Bloch sacred service
Bernstein Chichester psalms

may 17, 2018

"For hours on end I brooded and mused
On materiae musicae, used and abused;
On aspects of unconventionality,
Over the death in our time of tonality...
Pieces for nattering, clucking sopranos
With squadrons of vibraphones, fleets of pianos
Played with the forearms, the fists and the palms --
And then I came up with the Chichester Psalms.
These psalms are a simple and modest affair,
Tonal and tuneful and somewhat square....
But there it stands the result of my pondering, 
Two long months of avant-garde wandering -- 
My youngest child, old-fashioned and sweet. 
And he stands on his own two tonal feet."
-Leonard Bernstein, The New York Times, 10/24/1965


The fascination of musical invention truly captures my attention, and this season Voices of Ascension will explore cutting edge compositions from five centuries. The 2017-2018 Voices of Ascension performances will celebrate the revolutionary composers of choral music, dating all the way back to the 16th century through today. Each concert features composers and their masterpieces modernized the music of their time, while setting the standard for classic choral tradition for decades to come. I have always believed, that the greatest musicians create art that is universal while speaking directly to the listener— and this season we bring our audience just that.
— Dennis Keene, Artistic Director & Conductor
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New York City is blessed with several major classical choral groups; each has its own distinct character, mission and strengths, determined by its founders, its current director, its governance structure and its financial resources. The Voices of Ascension is a leader among these groups.

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The Voices of Ascension Chorus and Orchestra, conducted by Dennis Keene, presents some of the most consistently polished and satisfying choral performances in New York City.
— The New York Times



About Voa

Voices of Ascension Chorus & Orchestra founded in 1990 and directed by conductor Dennis Keene, presents exceptional performances of great works of music for chorus and orchestra. Over the course of its 28-year history, Voices of Ascension has produced an annual concert series, released Grammy-nominated recordings, and engaged in artistic collaborations with the San Francisco Symphony, Mostly Mozart Festival, José Limón Dance, the Mark Morris Dance Group, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and others. Recent performances have been described as 'richly colored, impressive, and beautifully balanced' (Wall Street Journal) and 'inspired' (NY Times).

Dennis Keene, Artistic Director and Conductor of Voices of Ascension, is an internationally renowned conductor. Through his concerts and Grammy-nominated recordings with Voices of Ascension, regular guest appearances as conductor and teacher, and his work as Artistic Director of the Dennis Keene Choral Festival and Voices of Ascension Conductor Academy, he has become one of the preeminent figures in choral music today. Recipient of awards for exceptional artistry from The Juilliard School and Chorus America, Dr. Keene has also served on grants panels for the NEA and NYSCA as well as the board of Chorus America.