All concerts at Church of the Ascension
36 Fifth Avenue at 10th Street
“I think of Voices of Ascension’s 2016-17 season as a choral journey, one that starts musically in the Renaissance and ends in the 20th century. Over the course of five concerts, we will take our audience to Austria, Spain, Germany, and Italy, with brief stops in other countries, with Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Palestrina, Casals, and Granados, among others, as our guides.
The most meaningful trips open our eyes to new experiences. They intrigue and delight us, take us out of ourselves, and leave us feeling renewed aesthetically and emotionally. That is what our concerts aspire to do, and in uncertain times, we hope also to be a source of solace."
- Dennis Keene, Artistic Director & Conductor
PAST CONCERTS, 2016 - 2017 SEASON
GREENWICH VILLAGE: CANDLELIGHT CHRISTMAS CONCERT
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2016 AT 8PM
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2016 AT 8PM
Just a few blocks from the Christmas tree under Washington Square Arch, the artistically significant Church of the Ascension is never more beautiful than at Christmas, when it is filled with evergreens and song. Dating from 1840, its interior design, overseen by architect Stanford White, includes art by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and John La Farge. The Voices of Ascension chorus evokes Christmases past, performing traditional carols and festive works in an intimate, candlelit setting. Joyous, gorgeous, and exuberant, this is music that was written for everyone to enjoy. VoA is joined by guest artists Jared Bybee and Kevin Cobb, and the audience will be invited to join in singing much-loved carols.
Jared Bybee, baritone
AUSTRIA: MOZART & HAYDN
THURSDAY, JANUARY 19, 2017 AT 8PM
Vienna in the 1780's was home to both Mozart and Haydn. There, at the end of his life, Mozart wrote Ave Verum Corpus, a work that exemplifies his remarkable ability to convey compassion. By contrast, Exsultate Jubilate, written when he was only 17, bursts with joy. Haydn was already 59 when his friend Mozart died in 1791. It was in the years after this that Haydn wrote his greatest and most iconic works. Among them, the Lord Nelson Mass may well be his single finest composition. Haydn composed this work, also known as Mass for Troubled Times, during a period of great world stress, much like our current time. And yet it looks past that, with music of victory and brilliant joy.
Pureum Jo, soprano
Mindy Ella Chu, mezzo-soprano
Matthew Swensen, tenor
Adam Lau, bass
SPAIN: GRANADOS, DE FALLA & MODERNISME
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 9, 2017 AT 8PM
The turn of the 20th Century saw the flowering of the Modernisme movement in Barcelona and a flourishing of music across Spain. Much of this concert will be entirely new to listeners, but will captivate the ear upon first hearing. Pablo Casals was renowned as a cellist, but he also wrote haunting, deeply spiritual choral music. Virtually unknown today, Enric Morera, Manuel Blancafort, and Manuel Oltra composed exceptional works for chorus. De Falla’s El Amor Brujo for piano, Granados's works for violin, and an aria from Goyescas lead to the long-lost Cant de les estrelles. Written in 1911 for three choirs, piano and organ, Song of the Stars receives its second New York performance in collaboration with CUNY's Foundation for Iberian Music and the Hispanic Society. VoA received a Grammy Award® nomination for the 2007 New York Premiere live concert recording.
Vanessa Vasquez, soprano
Francesca dePasquale, violin
Vanessa Perez, piano
Douglas Riva, piano
GERMANY: BACH ST. JOHN PASSION
THURSDAY, MARCH 30, 2017 AT 8PM
Operatic in its scale, dramatic arc, tension, characterizations, and resolution, Bach's St. John Passion is one of the towering masterpieces of Baroque music. The chorus has two alternating roles: one as a “Greek chorus” commenting on the scenes unfolding, and separately as the “crowd” participating in the events. From the first turbulent note of the orchestra, the music propels the narrative toward its inevitable tragic conclusion—and then, redemption.
Derek Chester, Evangelist
Kevin Deas, Jesus
Sarah Shafer, soprano
Avery Amereau, mezzo-soprano
Gene Stenger, tenor
Alan Dunbar, baritone
ITALY: THE SISTINE CHAPEL
WEDNESDAY, MAY 3, 2017 AT 8PM
Renowned for Michelangelo's frescos and Papal conclaves, the Sistine Chapel has been home to some of the finest sacred music ever written. Composed in honor of Pope Marcellus, Palestrina’s Missa Papae Marcelli is a masterpiece of Renaissance composition. Our concert includes motets by Palestrina, Lassus, Victoria, Anerio, Ingegneri and Lotti's8-part Crucifixus.
The most famous piece ever composed for the Sistine Chapel Choir is Allegri’s Miserere, composed in the 1630's and immortalized by a young Mozart who wrote it down by ear in 1770 during a youthful concert tour of Italy. Now heard far beyond the walls of the Sistine Chapel, it is immediately recognizable from frequent use in film and television.