Hailed as “one of the great amateur choruses of our time (New York Today) for its “full-bodied sound and suppleness (The New York Times),” The Dessoff Choirs today announced its 2022-23 season.
This season opens November 5th, 2022, with a long overdue exploration of the first published Black composer Vicente Lusitano (1520-1561) paired with the exquisite Duruflé Requiem with mezzo-soprano Lucia Bradford and organist David Enlow.
In what has become an annual holiday tradition, Dessoff presents a Messiah Sing and a pair of festive concerts in December followed by a Stephen Sondheim celebration and a production of Bach’s St. John Passion with period instruments and an all-star cast of soloists. Complete details are below.
Sandwiched between concerts is a Spring 2023 album release of Credo & Simon Bore the Cross on the AVIE label by composer Margaret Bonds (1913-1972), a significant figure in the fight for civil rights. This marks the second in a pair of Dessoff albums of Bonds’s works.
The first was the world premiere recording of Margaret Bonds: The Ballad of the Brown King & Selected Songs (AVIE Records, 2019).
Become a Harlem insider - Sign-Up for our Newsletter!
“Our commitment to social justice, equity, and the choral art continue this season,” explains Malcolm J. Merriweather, Dessoff’s music director. “We begin with the North American premieres of music by the first known published Black composer, Vicente Lusitano, and end with an intergenerational performance of Bach’s St. John Passion in English in the heart of Harlem. You won’t want to miss any of these concerts!”
THE DESSOFF CHOIRS 2022-23 SEASON
Duruflé & Lusitano, Saturday, November 5, 2022, 4:00 p.m., Union Theological Seminary, 3041 Broadway, in Harlem.
Through Maurice Duruflé’s exquisite Requiem complemented by Motets and Madrigals by Vicente Lusitano (1520-1561), Dessoff explores the music of the first published Black composer and the last impressionist composer.
The cast line-up includes The Dessoff Choirs, Lucia Bradford (mezzo-soprano), and David Enlow (organ).
Holiday Concert: Messiah Sing, Friday, December 2, 2022, 7:30 p.m., Union Theological Seminary, 3041 Broadway, in Harlem, NY.
The Dessoff Choirs presents its popular annual Messiah Sing welcoming the general public to join the cast in a powerful, harmonious sing-along.
Holiday Concerts: Welcome Yule, Friday, December 9, 2022, 7:30 p.m., St. Paul the Apostle, 405 W. 59th Street, Manhattan
Sunday, December 11, 2022, 4:00 p.m.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 199 Carroll Street, Brooklyn
The Dessoff Choirs ushers in the winter solstice with a concert of seasonal repertoire and contemporary arrangements of carols. John Tavener’s Mother and Child celebrate the miracle of childbirth. It also celebrates Mary in her universal aspect as the mother of all Prophets and co-redemptions with Christ.
Sondheim Revue, Friday, February 10, 2023, 7:30 p.m., Roulette Intermedium, 509 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn
The Dessoff’s Chamber Chorus celebrates the legacy of Stephen Sondheim with solos, duets, and hits from West Side Story. Special guest pianist Stephen Ryan.
Envisioning Bach’s St. John Passion, Saturday, May 6, 2023, 4:00 p.m., Mother AME Zion Church, 140 W 137th St, in Harlem, The Dessoff Choirs and Orchestra stage a production of Bach’s St. John Passion sung in English.
The Dessoff Choirs
The Dessoff Choirs, one of the leading choruses in New York City, is an independent chorus with an established reputation for pioneering performances of choral works from the Renaissance era through the 21st century.
Since its founding in 1924, Dessoff’s concerts, professional collaborations, community outreach, and educational initiatives are dedicated to stimulating public interest in and appreciation of choral music as an art form that enhances the culture and life of our times.
With a repertoire ranging over a wide variety of eras and styles, Dessoff’s musical acumen and flexibility have been recognized with invitations from major orchestras for oratorios and
Past performances include Britten’s War Requiem and Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with Lorin Maazel in his final performances as Music Director with the New York Philharmonic.
Over the course of its nearly 100-year history, Dessoff has presented many world premieres, including works by Virgil Thomson, George Perle, Paul Moravec, and Ricky Ian Gordon; the first American performance in nearly 100 years of Montemezzi’s opera La Nave with Teatro Grattacielo; and the American premieres of Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 5 and Sir John Tavener’s all-night vigil, The Veil of the Temple.
Dessoff’s recent discography includes MARGARET BONDS: THE BALLAD OF THE BROWN KING AND SELECTED SONGS, a debut recording of Margaret Bonds’s crowning achievement, which was cited as a “Best Classical Recording of 2019” by WQXR-FM Radio; REFLECTIONS, featuring music by Convery, Corigliano, Moravec, and Rorem; and GLORIES ON GLORIES, a collection of American song featuring composers from Billings to Ives.
The Dessoff Choirs is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and by funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.
Please visit dessoff.org for more information.
Malcolm J. Merriweather
Conductor Malcolm J. Merriweather is Music Director of The Dessoff Choirs, founded in 1924, and known for pathbreaking performances of choral works from the pre-Baroque era through the 21st century.
Merriweather enjoys a versatile career with performances ranging from the songs of Margaret Bonds to gems of the symphonic choral repertoire.
The baritone can be heard on the GRAMMY-nominated recording of Paul Moravec’s Sanctuary Road (NAXOS). Hailed by Opera News as “moving…expertly interpreted,” Margaret Bonds: The Ballad of the Brown King & Selected Songs (AVIE) has earned considerable praise around the world.
An Associate Professor, he is Director of Choral Studies and Voice Department Coordinator at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, Artist-in-Residence at Union Theological Seminary in Harlem, and Director of the New York Philharmonic Chorus.
Highlights of his 2022-2023 season include the release of the world premiere recording of Credo and Simon Bore the Cross by Margaret Bonds with the Dessoff Choirs and Orchestra; a trio of performances where Merriweather prepares the New York Philharmonic Chorus; Considering Matthew Shepard with the Choir of Trinity Wall Street; Handel’s Messiah at Carnegie Hall; United States premieres of music by Vicente Lusitano with the Dessoff Choirs; Bach’s St. John Passion with the Dessoff Choirs; Sanctuary Road (opera), with Penn Square Music Festival; and, Sanctuary Road (oratorio), with Cincinnati May Festival.
Merriweather holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Conducting from the studio of Kent Tritle at the Manhattan School of Music, where his doctoral dissertation “Now I walk in Beauty, Gregg Smith: A Biography and Complete Works Catalog” constituted the first complete works list for the composer and conductor.
He received Master of Music degrees in Choral Conducting and in Vocal Performance from the studio of Rita Shane at the Eastman School of Music, as well as his Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from Syracuse University, summa cum laude.
His professional affiliations include membership in Pi Kappa Lambda, the American Choral Directors Association, and Chorus America. Connect with him on Twitter and Instagram @maestroweather.
Photo credit: Malcolm J. Merriweather, conducts the Dessoff Choirs & Orchestra performing “Credo” by Margaret Bonds in a concert at the Church of the Heavenly Rest on April 28, 2022. Soloists: Dashon Burton, bass-baritone Janinah Burnett, soprano Photo credit: Stephanie Berger.