Eastern Voices – Press Release

Choral Music from Eastern Europe and Premiere Tributes to Alan Harler

Continue the Paul Rardin Inaugural Season
with Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia


PHILADELPHIA, March 5, 2016, Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, a 120-voice premiere ensemble, led by its new Artistic Director and Principal Conductor Paul Rardin, presents Eastern Voices, Saturday, March 5 at 7:30 pm at Temple Performing Arts Center, Broad Street and Polett Walk, Philadelphia. The program features Zoltán Kodály’s Missa Brevis (with virtuoso organist Michael Stairs), and a cappella works from numerous European composers. Additionally, honoring the 27 years of inspired musical leadership of Rardin’s predecessor Alan Harler, the ensemble presents two of four “Alleluias for Alan,” world premiere compositions by prominent Philadelphia composers and Harler’s long-time collaborators Andrea Clearfield and Jennifer Higdon.

Saturday, March 5 at 7:30 pm
MendelSounds with Paul Rardin at 6:30 pm
Temple Performing Arts Center (TPAC)
Temple University, 1837 N. Broad Street (at Polett Walk), Philadelphia PA

Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia
Michael Stairs, Organ
Paul Rardin, Artistic Director and Conductor

Tickets / Information: $15-38. Purchase online at mcchorus.org or at the door. For more information call 215.735.9922 or email info@mcchorus.org

Einojuhani Rautavaara: Credo
Ēriks Ešenvalds: O salutaris hostia
Imant Raminsh: Ave verum corpus
Vytautas Miškinis: Diffusa est gratia
Marek Jasiński: Exultate Deo omnis terra
Zoltán Kodály: Missa Brevis

Alleluias for Alan, World Premiere:
Andrea Clearfield: Alleluia
Jennifer Higdon: Alleluia

Rardin built his Spring 2016 program around the powerful Missa Brevis by Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály (1882-1967). Written in hiding, during the German bombardment of Budapest in 1945, this work, according to Rardin, is a “hauntingly beautiful plea for peace.” The mass mixes traditional European forms and harmonies with distinctive Hungarian rhythmic patterns and modes, growing into a wrenching final cry for peace.

The stage for Kodály’s Missa Brevis will be set by a selection of five a cappella works by other great eastern and northern European composers, living now: Einojuhani Rautavaara (Finland), Eriks Ešenvalds (Estonia), Imant Raminsh (Latvia), Vytautas Miškinis (Lithuania), and Marek Jasinski (Poland). “In this music, we find unique dissonances that somehow soothe the ear, creating harmonies that seem to melt the most beautiful colors into musical stained glass. I find this music utterly captivating and compelling, every note of it,” commented Rardin, who conducted Ave verum corpus by Raminsh on one of his first concerts as a collegiate conductor over 20 years ago.

The other “Eastern” music comes out of eastern Pennsylvania, from local luminary composers Andrea Clearfield and Jennifer Higdon, creators of the first two of the four-piece series “Alleluias for Alan.” The set of four works is a musical tribute to Alan Harler and his 27 years as Mendelssohn Club’s artistic director who created a rich legacy of daring and distinctive new choral commissions.

“It was an honor to have been asked to write this work in celebration of Alan Harler. Our collaborations have been high points in my musical life,” Clearfield commented. “I am deeply grateful to Maestro Harler for his encouragement and openness to explore different ways of creating and for successfully building and energizing a large and enthusiastic audience for contemporary choral music.” On May 1, the ensemble will premiere the remaining two “Alleluias for Alan,” composed by James Primosch and Robert Maggio.

For the Eastern Voices performance, the 120-voice ensemble returns to the Temple Performing Arts Center, a state of the art facility on the Temple University campus. In April 2010, after extensive renovations of the former Baptist Temple, the new venue was inaugurated by a Mendelssohn Club performance.

To help the audience members prepare for the music they are about to hear, Rardin will open Eastern Voices an hour early, at 6:30 pm, with his newly introduced MendelSounds, an engaging and informal discussion about the program, complete with live musical demonstrations by members of the choir.

About Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia:
Since its founding in 1874, Mendelssohn Club has been devoted to sharing great choral music as a way to connect artists, audiences and communities. Mendelssohn Club continues to expand its repertoire in the 21st century by collaborating with a wide range of innovative musical organizations. The 120-voice chorus is a highly artistic, auditioned volunteer chorus with 12 professional core singers. Mendelssohn Club believes in taking artistic risks that stretch and challenge its singers and audiences, in supporting the talent, passion, and dedication of its singers, and in the powerful communal experience that comes from shared music-making. More at www.mcchorus.org, and on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mcchorus.

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