Posted by: Colin Britt | March 4, 2019

TWO amazing commissions (and a new published piece)

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At ACDA in Kansas City

I’m absolutely elated to share that my newest choral work, “Imagination,” will be premiered by the Rutgers University Voorhees Choir, conducted by Dr. Brandon Williams, at Carnegie Hall on April 23, 2019. The piece is for treble voices, piano, and violin. It’s a setting of On Imagination by Phillis Wheatley, the first published African-American woman to be published.

This will be part of a set called “In Her Words,” which includes settings of texts by female poets. Other featured composers include Jocelyn Hagen, David Brunner, Andrea Clearfield, and J. David Moore. I’m honored to be included in such amazing company!

Then, in March of 2020, I will be the commissioned composer for the ACDA Eastern Division High School Honor Choir! Dr. Edith Copley, from Northern Arizona University, will conduct the premiere of my setting of “Listening” by Amy Lowell. I’ll have more information to share about that soon, but needless to say I’m beyond humbled and excited!

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Lastly, please check out the newest addition to my published catalogue, newly released by Alliance Music Publications. This is the SSAA arrangement of “Afternoon on a Hill,” which I originally arranged for my friend and colleague Arianne Abela. I’m thrilled that this version is now available for purchase!

I just returned from a thrilling and revitalizing week at ACDA in Kansas City, and it was so good to reconnect with so many dear friends and colleagues, and to celebrate their successes! I can’t wait to see what the next year holds for all of us!

While searching for something completely unrelated, I stumbled across this GORGEOUS performance of “As there are flowers” by The National University of Singapore Choir, conducted by Prof. Nelson Kwei. Thank you for such a beautifully nuanced and emotional performance of this piece – I am deeply humbled and grateful!!

Posted by: Colin Britt | December 22, 2018

December news

It has certainly been an exciting season! I’ve had several concerts in the last few weeks, and I’ve also been very fortunate to have a couple premieres and new releases this month. Here are a few highlights:

  • On Wednesday, Nov. 14, I attended the premiere of two movements of a new trilogy of Sara Teasdale settings written for my friend Arianne Abela and the Amherst College Concert Choir as part of a collaborative venture between the music and visual arts programs. The ensemble was fantastic under her new leadership, tackling some really complex and exciting music, and I was thrilled with the premiere! I’ll be sharing that recording soon!
  • On Sunday, Dec. 2, I conducted my third annual Messiah Sing with the West Village Chorale and over 150 of our friends in New York.

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  • On Saturday, Dec. 8, I attended the premiere of my newest composition for tenor and bass voices, “Once, as I remember,” given by the Rutgers University Glee Club and my dear friend and mentor Patrick Gardner. The Rutgers Kirkpatrick Choir also gave a beautiful performance of my setting of “There is no rose.” I can’t wait to share the recordings from that performance – stay tuned!
  • Then, on Sunday, Dec. 9, I conducted my third annual holiday concert with the West Village Chorale, titled “Holidays Around the World.” This program featured music from Russia, England, Latvia, Nigeria, Haiti, Spain, Mexico, and the United States, and it was one of the most vibrant and polished performances I’ve had with this fabulous group. Here’s a video of one of our pieces from that program:

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  • Then, on Monday, Dec. 17, I conducted my fourth concert with the combined choirs at Rutgers Preparatory School. We sang music ranging from Rachmaninoff to Imogen Heap and from Paulus to the PENTATONIX. I am so grateful to work with such an outstanding group of students, and to be able to make music in such a supportive environment every day!
  • Finally, I’m thrilled to share the newly released debut recording of a piece I wrote for Tapestry. My composition, “I think awhile of love,” is the title track of the album, and Billy Janiszewski conducted an absolutely brilliant performance of the piece! I am beyond thrilled with how this recording came out, and I’m especially honored by how this piece has become something of a mantra for the ensemble. The piece (which I wrote in opposition to the divisive and intolerant rhetoric coming from the current political administration) sets a poem by Henry David Thoreau over an accompanying sequence of ostinati that uses something like 30 translations of the word “love.” The emotional apex of the work comes in the final two stanzas, pasted below:

Two sturdy oaks I mean, which side by side
⁠Withstand the winter’s storm,
⁠And, spite of wind and tide,
⁠Grow up the meadow’s pride,
⁠For both are strong.

