“Extraordinary Choral Masterworks” on November 18 features classics of the choral repertoire performed by CONCORA and three select high school choirs in one of Connecticut’s most acoustically brilliant concert spaces, Saint Thomas the Apostle Church in West Hartford.
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CONCORA Media Contact: Christine Laird
PHONE: 860-293-0567
FAX: 860-244-0073
ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE: CONCORA, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford, CT 06103

CONCORA’s Next “Masterworks” Concert Shines a Light on Three of Connecticut’s Finest High School Choirs

HARTFORD AND NEW BRITAIN, CONN. (October 24, 2017) — CONCORA (Connecticut Choral Artists), the region’s oldest all-professional choral ensemble, continues the 2017-2018 “Masterworks” season by inviting three of Connecticut’s finest high school choirs to present a joint concert of classic choral music.
“Extraordinary Choral Masterworks” will be performed on Saturday, November 18, at 7:30 PM, at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, 872 Farmington Avenue in West Hartford.
Participating high school choirs include:
Bristol Central High School Madrigal Singers – David Nelson, Choral Music Teacher
Ledyard High School Chamber Choir – Melanie Wade Cometa, Director of Choral Activities
Litchfield High School Chamber Choir – Peter Perkins, Director
This is the eleventh edition of the “Extraordinary Concert” series, which began in 1993 as part of CONCORA’s education and outreach programming.
CONCORA’s Artistic Director Chris Shepard has collaborated with the three high school directors in choosing the concert repertoire and planning and leading rehearsals, including meeting with each choir in its school setting. CONCORA and the high school choirs will rehearse independently, then all the musicians will come together for joint rehearsals prior to the public concert on Saturday, November 18.
Shepard will share the conductor's podium during the concert, when two of the high school choir directors will take a “solo” turn to conduct CONCORA’s professional singers. Peter Perkins, director of the Litchfield Chamber Choir, will lead CONCORA in Gabriel Fauré’s ravishingly beautiful Cantique de Jean Racine, while Melanie Wade Cometa, Director of Choral Activities at Ledyard High School, will direct CONCORA in “Ye Shall Have a Song” from Randall Thompson’s landmark work, The Peaceable Kingdom.
“Most conductors never have a chance to work with a professional choral ensemble, and I’m glad to be able to offer this opportunity to these fine high school conductors,” said Shepard. “And CONCORA’s professional singers enjoy the experience, too. Each conductor brings a unique perspective to rehearsing and performing, and we all benefit from a fresh approach, whether it's with well-loved choral classics or with music that is new to us — and this concert includes some of both.”
For the young singers, an event like the Extraordinary Concert can be a life-changing event.
“Rehearsing and performing with professional singers can inspire a young musician to pursue a career in music,” said Christine Laird, CONCORA’s Director of Operations and a long-tenured CONCORA singer. “These singers are our future music teachers, church musicians, composers, and arts supporters. It’s not unusual for us to hear from participants years later; they contact us to say, ‘Singing with CONCORA in this concert made a difference in my life.’ ”
The November 18 concert opens with “solo” performances by each of the high school choirs led by their directors. Chris Shepard will then lead the CONCORA professional ensemble in excerpts from masterworks by Handel, Bernstein, and Mendelssohn, along with classics of the choral repertoire by Lauridsen and Whitacre and arrangements of folk songs and spirituals by Parker, Bartholomew, and Dawson. After the Fauré and Thompson led by Perkins and Cometa, the program concludes with all singers joining to perform three movements of the Mozart Requiem with CONCORA, with Chris Shepard conducting.
Only a few venues in the Hartford area have performing space large enough for the combined choir, as well as an acoustic appropriate for choral music.
“We are so fortunate to be able to return to St. Thomas the Apostle Church in West Hartford for this edition of the Extraordinary Concert,” said Shepard. “The acoustic is magnificent for choral music – the sound of these voices will wash over and around the audience and will fill every corner of that beautiful space. It will be a memorable experience for everyone.”

