Monmouth Civic Chorus
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The Monmouth Civic Chorus (MCC) is an independent community chorus performing since 1949, recognized by national and community awards, drawing its members primarily from the Monmouth County, New Jersey community. Performances encompass choral classics; including premieres, rare and contemporary music, and musical theater; the annual Christmas concert, with selections from Handel's Messiah and well-known holiday music; Christmas carols around the community; and collaborations with arts partners. MCC has performed on tour in many European countries, and at numerous performance venues in the Northeast, including Carnegie Hall and St. Thomas Church in Manhattan; the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D. C.; PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N. J.; and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Newark, N. J.
The Monmouth Civic Chorus has experienced large concert attendance, positive reviews ("Among the very best in the entire Northeast"— Asbury Park Press), growing chorus membership, and successful fund-raising campaigns. In addition to concerts, MCC performs a variety of community outreach events, including recitals by outstanding musicians. MCC has provided annual scholarships to students of outstanding vocal promise for several decades, with some of the scholarship winners already going on to distinguished music careers.
- 1 History
- 2 Selected repertoire
- 3 Directors
- 4 Collaborations
- 5 Awards
- 6 Recordings
- 7 Tours
- 8 Community outreach
- 9 Organizational structure
- 10 References
- 11 External links
The vision of William Gordon Pagdin was responsible for the founding of the Monmouth Civic Chorus. Gordon was employed as an electrical engineer, but music was his love. He grew up surrounded by noted vocalists and conductors as a result of his father's career in concerts, opera, and church music. Gordon's early introduction to Gilbert and Sullivan operettas prompted him to select Pirates of Penzance for the Chorus's first performance, in May, 1950 at the Carlton Theater (now the Count Basie) in Red Bank. MCC's second performance, in January, 1951, was Handel's Messiah.
Two years after MCC's inception, Gordon survived one of the worst train accidents in US history. Amazed that his life had been spared, he decided to direct one religious work each year. MCC continued to perform G&S and sacred works under the direction of its founder until 1962.
When the late Felix Molzer took the baton as conductor of MCC, he brought his background as director of the Vienna Boys' Choir and professor of music in Vienna. Felix added operettas and musicals to the stage repertoire, from The Bartered Bride and Faust to The Most Happy Fella and Of Thee I Sing. MCC expanded its concert performances to new stages, among them the then-Garden State Arts Center with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra conducted by Henry Lewis.
After a period in the 1960s when the MCC podium was occupied by several guest conductors, William R. Shoppell, Jr., a noted music educator and church musician, became MCC's conductor in 1973. Under Shoppell's direction, the performance schedule grew from a classical concert in the fall and a staged musical in the spring, to two concerts and a show in 1982/83. By 1987/88, the season increased to three concerts plus a stage production. The repertoire encompassed the masterworks of Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Brahms, Puccini, Verdi, and Berlioz, as well as the classic musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, and Gilbert and Sullivan. Shoppell prepared the Chorus for several performances at Carnegie Hall as the "anchor choir" with choristers from all over the country, and at the celebration of the Statue of Liberty centennial in 1986.
MCC began touring out of state under Shoppell's direction in 1981, performing Puccini's Messa di Gloria by invitation at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D. C. This one-day trip led to performing tours of Europe, which continued under subsequent directors.
Upon Bill Shoppell's retirement in 1991, Mark Shapiro was appointed Artistic Director of MCC. A summa cum laude graduate of the Yale University Department of Music, Mark had recently returned from a seven-year residency in France. His leadership enabled MCC to tackle new challenges such as Verdi's Requiem, Orff's Carmina Burana and Rachmaninoff's Vespers. The repertoire expanded to embrace languages and cultures from Spain to Denmark, along with a wealth of 20th-century American works. MCC also revived little-known gems of choral music, such as Mass settings by Dame Ethel Smyth, Vincent Persichetti, Roger Sessions and Anton Bruckner. The Smyth performance commemorated the centennial of the work's premiere in 1893.