Above they barely touch, but, undermined
⁠Down to their deepest source,
⁠Admiring you shall find
⁠Their roots are intertwined
⁠Insep’rably.

Please enjoy their brilliant recording – and check out the whole album, which is outstanding!

Lastly, please have a safe and wonderful holiday – see you in 2019!

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With Victoria Britt

Posted by: Colin Britt | November 3, 2018

Fall happenings

Hamburg, Germany

My, what a year it’s been! I’m going to try to include as much information about everything that’s going on in as little space as possible!

  • I am well into my second full year (fifth semester) teaching at Rutgers Preparatory School in Somerset, New Jersey. It’s really starting to feel like “my” program, in that I have developed a culture and rehearsal rhythm with my students. They’re singing exceptionally well this year, and I can’t wait for our December concert!
  • I am incredibly honored to be one of 5 composers involved in a collaborative large-scale oratorio, titled “The Same Word,” which celebrates the commonalities between 4 of the largest religions in the world. I was able to travel to Hamburg in October to meet with some of the other composers and producers of this incredible project, and I can’t wait to share more details soon!

With Travis Leland and Victoria Britt

  • I am in my third year with the West Village Chorale, and we are gearing up for our main holiday concert on Dec. 9, which is titled “Holidays Around the World.” We’re performing music from France, Haiti, Ireland, Latvia, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, and the United States. Highlights include Whalum’s Betelehemu, Levine’s Lo V’chayil, Desamours’s Noel Ayisyen, and Rachmaninoff’s Slava from the All-Night Vigil, among many others! We also recently produced our third annual Oktoberfest fundraiser, which this year was Broadway themed.
  • Finally, I have some exciting premieres coming up! On Wednesday, November 14, my friend and colleague Dr. Arianne Abela will premiere one of my newest choral works, a setting of poems by Sara Teasdale, with the Amherst College Choir! Then, on Dec. 8-9, as part of the annual Rutgers Christmas in Carol and Song performances, my friend and former teacher Dr. Patrick Gardner will conduct the premiere of my “Once, as I remember.”

 

There’s a lot else to share, but I’ll save it for now – happy fall!!

I’m honored and delighted that this Saturday and Sunday, the Greenwich Choral Society, under the direction of Paul F. Mueller, will be premiering my newest choral work, “Light Upon Light.” It’s a piece that combines texts on the theme of light from each of the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

The theme of light is at the center of the concert, which also includes the Hanukkah song “Light the Legend” and J.S. Bach’s “Magnificat.” When I was contacted by Maestro Mueller about the commission, I decided to take the theme of light and explore it from these various angles.

You can read a wonderful article about the piece and the concert at the Greenwich Time website.

Posted by: Colin Britt | July 3, 2017

Summer update

Well, once again I’ve let an entire concert season go by without writing any updates! To recap, here are a few highlights:

  • On April 27, I conducted my first concert with the choral ensembles at Rutgers Preparatory School. Each of the four groups sang 5 pieces, and we sang 2 combined pieces at the ending. It was a beautiful program, and I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be continuing for another year at this wonderful school!
  • On May 21, the West Village Chorale gave its final brilliant performance of the season, a concert celebrating choral Americana. We sang works by Barber, Bernstein, and Copland, gospel pieces by Hogan and Smallwood, as well as new works by Betinis, Lauridsen, Whitacre, and the premiere of a gorgeous piece by Thomas Peters. You can watch a video of “Total Praise” here:

  • On June 13, Amuse Singers also gave their dazzling final performance of the season, titled “Under the Influence.” This diverse and delightful program featured music by Western composers who drew on influences from around the globe. Abbie Betinis’s stunning From Behind the Caravan was the centerpiece, and other works by Sarah Hopkins, Gabriela Lena Frank, Jan Gilbert, Ivan Moody, Michael McGlynn, Carson Cooman, Zhou Long,  Jaakko Mäntyjärvi, and Marten Jansson were also featured.
  • Lastly, I conducted my final set of concerts with North River Sing in Jersey City. This program, “Around the World in 80 Minutes,” somewhat cheekily featured music with locations in the titles. We did this program in a couple venues, perhaps most unusually in the Oculus at the World Trade Center!

