C4, the Choral Composer/Conductor Collective, is gearing up to present two exciting concerts this week! On Thursday, March 10 at the Church of St. Luke in the Fields and on Saturday, March 12 at Baruch Performing Arts Center, C4 will present “Unusual: Music of the Strange, the Absurd, and the Surreal.”

I am thrilled to be conducting Philip Hersant’s lyrical and mysterious Allégories, which sets three poems by Rimbaud. This work is expansive and yet intimate, joyous and yet melancholy, and encapsulates three stages of life – childhood, youth, and departure. Check out the video above for a sneak preview.

I’m also very excited for the premiere of my piece, The Agony and Ecstasy, based on a poem by Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī. It’s my first time writing for this terrific ensemble, and under the brilliant conducting of Melissa Wozniak, the piece is sounding fabulous.

Also on the program are Martha Sullivan’s Tyger, Tyger, Gordon Williamson’s Tape Recorder (get ready for some overtone singing), the premieres of Karl Saint Lucy’s Or Delirium and Brian Mountford’s zany The Devil’s Dictionary, Daniel Andor’s Pitter, patter… and then, and Chris Opperman’s theatrical Tales from the Bizarro World. Don’t miss this exciting – and unusual – program!

Posted by: Colin Britt | February 8, 2016

Fall and Winter Update

UC 2015

University Choir (photo cred. John Lee)

Well, the fall and winter certainly flew by! There’s a lot to share, so I’ll try to keep it brief:

  • I began the final year of coursework for my doctorate at Rutgers, and was incredibly fortunate to conduct the Kirkpatrick Choir, some fabulous soloists, and a terrific period instrument orchestra in a performance of Bach’s Cantata 173 (“Erhöhtes Fleisch und Blut”) in November.
  • I continued my work as a conductor and singer with C4 (The Choral Composer/Conductor Collective) and conducted two pieces on their fall concert, as well as one on their upcoming second CD.
  • The Rutgers University Glee Club premiered my setting of “Quem vidistis, pastores” in Pittsburgh, followed by performances in Michigan and at the annual Christmas in Carol and Song series at Rutgers. I was also thrilled to sing for one of my former conducting students, Melanie Chambers, who conducted the Gardner “Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day” at the final performance!
  • We rolled out our inaugural season of Cathedral Arts Live at Grace Church Van Vorst, beginning with a festive performance for Day of the Dead in October, two fabulous live bands in November, and an innovative Evening of Duets (featuring musicians, dancers, and spoken word) in January.

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    Colin Britt, Nick Cutroneo, and Annalisa Ledson (photo cred. Rosemary McLaughlin)

  • The Riverside Choral Society, under the direction of my brilliant teacher Patrick Gardner, performed my choral-orchestral work “The House of Clouds” to a full house at the Church of the Heavenly Rest in New York City. A special delight was hearing mezzo-soprano Debi Wong sing the solo which was written for her 5 years ago!

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  • And, finally, the 100-voice University Choir, which I’m privileged to conduct at Rutgers, gave a stellar performance in December at the Nicholas Music Center. On the program were all contemporary works by living composers, including works by Abbie Betinis, Christopher Marshall, Harry Einhorn, Meredith Monk, Richard Smallwood, and the premiere of a trilogy of Emily Dickinson settings I wrote for the ensemble.

This spring, I’m looking forward to performing with the Rutgers University Kirkpatrick Choir AND with C4 at the ACDA Eastern Division conference in Boston. I will also be presenting my lecture recital at Rutgers on the choral works of Brahms and how his collection of early music influenced their composition. And, of course, both the Rutgers Kirkpatrick Choir and the Glee Club will be giving many performances throughout the spring. Stay tuned!

Posted by: Colin Britt | August 21, 2015

Summer update

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, so I have many updates to share!

11205092_10155572525210002_2407168597645774684_nTo begin with, the 2014-2015 school year ended with a spectacular concert by the Rutgers University Choir. It was probably the most challenging program I’ve picked, and the 90 incredible students with which I have the pleasure of working rose to the occasion beautifully. The concert included works by Brahms, Hopkins, Kodály, Mendelssohn, and the fabulous Abbie Betinis, and featured a range of pieces from around the globe. I’m also thrilled (and amazed) to say that out of the 10 pieces on the program, only one was in English!

IMG_5485Immediately after the semester ended, the Rutgers University Glee Club embarked on a whirlwind tour of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. We performed in venues from Gloucester Cathedral to the University of Utrecht (where the Rutgers charter was signed), and had the incredible opportunity to visit places like Windsor Castle, the Roman town of Bath, Westminster Abbey, and Valkenburg and Maastricht, two of the most European cities I’ve ever been to. I was also honored on each program to be able to conduct an arrangement I made of a Welsh folk tune, Dacw ‘Nghariad. It’s not exactly the easiest language I’ve come across, but the Glee Club sang beautifully.