MCC recorded two CDs under Mark Shapiro's direction, and performed at prestigious local venues including the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, the Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove, PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, and St. Thomas Church in Manhattan. MCC also performed at community events such as the Belmar Winterfest, Holmdel 9/11 memorial dedication, Holmdel Arts Festival at Bayonet Farms, and Prison Ships Martyrs Memorial Centennial Celebration in Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn.
Under Mark's direction, MCC increased its presentation of new music, including world and continental premieres, and performed innovative approaches to traditional music, such as musical portraits of famous historical figures. MCC received the ASCAP/Chorus America Alice Parker Award for the March 2007 world premiere of Jorge Martin's concert opera Stronger Than Darkness, an adaptation of his opera Before Night Falls, based on the memoir by Cuban dissident Reinaldo Arenas.
Dr. Ryan James Brandau was appointed Artistic Director beginning with the 2012/13 season, upon the departure of Dr. Mark Shapiro, who became the Music Director of the Cecilia Chorus of New York. Ryan's creative programming included I Have a Dream in March 2013, a concert honoring the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's iconic speech and the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation; and Vespers Fusion in May 2015, which intermingled movements from settings of the Vespers prayers by Mozart and Monteverdi. Ryan's own arrangements of holiday favorites are featured in the Christmas Suite performed in December 2015, and on MCC's most recent CD, released in 2014.
The 2016/17 season includes Joy to the World, a concert of Christmas classics, December 18, 2016 at 4:00 pm at the Count Basie Theatre, 99 Monmouth Street, Red Bank; Love Is In the Air, celebrating love songs from the middle ages to the internet age, February 26, 201, 4:00 pm at First Presbyterian Church, 255 Harding Road (Tower Hall), Red Bank; and Northern Lights, stunning music from the Baltics and Scandinavia, Friday, June 2, 2017, 800pm, at St. Mary's Church, 1 Phalanx Road, Colts Neck.
The 2014/15 season included Over There, English music written at the start of World War I; Messiah and More, the Christmas portion of Handel's Messiah with holiday favorites; A Joyful Noise, with Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, Kodaly's Missa Brevis, and Whitacre's Five Hebrew Love Songs; and Vespers Fusion, intermingling Vespers settings by Mozart and Monteverdi. In July 2015, the Chorus toured the Republic of Ireland, singing in Killarney, Cobh, Kilkenny and Dublin. The 2013/14 season included Messiah and More; American Songbook, folk songs and American standards; and Eternal Light, featuring Rachmaninoff's Vespers and Lauridsen's Lux Aeterna. The 2012/13 season included the Christmas portion of Handel's Messiah plus the Vivaldi Gloria and traditional carols; I Have a Dream, honoring the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s iconic speech and the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation; and the Duruflé Requiem with Tarik O'Regan's Triptych.
- Sphaera (Bubble) by French composer Guillaume Connesson, May 2009, North American premiere
- The Wallabout Martyrs by Gilda Lyons, text by Walt Whitman, and Brooklyn Bones by Alvin Singleton, text by Patricia Hampl, November 2008, both world premieres
- Stronger Than Darkness, a Cuban-American concert opera by Jorge Martin, March 2007, world premiere of concert version
- Golden Gate, a contemporary musical by Richard Pearson Thomas and Joe Calarco, May 2008, world premiere of semi-staged version
- I Sing the Body Electric by Brooklyn-based composer and conductor Vince Peterson, April 2010, dedicated to Mark Shapiro
- Sécheresses (Droughts) by Francis Poulenc, June 2003, world premiere of English translation by Mark Shapiro
- I Have a Dream concert, March 2013, honoring the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s iconic speech, and the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, through music, historical readings, and dramatic re-enactment.
- Lincoln Bicentennial Tribute concert, February 2009, presented free of charge, with songs, narrative, Lincoln quotes and stories, and a period dance.
- Concert portraits of the lives and works of great artists, with dramatic skits and readings, including Shakespeare, June 2006 and June 2007; Franz Liszt, November 2007; and J. S. Bach, November 2010.
