MasterVoices Returns to Carnegie Hall Featuring Take 6 on Dec. 6
MASTERVOICES OPENS ITS 2021-22 SEASON WITH A JOYFUL NOISE, A FESTIVE PROGRAM CELEBRATING THE RETURN TO LIVE PERFORMANCES AND THE HOLIDAY SEASON ON DECEMBER 6 AT CARNEGIE HALL
The Chorus Celebrates the Start of its 80th Season with Guest Artists Mikaela Bennett, Northwell Health Nurse Choir, and Take 6
New York, NY, November 4, 2021 — MasterVoices begins its 2021-22 season on Monday, December 6 at Carnegie Hall with A Joyful Noise, an occasion to celebrate a return to performing before an audience after a two-year absence, featuring music to mark the holiday season as well as the perseverance of the human spirit after a long hiatus. Joining in this first concert of MasterVoices’ 80th anniversary season are rising Canadian soprano Mikaela Bennett, the Northwell Health Nurse Choir and 10-time Grammy Award winning a capella group, Take 6. MasterVoices will provide free tickets to a few hundred essential and frontline workers to this concert to thank them for their personal sacrifices during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Musical selections, sacred and secular, will include works by Randall Thompson and Adam Guettel that MasterVoices performed virtually last season and will sing together in person for the first time. Take 6, heard last season with MasterVoices in the online premiere of Adam Guettel’s song cycle, Myths and Hymns, perform their unique arrangements both on their own and with MasterVoices joining, including If We Ever Needed the Lord Before (We Sure Do Need Him Now) by Thomas A. Dorsey, “the father of gospel music.” A pillar of the program is Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms which uses the text “A Joyful Noise,” from the opening of Psalm 100. It features Mikaela Bennett, who sang the role of Mary Wintergreen in MasterVoices’ 2019 concert production of Gershwin’s Let ‘Em Eat Cake as well as joining MasterVoices in a performance of Handel’s Israel in Egypt in 2018. The evening ends on a majestic note with the traditional carol, Hark, the Herald Angels Sing with the soloists joining forces with the full ensemble.
The program also features the Northwell Health Nurse Choir, which began its journey in 2020 when nurses from different Northwell hospitals in New York gathered virtually to support the Nurse Heroes initiative. In June 2021, the Choir appeared on America’s Got Talent and its captivating performance resulted in a Top 10 spot in the TV show’s season finale.
Monday, December 6, 2021, 7:30 pm
Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Ted Sperling, Artistic Director and Conductor
Mikaela Bennett, soprano
Take 6, a cappella gospel music group
Northwell Health Nurse Choir (Tim Davis, Producer)
John Rutter: Rejoice and Sing
Randall Thompson: Alleluia
Adam Guettel: Myths and Hymns excerpts: Migratory V (arr. Ted Sperling); Jesus, the Mighty Conqueror (arr. Mark Kibble)
Thomas A. Dorsey (arr. Mervyn Warren): If We Ever Needed the Lord Before (We Sure Do Need Him Now)
Leonard Bernstein: Chichester Psalms
Traditional/Peter J. Wilhousky (lyrics), Mykola Leontovych (music) (arr. Cedric Dent): We Wish You a Merry Christmas / Carol of the Bells
Theodor Seuss Geisel (lyrics), Albert Hague (music) (arr. Mark Kibble): You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch
Richard Bernhard Smith (lyrics), Felix Bernard (music) (arr. Mark Kibble): Winter Wonderland
Traditional (arr. Cedric Dent and Mark Kibble): Hark, the Herald Angels Sing
Tickets: Starting at $30, may be purchased online at carnegiehall.org, by calling CarnegieCharge at 212.247.7800 or in person at Carnegie Hall’s box office at 57th and Seventh Avenue. Ticket holders need to comply with the venue’s health and safety requirements, which can be found here.
MasterVoices will hold a Holiday Gala Reception following the concert. More details and ticket information can be found at MasterVoices.org/holiday-gala.
