Award-winning Composer Julia Wolfe Named as Honorary Chair of A Mendelssohn Medley in 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                            

October 23, 2013

CONTACTS:
Janelle McCoy, Executive Director,                                                                                                                 Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia
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Edward McNally, Above The Fold
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Mendelssohn Club’s 8th Annual Spring Fundraiser returns to the historic Oaks Cloister in the Wissahickon

(Philadelphia) Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Julia Wolfe, co-founder of the internationally famous Bang On A Can All-Stars, has been named as Honorary Chair of A Mendelssohn Medley, the annual fund-raising reception that supports the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, which is now celebrating its 15th decade as a performing arts organization. The Host Committee for the 2014 Medley is chaired by Martin Levitas and Roberta Rote.

 The 8th Annual Medley, scheduled for Sunday, April 6, 2014 at the historic Oaks Cloister in the Wissahickon, will attract music lovers and generous supporters of the exciting cultural institution from across greater Philadelphia region.  Later next spring, Mendelssohn Club will present Anthracite Fields, the world premiere of a new work by Ms. Wolfe commissioned by the chorus. The 140-member symphonic chorus will give four performances of the work in the historic Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral 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 sanctuary as a dramatic backdrop. Mendelssohn Club will be joined by the musicians of the Bang on a Can All-Stars for all four performances of this important world premiere.

“The Julia Wolfe composition is among some of our most groundbreaking projects in the 140-year history of this chorus,” said Mendelssohn Club Artistic Director Alan Harler. “It certainly matches such groundbreaking productions as Battle Hymns and Urban Echo: Circle Told, our work with composer Pauline Oliveros from several years ago.“ Harler added, “Not only will we be working with Julia Wolfe, an acclaimed finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, but also with Bang on a Can All-Stars, one of the foremost musical ensembles in contemporary music.”

Anthracite Fields will be the fifth of six concert programs in Philadelphia featuring the historic chorus during the 2013-14 season.  The concerts will guide 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.  

It is fitting that Mendelssohn Club’s 8th annual Mendelssohn Medley fundraiser will return to a landmark as historic as the Oaks Cloister in Germantown. When the magnificent residence was built 113 years ago, Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia had already been presenting choral concerts throughout the city for four decades. Supporters of the beloved cultural institution will gather again to experience a preview of Anthracite Fields and bid on an array of exciting auction items.

The Oaks Cloister is one of the most magnificent private residences in Philadelphia. Built in 1900 by Joseph Miller Huston, who designed Pennsylvania’s State Capitol building, the Germantown gem was abandoned and threatened with demolition when Dr. Russell Harris and Mr. John Casavecchia purchased the property in 2002. The new owners spared no expense in restoring the home to its former glory.

Every room is rich in architectural and design details.  Visitors to this year’s Mendelssohn Medley at the Oaks Cloister will enjoy the home’s original leaded stained glass windows, the Mercer tiles, a plaster and gold leaf ceiling, numerous European fireplaces, a panel carved by sculptor Alexander Stirling Calder, a mini-grotto with a Carrara marble statue sculpted by George Grey Barnard, and its large enclosed cloister.

“We’re very grateful to Russell and John for opening their home to us,” said Charlotte Sibley, Vice Chair of the Mendelssohn Club Board of Directors.  “Everyone in the chorus and our many friends across the city are excited to be able to gather at the Oaks Cloister next April.  Between the beauty of the home and the generosity of our supporters, we are definitely looking forward to another wonderful event next year.”

8th Annual Mendelssohn Medley 4 – 6:30 pm

Sunday, April 6, 2014
The Oaks Cloister
5829 Wissahickon Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19144

For additional information about Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia and the 2014 Mendelssohn Medley, or to inquire about how to make a donation for the Medley Live Auction or serve as a volunteer, visit Mendelssohn Medley.

Honorary Chair Julia Wolfe

Drawing inspiration from folk, classical, and rock genres, Julia Wolfe’s music brings a modern sensibility to each while simultaneously tearing down the walls between them. Her music is distinguished by an intense physicality and a relentless power that pushes performers to extremes and demands attention from the audience. In the words of the Wall Street Journal, Wolfe has “long inhabited a terrain of [her] own, a place where classical forms are recharged by the repetitive patterns of minimalism and the driving energy of rock.”

Wolfe has collaborated with theater artist Anna Deveare Smith, architects DillerScofidio+Renfro, filmmaker Bill Morrison, Ridge Theater, director Francois Girard, Jim Findlay, and choreographer Susan Marshall among others. Her music has been heard at BAM, the Sydney Olympic Arts Festival, Settembre Musica (Italy), Theatre de la Ville (Paris), Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, and has been recorded on Cantaloupe, Teldec, Point/Universal, Sony Classical, and Argo/Decca. In 2009, Wolfe joined the NYU Steinhardt School composition faculty. She is co-founder of New York’s music collective Bang On A Can All-Stars.  Wolfe was nominated for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Steel Hammer, an innovative composition that, with voices and old-time instruments, turns the old folk tune John Henry into an epic distillation of Appalachia.