- Voices of the Young by Tom Cipullo, April 1999, and Fill My Dreams, Stir My Soul by Paul Siskind, June 2001, based on MCC's student poetry contests with the winning poems set to music by commissioned composers and performed by MCC, with funding from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.
Rare and contemporary music
Rare and contemporary music performed by the chorus includes: Tarik O'Regan, Triptych; Mark Adamo, No. 10: The Supreme Virtue; Dominick Argento, Peter Quince at the Clavier and Jonah and the Whale; Samuel Barber, Prayers of Kierkegaard; Leoš Janáček, Otcenas (Our Father); Ulysses Kay, Song of Jeremiah; Trond Kverno, Missa in Sono Tubae (Mass with the Sound of Brass); Franz Liszt, A Munka Hymnusza (Workers' Chorus); Zdenek Lukas, Requiem; Kirke Mechem, Las Americas Unidas (The United Americas); Peter Mennin, Symphony No. 4, The Cycle; Paul Moravec, Songs of Love and War; Carl Nielsen, Springtime on Funen; Vincent Persichetti, Mass; Roger Sessions, Mass; Dame Ethel Smyth, Mass in D; and Igor Stravinsky, Les Noces (The Wedding).
Musical theater and opera
- Original musical revues sampling a variety of composers, such as American Folk, May 2010, and American Songbook, March 2014.
- Fully staged performances of musical theater classics by Gilbert and Sullivan, Frank Loesser, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, and George and Ira Gershwin.
- Ragtime, book by Terrence McNally, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, music by Stephen Flaherty, October 2009, performed in collaboration with Cabaret for Life, which supports people with HIV/AIDS and cancer.
- Other operas and operettas performed by the chorus include: Granados, Goyescas; Lehar, The Merry Widow; Mozart, The Magic Flute; Puccini, Turandot; and Smetana, The Bartered Bride.
Among the choral classics performed by the chorus, are: J. S. Bach, Christmas Oratorio, Magnificat, Mass in B Minor, St. Matthew Passion; Beethoven, Choral Fantasy, Mass in C, Missa Solemnis, Ninth Symphony, Ode to Joy; Berlioz, Requiem; Bernstein, Chichester Psalms; Bloch, Sacred Service; Brahms, Alto Rhapsody, German Requiem; Bruckner, Mass in E Minor, Mass in F Minor, Te Deum; Dvořák, Stabat Mater, Te Deum; Fauré, Cantique de Jean Racine, Requiem; Handel, Israel in Egypt, Judas Maccabeus, Messiah; Haydn, The Creation, Mass in D Minor [Lord Nelson Mass], Missa Cellensis, The Seasons; Kodály, Missa Brevis; Mahler, Symphony No. 8, 1st Movement; Mendelssohn, Elijah; Mozart, Coronation Mass, Grand Mass in C Minor, Missa Brevis [Sparrow Mass], Requiem, Te Deum, Solemn Vespers; Orff, Carmina Burana; Poulenc, Gloria, Mass in G, Stabat Mater; Puccini, Messa di Gloria; Rachmaninoff, Vespers [All-Night Vigil]; Rossini, Stabat Mater; Rutter, Requiem; Schubert,Mass in A Flat, Mass in E Flat, Mass in G; Stravinsky, Symphony of Psalms; Vaughan Williams, Dona Nobis Pacem, Hodie, Sea Symphony; Verdi, Four Sacred Pieces, Requiem; Vivaldi, Gloria; Walton, Belshazzar's Feast; and many others.
Dr. Ryan James Brandau
Artistic Director Ryan James Brandau has broad experience conducting a variety of choral and orchestral ensembles. In addition to his work with Monmouth Civic Chorus, he serves as Artistic Director of Princeton Pro Musica and Amor Artis, a chamber choir and orchestra in New York City. He is also on the faculty of Westminster Choir College, where he works with the Symphonic Choir, which he has prepared for performances with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic, Berlin Philharmonic, and the New Jersey Symphony. He has worked with a variety of other professional, community, collegiate, children's and church ensembles. As a professional singer, Ryan has been heard with ensembles in the US, Europe, and Asia, including the American Bach Soloists, the Arcadia Players, Yale Schola Cantorum, and the Choir of Clare College Cambridge. He remains active as a choral arranger, composer, and clinician. His arrangements and compositions have been featured by choral ensembles across the globe.
