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New works spearhead opening sessions of NYC choral music festival
by Dan Nesbett for Vocal Area Network
Posted April 6, 2008

Gregg SmithFive new choral works will be performed in the Thursday and Friday evening concerts of the American Masterpieces Choral Music Festival. The location is Manhattan's Saint Peter's Church at Lexington Avenue and 54th Street. The Festival runs Thursday through Saturday, April 24, 25 and 26. The Thursday and Friday evening concerts each start at 8 PM and are preceded at 7:30 by Meet the Composers Dialogue sessions.

Overall, the works of twenty-eight American composers spanning three centuries will be heard during the Festival. Participants are The Gregg Smith Singers, Cantori New York, The Long Island Symphonic Choral Association, Saint Peter's Choir and the Syracuse Children's Chorus. The Festival is made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, given in recognition of the cultural contribution over 50 years by the Gregg Smith Singers.

Each of the premiering composers has had an ongoing relationship with one of the performing groups. "Our own singers have produced several of the noteworthy new offerings to be presented on Friday evening," says Gregg Smith, founder and leader of the Gregg Smith Singers. "For example, Californian Dale Jergenson, a singer and our assistant conductor, is premiering his Age of Ash," Smith continues. "Likewise, Edmund Najera, whose longtime singing association goes back almost fifty years to our founding, has written Prayer of Saint Francis, also to be premiered. And current GSS soprano Martha Sullivan is having her work In That Great Gettin'-Up Morning performed for the first time in public."

Burt Goldstein, a seasoned and award-winning instrumental composer also from California, last year presented his first choral piece at the GSS Composers Readings Workshop at which the Gregg Smith Singers sight-read new works. "The ensuing critique suggested, since it is a vocal rather than an instrumental piece, that the key be lowered, and that the voicing and prosody be enhanced," says Smith. "Two weeks later the new manuscript arrived in the mail--revised by the composer into not only a much better, but into a first-class piece of choral music." That work, Pater Noster, also is being premiered Friday evening.

Other composers enjoying ongoing relationships with other Festival groups will be heard as well. Paul Crabtree's work Dive, a Water Music, will be performed by Cantori on Thursday, the opening night of the Festival. In the past he has written other works for this group.

Composer-arranger Roosevelt Andre Credit was a member of the Tony Award winning Broadway revival of Show Boat, and has played Joe in the cast traveling throughout the country. Three of his spiritual arrangements will be performed Thursday evening by the Saint Peter's Choir, of which Roosevelt is the bass section leader.

For a detailed schedule of the Festival, and the opportunity to purchase tickets, please visit www.greggsmithsingers.com. Your questions also may be directed by telephone to 914-376-8899.

Dan Nesbett handles publicity for the American Masterpieces Choral Music Festival.

Content Contact: Dan Nesbett.
Revision Date: April 6, 2008.
Technical Contact: Steve Friedman.

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