Concerts

West Village Chorale 2021-22 Season

Celebrating our 50th Year ~ 51 is the new 50!

Winter Concert 2018 cropped

2022 Spring Concert: “Vigil for Peace”

featuring sacred works by Ukrainian composers and
Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil

Sunday, May 22nd at 5:00 PM

 

We closed our 2021-2022 season with our Spring Concert, Vigil for Peace, on Sunday, May 22nd, but our journey with the piece central to our performance—the All-Night Vigil (Op. 37) of Sergei Rachmaninoff—has been a long one, and the significance it has taken on in light of world events has grown.

In March 2020, as many of our followers may recall, the WVC was days away from performing Rachmaninoff’s monumental work when COVID-19 forced us to put that plan on hold.

At that time, Russia was already occupying territory in Ukraine and Georgia, and was bombing Syria. In early 2022, when we were able to resume rehearsals for the All-Night Vigil, Russia attacked Ukraine again, beginning a new campaign of death, destruction and terror against its neighbor and “brother nation.”

In our preparations for this concert, we had to consider: could we really perform a piece written by a well-known Russian composer as the nation of his birth invaded its neighbor on manufactured pretexts? Would doing so somehow endorse or validate the motives behind the tragedy being inflicted on Ukraine?

Sergei Rachmaninoff fled his native land after the revolutions of 1917, and ended up in New York City a year later. Our city was Rachmaninoff’s home for 24 years, and he built an American career here. It was in New York City that he and his wife Natalia became American citizens in 1943, and they are buried at Kensico Cemetery in Westchester County.

Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil—widely acknowledged to be one of the most stunningly beautiful works in the choral canon—incorporates settings of traditional liturgical chants of the Russian Orthodox church, as well as original music of unforgettable beauty. As might be expected from a work setting liturgical texts, themes of peace, praise, joy, thankfulness, and appeals for God’s mercy run throughout.

Is a Russian refugee, deceased now for 79 years, responsible for the modern-day behavior of the current government of his native country? Should every work of Russian art be condemned, no matter the biography of its creator or the ideals it espouses?

As a group we decided we could offer our performance as a prayer for peace, and incorporate sacred works of Ukrainian composers past and present, and honor an Orthodox culture Ukraine, Russia, and other nations share. What was inspiring and beautiful about the All-Night Vigil in 1915, when it was composed and premiered, was still there in 2020, and is still there today. We’re proud of the program put together by our Artistic Director and Conductor, Colin Britt, and are honored to share it with you on Sunday, May 22nd at Judson Memorial Church.

As part of our commitment to the Ukrainian people, we are donating a portion of our proceeds from Vigil for Peace to Razom for Ukraine, a New York City-based charity dedicated to building a pathway to a better future for Ukraine.

 


Earlier this season:

unnamed2022 Winter Concert
50th Anniversary Gala: “A Jubilant Song”

Sunday, March 13, 2022 at 5:00PM

Our winter concert rang in our golden anniversary, with a program including works by Johannes Brahms, René Clausen, Rollo Dilworth, Gabriel Fauré, Elaine Hagenberg, David Hurd, and Karen Siegel, and new pieces written for the occasion by our Artistic Director and Conductor Colin Britt and former Artistic Director Michael Conley!

As part of our celebration we were pleased to welcome back the WVC’s former conductors Gwen Gould, Andrew Megill, Michael Conley, and Malcolm J. Merriweather.   And, as always, our beloved pianist Elena Belli dazzled at the keys.


WVC - Program WI21 (WIDE)2021 Holiday Concert—Holiday Pops

Sunday, December 12, 2021 at 5:00 PM

 

For our first concert of the season, we welcomed a live audience for the first time in nearly two years, with our annual holiday concert—live choral music!!—back to our beloved home at Judson Memorial Church!

Offering a variety of beloved traditional returning favorites, holiday classics, and gorgeous contemporary settings of traditional texts, our holiday concert featured our friends the subtle cheetah quintet, with sing-along carols on classics including “White Christmas” and “Jingle Bells.”