for organ. His compositions for organ include six organ symphonies, 24 Fantasy Pieces and 24 Pieces in Free Style, among other works. Vierne also composed several chamber works including sonatas for violin and cello, a piano quintet and a string quartet, as well as vocal and choral music and a Symphony in A minor for Orchestra. Beginning in 1892, Vierne served as an assistant to organist CharlesMarie Widor at the church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris. Vierne was later named principal organist at the cathedral of NotreDame de Paris, a post he held from 1900 until his death in 1937.  Late in his career, Vierne embarked on an extensive recital tour throughout North America to raise money to restore the Notre Dame organ. During this tour, the composer performed several major recitals on the famous Wannamaker Organ here in Philadelphia.

Four Motets (1916) – Marcel Dupré
Marcel Dupré (1886 – 1971) was a child prodigy born into a musical family. In 1926, he was appointed professor of organ performance and improvisation at the Paris Conservatoire, a position he held until 1954. In 1934, Dupré succeeded Charles-Marie Widor as titular organist at St. Sulpice in Paris, a post he held until his death in 1971. Dupré became famous for performing more than 2000 organ recitals throughout Australia, the United States, Canada and Europe, which included a recital series of 10 concerts of the complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach in 1920 and 1921, both performed entirely from memory. The sponsorship of an American transcontinental tour by the John Wanamaker department store rocketed his name into international prominence. Dupré’s “Symphonie-Passion” began as an improvisation on Philadelphia’s Wanamaker Organ.

In many ways Dupré may be viewed as a ‘Paganini’ of the organ – being a virtuoso of the highest order, he contributed extensively to the development of technique. As an improviser, Dupré excelled as perhaps no other did during the 20th century, and he was able to take given themes and spontaneously weave whole symphonies around them. As a composer, he produced a wide-ranging oeuvre of 65 opus numbers.

Psalm 90 (1923–24) – Charles Ives
American modernist composer Charles Ives (1874-1954) is one of the first American composers of international renown. He combined the American popular and church-music traditions of his youth with European art music. Ives was among the first composers to engage in a systematic program of experimental music, including polytonality, polyrhythm, tone clusters, aleatoric elements, and quarter tones, foreshadowing many musical innovations of the 20th century. Ives was inspired by hymn tunes and traditional and patriotic songs, sentimental parlor ballads, the town band at holiday parades, the fiddlers at Saturday night dances and the melodies of 19th century.  He was quoted as saying that Psalm 90 was the only one of his works that satisfied him.

Laudes Organi (In Praise of Organs) (1966) – Zóltan Kodály
The Hungarian composer Zóltan Kodály (1882 – 1967) was an ethnomusicologist, pedagogue, linguist and philosopher. H is works show a great originality of form and content, blending classical, late-romantic, impressionistic and modernist tradition with the folk music traditions of Hungary and areas of Slovakia and Romania. Kodály composed Laudes Organi in 1966 for the National Convention of The American Guild of Organists.

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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.

Earlier this year, Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia received the prestigious Chorus America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, which recognizes choruses that demonstrate a commitment to fostering and promoting new music. “Few organizations have so strategically embraced innovation and collaboration,” according to Tom Kaiden, former Executive Director 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 www.mcchorus.org You can also find Mendelssohn Club on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mcchorus.

Alan Harler, Artistic Director
Artistic Director Alan Harler, who received the Michael Korn Founders Award for Development of the Professional Choral Art, is known for pairing new works and the masterworks. During his twenty-five year tenure with Mendelssohn Club, he has commissioned over 55 new compositions, including David Lang’s battle hymns (2009), Jennifer Higdon’s On the Death of the Righteous, and Pauline Oliveros’s Urban Echo: Circle Told (2008). Maestro Harler conducted Mendelssohn Club in a critically acclaimed recording of the Moran Requiem for Argo/London Records in 1994.

Michael Stairs – Organist
Michael Stairs studied the organ with Alexander McCurdy at The Curtis Institute in Philadelphia after receiving his B.M. from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. In 1986, Stairs became the official organist of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He is currently the Chairman of the Music Department at The Haverford School and serves as the organistchoirmaster at The Church of the Redeemer in Bryn Mawr.

Michael Barone
Host of Pipedreams and The New Releases
Minnesota Public Radio
Barone has been host and senior executive producer of Pipedreams since its inception in 1982. Pipedreams is produced and distributed by American Public Media and remains the only nationally distributed weekly radio program exploring the art of the pipe organ. Barone’s talent and commitment have been recognized with numerous awards, including the American Guild of Organists President’s Award in 1996, the Distinguished Service Award of the Organ Historical Society in 1997 and the 2001 ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award. In November 2002, he was inducted to the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame. He also hosts broadcasts of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and The New Releases on Minnesota Public Radio.

