Alan Harler Announces 2014-15 will be His 27th and Final Season as Artistic Director of Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia

FOR RELEASE                                                                                                                    

March 21, 2014
Janelle McCoy, Executive Director
Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia

Edward McNally, Above The Fold

 Alan Harler Announces 2014-15 will be His 27th and Final Season as Artistic Director of Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia

 Cultural Visionary Will Remain Actively Involved As Conductor Laureate

(PHILADELPHIA) Alan Harler, one of the city’s most respected and beloved cultural leaders, informed the Board of Directors of Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia that the 2014-15 season will be his final season as Artistic Director for the symphonic chorus, which is currently presenting its 140th season of concerts.  Named Music Director of Mendelssohn Club in 1988 and Artistic Director in 2009, Maestro Alan Harler is only the twelfth person to hold that position since the chorus’s founding in 1874.  He will remain involved with the chorus as Conductor Laureate. The Mendelssohn Club Board will conduct a national search for his successor.

Artistic Director Alan Harler
Artistic Director Alan Harler

“My years with Mendelssohn Club have been, and continue to be, among the most creatively satisfying of my entire career,” says Harler. “Still, at (age) 74, the timing for this particular transition just feels right.” He emphasized that he is “deeply involved and very enthusiastic about next month’s world premiere of Julia Wolfe’s Anthracite Fields and also the North American premiere of Mendelssohn’s historic 1841 reconstruction of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion that Mendelssohn Club plans to present in 2015.”

“There are also a few large multi-disciplinary projects that I have been developing for the chorus to present in collaboration with other artistic partners. After next season, I want to be able to give my full attention to these few very special projects in my new capacity as Conductor Laureate.” Harler added, “I’m looking forward to working closely with my successor during a transition period that will represent the future for Mendelssohn Club.”

Ellie Elkinton has served as Chair of the Board for the chorus since 2003 and has sung in the chorus for over twenty years.  She explained, “So many people owe a huge debt of gratitude to Alan Harler.  Not just the members of the chorus who’ve learned so much from his artistic leadership and vision, and all the contemporary composers whose work he has championed, but really everyone who has ever attended one of our concerts here in Philadelphia or around the country.” Elkinton emphasized, “No single person or personality deserves more credit for our success as a symphonic chorus than Alan. We experience his insight and humanity in every note we sing.”

Throughout his distinguished musical career as Artistic Director of Mendelssohn Club, Alan Harler has been a strong advocate for new American music.  During his tenure with Mendelssohn Club, he has commissioned over 55 new compositions, including Julia Wolfe’s Anthracite Fields (2014), David Lang’s battle hymns (2009), Jennifer Higdon’s On the Death of the Righteous (2009), Pauline Oliveros’ Urban Echo: Circle Told (2008) and Robert Moran’s Requiem: Chant du Cygne (1990). Other major commissions included Charles Fussell’s Specimen Days (1992), Robert Stern’s Returning the Song (1994), Cynthia Folio’s Touch the Angel’s Hand (1994), James Primosch’s Fire Memory/ River Memory (1998), Charles Fussell’s High Bridge (2003), and Andrea Clearfield’s The Golem Psalms (2006).

In 1994, Harler conducted Mendelssohn Club in a critically acclaimed recording of the Moran Requiem for Argo/London Records.  Under his baton the chorus also released Metamorphosis in 2011. The CD featured Mendelssohn Club commissions by Philadelphia-based composers Jennifer Higdon, Andrea Clearfield, and James Primosch.

In recognition of Harler’s contribution to new music, in 2007 Mendelssohn Club established the Alan Harler New Ventures Fund, an endowment to ensure the future commissioning and production of new works and innovative collaborations.

Alan Harler has been honored frequently by his peers nationwide and by leading arts organizations and educational institutions.  In 2009, his provocative programming vision was recognized by Chorus America with the Michael Korn Founders Award for Development of the Professional Choral Art. That same year, he was also honored by the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia with an Honorary Lifetime Membership for Distinguished Contribution to Musical Life of Philadelphia.

Harler received the 2007 Elaine Brown Award for Life-long Service to Choral Music given by the Pennsylvania Division of the American Choral Director’s Association.  That same year, he conducted the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in a performance of Handel’s Messiah, an honor typically offered to orchestral conductors.  In 1995, he was elected to the Board of Chorus America, the national association of professional and volunteer choruses, a position he held for several years.

Harler also served from 1981 to 2010 as Laura H. Carnell Professor and Chairman of Choral Music at TempleUniversity’s Esther Boyer College of Music.  As conductor of the Temple University Concert Choir, he conducted many Philadelphia concert premieres, including Moran’s Hagoromo, Alfred Schnittke’s Requiem, and Arvo Pärt’s Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Secundum Joannem.  In 2005, TempleUniversity presented him with its Creative Achievement Award.

Alan Harler has been an active conductor outside of Philadelphia, having performed regularly at the Festival Casals in San Juan, Puerto Rico and the Aspen Choral Institute. He has also given master classes and conducted performances in Taiwan and China under the sponsorship of the Taiwan Philharmonic Association. He has prepared choruses for many of the country’s leading orchestras and conductors including Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Charles Dutoit, Christoph Eschenbach, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Ricardo Muti, David Roberstson, Max Rudolph, Wolfgang Sawallisch and Klaus Tennstedt.

Harler currently serves as a Conducting Mentor with the Conductors Guild, making himself available for consultation with young conductors internationally.  At Mendelssohn Club, he works with a young conductor apprentice each year through the Conducting Apprenticeship Program.

“We will always be deeply grateful to Alan for the nearly three decades of innovative choral programming and conducting he has produced for us and the community,” says Janelle McCoy, Mendelssohn Club Executive Director. “His vision has redefined how we all think of choral music.  We look forward to our next chapter and the new adventures that await us.  Thanks to Alan’s inspiring example and leadership, we have never been on a more solid footing, artistically and financially.”

Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia 2013-14 Season (remaining concerts)

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 

Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral
13-19 South 38th St., 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. 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; The Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia and the Aaron Copeland Fund for Music.

Visit to follow the development of this new Julia Wolfe work
in the final weeks leading up to its 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 the Kimmel Center box office,

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.

“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 2013-2014 season, visit
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