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With Dr. Robert Russell

I was also honored to have not one but two exciting premieres take place this spring. The first, a commission for the 100th anniversary of the Maine Music Educators’ Association, was premiered at the Maine All-State festival on May 20, brilliantly conducted by Dr. Robert Russell (who also conducted my very first all state chorus in 2001!). A picture from that premiere is to the right, and I look forward to sharing a recording of that piece in the near future.

The second premiere was a deeply personal work, commissioned by the New York-based chamber choir Tapestry. Their director, Billy Janiszewski, had contacted me following the contentious 2016 presidential election and asked me if I would write something that would speak to our common humanity and unity in the face of such uncertainty. I set Thoreau’s beautiful poem, “Friendship,” the first line of which is “I think awhile of love” (which became the piece’s title). Then, to underline that theme of common humanity, I drew on some 30 translations of the word “love” to underscore, support, and enhance the English text. Tapestry performed the piece three times, on May 31, June 3, and June 4, and I can’t wait to share the recording from their brilliant performance!

Then, there were also performances in which I sang – one was the premiere of the orchestral version of Michael Conley’s spectacular Appalachian Requiem in San Francisco, and the other was the premiere of Martin Bresnick’s oratorio Passions of Bloom in New Haven by the Yale Choral Artists. So yeah, no rest for the weary!

Stay tuned for exciting news about the fall!

Posted by: Colin Britt | March 6, 2017

Some winter updates

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The West Village Chorale presents “Seeing Double: Music for Double Choir”

A few exciting things have taken place since my last update! In chronological order, they are:

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Performing with Sky-Pony

  • On February 26 and 27, Amuse Singers performed “Northern Exposure,” a concert of works from Scandinavia and Finland, including compositions by Sandström, Kostiainen, Rautavaara, Nystedt, Gjeilo, Grimsdottir, Rehnqvist, Norholm, Kankainen and more. I look forward to sharing recordings from that concert – it was a fabulously sung program by these terrific singers.
  • On March 5, the West Village Chorale performed “Seeing Double: Music for Double Choir,” featuring the luminous and challenging Mass for Double Choir a cappella by Frank Martin, Mendelssohn’s “Warum toben die Heiden” and “Richte mich, Gott,” Lassus’s “O la, o che bon eccho,” and the second-ever performance of my “Dreamscape,” a setting of Edgar Allan Poe poems. Our fabulous accompanist Elena Belli and I also played four miniatures from Ravel’s charming Mother Goose Suite. It was a fantastic program, and one in which the singers worked extremely hard and sang absolutely beautifully.

And last but not least, in February I started a position as Interim Choir Director at Rutgers Preparatory School, where I conduct the Madrigals, the Women’s and Men’s Choirs, the Middle School Choir, and teach music theory. This new chapter is certainly a delightful challenge, but it’s been a joy working with this incredibly gifted and kind students, as well as some phenomenal colleagues.

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The choir room at Rutgers Preparatory School

Then this week, I’m off to Minneapolis for the ACDA convention. Yeah, I guess I’ve been a little busy!

Posted by: Colin Britt | January 27, 2017

Amuse Singers at Cathedral of St. John the Divine

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Photo: Jaume Soler

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Photo: Jaume Soler

This past Sunday, Jan. 22 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, Amuse Singers gave a free encore performance of “Wholly Holy,” our program from October 2016. The concert followed the regular Sunday Evensong service at the Cathedral. It was a joy to revisit this beautiful program and to make music with this fabulous ensemble. The concert included works by Orbán, Byrd, Tavener, Victoria, Eben, Pärt, and the luminous Missa in A by Miklós Kocsár.

Stay tuned for more information about our next concert, “Northern Exposure,” which explores music from Scandinavia!
Posted by: Colin Britt | January 9, 2017

Calendar of Spring Events

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It’s been far too long since I’ve posted an update, and I will soon publish a look back at all of the performances from the fall semester. But for now, here is a list of the performances I have lined up for the spring!

