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Upcoming Concert Programs

2019 December Concert

Maine Winter Music

Friday December 13
Belfast Unitarian Universalist Church
Belfast, Maine

Sunday December 15
Rockport Opera House
Rockport, Maine

This year’s December concerts are entitled "Maine Winter Music” and will be a collaboration with the Midcoast Brass Quintet. The repertoire will include choral music by Maine composers Delmar Dustin Small and Sean Fleming. Other compositions by American composers Daniel Pinkham and Richard Dirksen also include accompaniment by brass instruments. Performances will be at the Belfast Unitarian Univeralist Church on Friday, December 13 and at Rockport Opera House on Sunday, December 15. The Midcoast Brass Quintet will also perform seasonal repertoire on their own in these concerts.

The 2020 spring semester for Down East Singers will focus on a Memorial Day performance of Johannes Brahms's "German Requiem," accompanied by the Mozart Mentors Orchestra at Camden Opera House.

Past Performances

Sacred Service

Ernest Bloch's Sacred Service / Avodath Hakodesh

A magnificent, full-length Jewish liturgy sung in Hebrew with Cantor Scott Sokol, baritone soloist, and the Mozart Mentors Orchestra accompanying.

Complete Program Notes
From Many, One

In Memoriam: From Many...One

With Mozart Mentors Orchestra and soprano soloist Emma Hallundbaek.

Complete Program Notes

A Celtic Christmas: Music of Ireland, Scotland, Wales & Cornwall.

With Castlebay Duo and David Myers, Jr., tenor.

Complete Program Notes

Down East Singers presents The Creation, considered Haydn's greatest work.

With soloists Erin Chenard, soprano; David Myers, Jr., tenor; John David Adams, bass-baritone; and Rebecca Worthington, soprano.

Complete Program Notes

Heaven and Earth, Jenks and Jazz: Christmas music influenced by dance rhythms and jazzy harmonies from the Renaissance to the 21st Century, including a musical tribute to the late Glenn Jenks, featuring his "Heaven and Earth.” And works by Praetorius, Schütz, Joubert, Biebl, Joplin, Zimmermann, Gruber, Beal, Booth, and Rodgers & Hammerstein.

Complete Program Notes

Down East Singers, accompanied by Mozart Mentors Orchestra, directed by Anthony Antolini, presents Mozart’s immortal Requiem.

With soloists Sarah Tuttle, soprano; Joëlle Morris, mezzo-soprano; David Myers, tenor; and John David Adams, bass-baritone.

Also on the program are Mozart’s beloved motet, Ave verum corpus and a sing-along arrangement of America the Beautiful.

Complete Program Notes

Benjamin Britten: Ceremony of Carols
Kirke Mechem: The Seven Joys of Christmas
Henri Büsser: Le Sommeil de l’Enfant Jésus (Sleep of the Infant Jesus)
Michael Larkin: Fantasy on "Creator of the Stars of Night”
Frank Ferko: Festival of Carols

With Virginia Flanagan, harp soloist

A Festival of Carols, by American composer Frank Ferko, is based on five Christmas carol texts by 19th century American poets and hymn writers. Although it was the composer’s intention to use earlier American texts, he found that most Christmas carols sung in America prior to the 19th century were carols brought to this country by immigrants from their homelands in Europe. Thus, many of the early carols sung here did not originate in this country. The nineteenth century, however, did produce an abundance of new texts by American writers, and these were also set to music by American composers. Some of these carols have become quite well-known while others have remained relatively obscure. In A Festival of Carols all of the music is new whether or not the texts are familiar. Thus, the carols are not arrangements of previously existing tunes but entirely new melodies and harmonizations with the harp used both as an accompanying instrument and as an intrinsic thread within the larger musical fabric. A Festival of Carols was commissioned by the Dale Warland Singers. The music was composed in the summer and early fall of 2002 and first performed by the Dale Warland Singers at four performances in December 2002 of the annual Echoes of Christmas concerts.

Harps of Gold also includes one composition for solo voice and harp—Le Sommeil de l’Enfant Jésus (Sleep of the Infant Jesus) by Henri Büsser, a French composer of German ancestry who was born in 1872 in Toulouse.

