Past Concerts

P4L3STR1N4 RECONSTRUCTED


Saturday, May 20, 2017
Church of St. Joseph in Greenwich Village
371 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10014

A collision of the ancient and the modern, the Manhattan Choral Ensemble concluded its 2016-2017 season with a new composite work comprised of motets by the Renaissance master Palestrina and new works for mixed acoustic-electric ensemble by composer-conductor Thomas Cunningham.

Palestrina’s settings of the love poetry of the Song of Solomon are monuments of the golden age of polyphony and the MCE performed the first ten of the collection published in 1587.

Between the motets, new music was added based on an original text inspired by the Song and crafted from musical materials borrowed from Palestrina’s compositions, featuring soprano soloist Mellissa Hughes, oboist Keve Wilson, violinist Jorge Avila, cellist Peter Sachon, and electronic percussionist Bill DeLelles. An intriguing marriage of elements from electronica, hip hop, contemporary classical music, and Renaissance vocal writing, this new work, P4L3STR1N4 RECONSTRUCTED, played at the boundary of old and new, examining a beloved masterwork through a thoroughly modern perspective.

New Music for New York

Saturday, March 11, 2017, 8:00 p.m.
The DiMenna Center for Classical Music
450 West 37th St., Manhattan 10018

Three new choral commissions premiered at the Manhattan Choral Ensemble’s singular choral music competition, New Music for New York. In the sixth year of this interactive concert, our audience selected “Recuerdo” by Alden Terry to win an encore performance and a cash prize. The evening was be capped off with works by Palestrina, Bairstow, Willan, Dunstable, and Casals, as well as beloved folk songs.

Our New Music for New York winners for 2016-17 were:

Alison Beck
Alison Beck
“Passing Faces”
Beata Moon
Beata Moon
“Union Square”
Alden Terry
Alden Terry
“Recuerdo”

Over the course of our New Music for New York program, many of our submissions have featured the poetry of Sara Teasdale. One of our winning composers, Alison Beck, explains why:

A Russian Christmas

In 2016, the Manhattan Choral Ensemble performed the Christmas music of Old Russia, inside a landmark New York City church. A part of the MCE’s multi-year celebration of holiday music from around the world, choral masterworks by Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, and Bortniansky were sung alongside traditional Russian carols.

A Russian Christmas
Friday, December 9, 2016, 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, December 11, 2016, 3:00 p.m.
St. Nicholas of Myra Orthodox Church
288 East 10th St., Manhattan 10009

Friday’s performance was recorded and broadcast on WWFM, and we also shared a sneak peek into rehearsals, featuring Director Tom Cunningham:

Manhattan Choral Ensemble and Voices of Aloha

University of Hawai‘i Voices of Aloha The Manhattan Choral Ensemble teamed up for a free, joint concert with The Voices of Aloha on Thursday, June 16, 2016 at Our Saviour New York, 417 West 57th St, New York, NY 10019.

The Voices of Aloha (VoA) 2016 world tour representing the University of Hawai‘i and the beautiful Hawaiian Islands came to New York City with “For You, A Lei,” a musical portrait of Hawai‘i in the 21st century. Their program visits Hawai‘i’s rich history, their Pacific neighbors, and Western influences — all through beautiful choral selections complete with ‘ukulele and hula.

The MCE hosted VoA and sang selections from Benjamin Britten and Jean Mouton, as well as a new piece entitled Heaven, by Rich Campbell, one of three winners of the MCE’s 2016 New Music for New York composer competition.

V1V@LD1 RECONSTRUCTED: A Gloria for a New World

Vivaldi Reconstructed With V1V@LD1 Reconstructed: A Gloria for the New World the Manhattan Choral Ensemble continued its quest to reimagine the great works of the past through the lens of the present.

Saturday, May 14, 2016, 8:00 p.m.
Church of the Blessed Sacrament
152 W. 71st St., New York, NY 10023

Our audience heard an exquisite performance of Vivaldi’s classic work by the MCE and an orchestra of leading period-instrument performers, surrounded by new music inspired by electronica, hip-hop, and New York City, composed by the MCE’s director Thomas Cunningham. The new movements sat between the movements of Vivaldi’s Gloria and served as both reflections to and extensions of Vivaldi’s music, incorporating the same choral and orchestral forces as the Gloria with the addition of two electronic percussionists.

