One of this country's oldest choruses, Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia seeks to advance the development of choral music as an art form. Founded in 1874, the Mendelssohn Club's rich musical history includes the American premiere of Mahler's Eighth Symphony and the Philadelphia premieres of Brahms' Ein Deutches Requiem and Britten's War Requiem. In 2014, Mendelssohn Club will present BIG SING/Julia Wolfe, the culmination of a two-year project around the commission of a new, hybrid choral work by composer Julia Wolfe, co-founder of New York City new music collective Bang on a Can and a runner-up for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Music. Wolfe has collected and incorporated stories from the chorus and the community at large in order to create this work, which will be composed for a 130+ voice chorus with the Bang on a Can All-Stars in a chamber/folk ensemble configuration.
In celebration of their 140th season, Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia reconstructed Felix Mendelssohn's 1841 revision of Johann Sebastian Bach's St. Matthew Passion, in an American premiere at Girard College Chapel. Mendelssohn's edits to the original score were designed to popularize Bach among mid-19th-century audiences, who were more likely to study than to perform the composer's work. Artistic Director Alan Harler, who traveled to Oxford University to study Mendelssohn's handwritten edits, conducted the February 8, 2015 performance. Participating musicians included the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, soprano Susanna Phillips, mezzo-soprano Marietta Simpson, tenor Yusuke Fujii, bass Andrew Bogard, and Michael Stairs, organ. Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia also produced a "BIG SING" concert, during which audience members will be invited to sing several of Bach's St. Matthew Passion chorales.
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