Complete Program Notes

Symphony of Psalms - Music from our Old Testament Heritage. World premiere of a newly commissioned work by Elizabeth Brown for theremin, chorus and piano; Rachmaninoff's Vocalise performed on the theremin with piano accompaniment and Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms for chorus and orchestra.

A Latin-American Christmas: Argentine composer Ariel Ramírez's Misa Criolla and Navidad Nuestra for chorus, two tenor soloists and instrumental combo of guitar, percussion, keyboard, flutes and string bass. David Myers and Anthony Antolini, tenor soloists, Shannon M. Chase, guest conductor. Also on the program were choral arrangements from Colombia and Puerto Rico for chorus and combo.

As It Began to Dawn… A full-length Oratorio about the awe and mystery of the Resurrection by Maine native Delmar Dustin Small. Performed May 26, 2014 at the Camden Opera House, with Mozart Mentors Orchestra, vocal soloists and chorus.

Black Nativity in Concert — On Dec. 11, 1961, at the 41st Street Theater in New York City, six gospel singers made history. Backed up by only a piano and a B-3 Hammond organ, they performed Black Nativity by African-American poet and playwright, Langston Hughes. He entitled it "A Gospel Song-play." Maine music historian Aaron Robinson has recreated the score of Black Nativity from the original recording as Black Nativity—In concert: A Gospel Celebration. Down East Singers performed it and other gospel music with pianist Jennifer McIvor and Hammond organist Sean Fleming on December 12 and December 22, 2013.

Karl Jenkins’ Requiem, for chorus, orchestra and shakuhachi (Japanese flute) and shorter works, including spirituals by William Dawson and Stravinsky's arrangement of The Star-Spangled Banner. With Mozart Mentors Orchestra and Elizabeth Brown, shakuhachi master Monday, May 27, 2013, 5 PM Camden Opera House.

"A Russian Christmas,” with the St. Petersburg Men’s Ensemble, was presented on Thursday, December 6 at 7:30 PM at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church, Newcastle and Sunday, December 9 at 2:30 pm at Camden Opera House. The repertoire included sacred works by Bortniansky, Ippolitov-Ivanov, Stravinsky, Chesnokov, Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky and seasonal folk songs arranged by Kalistratov, Leontovich and Prokhorov. The first half of the concert featured the St. Petersburg Men’s Ensemble performing both sacred and secular works for men’s voices. The second half of the concert was a collaboration between the St. Petersburg Men’s Ensemble and Down East Singers, including the original Ukrainian version of the popular Christmas song "Carol of the Bells.”

Georg Frederic Handel’s Te Deum and Jubilate for the Peace of Utrecht were performed at the 2012 Memorial Day Concert in Camden and later at Blue Hill. The program included Stravinsky’s arrangement of The Star Spangled Banner, three traditional American spirituals and four Shaker songs, and was accompanied by the Mozart Mentors Orchestra.

Carl Orff's monumental 1937 masterpiece was performed on April 14, 2012, at Strom Auditorium under the auspices of Bay Chamber Concerts. Professional soloists included soprano Suzanne Nance, Music Director of Maine Public Radio; counter-tenor Daniel C. Stein and baritone Andrew Garland with pianists Sean Fleming and Jennifer McIvor.

Noël Français: three performances of a musical tribute to Maine’s French cultural heritage in a cornucopia of Poulenc’s Gloria and all-French Christmas choral works by composers including Fauré, Franck, and Duruflé as well as
traditional carols. December 8th, 9th & 11th. The concert featured soloist Christina Astrachan. Down East Singers also shared the stage with Maine’s folk group ‘Ti Acadie performing Acadian, Cajun and French-Canadian Christmas songs and medleys.

Mozart's Regina Coeli K. 108, Solemn Vespers K. 339, Ave Verum Corpus K. 618, Walter Kittridge's Tenting on the Old Camp Ground (1863), William Steffe's Battle Hymn of the Republic, and Nathan Paul Scalzone's The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls (2010). May 30th & June 19, 2011. With Suzanne Nance, soprano soloist. Suzanne is the music director at Maine Public Radio, and host of the weekday morning classical music show from 9am-noon. The concert was performed with a new orchestra, the Mozart Mentors Orchestra, composed of area professionals and their top students.