Mere hours after stepping off the tarmac, I jumped into final rehearsals for a thrilling production of Hair at Playhouse on Park in West Hartford. As my home and church job are both in Jersey City, I split the role of Musical Director with my good friend Emmett Drake, who really deserves all the credit for teaching the show to our fabulous cast. We had a run of seven great weeks in this special theater, and I can honestly say that I’ve never worked with a more consistently excellent company. It was exhausting making the trip back and forth from New Jersey, but I was thrilled to be a part of this brilliant production.

IMG_6528IMG_7192After Hair closed, Tori and I joined the choir of South Church, New Britain, on a weekend trip to Block Island, where we performed a concert as part of the Harbor Church’s 150th anniversary. One of the pieces on the program was an arrangement I did of “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder,” a delightful folk hymn I had never before encountered. And, of course, we got to enjoy the beautiful scenery and weather of Block Island – I explored a good amount of the island on two morning runs, including the Mohegan Bluffs (pictured on the left).

Finally, Tori and I were then invited to give a concert at the Emery Community Arts Center in Farmington, Maine, where my mother and stepfather both teach. We called the program, “Tori and Colin in Concert: With Love, from Jersey” – a slightly tongue-in-cheek title, I suppose. The concert featured the fabulous Mike French on guitar, and included a variety of musical theater standards, contemporary songs, and even a little pop. The program was well-attended, and Tori and I loved getting to share some new material with one another and our audience. I may have some recordings to post later!

IMG_7256So that basically covers the last three months. In just a couple weeks, I’ll be starting my third and final year of studies at Rutgers – I’m amazed at how quickly the time has flown by!

Stay tuned for information about the new performing arts series I’m launching at Grace Church Van Vorst, as well as some very exciting performances in the fall! And enjoy these last few weeks of beautiful summer!

Posted by: Colin Britt | March 4, 2015

Update on the last few months

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As you might imagine, it’s been a crazy few months since I last posted! Here are some of the exciting projects with which I’ve been involved:

  • I was privileged to conduct C4 in their fall concert, singing Christopher Marshall’s Tihei Mauri Ora at Galapagos in Brooklyn and at St. Luke’s in Manhattan. 
  • The Rutgers Kirkpatrick Choir sang a beautiful performance of my composition, There is No Rose, on their annual Lessons and Carols service.
  • The Rutgers University Choir gave a fantastic performance in December, performing a concert of American music.
  • Debi Wong and I gave an art song recital in February at Grace Church Van Vorst in Jersey City (as part of our new concert series) and at Rutgers University. The recital included Schubert’s Lied der Mignon, Schumann’s Fraunlieben und -leben, and Between Eternity and Time, my set of Emily Dickinson poems. Recordings to follow!

In addition, I traveled to Salt Lake City to attend the biennial American Choral Directors Association conference. I was honored to speak with some of the country’s greatest conductors and composers, attend incredible concerts, and catch up with dear friends and colleagues. What a wonderful opportunity it was to connect with 6000 other conductors, composers, and publishers. Stay tuned for more news about concerts this spring! As a sneak preview, check out C4‘s page to see more info about their concerts this weekend!

Seraphic Fire_Reincarnations

Seraphic Fire‘s fantastic new CD, Reincarnations, is a retrospective of over 100 years of American choral music. Led by music director Patrick Quigley, the album includes Barber’s famous “Reincarnations” and works by 10 living American composers, including Morten Lauridsen, Frank Ticheli, Jake Runestad, Dominick DiOrio, Paul Crabtree, and me! These outstanding artists have released the premiere professional recording of my piece “As there are Flowers,” which is also due to be released in Simon Carrington‘s series through Alliance Music Publications. You can hear a clip of their stunning rendition here:

Reincarnations debuted at #6 on the Billboard Traditional Classical chart, and peaked at #3 on the classical iTunes list. You can download the album on iTunes or buy the album on Amazon.

The current members of C4 at a rehearsal for “Upward: Exploring the Spiritual.” Photo courtesy of Rodrigo Oliveira.

This Thursday (5/29) and Saturday (5/31) night, I will make my debut with C4: The Choral Composer/Conductor Collective, singing and conducting on a varied and vibrant program of music exploring an exciting blend of Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Islamic, and Pagan traditions. I’m thrilled to be joining this energetic ensemble, whose mission is to present challenging and innovative music from the last 25 years. As a living composer, I am undeniably indebted to artists who support new music, and thus performing with this ensemble is both a professional and personal opportunity.

C4 conducting

Photo courtesy of Rodrigo Oliveira

C4 is made up of a number of very talented singers, most of whom who are also composers and/or conductors. Many of the pieces on this program were written by current or past C4 members, including Hayes Biggs’ beautiful “Wedding Motet,” Liz Hanna’s lushly lyrical “Anamnesis,” Perry Townsend’s intricate “Two Devotions and a Heresy,” and Fahad Siadat‘s powerful and appropriately mysterious “O magnum mysterium.” I’m delighted to not only be singing these works but also to be conducting two of them, including Fahad’s piece and Abbie Betinis‘ exhilarating and rhapsodic “Bar xizam,” a profoundly moving setting of one of the ghazals of Hâfez.

