The celebrated chorus MasterVoices celebrated on Monday its return to performing before an audience, after a two-year hiatus, with a concert, titled “A Joyful Noise,” featuring music to mark the holiday season, as well as the perseverance of the human spirit after a long break.
Joining in this first concert of MasterVoices’ 80th anniversary season, at Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium, Perelman Stage, were rising Canadian soprano Mikaela Bennett, the Northwell Health Nurse Choir and 10-time GRAMMY Award-winning a capella group, Take 6.
MasterVoices told Caribbean Life that it provided free tickets to a few hundred essential and frontline workers to the concert, thanking them for their personal sacrifices during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Musical selections, sacred and secular, included works by Randall Thompson and Adam Guettel that MasterVoices performed virtually last season and sang together in person for the first time.
Take 6, heard last season with MasterVoices in the online premiere of Adam Guettel’s song cycle, “Myths and Hymns”, performed its unique arrangements – both on its own and with MasterVoices joining, including “If We Ever Needed the Lord Before (We Sure Do Need Him Now)” by Thomas A. Dorsey, “the father of gospel music.”
MasterVoices said a pillar of the program was Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, which uses the text “A Joyful Noise,” from the opening of Psalm 100.
It featured Mikaela Bennett, who sang the role of Mary Wintergreen in MasterVoices’ 2019 concert production of Gershwin’s “Let ‘Em Eat Cake”, as well as joining MasterVoices in a performance of Handel’s “Israel in Egypt” in 2018.
“The evening ended on a majestic note, with the traditional carol, ‘Hark, the Herald Angels Sing’, with the soloists joining forces with the full ensemble,” MasterVoices said.
It said the program also featured the Northwell Health Nurse Choir, which began its journey in 2020, when nurses from different Northwell hospitals in New York gathered virtually to support the Nurse Heroes initiative.
In June 2021, the choir appeared on “America’s Got Talent”.
MasterVoices said Northwell Health Nurse Choir’s “captivating performance” resulted in a Top 10 spot in the TV show’s season finale.
MasterVoices, formerly The Collegiate Chorale, was founded in 1941 by legendary American choral conductor Robert Shaw.
Under the artistic direction of Tony Award-winner Ted Sperling since 2013, the group is known for its versatility and a repertoire that ranges from choral masterpieces and operas in concert to operettas and musical theater.
Season concerts feature its volunteer chorus of 100-plus members from all walks of life, alongside an inclusive roster of world-class soloists from across the musical spectrum, including Julia Bullock, Dove Cameron, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Renée Fleming, John Holiday, Jennifer Holliday, Norm Lewis and Kelli O’Hara.
Under Sperling’s direction, the group said it has created cross–disciplinary collaborations with such diverse creative minds as Vogue Editor-at-Large Hamish Bowles, fashion designer Zac Posen, Silk Road visual artist Kevork Mourad, illustrator Manik Choksi, stage designer Doug Fitch, and choreographers Doug Varone and Andrew Palermo.
Roger Rees was the group’s Artistic Associate from 2003–2015, and, in 2021, the group received a Drama League Award nomination for its multi-genre digital concert production, “Myths and Hymns”.
As the country’s first interracial and interfaith chorus, the group performed at the opening of the United Nations, and has sung and recorded under the batons of esteemed conductors, including Serge Koussevitzky, Arturo Toscanini and Leonard Bernstein, among others.
MasterVoices said it has been engaged by top-tier orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic and the Israel Philharmonic, and has appeared at the Verbier and Salzburg Festivals.