New Music for New York Composer Competition Concert

New Music for New York The Manhattan Choral Ensemble’s singular choral music competition, New Music for New York, returned Saturday, February 27, 2016 to the DiMenna Center for Classical Music. In this interactive concert, the choir premiered three compositions selected by our artistic panel, and audience members each voted for their favorite. The program included Benjamin Britten’s “Flower Songs” as well as beloved folk songs.

Our New Music for New York winners for 2015-16, with each composition a world premiere at this concert, were:

Rich Campbell
Rich Campbell
“Heaven”
Bill Heigen
Bill Heigen
“Refuge”
Eunbi Kwak
Eunbi Kwak
“The Ship Starting”

Bill Heigen’s “Refuge”, a setting of the Sara Teasdale poem, won our Audience Favorite distinction, earning an encore performance and an additional prize.

Noel: Christmas in France

Noel - December 2015 With Noel: Christmas in France, the Manhattan Choral Ensemble revived its holiday performances of music from countries deeply involved in New York City history. Our tribute to France was performed in the historic St. Jean Baptiste Catholic Church, with musical selections including Renaissance gems from Mouton and Caurroy, modern masterpieces by Francis Poulenc, and charming Christmas carols from the countryside. Readings from French authors on the preciousness of the Christmas season accompanied the program in a nod to our popular Readings and Carols series from the past five years.

Friday, December 11, 2015, 8:00 p.m.
Sunday, December 13, 2015, 3:00 p.m.

St. Jean Baptiste Catholic Church
184 East 76th St, New York, NY 10021

M0NT3V3RD1 Reconstructed: Songs of Love and War

Our 2014-15 season concluded with M0NT3V3D1 Reconstructed, a musical exploration of Claudio Monteverdi’s “Madrigals of Love and War,” showcasing nine dynamic settings of passionate Italian poetry mixed with new works by composer Patrick Castillo and singer-songwriter Jaymay reflecting on Monteverdi’s masterwork. This performance featured historical instrumental accompaniment creatively merged with modern electronic percussion.

Saturday, May 9, 2015, 8pm
Church of the Incarnation
209 Madison Avenue at 35th Street
New York City

New Music For New York Composer Competition Concert

New Music for New York

The MCE’s singular choral music competition, New Music for New York, returned in February 2015, as we premiered the three winning compositions in a program that was capped off with beloved folksongs, well-known madrigals, and a new work by music director Thomas Cunningham, “O to be yielded.”

The winners of the MCE 2014-2015 Composer Competition were:

A Clear Midnight
by Louis Cruz

Evening Over My City
by Danny Gray

Untitled*
by Shavon Lloyd

* voted “Audience Favorite”

Sat, Feb 28, 2015, 8pm
Mary Flagler Cary Hall
The DiMenna Center for Classical Music
450 West 37th Street,
between 9th and 10th Avenue

Readings and Carols: Peace, Joy, Hope, and Love

The Manhattan Choral Ensemble completed its five-year sequence of Readings and Carols concerts with a final concert series celebrating the universal themes of Christmastime: Peace, Hope, Joy, and Love. In celebration of our 15th season, the MCE performed favorites from past concerts, including the Biebl Ave Maria, Thompson’s Alleluia, and Wassail Song by Vaughan Williams. A recomposition of the ancient carol Quem Pastores by the celebrated New York composer James Bassi and a new setting by rising star Oja Gjeilo of the tender hymn Ubi Caritas are also featured on this extraordinary program.

Friday, Dec 12, 2014, 8pm
Church of the Blessed Sacrament
152 West 71st Street
New York City

Sunday, Dec 14, 2014, 3pm
Church of the Holy Trinity
316 East 88th Street
New York City

An Evening with Joseph Flummerfelt and the MCE

The MCE was honored to welcome Joseph Flummerfelt to the podium in an evening of favorites from Maestro Flummerfelt’s 30-year conducting career. Chorus Master to the New York Philharmonic, former Artistic Director of Westminster Choir College, and Musical America’s 2004 Conductor of the Year, Dr. Flummerfelt selected a program of works by Mendelssohn, Brahms, Rachmaninoff, and Stravinsky, with a closing set of his own arrangements of well-loved folk songs.

Sat, May 10, 2014, 8pm
St. Jean Baptiste Church
East 76th Street and Lexington Avenue
New York City

Requiem in Stone

Requiem in Stone

Requiem in Stone was broadcast on WWFM, The Classical Network, on April 18, 2014. Click below to listen to the entire broadcast, which includes an exclusive interview with conductor Andrew Megill.

