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 annual holiday concert series.
Now in its 98th year, The Dessoff Choirs continues to shepherd audiences into the holiday spirit with three performances in some of New York City’s most beautiful churches. This season’s offerings include the popular sing-along of Handel’s Messiah followed by a pair of concerts comprising carols and seasonal favorites.
The holiday season kicks off with what has become an annual tradition for singers all across New York City: the annual sing-in of Handel’s Messiah in Harlem’s Union Theological Seminary. The 40+ member The Dessoff Choirs will be joined by audience members of all ages and singing capabilities. “One of the highlights of our season is singing ‘Hallelujah!’ side by side with our neighbors,” says Malcolm J. Merriweather, Dessoff’s ninth Music Director. “It doesn’t get more festive and warmer than that! “The following weekend, Dessoff performs a pair of Welcome Yule! concerts celebrating Mother and Child, the miracle of childbirth, and Mary in her universal aspect as mother of all Prophets, and co-redemptress with Christ. John Tavener’s Mother and Child (2022) will be alongside standard holiday fare and contemporary arrangements of classics including a candlelit rendition of Silent Night.
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 repertoire ranging over a wide variety of eras and styles, Dessoff’s musical acumen and flexibility has been recognized with invitations from major orchestras for oratorios and orchestral works. 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 and baritone, Malcolm J. 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.
He is Director of the New York Philharmonic Chorus and Music Director of New York City’s The Dessoff Choirs, known for their performances of great choral works from the pre-Baroque era through the 21st century. An Associate Professor, Director of Choral Studies and Voice Department Coordinator at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, he has also joined the faculty at Manhattan School of Music. He was the founding Artistic Director of “Voices of Haiti,” a 60-member children’s choir in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, operated by the Andrea Bocelli Foundation
Maestro Merriweather’s 2022-2023 began with leading the Choir of Trinity Wall Street in three performances (staged) of Considering Matthew Shepard. In his new appointment as Director of the New York Philharmonic Chorus, he is preparing the professional choir for three programs throughout the season for Maestro Jaap van Zweden including Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony for the reopening of David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center. With the Dessoff Choirs he conducts Duruflé’s Requiem, Bach’s St. John Passion and motets by Vicente Lusitano, the first Black published composer. This season includes the long-awaited release of the premiere recording of Margaret Bonds’s Credo and Simon Bore the Cross with the AVIE label. His solo baritone engagements include Messiah at Carnegie Hall; Sanctuary Road with the Cincinnati May Festival and the Penn Square Music 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.
COVID Policy: Proof of vaccination and masks are required.
Tickets: All concert tickets may be purchased by visiting dessoff.org.
Friday December 2, 2022 @ 7:30 p.m.
Union Theological Seminary, 3041 Broadway @ 121st Street, Manhattan
Program: Messiah George Friderick Handel (1685-1759)
WELCOME YULE: MOTHER & CHILD
Friday, December 9, 2022 @ 7:30 p.m.St. Paul the Apostle, 405 West 59th Street, Manhattan
Sunday, December 11, 2022 @ 4:00 p.m.St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 199 Carroll Street @ Clinton Street, BrooklynTickets: $35 General, $24 Seniors/Students