Kirke Mechem's Seven Joys of Christmas, Christmas Past and Christmas Present, Birthdays in Round Numbers. December 10th & 12th, 2010. Dedicated to the memory of former DES singer Tom Bertocci, who died earlier this year. The program included a contemporary piece entitled "Thou shalt know him when he comes,” performed in memory of Tom who personally requested before he died that we sing this piece. On the same program, the new, smaller ensemble recruited from within the DES membership was introduced. They performed the Biebl Ave Maria and Heinrich Schütz's Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt (For God so love the world).

Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem. May 30 & June 11, 2010. Written in 1936, Dona Nobis Pacem is the composer’s stirring plea for peace following World War I and with Germany, Italy and Spain pushing Europe toward World War II. A multi-movement work setting the poetry of Walt Whitman and selections from the Bible. On the same program, music for handbells and chorus in collaboration with Penobscot Bay Ringers, Bunny Stanley, director.

Rachmaninoff All Night Vigil (Vespers). December 11, 13, 2009—Warren and Camden, ME. Rachmaninoff composed the hour-long Vespers in approximately two weeks during January and February 1915. Its premier performance was a war-relief fund-raising concert on March 10, 1915 by a choir of men and boys. The unaccompanied work is generally considered Rachmaninoff’s greatest choral composition and a monument of Russian Orthodox sacred music.

Schubert's Mass in G and works by Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Kastalsky, and Kedroff, Memorial Day 2009, Rockland and Blue Hill, Maine. Schubert wrote the Mass in G when he was a teenager; it is filled with some of his most lyrical melodies and radiates a warm, soothing optimism.

J.S. Bach's exuberant Magnificat in D, December 2008 in Rockport, Maine, including the seldom heard Christmas carol additions. Special guests on the program were the Lincoln Academy Lincolnaires, of Newcastle, directed by Beth Preston. DES also performed Gospodi pomiluy (Lord, Have Mercy) by Grigory Lvovsky, Hold On!, a spiritual arranged by Moses Hogan, and Go Where I Send Thee arranged by Nick Page.

Luigi Cherubini's Requiem in C minor, Memorial Day 2008, performed in Rockland and Blue Hill, Maine. Composed in 1815, this work was especially admired by Schumann, Brahms and Beethoven and is the Requiem that was performed at Beethoven's own funeral.

Rachmaninoff Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, March 2008, with the Rachmaninoff Choir, in Thomaston and Saco, Maine, and Cambridge and Haverhill, Massachusetts.

Contemporary Greek American composers -- Anna Gallos, Theodore Bogdanos, Tikey Zes, Constantine Limberakis, Stephen Cardiasmenos - February 2008. With the Rachmaninoff Choir as demonstration choir for Anthony Antolini's presentation at the ACDA (American Choral Directors Association) Eastern Division convention in Hartford, Connecticut.

Ottorino Respighi's Laud to the Nativity, December 2007. Performed in Rockport, with singers from Riley School and the Ashwood Waldorf School collaborating on the program. Laud to the Nativity, composed in 1930, is a melodious evocation of the manger scene as witnessed by the shepherds. Also on the program were Gordon Bok's Oh, I Am Calling and Moses Hogan's Music Down in My Soul.

Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass (Mass in D minor), Memorial Day 2007. Also on the program was Rachmaninoff's "The Angel" from Six Choruses for Women's Voices.

Gloria, John Rutter; Magnificat, Cesar Cui; Come, Bring with a Noise, Richard Francis, December 2006. Camden Hills Regional High School Chamber Singers and Women's Chorus collaborated with DES for these Feast Music concerts. Richard Francis is a composer living in Damariscotta.

John Rutter's Requiem, May 29, 2006. Written in 1985, this Requiem is described by the composer as " … intimate rather than grand, contemplative and lyric rather than dramatic, consolatory rather than grim, approachable rather than exclusive."

Sergei Rachmaninoff's Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, on Spring Tour 2006 to Peabody, Massachusetts, and the San Francisco Bay area and in March 2007 at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation in Boston. A highly expressive, emotional setting of the Russian Orthodox morning worship service, written in 1910 and rediscovered and revived by Anthony Antolini in 1985.

