FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONCORA Media Contact: Christine Laird
ADDRESS: CONCORA, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford, CT 06103
CONCORA Presents Unique, Art-Inspired Choral Concert at the Wadsworth Atheneum on Sunday, February 12
“Art & Music” features the world premiere of newly-commissioned choral music by highly-regarded Connecticut composer Ellen Gilson Voth
HARTFORD AND NEW BRITAIN, CONN. (January 24, 2017) — CONCORA (Connecticut Choral Artists), the region’s oldest all-professional choral ensemble, will present “Art & Music” on Sunday, February 12, at 4:00 PM, at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, CT.
To celebrate the recent renovation of the Wadsworth Atheneum, CONCORA will present a program of choral music at the museum with repertoire inspired by the artwork itself.
“CONCORA is thrilled to bring its music to the beautiful galleries at the Wadsworth Atheneum,” said Chris Shepard, the ensemble’s Artistic Director. “The richness and variety of the museum’s collections offers ample inspiration for a concert that is equally rich and varied, with an array of music from the Renaissance to the present day, including music composed especially for this program.”
The concert features the premiere of a newly-commissioned choral work, Of Distant Skies, by Connecticut composer Ellen Gilson Voth. The music was inspired by Mount Etna from Taormina, a magnificent, large-scale oil painting created by Thomas Cole in 1843 and purchased for the museum by its founder, Daniel Wadsworth, in 1844.
"Working collaboratively with our arts community in such creative and meaningful ways is central to our mission," said Anne Butler Rice, Georgette Auerbach Koopman Director of Education at the museum. "We are especially pleased to support new work that is directly inspired by one of our celebrated landscapes."
“This concert, Music & Art, is inspired by the paintings in the Atheneum, particularly the expansive canvases of the Hudson River School, for which the museum is so justly famous,” added Shepard. “When CONCORA offered the commission to Ellen, I asked her to find a painting at the Wadsworth Atheneum to inspire her composition, in much the same way that Edward Hicks’ Peaceable Kingdom inspired Randall Thompson’s choral work of the same name, also on the concert that day. Her choice — Thomas Cole’s Mount Etna from Taormina – is a stunning and inspiring selection. I urge all who attend the concert to arrive early to spend some time with this amazing canvas and enjoy visiting all the galleries before the music begins.”
“Of Distant Skies brings together Old and New Worlds on several levels,” said Ellen Gilson Voth, “and Thomas Cole’s painting, with its merging of past and present, was a natural choice. The texts I've chosen – a Latin phrase from an ancient sundial, and a sonnet written for Cole by his friend William Cullen Bryant – also speak to old and new, light and dark, coming and going – and thus offer a sense of optimism tinged with mystery.”
“The museum’s beautiful galleries are a perfect setting for a choral concert with a very unusual and, we believe, exciting format,” said Shepard. “During the first part of the program, small ensembles of CONCORA singers will perform throughout the Atheneum, singing music linked to the art in the smaller galleries. For example, in the Impressionist gallery, we will hear songs by Claude Debussy, whose music reflects the style and inspiration of Impressionist painters such as Renoir and Monet. Near the galleries where American Colonial art and furnishings are on display, a quartet will sing music by William Billings, the best-known American composer of that period. And members of the audience can enjoy paintings by Italian Renaissance masters as they listen to a octet of singers perform Italian madrigals.”
Each small ensemble will perform three times, and members of the audience will be invited to move from gallery to gallery so as to hear all the music that is on offer. After an intermission, singers and audience will come together for a traditional concert in the stunning Morgan Great Hall, where the full 30-voice choir will present music by American composers, including the new work by Ellen Gilson Voth, along with selections by Randall Thompson, Cecil Effinger, and Neely Bruce, who is John Spencer Camp Professor of Music at Wesleyan University.
The Voth commission is made possible by funds from the Richard M. Coffey Fund for the Advancement of the Choral Art. The fund was established in honor of Richard M. Coffey, who founded CONCORA in 1974 as the region’s first professional choir and led it with distinction for forty seasons. The new work by Ellen Gilson Voth is the first such commission during the tenure of Chris Shepard, who succeeded Coffey as the ensemble’s Artistic Director.
What: Art & Music: An art-inspired choral concert with professional choir CONCORA at the Wadsworth Atheneum
When: Sunday, February 12, 2017, 4:00 PM
Where: Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 600 Main Street, Hartford, CT
Tickets: $10-$55. Discounted group rates are available for general admission and senior tickets for groups of 8 or more. 2-for-1 general admission tickets are available with the Let*s Go! Arts card; contact the CONCORA office for details. Admission to the museum is included with ticket purchase. Purchase tickets at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/art-music-tickets-28625360223 or contact the CONCORA office at 860-293-0567 or email@example.com. Tickets will be available at the door on the day of the concert, though as seating is limited, advance ticket reservations are highly recommended.
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Interviews: For more information, or to schedule an interview with CONCORA Artistic Director Chris Shepard or composer Ellen Gilson Voth, please contact Christine Laird, Director of Operations, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 860-293-0567.
Images: Included below are photos of CONCORA, CONCORA's Artistic Director Chris Shepard, and composer Ellen Gilson Voth. Also included below is Mount Etna from Taormina, by Thomas Cole (used with permission from the Wadsworth Atheneum); this is the image that inspired Ellen Gilson Voth’s new choral work “Of Distant Skies,” for which CONCORA will give the premiere performance on February 12 at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.
About CONCORA (Connecticut Choral Artists) – CONCORA (Connecticut Choral Artists) holds a unique place as the region’s first professional choir. Now in its 43rd season, the ensemble enjoys an extraordinary reputation for artistic excellence throughout New England. Under the direction of Chris Shepard, now in his second season as Artistic Director, 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. More information about CONCORA is available at www.concora.org.
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. More information about Chris Shepard may be found at www.concora.org/artistic-leadership.html.
About Ellen Gilson Voth – Active as a composer, conductor and keyboard artist, Dr. Ellen Gilson Voth is Artistic Director of Novi Cantori, a professional chamber choir based in Springfield (MA), Artistic Director of the Farmington Valley Chorale (CT), and music faculty at Westfield State University (MA). A frequently commissioned composer, her compositions are published by ECS Publishing, Oxford University Press, Santa Barbara Music Publishing and Colla Voce. She received her DMA from the Hartt School at the University of Hartford. Ellen, her husband Greg and daughter Heather, live in Rocky Hill. (www.ellengilsonvoth.net).