More About A Joyful Noise
The concert opens with John Rutter’s deliriously joyful Rejoice and Sing. Among his many credits, Rutter’s music has been featured in a number of British royal occasions, including two recent royal weddings. We then hear American composer’s Randall Thompson’s delicate and restrained a capella “Alleluia.” One of the most frequently performed pieces of American choral music, it was written in the late spring of 1940 when the German army was invading the Low Countries and France. It premiered in July 1940 at the Berkshire Music Center (now the Tanglewood Music Center) and has opened Tanglewood’s summer seasons since then.
Migratory V and Jesus, the Mighty Conqueror from Myths and Hymns, the 1998 song cycle by Tony Award-winning composer Adam Guettel, follows. Inspired by Greek myths and a 19th-Century Presbyterian hymnal, Myths and Hymns is a kaleidoscopic collection of musical genres that explores the nature of faith and longing in a secular world. It was presented online by MasterVoices in its 2020-21 season in four chapters. In the first chapter Guettel frames the myth of Icarus as the story of a young man striving to get out from under his famous father’s shadow and shine like the sun. After his crash, the solace and hope of Migratory V expresses the human aspiration to fly together and soar above the troubles below. Because the MasterVoices production of Myths and Hymns is the first complete recording of the cycle, there were some gems uncovered for today’s audience. Jesus the Mighty Conqueror is one of these, and in a special arrangement by Take 6’s Mark Kibble, the song invites the chorus to join in on the a cappella fun.
Snappy and perennially relevant, If We Ever Needed the Lord Before (We Sure Do Need Him Now) was composed in 1943 by Thomas A. Dorsey, one of the most significant contributors to gospel music. Take 6 will perform this classic with a laid-back gospel groove that is infectious to hear and fun to sing.
In 1964 Leonard Bernstein took a sabbatical year from his responsibilities at the New York Philharmonic to spend a year composing. He wrote lots of atonal music and threw it all away. Another project was a new Broadway musical, which he did not complete. What bore fruit was the boundary-breaking Chichester Psalms, a reflection on man’s closeness to God. Bernstein chose to write the libretto in Hebrew, and juxtaposed vocal part writing most commonly associated with Church music with the Judaic liturgical tradition.
The concert then celebrates the Hanukkah and Christmas season with songs, secular and sacred. We will hear traditional Hanukkah songs, followed by Take 6 performing Peter J. Wilhousky and Mykola Leontovych’s We Wish You a Merry Christmas / Carol of the Bells. We then hear Theodor Seuss Geisel and Albert Hague’s You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch, a favorite since it was first heard in 1966 on the TV cartoon special How The Grinch Stole Christmas, based on the book by Dr. Seuss about a sourpuss with a heart “two sizes too small” who dislikes his neighbors in Whoville and their Christmas joy, only to have his heart changed. The album from the TV special won the Grammy Award for Best Album for Children. The celebration culminates then with Richard Bernhard Smith and Felix Bernard’s Winter Wonderland followed by the traditional carol, Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.
Details of MasterVoices’ 2021-22 season can be found at mastervoices.org.
MasterVoices (formerly The Collegiate Chorale) was founded in 1941 by legendary American choral conductor Robert Shaw. Under the artistic direction of Tony Award-winner Ted Sperling since 2013, the group is known for its versatility and a repertoire that ranges from choral masterpieces and operas in concert to operettas and musical theater. Season concerts feature their volunteer chorus of 100+ members from all walks of life, alongside an inclusive roster of world-class soloists from across the musical spectrum, including Julia Bullock, Dove Cameron, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Renée Fleming, John Holiday, Jennifer Holliday, Norm Lewis, and Kelli O’Hara. Under Sperling’s direction the group has created cross–disciplinary collaborations with such diverse creative minds as Vogue Editor-at-Large Hamish Bowles, fashion designer Zac Posen, Silk Road visual artist Kevork Mourad, illustrator Manik Choksi, stage designer Doug Fitch, and choreographers Doug Varone and Andrew Palermo. Roger Rees was the group’s Artistic Associate from 2003–2015, and in 2021 the group received a Drama League Award nomination for their multi-genre digital concert production, Myths and Hymns.