  • Sunday, Jan. 22, 5 pm: Amuse Singers perform a reprise of “Wholly Holy” at Cathedral of St. John the Divine, NYC.
  • Saturday, Jan. 28, 4 pm: North River Sing presents “A More Perfect Union: Politics, Plays, and Parties.” Mary Bethune Center, Jersey City.
  • Saturday, Jan. 28, 7:30 pm: West Village Chorale sings alongside Sky-Pony and Nimbus Dance Works for a concert benefiting the ACLU. The Sheen Center, NYC.
  • Sunday, Jan. 29, 4 pm: North River Sing presents “A More Perfect Union: Politics, Plays, and Parties.” Reception to follow. St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, Jersey City.
  • Saturday, Feb. 4, 7:30 pm: Colin Britt conducts the premiere of Karen Siegel’s opera, “The Hat.” Dixon Place the Lounge, NYC.
  • Sunday, Feb. 12, 4 pm: North River Sing presents “A More Perfect Union: Politics, Plays, and Parties.” Peace Care St. Ann’s Residence, Jersey City.
  • Sunday, Feb. 26, 3 pm: Amuse Singers present “Northern Exposure.” Church of the Heavenly Rest, UES, NYC.
  • Monday, Feb. 27, 7:30 pm: Amuse Singers present “Northern Exposure.”  Rutgers Presbyterian, UWS, NYC.
  • Sunday, March 5, 5 pm: West Village Chorale presents “Seeing Double.” Judson Memorial Church, NYC.
  • Sunday, March 12, 3 pm: North River Sing presents “A More Perfect Union: Politics, Plays, and Parties.” Perc Shelter, Union City NJ.
  • Wednesday, April 26, 6:30 pm: “Viva Vino,” West Village Chorale‘s spring wine tasting fundraiser. Judson Memorial Church, NYC.
  • Sunday, May 7, 3 pm: Members of the West Village Chorale join the Calvary Chancel Choir and San Francisco Orchestra for the premiere of the orchestrated version of Michael Conley’s Appalachian Requiem. Calvary Presbyterian Church, San Francisco.
  • Saturday, May 20, time TBD: Premiere of commissioned work for Maine All-State centennial performance. Collins Center for the Arts, University of Maine at Orono.
  • Sunday, May 21, 5 pm: West Village Chorale presents “American Voices.” Judson Memorial Church, NYC.
  • Thursday, June 1, 8 pm: The New Amsterdam Singers present “Life is But a Dream,” featuring my piece “World, I cannot hold thee close enough” and other contemporary American works inspired by poetry and folk song. St. Ignatius of Antioch, UWS, NYC.
  • Tuesday, June 13, 7:30 pm: Amuse Singers present “Influences.” Rutgers Presbyterian, UWS, NYC.
  • Wednesday, June 14, 7:30 pm: Amuse Singers present “Influences.” Church of the Heavenly Rest, UES, NYC.
  • Tuesday, June 20, 7:30 pm: Yale Choral Artists perform the premiere of Martin Bresnick’s “Walt Whitman Passion.” Sprague Recital Hall, New Haven CT.
Posted by: Colin Britt | October 6, 2016

Fall concert season kicks off!

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The West Village Chorale and Sky-Pony

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Grace Goodman, photo

October is here, and with it comes the first of many performances this year. My first performance of the season was with the West Village Chorale, who were invited to perform as part of the Park Avenue Armory Gala, an annual fundraiser for the Armory’s artistic and educational programming, and one at which Michael Bloomberg happened to be the guest of honor. We sang “backup” for two numbers, one by the fabulous indie-rock band Sky-Pony (lead by lead singer Lauren Worsham) and one by the legend herself, Ms. Patti LuPone. You can see some more pictures here, including one of a few of us singing the end of “Blow, Gabriel, Blow” with Ms. LuPone. It was a feast for the eyes and ears, for sure!

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Maya Ben-Meir

Next, on Sunday, October 9 at 2 pm, mezzo-soprano Maya Ben-Meir and I will be offering a free recital of American art song at Grace Church Van Vorst in Jersey City. The recital includes songs by Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber, Gian Carlo Menotti, and me, as well as some more “popular” favorites. A free will offering will benefit Cathedral Arts Live, the performing series I co-founded at Grace.

And last but certainly not least, on Oct. 15 and 17 I will be conducting Amuse Singers for “Wholy Holy, the first concert of our 2016-2017 season. This beautiful program features sacred music by Dufay, Dunstable, Palestrina, Byrd, Morales, and Victoria alongside contemporary works by Pärt, Tavener, Orbán, Eben, McDowell, and the Missa in A of Miklós Kocsár. I am so excited to be conducting this fabulous ensemble – the music is absolutely radiant, and the singers bring such passion and dedication to their craft. You don’t want to miss it! (Check out a sneak peek of the Victoria Duo seraphim below)

 

 

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