Wolfe has written a major body of work for strings, from quartets to full orchestra. Her quartets, as described by the New Yorker magazine “combine the violent forward drive of rock music with an aura of minimalist serenity [using] the four instruments as a big guitar, whipping psychedelic states of mind into frenzied and ecstatic climaxes.

Wolfe’s Cruel Sister for string orchestra, inspired by a traditional English ballad of a love rivalry between sisters, was commissioned by the Munich Chamber Orchestra and received its US premiere at the Spoleto Festival, and was recently released (along with her other string orchestra piece, Fuel) on Cantaloupe Records. Written shortly after September 11, 2001, her string quartet concerto My Beautiful Scream, written for Kronos Quartet and the Orchestre National de France (premiered in the US at the Cabrillo Festival under the direction of Marin Alsop), was inspired by the idea of a slow motion scream. The Vermeer Room, Girlfriend, and Window of Vulnerability exemplify Wolfe’s ability to create vivid sonic images. Girlfriend, for mixed chamber ensemble and recorded sound, uses a haunting audio landscape that consists of skidding cars and breaking glass. The Vermeer Room, inspired by the Vermeer painting “A Girl Asleep” — which when x-rayed reveals a hidden figure — received its orchestral premiere with the San Francisco Symphony. Window of Vulnerability, written for the American Composers Orchestra and conducted by Dennis Russell Davies, Wolfe creates a massive sonic universe of dense textures and fragile windows.

Wolfe has also extended her talents to theatre by composing for Anna Deveare Smith’s House Arrest, and won an Obie award for her score to Ridge Theater’s Jennie Richie. She has compiled a series of collaborative multimedia works with composers Michael Gordon and David Lang, including Lost Objects (Concerto Koln, directed by Francois Girard), Shelter (Musikfabrik and Ridge Theater), and The Carbon Copy Building (with comic-book artist Ben Katchor). Wolfe recently created the city-wide spectacle Traveling Music with architects Diller Scofidio+Renfro in Bordeaux, France, filling the streets of the old city with 100 musicians walking and riding in pedi-cabs. Her work with film includes Fuel for the Hamburg-based Ensemble Resonanz and filmmaker Bill Morrison, and Impatience and Combat de Boxe for the Asko-Schoenberg Ensemble and 1920s film experimentalist Charles De Keukeleire.

The Oaks Cloister

The Oaks Cloister is one of the most magnificent private residences in Philadelphia. Designed in 1900 by Joseph Miller Huston, the architect of the Pennsylvania State Capitol, this elegant Tudor estate stands on a hill overlooking the greenery of Fairmount Park. Superbly restored under its current owners, Dr. Russell Harris and Mr. John Casavecchia, the Oaks Cloister has the distinction of achieving historical certification as one of Pennsylvania’s treasured landmarks.

 Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia

Since its founding fifteen decades ago, 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.

“With a passionate commitment to artistic excellence, repertoire diversity, audience engagement, and commissioning new works, the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, under the direction of Maestro Alan Harler, continues to be a dynamic, vibrant, and relevant choral ensemble in the greater Philadelphia community.”

Rollo Dillworth, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Chorus America

 

For information about Mendelssohn Club’s concerts and programs, or to order tickets for the 2013-14 season, visit www.mcchorus.org.

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

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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 140th anniversary season with a program of great works for chorus and 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.  The concert features organist Michael Stairs, the Mendelssohn Brass and will include works by Donald St. Pierre, Mendelssohn Club’s Composer-in-Residence.

Glorious Sound of Christmas
with the Philadelphia Orchestra
Sarah Hicks, Conductor

Thursday, December 19, 2013 | 7pm
Friday, December 20, 2013  | 7pm
Saturday, December 21, 2013 | 7pm

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

 Tickets available at a range of prices between $40-$107 through Ticket Philadelphia (215) 893-1999

The Philadelphia Orchestra invites Mendelssohn Club to share the Verizon Hall stage for three evenings of timeless holiday classics. Named for the Orchestra’s best-selling Christmas album, these concerts are the perfect way to begin your celebrations. Sarah Hicks, who made a smash debut on New Year’s Eve 2011, returns to the orchestra.

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 composer was impacted by the grim realities of war and each responded in their own way through their musical 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 her interviews with miners and their families .  The premiere performances will incorporate the  architecture of The Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral sanctuary 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 with 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.

 

 

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