Requiem in Stone concert program

Guest Conductor Andrew Megill (Associate Professor at Westminster Choir College, Chef de choeur for the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Director of the Masterwork Chorus) led the MCE in a performance of Heinrich Schütz’s celebrated Musikalische Exequien with period instrument accompaniment (Dongsok Shin, positive organ; Anne Trout, violone; Loretta O’Sullivan, cello; and Dan Swenberg, theorbo). Two new pieces inspired by this Baroque masterwork by rising star Caleb Burhans, “Prepare for Death and Follow Me” and “Life is Nothing” completed the program, tying the ancient composition to the New York City of today.

Saturday, Mar 15, 2014, 8pm
German Evangelical Church of St. Paul’s
315 West 22nd Street (between 8th and 9th Avenue)
New York City

Requiem in Stone is named after Burhans’ new work, which was produced in collaboration with members of the MCE. The text of Requiem in Stone comes from the epitaphs found on tombstones in historical New York City graveyards. (more…)

Readings and Carols: Love

Readings and Carols: LoveThe MCE’s first-ever guest conductor, Dr. Deborah Simpkin King (Artistic Director and Founder, Schola Cantorum on Hudson, and Co-Chair of the New York Choral Consortium), was at the podium as the choir continued its Reading and Carols program of the past three years with a choral reflection on a theme of Christmas – Love. The program included inspiring works by Grieg, Gjeilo, Biebl, and Whitacre, interspersed with thoughtful readings and traditional Christmas carols.

Friday, Dec 6, 2013, 8pm
The Church of the Blessed Sacrament
152 West 71 Street, between Broadway and Columbus Avenue
New York City

Sunday, Dec 8, 2013, 3pm
The Church of the Blessed Sacrament
152 West 71 Street, between Broadway and Columbus Avenue
New York City

New Music for New York Composition Competition

NMFNY logoThe MCE continued its long-running choral composition program New Music for New York with world premieres of the three winners of the 2013-2014 competition:

The Gentlest Lady
Doug Brandt

Central Park at Dusk*
Justin Giarrusso

Broadway
Elizabeth Lim

* Audience Favorite

The concert included favorite folksongs, partsongs, and madrigals that rounded out an engaging evening combining the new and the familiar.

The MCE also reprised excerpts of Victoria Bond’s Cyclops, which was originally performed on April 1, 2013, as part of the Cutting Edge Concerts New Music Festival at Symphony Space. The piece—based on the “Cyclops” episode from James Joyce’s Ulysses—features a masterful arrangement of text and music that parodies the many voices and styles contained within Joyce’s prose.

Sat, May 18, 2013, 8pm
Mary Flagler Cary Hall
The DiMenna Center for Classical Music
450 West 37th Street, between 9th and 10th Avenue

The Cyclops on Cutting Edge Concerts

The MCE joined Sequitur and Victoria Bond for a world premiere performance of Cyclops, a setting by Bond of portions of the “Cyclops” section from James Joyce’s Ulysses. This innovative piece combined chorus, orchestra, and actors in a reimagining of this pivotal and dramatic episode from a 20th Century masterwork.

Mon, Apr 1, 2013, 7:30pm
Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space
2537 Broadway at 95th Street
New York City

A Century of New York Psalms, featuring Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms

A Century of New York Psalms An extraordinary evening of choral music by New York composers exploring the mystical psalms of the Old Testament. New works by James Bassi, Martha Sullivan, and Christian Carey, written expressly for this performance were premiered alongside illustrations by New York City artist Brett Helquist, bringing to life these ancient poems in one of New York’s most beautiful churches. Following music by Corigliano, Thomson, and McFerrin, the program concluded with Leonard Bernstein’s luminous Chichester Psalms for choir and instruments, sung in Hebrew.

Sat, Mar 9, 2013, 8pm
The Church of the Holy Trinity
316 East 88th Street
New York City

Readings and Carols: Hope

Readings and Carols: Hope The MCE continued its five-year thematic exploration of the ideas of Christmas as realized through a diverse selection of readings and choral works with the theme of Hope. The program featured choral music by Josquin des Prez, Felix Mendelssohn, Randall Thompson, and James Bassi, and literary passages from New York icons, as well as Christmas carols sung by the audience and the choir.

Fri, Dec 7, 2012, 8pm
The Church of the Holy Trinity
316 East 88th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenues
New York City

Sun, Dec 9, 2012, 3pm
Saint Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church
552 West End Avenue at 87th Street
New York City

New Music for New York

To further our mission of creating new works for choir by emerging NYC composers and following the resounding success of last year’s program, the MCE performed three brand new works. The audience votes on the grand prize winner during intermission! Rounding out the evening were a set of folksongs and MCE favorites.