Each week on Pipedreams, Barone shares selected organ works and performances, encouraging listeners to engage both their ears and imaginations to gain greater appreciation of this instrument. He talks with composers, organists, organ builders and restorers. The show features brand new instruments in churches and concert halls, plus historic pipe organs recorded in locations around the world, from ancient instruments in vast cathedrals to the “mighty Wurlitzers” of movie house fame.

Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia 2013-14 Season

Kimmel Center Organ Concert
featuring organist Michael Stairs
and commentary by Michael Barone, host of Pipedreams

October 25, 2013 | 7:30 pm
Verizon Hall
Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
300 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Tickets available through Ticket Philadelphia (215) 893-1999

Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia opens its 140 organ. Highlights from the early and mid-twentieth century include Benjamin Britten’s Festival Te Deum and Jubilate Deo presented in honor of Britten’s birth centenary. Louis Vierne’s Messe Solennelle and Marcel Dupré’s Four Motets will represent the great French organ tradition. The program will conclude with two works with American connections:

Charles Ives’ setting of Psalm 90 and Zóltan Kodály’s Laudes Organi, which was commissioned by the American Guild of Organists.

The concert features organist Michael Stairs on the Fred J. Cooper Memorial Organ, the largest mechanical-action concert organ in the United States. Michael Barone, host of American Public Media’s Pipedreams, will provide special comments.

A Feast of Carols
with The Mendelssohn Brass and organist Michael Stairs
December 14, 2013 | 5 pm
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church of Chestnut Hill
22 E. Chestnut Hill Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19118

Tickets: $28, $38 online | $30, $40 at the door

Celebrate the holidays with the 140 voices of Mendelssohn Club! Experience the beauty of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, listen and sing along to carols old and new, and enjoy the quaint charm of the shops and restaurants of Chestnut Hill. Featuring organist Michael Stairs, the Mendelssohn Brass and including works in honor of Donald St. Pierre, Mendelssohn Club’s Composer-in-Residence.

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

Despite being separated by over two centuries of music, Arvo Pärt and Joseph Haydn both sought to make sense of the lengthy wars of their times, each touched in some way by the grim realities of war and each providing his own individual response through composition.

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. Similarly, Pärt sought to find common ground as a way to bridge warring factions through his music. Performed on this program is an encore performance of Arvo Pärt’s Adam’s Lament, praised by critic David Patrick Stearns 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.

Anthracite Fields by Julia Wolfe
with Bang On a Can All-Stars
April 26, 2014 | 4 pm & 7:30 pm
April 27, 2014 | 4 pm & 7:30 pm

The Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral
13 South 38th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Tickets $28 online | $30 at the door
Experience the mining lore of the anthracite coal fields of central Pennsylvania through this new, folk-classical hybrid by composer Julia Wolfe, runner-up for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in music. The sound and lyrics of Anthracite Fields is inspired by Wolfe’s personal research and miner family interviews. The premiere performances will incorporate the architecture of The Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral’s sanctuary space as a dramatic backdrop. Mendelssohn Club joins forces with the internationally renowned Bang on a Can All-Stars for this very special series of four concerts over two days.

Anthracite Fields was commissioned through Meet the Composer’s Commissioning Music/USA program, which is made possible by generous support from the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Helen F. Whitaker Fund. Additional support was made possible through the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia Alan Harler New Ventures Fund; The Presser Foundation; The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage; the National Endowment for the Arts; and The Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia. Visit www.anthracitefields.com to follow the development of this new Julia Wolfe work in the months leading up to it’s world premiere in April 2014.

 

Beethoven Symphony No. 9
with the Philadelphia Sinfonia
June 8, 2014 | 4 pm
Verizon Hall
Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts
300 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19102

Tickets available through Philadelphia Sinfonia at www.philadelphiasinfonia.com

Don’t miss a wonderful opportunity to hear all 140 voices of the magnificent Mendelssohn Club Chorus along with
some of Philadelphia’s most talented young musicians. Mendelssohn Club joins the Philadelphia Sinfonia in Beethoven’s
monumental Ninth Symphony with Maestro Gary White conducting.

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.

Earlier this year, Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia received the prestigious Chorus America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, which recognizes choruses that demonstrate a commitment to fostering and promoting new music. “Few organizations have so strategically embraced innovation and collaboration,” says Tom Kaiden, former Executive Director 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.”

Alan Harler, Artistic Director

Artistic Director Alan Harler, who received the Michael Korn Founders Award for Development of the Professional Choral Art, is known for pairing new works and the masterworks. During his twenty-five year tenure with Mendelssohn Club, he has commissioned over 55 new compositions, including David Lang’s battle hymns (2009), Jennifer Higdon’s On the Death of the Righteous, and Pauline Oliveros’s Urban Echo: Circle Told (2008). Maestro Harler conducted Mendelssohn Club in a critically acclaimed recording of the Moran Requiem for Argo/London Records in 1994.

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

You can also find Mendelssohn Club on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mcchorus