The concert itself is inspiring and enriching for listeners, too, as a member of the audience said of last year’s Extraordinary Concert: “What a treat to sit and be bathed in glorious sound. The young voices were so fresh and clear and the ensemble sound quite breathtaking. The variety of musical offerings was a delight to the listener and perfectly suited to that grand space.”
Extraordinary Shakespeare
Saturday, November 18, 2017, 7:30 PM
St. Thomas the Apostle Church
872 Farmington Avenue
West Hartford, CT
Tickets are available at, by phone at 860-293-0567, by email at, or at the door.
$55 preferred seating; $35 general admission seating; $30 senior; $10 student. Group rates are available for groups of 8 or more adult or senior general admission tickets. 2-for-1 general admission tickets are available with Let*s Go! Arts card; contact the CONCORA office for information.
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For more information, or to schedule an interview with Chris Shepard, please contact Christine Laird at or 860-293-0567
Phone: 860-293-0567
FAX: 860-244-0073
Twitter: @CONCORASings
Administrative Office: City Arts on Pearl, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford, CT 06103
Photos of CONCORA, of a recent edition of the "Extraordinary Concert," and of CONCORA's Artistic Director Chris Shepard are attached below.
About CONCORA (Connecticut Choral Artists) – CONCORA (Connecticut Choral Artists) holds a unique place as the region’s first professional choir. Now in its 44th season, the ensemble enjoys an extraordinary reputation for artistic excellence throughout New England. Under the direction of Artistic Director Chris Shepard, the ensemble’s versatility is displayed in its wide range of repertoire and in the crafting of select ensembles from among the choir’s roster of singers to produce an extraordinary range of choral color and dynamic range for each program and performance space. CONCORA’s mission statement – “to perpetuate and perform with excellence choral music of the highest quality for the broadest possible audience” – represents a commitment to the Connecticut community and to artistic excellence, masterful performances, and educational enrichment. CONCORA’s educational outreach program includes several highly successful projects. CONCORA extends special invitations to other choruses, especially children’s, high school and college ensembles, as a regular part of its concert programming, particularly the “Extraordinary Concerts,” where the ensemble collaborates with select high school choirs. CONCORA’s Summer Festival offers adult singers from the community and select high school and college singers an opportunity to join with CONCORA in rehearsing and performing great choral works. For children, the CONCORA-to-Go quartet presents an interactive, multicultural program, “Around the World in Music,” performed in area elementary schools and public libraries. More information about CONCORA is available at
About Chris Shepard – Chris Shepard has served as CONCORA’s Artistic Director since 2015, succeeding founder Richard Coffey in that role. He also serves as Music Director of the Worcester Chorus and the Masterwork Chorus of Morristown, New Jersey. With these choirs, Chris has performed a wide range of repertoire, collaborating with a number of major orchestras in venues that include Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Radio City Music Hall in New York, as well as the Royal Festival Hall in London and the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. A conductor with a particular affinity for the choral music of J.S. Bach, Chris founded the Sydneian Bach Choir in Sydney, Australia, an ensemble that has performed all of Bach’s choral cantatas as well as all of his major choral works. He has taught at the Taft School, Sydney Grammar School and Holy Cross College. A pianist and keyboard continuist, Chris holds degrees from the Hartt School and the Yale School of Music, and the University of Sydney. His PhD dissertation won the American Choral Directors Association’s 2012 Julius Herford Prize for outstanding doctoral thesis in choral music. A fuller bio of Chris Shepard is available at
The Bristol Central High School Madrigal Singers is the oldest extracurricular performing group at Bristol Central High School, performing for a number of functions each year, including holiday events and the Choral Holiday Concert. Since its founding as a madrigal group, the ensemble has expanded its repertoire to include more contemporary music and spirituals. In 2016, the Singers had the pleasure of singing Eric Whitacre's Sleep with the composer at the University of Connecticut. Being highlighted in CONCORA's Extraordinary Concert is an honor to which the singers are looking forward. 
The Ledyard High School Chamber Choir is a nationally-recognized ensemble which has performed throughout the United States and Europe. The group has performed in Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall in New York City, and has consistently enjoyed success at music competitions up and down the East Coast. In the 2017-18 school year, the choir will perform with CONCORA and Voce and will join the Ledyard High School Select Singers, an auditioned treble ensemble, in a tour to New York City, including a performance at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center. 
The Litchfield High School Chamber Choir is a select group auditioned from the school’s larger Choraleers ensemble. The Chamber Choir performs at all three major school concerts and at numerous other performances throughout the year.  In recent years they have performed at Infinity Hall in Norfolk and with the Lime Rock-based choral ensemble Crescendo under the direction of Christine Gevert.  Two members of this year’s chamber choir have qualified to participate in the 2017 NAfME All-National Honor Ensemble festival. The ensemble’s repertoire covers a wide range of styles including classical, Renaissance, pop, and contemporary. As members of the Choraleers, this spring the chamber choir will premiere a new piece written for them by GRAMMY-Award-winning composer and band leader Paul Winter.
CONCORA Artistic Director Chris Shepard
Photo by Kevin Andersen
CONCORA (Connecticut Choral Artists) in concert
CONCORA Extraordinary Concert 2012

CONCORA’s 2017-2018 season is made possible through the generous gifts of many individual donors and with the generous support of the following foundations and institutions: the American Savings Foundation, the Greater Hartford Arts Council, the Richard P. Garmany Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, the J. Walton Bissell Foundation, the Andrew J. Sloper Music Fund, the Saunders Foundation, The Edward C. & Ann T. Roberts Foundation, the Ensworth Charitable Foundation, Connecticut DECD Office of the Arts, The William and Alice Mortensen Foundation, the City of New Britain Commission on the Arts, and the Robert C. Vance Foundation.

Copyright © 2017 CONCORA, All rights reserved.

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