The New Jersey Choral Society celebrates Eric Dale Knapp's 10th anniversary
by Lori Howard for Vocal Area Network
Posted June 15, 2015

New Jersey Choral Society--photo by Lori HowardThe New Jersey Choral Society’s final concert of the 2014-2015 season was a celebration of Artistic Director and Conductor Eric Dale Knapp’s 10th anniversary with the chorus. The concert, featuring Giuseppe Verdi’s magnificent Requiem, took place on June 6, 2015 to a full house at the West Side Presbyterian Church in Ridgewood, NJ. NJCS was joined by the Connecticut Choral Society, soprano Megan Knapp, mezzo-soprano Teresa Buchholz, tenor Kirk Dougherty and bass Jared Schwartz, and accompanied by organist Linda Sweetman-Waters and a 61-member symphonic orchestra. Other highlights of the program were the world premiere of David Gotay's Earthen Vessels, dedicated to Eric Dale Knapp, The New Jersey Choral Society and Connecticut Choral Society; and Gustav Mahler’s stunning "Choral Finale" from the Resurrection Symphony No. 2.

The June 6 concert was hailed by those in attendance as “world-class,” “stunning” and “over the moon.” Audience member Patti Niebojewski exclaimed, “A truly magnificent concert. ...months of hard practice provided such thunderous passionate emotional results. The music and sound was just divine. It was a pleasure to experience.” Mr. Knapp reflected that he was “...grateful to all of the singers, soloists and musicians for a monumental experience. The concert was musically compelling, profoundly elegant and aesthetically transcendent.”

Mr. Knapp took the helm as the New Jersey Choral Society’s Artistic Director and Conductor in January 2005 when the chorus was in its 25th season. NJCS Board of Trustees President Virginia Lincoln states, “Eric has taken us not only around the world in a series of international concerts, but across the musical realm as well. We would not be performing the Verdi Requiem or be the singers and chorus we are today if it were not for Eric’s passion, excellence and imagination along with his determination and unsurpassed talent. It is a relationship we hope will span another decade and beyond.” Board Past-President Art Simet elaborates on Ms. Lincoln’s sentiments, remarking, “The artistic growth of the chorus during Eric's 10 years has been nothing less than exemplary. Eric has the gift of knowing what sounds are best in any situation, but more importantly he knows how to get the chorus to produce these sounds. He understands the styles and practices that were accepted at the time the pieces were written and communicates those standards clearly to the singers...leading to performances that are more uplifting, exciting, and interesting to both the membership and the audience.”

Mr. Knapp and the New Jersey Choral Society will resume their performances in Bergen and Essex Counties in December 2015 with "Celebration of Carols." The 2015-2016 season continues with the NJCS Pops Spectacular, "Crazy For You," in March 2016 and a presentation of Carmina Burana in June 2016.

Lori Howard is a volunteer and former member of the New Jersey Choral Society.