Saturday May 12, 2012, 8pm
Mary Flagler Cary Hall at
The Dimenna Center for Classical Music
450 West 37 Street (between 9th and 10th Avenues)
New York City

1780 in Salzburg and New York City: Mozart’s Vespers and Early American Choral Music

The MCE created a unique and compelling program in March 2012, contrasting and combining the musical worlds of Salzburg and New York City in 1780. Contemporary hymns, works by Billings (the father of American choral singing), Belcher, and Morgan, and Mozart’s dramatic setting of the five psalms of the Catholic Vespers service were presented together. Additionally, the MCE commissioned New York City composer Trevor Weston to create a unique new work premiered at the performance.

Saturday March 10, 2012, 8pm
Church of the Incarnation
209 Madison Avenue (corner 35th St. and Madison Ave.)
New York City

Requiem: Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire Centennial

Triangle Factory FireMarch 12, 2011
This concert commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, the infamous industrial tragedy that was a catalyst for improved factory safety standards and workers’ compensation laws in New York City. In remembrance of the 146 garment workers who lost their lives in the disaster, The Manhattan Choral Ensemble performed Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem for organ and strings and a set of new works created especially for the occasion. The MCE commissioned four New York City-based composers – George Andoniadis, Victoria Bond, Ricardo Llorca, and Martha Sullivan – to set selections from Jonathan Fink’s sequence of poems “Conflagration and Wage: The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, 1911.” These pieces were interspersed with the movements of the Requiem, creating a unique tribute to the victims of the 1911 tragedy. (more…)

Fauré Requiem

June 12 and 13, 2009
Fauré’s masterpiece for choir and orchestra. Soloists for this performance were Kiera Duffy (soprano) and Douglas Millar (baritone).

Also on the program was Four Partsongs (Gesänge) For Women’s Chorus With Two Horns And Harp (Opus 17) by Johannes Brahms and the world premiere of a setting of Walt Whitman’s One Hour to Madness and Joy for choir and strings, by the MCE’s director, Thomas Cunningham.

Iberian Holiday: Christmas in Spain and Portugal

Iberian HolidayDecember 12 and 14, 2008
A Christmas celebration featuring familiar and unusual carols from Spain and Portugal, and Christmas music from Renaissance composers Guerrero, Morales, and Victoria.

All-Night Vigil & Lux Aeterna

June 6 & 7, 2008
Rachmaninoff’s masterpiece is one of the crowning achievements in Russian sacred music. Also on this program was Lux Aeterna, a new work by Charles Griffin composed specifically for this concert to complement the All-Night Vigil.

New Music for New York & Five Flower Songs


March 8, 2008
Fourth installment of the MCE’s New Music for New York project which premiered three new commissions: Kevin McCarter’s As the Earth Brings Forth Her Bud, Andrew Megill’s A Clear Midnight, and George Steel’s Surge Propera. Also on the program were Benjamin Britten’s Five Flower Songs.

Buon Natale! An Italian Christmas

December 8, 2007
The MCE’s fifth annual December holiday concert celebrating the music of a culture important to the history of New York City, Buon Natale! An Italian Christmas featured works by Verdi, Palestrina, Perosi, and Marenzio.

The Murderer and the Modernist

Murderer and ModernistMarch 10, 2007
Stravinsky’s Mass is a startling exploration of an ancient text. To accompany this masterwork, the MCE and orchestra performed motets by the Renaissance contrapuntalist Gesualdo that Stravinsky completed when parts of these works were lost to history.

Weihnachten: A German Christmas

December 9, 2006
Music of Brahms, Mendelssohn, Distler, and Praetorius, and familiar Christmas carols of German and Austrian origin.

American Choral Masterworks

March 18, 2006
Aaron Copland
In the Beginning

Randall Thompson
The Peaceable Kingdom

Samuel Barber
Reincarnations

Wassail! An English Christmas

December 9, 2005
English choral music for Christmas, featuring traditional English Christmas carols and works by Byrd, Tallis, and Warlock, as well as Britten’s Hymn to the Virgin.

Noel: Christmas in France

December 17, 2004
French choral music for Christmas, featuring traditional French Christmas carols and works by Poulenc, Charpentier, Costeley, Mouton, and Dufay.