My name is Julie Heller – I’m a board member of, singer in, and past president of the New York City Master Chorale and I’m helping to produce our upcoming fundraising cabaret “Back in the New York Groove,” coming up on March 9th! It’s hard to believe it’s only two weeks away – time is flying by as we’re putting together a truly special event. Our cabaret used to be an annual spring occurrence – a chance to get together, sing some different styles of music as soloists, duos and small groups, raise support for our performances, outreach program, and other work throughout the year, and continue to build our community. The idea, theme, and title for this year’s event really came from the fact that we haven’t done this in person since 2019 and it’s so exciting to be returning to the stage! Getting back to feeling the dynamic energy of NYC, having regular rehearsals and concerts, and restarting our school partnership program has been incredible – we’ll never again take any of it for granted.
Part of the Master Chorale’s mission is to be inspired by and contribute to the unique environment that is NYC. Your support of this cabaret will make a major difference in our ability to do that in the years ahead, fulfilling our plans for upcoming concerts and events, collaborations and guests, new venues and more. And while we’re based in New York, we’ve grateful to have friends and audience members all over the country and internationally. So don’t forget – this event is also being live-streamed!!
We hope that if you’re outside of the city you’ll tune in from anywhere and if you can join us in person, you’ll be at The Green Room 42 on March 9th. Tickets for both in-person and virtual attendance are available here – we can’t wait to groove with you soon.
Welcome to News from the New York City Master Chorale, our new forum for blog posts, updates, reflections on the season, and more. We are excited to have this added opportunity to connect with all of you, and we hope to see you at our next concert, What Sweeter Music on December 19, 2021!
Reflections on Two Months with NYCMC
These first few months with NYCMC have been great. It honestly feels like our first rehearsal was only yesterday, but here we are with our December concert only a few weeks away. I’ve been struck by this ensemble’s sense of community. They are tight knit yet wonderfully open, folding in new members with ease. For my part, I’ve been grateful for the warm welcome. Making music with NYCMC already feels like home.
Of the things which are most challenging about being a conductor, surely choosing repertoire nears the top of the list. There’s a seeming infinity of great and not-so-great works out there. The more you find, the more you find yourself chasing all the little rabbits back to their holes. There’s also a right piece and a wrong moment for it, or vice versa. Another thing I recently realized is how much I rely on knowing the actual voices of the performers when choosing repertoire. When I was tasked this summer with deciding a season’s worth of music for an ensemble I had never met in person, I did my best to listen to every recording I could get my hands on, and I looked through literally every concert program since the NYCMC’s founding. I’m proud of the result, and I’m thrilled at how well everyone is taking to this challenging lineup. I think we’re headed for an incredible first concert not only of the season, but also our first concert since before the COVID pandemic.
The “What Sweeter Music” concert offers a lot to be excited about too. We open with a gorgeous renaissance motet, Magi veniunt ab oriente by Flemish composer, Jacob Clemens non Papa. Its soaring lines and perfectly balanced counterpoint are truly weightless and other-worldly, a perfect match for the mood late December always brings. Next is a work by Francis Poulenc, Un soir de neige (A snowy evening). It’s filled with some extremely challenging chord progression, so typical of the composer. Once mastered it reveals a perfect depiction of the ravages of winter. I can’t help but hear the sound of snow underfoot. I think my favorite piece of the concert thought has to be the Rheinberger Cantus Missae. It’s everything you’d hope for from a piece of the late German Romantic Period – luscious and memorable melodies with rich chord progressions that are exuberant yet always prayerful. The concert closes with lovely works by Richard Rodney Bennett, a noted film composer and fantastic jazz pianist. His 5 Carols are tender, subtle and intimate, pairing texts taken from 16th century carols with beautiful, at times jazzy harmonies. I can’t wait to get back into rehearsal and work on all this great music!