The group continues to specialize in highly theatrical performances of rarely-heard works such as the 2018-19 season’s Lady in the Dark by Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin, Victor Herbert’s Babes in Toyland, Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha, and Tchaikovsky’s Maid of Orleans. They also commission and premiere new works; recent commissions include works by Ricky Ian Gordon, Marisa Michelson, Tariq Al-Sabir, and Randall Eng.
As the country’s first interracial and interfaith chorus, the group performed at the opening of the United Nations and has sung and recorded under the batons of esteemed conductors including Serge Koussevitzky, Arturo Toscanini, and Leonard Bernstein, among others. It has been engaged by top-tier orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic and the Israel Philharmonic, and has appeared at the Verbier and Salzburg Festivals.
About Ted Sperling
One of today’s leading musical artists, Tony Award-winning Maestro Ted Sperling is a classically trained musician whose career has spanned from the concert hall and the opera house to the Broadway stage. Presently Artistic Director of MasterVoices, he has led such symphony orchestras as the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Boston Pops, San Diego Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, the Iceland Symphony, Czech National Symphony, and BBC Concert Orchestra, as well as New York City Opera and Houston Grand Opera. Formerly Principal Conductor of the Westchester Philharmonic, Mr. Sperling is a multi-faceted artist also known for his work as orchestrator, singer, pianist, violinist, violist, director, and music director.
With MasterVoices, Maestro Sperling has led acclaimed productions of rarely-heard gems as both director and conductor. These include Kurt Weill’s The Firebrand of Florence, Knickerbocker Holiday, The Road of Promise (based on The Eternal Road and subsequently recorded on Navona Records), and the 2018-19 season’s sold–out three–performance run of Lady in the Dark at New York City Center. Other notable productions with the group include Carnegie Hall performances of George and Ira Gershwins’ satirical musicals Of Thee I Sing and Let ‘Em Eat Cake, a reconstruction of Victor Herbert’s Babes in Toyland, and his Song of Norway; the New York City premieres of David Lang’s battle hymns at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum; and Ricky Ian Gordon’s operas The Grapes of Wrath at Carnegie Hall and 27 at New York City Center.
During the pandemic season of 2020-2021, Maestro Sperling spearheaded a filmed production of Adam Guettel’s Myths and Hymns for MasterVoices, producing and music directing 24 short musical films and directing roughly half of them. This project was nominated for a Drama League Award, and featured over 100 artists collaborating remotely, including Renée Fleming, Take 6, Jennifer Holliday and Julia Bullock. Now that live performances are back, Maestro Sperling is supervising national and international productions of My Fair Lady, The King and I, and Fiddler on the Roof. He has symphonic engagements in the US and Europe and continues to teach at NYU, conducting three different orchestras and training the next generation of Broadway musicians and conductors.
Sperling has conducted multiple concerts for PBS’s Live From Lincoln Center, the American Songbook Series at Lincoln Center, and the Lyrics and Lyricists series at the 92nd Street Y. He conducted Audra McDonald in a double bill of La Voix Humaine and the world premiere of Send: Who Are You? I Love You? at the Houston Grand Opera. He won the 2005 Tony and Drama Desk Awards for his orchestrations of Adam Guettel’s The Light in the Piazza, for which he was also Music Director.
In addition to his directing work with MasterVoices, Mr. Sperling’s work as a stage director includes the world premieres of four critically acclaimed original musicals Off-Broadway—including The Other Josh Cohen and See What I Wanna See—and a noted production of Lady in the Dark at the Prince Theater in Philadelphia, starring Andrea Marcovicci. He graduated summa cum laude from Yale University, and received the Faculty Prize at The Juilliard School. He made his Broadway stage debut as Wallace Hartley in Titanic and appeared as Steve Allen in the finale of Season Two of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
MasterVoices Returns to Carnegie Hall Featuring Take 6 on Dec. 6