As December began, the Chester River Chorale heralded Christmas and Chanukah with its 20th annual presentation of A Chester River Holiday. The treble voices of the Chester River Youth Choir again joined us in a joyful program of sacred and secular songs that celebrated the season of light in the darkest time of the year.
Presented by the 2018 Chestertown Tea Party Festival, this 30-minute program featuring the Chester Chamber Singers included music celebrating our national heritage.
The Chorale's spring fundraiser featured dinner by the Chorale Chefs and entertainment by River Voices and Harp & Soul.
Leaves of Bluegrass: American Music ~ American Poets was about big thoughts: expansive, exuberant, optimistic thoughts that often characterize American music and literature. It began with my interest in the work of Walt Whitman, in particular his evocative poem, Darest Thou Now, O Soul, and others from Leaves of Grass, the extraordinary collection that occupied Whitman for much of his life. In these poems Whitman trumpets the equality and interconnectivity of all that exists in the universe. He places himself (and the reader, vicariously) squarely in the center, with a sense of awe and wonderment, energized more by the unknown than the known.
This program took its final form last August, while America and the entire world bore witness to the appalling demonstrations and subsequent race riot in Charlottesville, Virginia. That powerful spectacle revealed a lingering cancer in the ties that bind our nation, and led me to broaden my thinking about what should be presented in our performance of American music and poetry.
Langston Hughes, America’s voice of the 1920s Harlem Renaissance, shares Whitman’s penchant for big thoughts, although more earthbound in scope and vision. With a confident, optimistic tone, Hughes challenged the status quo of institutional racism. Decades before Dr. Martin Luther King, Hughes dared to dream the unimaginable for his time – parity among all races in America’s law and social fabric. I Dream a World speaks to this imperative.
After Charlottesville I was left wondering, sometimes fearfully, where our nation is heading after more than 60 years of hard-fought civil rights legislation. Dina Soraya Gregory’s lyrics in Angels Breathing Out capture the feelings that we sometimes experience when we sense change is coming, but are uncertain if it is for the good of all.
As this “big-thoughts” theme developed, I discovered Mortals and Angels: A Bluegrass Te Deum, an innovative new work by composer Carol Barnett and librettist Marisha Chamberlain. It is a one-of-a-kind setting of the Latin Te Deum (“to God”), a hymn of praise from the Roman Catholic liturgy, but with provocative twists, such as the insertion of Protestant hymns, a bluegrass band accompaniment, and a literary theme that imagines a friendly competition between mortals and angels in their praise of God: whose is more worthy and authentic?
I hope you fund the program thought provoking and our music making beautiful. Thank you for joining The Chester River Chorale on this musical journey.
Douglas D. Cox
As December began, the Chester River Chorale heralded Christmas and Chanukah with its 19th annual presentation of A Chester River Holiday. The treble voices of the Chester River Youth Choir again joined us, along with an instrumental ensemble of woodwinds, harp, piano, organ, percussion, and strings. It was our joy to offer a concert of sacred and secular songs that celebrate the season of light in the darkest time of the year.
- Friday, December 1st at 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday, December 2nd at 4:00 p.m
- Presbyterian Church of Chestertown
Presented by the 2017 Chestertown Tea Party Festival, this 25-minute program featuring the Chester Chamber Singers included music honoring our national heritage. This performance was free and open to the public. Three members of the Chester Chamber Singers were featured as soloists: Helen Clark, Bonnie Keating, and Nevin Dawson.
Saturday, May 27, 2017, 11:45am
Garfield Center for the Arts
Sponsored by the Washington College Department of Music, this program explored the wide spectrum of music that has been brought to the mass audience through the medium of film. Repertoire included a few familiar classical excerpts as well as many unforgettable songs by popular artists. Greg Minahan of Shore Shakespeare joined us as Master of Ceremonies, dancer, and vocal soloist.
The Chester River Chorale has been singing up a storm for almost two decades, but can they dance too? We found out at our “Hooray for Hollywood!” performances!
Some members of the 95-voice Chorale took dance lessons from Greg Minahan, who brought his Broadway chops to lead the singers through their paces in dance moves choreographed by the Chorale’s own dance professional, alto Karen Lynn Smith.
Minahan served as the song and dance master of ceremonies, soloing with an umbrella in “Singin’ in the Rain” and leading the Chorale’s Hollywood Troupe in ballroom turns for “Cheek to Cheek” and some Snoopy-inspired boogying in “Better When I’m Dancin’.” He also sang as a soloist in "The Prayer," with duet partner (and CRC soprano) Caitlin Patton.
A bonus was an interlude of movie themes by Maryland guitarist Tom Lagana.
The musical program, put together by Artistic Director Douglas Cox and accompanied by the Chorale’s Sam Marshall, raised the curtain with Richard Roger’s “It’s a Grand Night for Singing” (from 1945’s State Fair) and concluded with the stirring rhythms of Carly Simon’s “Let the River Run” (from 1989’s Working Girl).
Friday, April 28, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 29, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.
Decker Theatre (Gibson Center for the Arts, Washington College)
Our Speakeasy-themed fundraiser was a huge success! Thank you to everyone who attended and supported the event.
- Saturday, February 18, 2017 at 7:00 PM
- Bad Alfred's Distilling, 323 High Street in Chestertown
- Schedule for the Evening:
- 7:00 PM - A Little Hooch and Silent Auction
- 7:30 PM - Tasting, Hors D'Oeuvres, Distillery Tours
- 9:00 PM - Performance by the Chester River Chorale Jazz Ensemble
- Vintage attire admired but not required!
As December began, the Chester River Chorale heralded Christmas and Chanukah with its 18th annual presentation of A Chester River Holiday. The treble voices of the Chester River Youth Choir again joined in for the celebration in the beautiful sanctuary of the Presbyterian Church of Chestertown for two performances. From dancing through a Baroque Magnificat in Latin to racing through Leroy Anderson's Sleigh Ride, the 90-voice Chorale's program hit all the high notes —religious and secular —of the holiday.
- Friday, December 2nd at 7:30 p.m.
- Saturday, December 3rd at 1:00 p.m.
- Presbyterian Church of Chestertown
This unique program, sponsored by the Washington College Department of Music and Washington College Concert Series, commemorated the life of the Bard on the 400th anniversary of his death, in April 1616. Presented by the Chester River Chorale with guest artists Shore Shakespeare Company of Easton, MD, this concert brought together contemporary musical settings of Shakespeare's songs and prose with well-known scenes from his plays. Highlights of the varied program include selections from "West Side Story" and the world premiere of a new work, commissioned by the Chester River Chorale, by Baltimore composer Michael Rickelton. The Chester River Youth Choir also performed.
In December 2015 we continued our tradition of offering a varied and entertaining concert of sacred and secular music in celebration of Christmas and Hanukkah. We were be joined again by Spencer Adamson, baritone; the Chester River Youth Choir, Julie Lawrence, Director; and a small chamber orchestra. We rang in the holidays with great music at the Chestertown Presbyterian Church!