Considering Matthew Shepard - October 21 & 22, 2023
Holidays from the Iberian Peninsula - December 15 & 16, 2023
Choral Splendor: Old & New - March 2 & 3, 2024
The upcoming 2023/24 season for Cleveland Chamber Choir, Northeast Ohio’s leading professional choral ensemble, continues the choir’s mission of performances of unique and diverse repertoire, blending music by living composers with six centuries of choral tradition, and emphasizing the works of composers historically excluded from the concert hall.
All concerts are presented free of charge, with the choir’s philosophy that choral music is a vehicle for good in the world that should be accessible and welcoming to all. The concert lineup showcases CCC’s profound commitment to social awareness and advocacy. The choir will partner with local charities during the season, including QYou, a program supporting queer youth through the LGBT Center of Cleveland. Please consider supporting the future and mission of Cleveland Chamber Choir.
The season opens with Craig Hella Johnson’s modern oratorio, Considering Matthew Shepard, on October 21 & 22. This poignant composition masterfully intertwines passages from Shepard’s personal journal, interviews with his parents, and texts from renowned figures such as Rumi and Hildegard of Bingen in a panoply of musical styles. As noted by The Washington Post, the oratorio’s evocative portrayal, “demonstrates music’s unparalleled power to encompass, transform, and transcend tragedy.” The Choir will be joined by Lakewood High School Chamber Choir for these performances, under the direction of Rayna Brooks.
“Matthew Shepard’s story touched so many of us, and remains shockingly timely even as we approach the 25th anniversary of his death,” said Gregory Ristow, the Choir’s newly announced Artistic Director. “Johnson’s remarkable telling of it invites us all to a place of compassion and understanding, that is only heightened by his music.”
Considering Matthew Shepard will be performed twice: Saturday, October 21, 2023, at 7:00 pm at Avon Lake UCC, 32801 Electric Blvd. in Avon Lake and Sunday, October 22, 2023, at 4:00 pm at Trinity Cathedral, 2230 Euclid Ave. in Cleveland.
Click here to reserve your free tickets for these concerts.
Considering Matthew Shepard could not be presented without the significant support of Avon Lake United Church of Christ and Music & Art at Trinity Cathedral Cleveland. “Trinity Cathedral is honored to host the Cleveland Chamber Choir’s performance of Considering Matthew Shepard,” stated Cathedral Music Director and Organist Todd Wilson. “The subject matter aligns strongly with Trinity’s own sense of mission, and we feel that hosting this program is an essential part of our outreach to the wider Cleveland community.” The concerts promise to be a moving tribute to Matthew Shepard’s legacy while fostering hope and compassion for queer youth facing increased adversity today.
In December, the choir returns to present Holidays from the Iberian Peninsula. In the festive spirit of the season, the Cleveland Chamber Choir will celebrate the rich history of carols, villancicos, ensaladas, and Sephardic music from Spain and Portugal. The choir’s exploration delves deep into the Iberian musical heritage, weaving together a compelling narrative that pays homage to centuries of musical traditions.
“The ensaladas by Matteo Flecha that we’ll perform are as close to rock music as you get in the early Baroque era,” said Ristow, “and the name of the genre really does mean salad, because each piece is like a tossed salad of languages and both secular and sacred musical styles.”
Of note are the long neglected works of Vicente Lusitano, an Afro-Portuguese composer and music theorist, and contemporary of Palestrina, whose compositions were historically excluded due to his race.
“Lustino’s music is some of the most striking and beautiful of the High Renaissance, and it’s only in the past several years that it has been rediscovered by choirs,” said Ristow. “We’re excited to share it with Cleveland audiences for the first time.”
The first performance of this cycle will take place on Friday, December 15, 2023, at 8:00pm at Fairchild Chapel, on the campus of Oberlin College & Conservatory, 50 W. Lorain St. in Oberlin. A second will be given on Saturday, December 16, 2023, at 7:00 pm at First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland, 3630 Fairmount Blvd. in Cleveland.
The season concludes with the March 2 & 3 performances of Choral Splendor: Old & New, a captivating exploration of how today’s composers reimagine great music from the past as new compositions. The program will feature works by contemporary composers, including Caroline Shaw, Claudia Hinsdale, and Andrew Rindfleisch, reflecting on works by Dietrich Buxtehude, Gregorio Allegri, and Sebastián de Vivanco. Continuing the choir’s mission of commissioning the works of living composers, these concerts will include two world premieres from Northeast Ohio composers: a co-commission with Oberlin College & Conservatory by Jeff Scott, co-founder of Imani Winds, and a commission from Cleveland State University student Joshua Estok.
There are two opportunities to see this concert, the first on Saturday, March 2, 2024, 7:00pm at First Lutheran Church, 1019 W. 5th St. in Lorain, and the second on Sunday, March 3, 2024, 4:00pm at First Baptist Church of Greater Cleveland, 3630 Fairmount Blvd. in Cleveland. Additional support for the March concerts comes from the Bascom Little Fund, whose generous contributions have furthered the choir’s artistic endeavors.
Prior to each concert this season, Charles Edward McGuire, PhD, from Oberlin College & Conservatory, will present a pre-concert talk, offering insightful perspectives on the music to be performed that evening. He will delve into the historical context of the works performed, as well as techniques the composers used. A distinguished scholar and captivating speaker, McGuire's pre-concert talks promise to heighten the appreciation and understanding of the music for the listeners. “I am looking forward to this season, and the future of CCC: Greg has created an incredible program of provocative, beautiful music that will be as fun to talk about as it will be to hear,” McGuire remarked. “And his choices bode well for a strong future for CCC.”
The choir is grateful for the full season support provided by the the Cleveland Foundation, Ohio Arts Council, and Local 4 Music Fund. From Amber Rogers, Executive Director, “The Music Fund is thrilled to collaborate with CCC on another season and is honored to support their artistic vision and pursuit of choral excellence.”
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