Ryan received the Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music degrees from the Yale School of Music, where he studied conducting with Simon Carrington and Marguerite Brooks. Prior to pursuing graduate study in conducting, Ryan attended the University of Cambridge in the UK as a Gates Scholar, earning an M.Phil. in historical musicology. He received his B.A. in music, magna cum laude, from Princeton University.
- Dr. Mark Shapiro, 1991–2012
Conductor Emeritus Mark Shapiro is one of a handful of conductors in North America to have won a prestigious ASCAP/Chorus America Award four times. Shapiro enjoys working with orchestras, opera companies, and choruses. He is Artistic Director of Cantori New York and Music Director of the Cecilia Chorus of New York. Shapiro is principal guest conductor of the chamber orchestra Nova Sinfonia, in Halifax, and Music Director of the Prince Edward Island Symphony. Other engagements include the Cecilia Chorus of New York in Carnegie Hall, and a sold-out performance of music by Handel at the 5000-seat Roman amphitheater in Vaison-la-Romaine, France in 2010.
Opera credits include Underworld Opera, American Opera Projects, the Center for Contemporary Opera, Metro Lyric Opera, and two successful seasons with the Opera Company of Middlebury (VT). Recent New York City performance venues have included Juilliard Vocal Arts, Zankel Hall, Le Poisson Rouge, and the Rose Theater at Lincoln Center. Singers with whom Shapiro has worked include Sasha Cooke, Barbara Dever, Jennifer Zetlan, and many others. Shapiro has also been heard on PBS, conducting the soundtrack for Ric Burns' special on New York City, as well as on radio stations WQXR and WNYC.
Shapiro is on the faculties of the CW Post Campus of Long Island University and Mannes College the New School for Music. Each summer he directs the Conducting Program at the European American Musical Alliance in Paris, where he also teaches keyboard harmony and score reading. He was recently appointed to the advisory panel of a new national initiative, the Ann Stookey Fund for New Music.
- William R. Shoppell, Jr., 1973–1991
William R. Shoppell, Jr. was supervisor of music for the five high schools of the Freehold Regional High School District and a music educator for 36 years. Twice selected to conduct both the All-Shore Chorus and the All-Shore Band, he is Conductor Emeritus of the Monmouth Civic Chorus, which he directed for more than 25 years. Shoppell led the Point Pleasant Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir and the Monmouth Civic Chorus in five successful overseas concert tours. He served as cantorial soloist at Monmouth Reform Temple, and as guest conductor and vocal and instrumental adjudicator in numerous settings throughout the state over many years. He also led the New Jersey Chamber Singers in two seasons of choral performances.
- Felix Molzer, 1966–1973
Felix Molzer was born in Vienna, Austria, and lived in Monmouth County, New Jersey for over 40 years prior to his death in 2005. A graduate of Vienna Music Academy with a master of science degree in music education from the University of Pennsylvania, Molzer conducted the Vienna Choir Boys' first tour after World War II consisting of 100 concerts. He was awarded the Johann Strauss Medal of the city of Vienna and the title of professor by the state of Austria. Molzer founded the not-for-profit Monmouth Conservatory of Music in 1964 and continued as director until 1992. He published more than 1,000 arrangements and compositions, including three folk operas and three vocal orchestral scores for children's choir, which were performed by the Philadelphia Philharmonic Orchestra. He co-founded the Composers Guild of New Jersey and was a charter member of the Monmouth County Arts Council Board of Trustees. He taught at Monmouth College and Hope College's Vienna Summer School, conducted many community choirs and opera performances, and served as minister of music at the Church of the Holy Communion, Christ Church United Methodist and the Church of the Nativity, all in Fair Haven.