Thursday’s concert is at 8 pm at Engelman Recital Hall, and Saturday’s concert is at 8 pm at the Church of St. Luke in the Fields. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door; additionally, a limited number of $4 rush tickets are available for the first patrons who arrive a half hour before each concert. Don’t miss this powerful and exciting program!

 

Posted by: Colin Britt | May 16, 2014

New blog entry on choosing repertoire

New blog entry on choosing repertoire

Fahad Siadat, a multi-talented composer, conductor, singer, and publisher with whom I also sing in C4, approached me about writing a blog entry for his publishing company. I chose to write about choosing rep for a beginning/intermediate college or community choir, which is be the sort of ensemble I’ve had the most experience working with. Check it out! (And while you’re at it, check out all of the amazing music available through his company!)

Posted by: Colin Britt | May 15, 2014

Spring Updates!

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Rutgers University Choir

It has certainly been a busy semester! I sang with the Rutgers University Glee Club and Kirkpatrick Choir on an epic performance of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex in March of this year, and then had the tremendous pleasure of conducting the Kirkpatrick Choir in a beautiful performance of J.S. Bach’s Mass in G Minor with a fabulous orchestra. (Recordings to come soon) Finally, I closed out the year conducting the Rutgers University Choir in their fantastic concert on May 5 (see the picture above).

I’m also thrilled that my latest piece to be printed with GIA Publications was released this spring; The Dream, one of my three original Edna St. Vincent Millay settings, is scored for SATB choir a cappella. You can hear a recording here.

Finally, I have recently joined C4, the New York City-based Choral Composer-Conductor Collective, and will be singing and conducting in their upcoming concerts on May 29 and 31! In particular, I’m honored to be premiering Fahad Siadat‘s beautiful new composition, “O Magnum Mysterium,” and conducting Abbie Betinis‘ incredible “Bar xizam.” Tickets for this award-winning ensemble’s May concerts can be found here.

There’s a lot more to share, but I wanted to post this update since I’ve been more than a bit neglectful this spring – stay tuned for more!

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With Patrick Gardner

Lincoln Center at Christmas

Lincoln Center in December

Happy new year! November and December seemed like a blur, thanks in a large part to several amazing opportunities I had to perform in New York City. Pat Gardner, my amazing teacher at Rutgers, is also the director of Riverside Choral Society. He graciously invites his doctoral students to perform with this talented ensemble, and so within the span of a month I got to sing at not one but two of the fabulous venues at Lincoln Center: The David H. Koch Theater (for a performance of Handel’s L’Allegro, Il Penseroso, ed il Moderato with Mark Morris Dance Group) and Alice Tully Hall (for a performance of Messiah with Riverside).

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Grace Church Van Vorst on Christmas Eve

In other exciting news, I’m especially thrilled and honored to have begun a new and exciting job as director of music for Grace Church Van Vorst, an Episcopal church in the heart of downtown Jersey City. This dynamic and progressive church ministers to an incredibly diverse and vibrant congregation, ranging from artists, lawyers, and students to homeless and underprivileged community members. I started my work on the second Sunday of a seven-week Advent season, so I literally hit the ground running and didn’t stop until Christmas! I am absolutely overjoyed to work with the talented and enthusiastic priest, worship committee, and musical staff at this church, and I am excited by the energy and creativity shared by everyone here.

I will soon post recordings from several concerts in the fall, including a fabulous performance by the Rutgers University Choir. In the meantime, have a happy and healthy new year – welcome to 2014!

Colin playing organ

Playing the organ at St. Paul’s in Jersey City on New Year’s Day – photo by Chi Modu

Posted by: Colin Britt | October 13, 2013

Yale ensembles premiere new arrangement of alma mater

Yale ensembles at Woolsey Hall on October 11, 2013

Yale ensembles at Woolsey Hall on October 11, 2013

Under the masterful leadership of Dr. Jeffrey Douma, the combined forces of the Yale Camerata, Yale Glee Club, Yale Philharmonia, Yale Symphony, and organist Thomas Murray presented the premiere of my arrangement of “Bright College Years,” the Yale alma mater, in a concert honoring the inauguration of Peter Salovey, Yale’s 23rd president. The concert took place on Friday, October 11, at Woolsey Hall, and was streamed live over the internet. The concert concluded with a performance of the alma mater, complete with waving handkerchiefs on the final refrain.

The whole concert was a wonderful tribute to President Salovey and featured spectacular performances from many of Yale’s finest performers, but you can watch and listen to the alma mater beginning at 1:43:30.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPS24EswWYw

It was indeed a privilege to have been commissioned to write this arrangement for such a momentous occasion, and I am deeply grateful and humbled by the opportunity. To be entrusted with the task of providing a new orchestral arrangement of such a historically and emotionally important piece of music is an honor I will never forget.

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