Mozart's Missa Brevis in F, K 192, December 2 and 4, 2005. This "short mass" was written when Mozart was 18 years old for Salzburg Cathedral. Described by musicologist H. Abert as "the summit of Mozart's youthful masses," the Missa Brevis was performed in collaboration with the newly formed Odeon Chamber Ensemble. The concert also featured a rarely heard choral work by English composer Ivan Moody and movements from concertos by J.S. Bach and G. P. Telemann.

Mozart's Requiem, May 30, 2005. This immortal masterpiece, left unfinished at Mozart's death and completed by a devoted student, presents a gripping depiction of The Last Judgment and the repose of the soul.

Israel in Egypt, Handel's rarely heard oratorio for double chorus describing in vivid musical detail the events of the Passover story. Down East Singers joined with Bowdoin Chorus and Orchestra for this performance on May 1, 2005.

Chronological List of Major Works Performed by Down East Singers

Spring 1992 Fauré: Pavane and Requiem
Winter 1992 Vaughan Williams: Fantasia on Christmas Carols
Spring 1993 Rachmaninoff: Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom
Winter 1993 Titov: O Miraculous Wonder;
Early New England Christmas music
Spring 1994 Piston: Carnival Song
Winter 1994 Pinkham: Christmas Cantata
Spring 1995 Orff: Carmina Burana
Winter 1995 Mechem: Seven Joys of Christmas
Spring 1996 Haydn: Creation
Winter 1996 Bernstein: Chichester Psalms; Mechem: Island in Space
Spring 1997 Mozart: Regina coeli K 276;
Bach: Cantata 208, Sheep may safely graze;
Schubert: Miriam’s Song of Triumph
Winter 1997 Britten: Ceremony of Carols;
Roberts: Magnificat and O Lord, we beseech Thee;
Amy Beach: Let this mind be in you;
Parker: Urbs Syon Unica
Spring 1998 Schütz: St. John Passion;
Haydn: Seven Last Words of Christ
Winter 1998 Susa: A Christmas Garland;
Tchaikovsky: The Legend
Spring 1999 Honegger: King David
Winter 1999 Pinkham: Christmas Cantata;
Chesnokov: Salvation is Created;
Bortniansky: Cherubic Hymn
Spring 2000 Mozart: Requiem; Kodály: Pange lingua;
Lvov: As she stood by the cross
Winter 2000 Mechem: Seven Joys of Christmas
Spring 2001 Brahms: A German Requiem
Winter 2001 Buxtehude: In dulci jubilo;
McKean: Gloria Keyser
Spring 2002 Bloch: Sacred Service
Winter 2002 Ramirez: Misa Criolla;
Schroeder: Rorate coeli desuper
Spring 2003 Dvorák: In Nature’s Realm, Op. 63;
works by Gorecki;
Thompson: The Peaceable Kingdom
Winter 2003 Handel: Messiah
Spring 2004 Kodály: Missa Brevis and Pange lingua;
Roberts: Storm on Lake Galilee
Dvorák: Requiem
Winter 2004 Vivaldi: Gloria

For more recent concerts see posters and descriptions above.

Concert Tours of the Rachmaninoff Choir

2015 Concert Tour to Bangor, ME and Peabody, MA
2013 Concert tour to Dover, NH, Cambridge, MA, and Woonsocket, RI
Concert tour to Hartford, CT and Cambridge, MA
Concert tour to Newcastle, ME; New York City
Concert tour to Lewiston, ME; Lowell, MA; Dover, NH
Concert tour to Belgrade, Serbia; Sofia, Bulgaria; Thessaloniki, Lesvos and Athens, Greece
Concert tour to Saco, ME; Cambridge, MA; Haverhill, MA
Concert tour to Boston (Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation)
Concert tour of Massachusetts (St. Vasilios Greek Orthodox Church, Peabody) and California (Holy Cross Church, Santa Cruz; Stanford Memorial Church, Stanford University; Grace Cathedral, San Francisco)
Concert tour of New York, New Hampshire and Maine
Concert tour of European Russia, Siberia and Russian Far East
Concert tour of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine
Concert tour of Maryland and Washington, D.C.
Concert tour of Vermont, New Hampshire and Quebec
Concert tour of New York and Massachusetts
Concert tour of Maine and Vermont
Concert tour of New Hampshire and Connecticut
Concert tour of Northern Maine
Concert tour of Western Massachusetts

Down East Singers

PO Box 996, Rockport, Maine 04856