Schola Cantorum on Hudson ensemble becomes “Ember”
by Kathleen Engles for Vocal Area Network
Posted June 21, 2017

Deborah Simpkin King conducts EmberSchola Cantorum on Hudson, the pro/am choral ensemble that performs its full season in both Manhattan and in Montclair, New Jersey, is changing its name to “Ember.” The rebranding reflects the ensemble’s focus on performing music almost exclusively by living composers, programmed as full-season explorations of socially pertinent topics.

Schola Cantorum on Hudson (Schola) will remain the name of the overall choral arts organization, which is comprised of three equally robust “pillars” of activity: performance, education/engagement and new music advocacy. The renowned PROJECT : ENCORE™ is the most visible element of the new music initiative. Only the name of the performance element will be changed to Ember, and it will continue to be a part of Schola Choral Arts.

“Over the past decade, we have come to see and feel that the spiritual and social pertinence of our programming, and particularly the contemporary focus of our repertoire and style of presentation, is not well represented by our lengthy, Latin, old-world name, “ says Deborah Simpkin King, Ph.D, Artistic Director and Founder of Schola Cantorum on Hudson and its performing ensemble, Ember. “And our organization has grown, making it clear that our performing ensemble needs its own unique identity.”

Schola had been considering renaming the ensemble for a number of years during which time it gravitated increasingly toward its current non-traditional, eclectic programming style, focused on new music with a socially pertinent message. A new name would need to be both compelling and evocative, a reflection of the ensemble’s presentational style. Yet it was also important that it honor its musical roots by maintaining the connection with the founding name.

As board member Alyson Navarro explains, “We chose the name Ember because of the myriad of images and sensations it evokes: light, warmth, soft glow, smoldering heat, depth, ever-changing and beautifully enlivened with a breath. Ember, the ensemble, is all this and more.” In keeping with the name change, the organization plans to unveil a new logo and website later in the summer.

Heightening the unique identity of Schola’s performing core with the rename to Ember is especially timely given the organization’s plans for its upcoming season. As is always the case, the artistic leadership has selected a theme that will be developed throughout the full season. The 2017-18 season takes its focus from the year leading to the centennial commemoration of the armistice of World War I (November 11, 2018). The full season will be entitled "When the War is Over," and will launch in a major way with the East Coast premiere of John Muehleisen’s oratorio, But Who Shall Return Us Our Children – A Kipling Passion. A veterans task force has been formed in order to leverage the visibility of the artistic theme surrounding the full impact of war on our society overall. Note: Open score readings of the Kipling Passion will be held on July 10 and July 31. Check the website for more information at ScholaOnHudson.org.

“We’re very excited about the name change because it allows us to better represent the uniqueness of our product to the public – and perhaps particularly to segments of the public not currently involved with choral singing,” says Dr. King. “When we sing, we seek to evoke an experience that will deepen and enliven the shared human experience; and I believe “Ember” is compelling in ways that are open-ended, rather like life itself. We can grow with that!”

Kathleen Engles is a communications professional and freelance writer. Photo credit: Dan Howell Photography.