- William Gordon Pagdin, 1949–1962
William Gordon Pagdin, known as Gordon, founded the Monmouth Civic Chorus, Monmouth Little Symphony (now the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra) and the Monmouth Arts Foundation (precursor of the Monmouth County Arts Council). He grew up with noted vocalists and conductors as a result of his father's career in concert, opera, and teaching in England and the United States. His father was also an organist and choir director. Aside from his musical avocation, Gordon worked for Ballantine Beer Company where he was an inventor and patent holder for conveyor mechanisms for bottles and cans.
MCC has worked with numerous soloists, directors, composers and scholarship winners who have moved on to the world stage.
- Tenor Noah Baetge performed with MCC in Verdi's Requiem in 2012. In 2009 Mr. Baetge was a Grand Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council competition, and made his Met debut in Ariadne auf Naxos as the Offizier in 2011. He joined the Resident Artists of Pittsburgh Opera performing in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia and Bizet's Carmen. Mr. Baetge has performed as a soloist with Seattle Opera, Pittsburgh Opera, Skagit Opera, Spokane Opera, Seattle Symphony, Erie Philharmonic, Salem Chamber Orchestra, Yakima Symphony Orchestra, Concert Opera of Seattle, and Seattle Philharmonic.
- Mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke performed with MCC in Stravinsky's Les Noces in 2006. Subsequently she was seen on national television and in movie theaters worldwide in the Metropolitan Opera HDTV broadcasts of Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel and John Adams' Doctor Atomic. She won the Alice Tully Vocal Arts Recital Award in 2014.
- Mezzo-soprano Barbara Dever sang with MCC in Jorge Martin's Stronger Than Darkness, Brahms' Alto Rhapsody, Handel's Messiah, and a benefit recital with Mark Shapiro. She began her solo career with the Chorus under William R. Shoppell, Jr. in 1988 in Dvořák's Stabat Mater. She is on the roster of the Metropolitan Opera and has performed with Plácido Domingo, Zubin Mehta, James Levine, Riccardo Muti, Seiji Ozawa and Luciano Pavarotti.
- Stage director Eric Einhorn was a 1998 MCC scholarship honoree and the author of a poem set to music in MCC's Voices of the Young project. He returned to MCC as stage director for the musical Golden Gate and the semi-staged concert American Folk. He is an assistant director at the Metropolitan Opera.
- Bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green sang with MCC in Verdi's Requiem in 2012. He is a National Winner of the 2011 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and of a 2011 Sara Tucker grant from the Richard Tucker Foundation. Mr. Green made his Met debut performing in the Met's 2011 Summer Recital Series. Recent engagements include The Commendatore in the Juilliard production of Don Giovanni; Colline in La Bohème with Central City Opera; Jake in Porgy and Bess with the Berlin Philharmonic; bass soloist in the Verdi Requiem with Hartford Chorale; and the Mozart Coronation Mass with Virginia Symphony. As a resident artist with Opera Colorado, Mr. Speedo Green performed Colline in La Bohème and Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola.
- Tenor Joseph Kaiser sang Bloch's Avodath Hakodesh (Sacred Service) with MCC in November 2001, and has gone on to sing leading tenor roles at the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, the Bayerische Staatsoper, the Munich Festival, and concert performances with Sir André Previn, Daniel Barenboim and Marek Janowski. He appeared in the Metropolitan Opera HD movie broadcast in April 2011 as Flamand in Richard Strauss's Capriccio, opposite Renée Fleming.
- Baritone Lester Lynch sang Ulysses Kay's Song of Jeremiah and Brahms' Requiem with MCC in March 1998. Since then he has sung with the opera companies of Chicago, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Louisville and San Francisco.
- Composer Jorge Martín created Stronger Than Darkness, a concert version of his opera Before Night Falls, for MCC in 2008. The complete opera was later performed by the Fort Worth Opera.
- Soprano Angela Meade sang with MCC in Stronger Than Darkness, and was featured on nationwide public television as a winner of the 2007 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. She is the winner of the 2012 Beverly Sills Artist Award from the Metropolitan Opera, and a first prize winner of the Jose Iturbi Competition, Richard Tucker Foundation Competition, Concours Musical International de Montreal, Gerda Lissner Competition, Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation Competition, George London Competition, Liederkranz Foundation Competition, National Opera Association Competition, Opera Index Competition, Belvedere Competition, Margeurite McCammon Competition, Giargiari Bel Canto Competition and Eleanor Lieber Awards.
- Soprano Jo Ellen Miller was a 1999 MCC scholarship winner, and is the daughter of two MCC members. She sang with MCC in Handel's Messiah, Fauré's Requiem, and the 2008 benefit recital. She performed at Carnegie Hall as a soloist with the Met Chamber Ensemble conducted by James Levine.
- Soprano Jennifer Rowley sang with MCC in Verdi's Requiem in 2012. Ms. Rowley burst onto the international scene as a last-minute replacement in the title role of Donizetti's Maria di Rohan at the 2010 Caramoor Music Festival, a performance she gave with just one day's notice and one rehearsal. The New York Times called her "impressive... throughout," and Opera News raved that she "emerge(d) not just unscathed, but a real star." She sang Donna Anna in Don Giovanni for the Savonlinna Opera Festival in 2011, with the Helsinki Sanomat hailing her as "a movingly sublime Donna Anna." Ms. Rowley won a $10,000 Richard Tucker Career Grant in 2012. She is one of the top prize winners of the 2011 Opera Index Vocal Competition, a winner of the 2011 William Mattheus Sullivan Musical Foundation awards, a first prize winner of the 2011 Gerda Lissner Foundation International Vocal Competition, a grant winner of the 2011 Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation Competition, and an Honorable Mention recipient from the 2011 George London Foundation competition. She was the winner of the 2010 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions for the Michigan District, and was awarded an Anna Sosenko Assist Trust Grant for her international work with the Teatro Comunale di Bologna in 2009.
- Soprano Jody Sheinbaum was a 1989 scholarship winner and a 2007 recitalist. She has performed with the New York City Opera, Opera Festival of New Jersey, Santa Fe Opera, Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center.
- Mezzo-soprano Leann Sandel-Pantaleo sang with MCC in Verdi's Requiem in 2012. Ms. Sandel-Pantaleo began the 2010/11 season covering the title role in Carmen at Lyric Opera of Chicago, and later debuted at Teatro alla Scala and the Staatsoper Unter den Linden as Siegrune in Die Walküre. She has joined the Metropolitan Opera for previous performances of Siegrune in Die Walküre and Flora in La traviata as well as numerous other productions including Die Ägyptische Helena, Luisa Miller, Manon, and Parsifal. She has also sung leading roles with Chautauqua Opera, Utah Opera, Fondazione Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi, and San Francisco Opera.
- Soprano Donita Volkwijn sang Brahms' Requiem with MCC in March 1998, and Handel's Messiah in December that same year. She performed for MCC in a benefit recital in 1999, and in the 9/11 open sing of Brahms' Requiem in 2001. She returned to MCC for Beethoven's Mass in C Major in March 2003. Recently she was seen in major European cities, performing the role of Bess in a touring production of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess. She has also performed leading roles with the Tulsa Opera, Hawaii Opera Theatre and DiCapo Opera Theater.
- Soprano Jennifer Zetlan performed with MCC in Stravinsky's Les Noces in 2006. She has performed with the New York City Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, the New Juilliard Ensemble and the Marilyn Horne Foundation.
Orchestras and choruses
- Cathedral Symphony Orchestra, December 1985.
- Manhattan Philharmonic, May 1989, November 1990 and May 1991.
- Monmouth Conservatory of Music Children's Opera Chorus, April 1997 and June 2000.
- Monmouth Symphony Orchestra, March 1994.
- New Jersey Bach Festival Orchestra, December 1993.
- New Jersey Chamber Singers Children's Chorus, June 2001.
- New Jersey Gay Men's Chorus, December 2007.
- New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, November 2001.
- Raritan Valley Youth Chorale, June 1994.
- Westfield Symphony Orchestra, September 2006.
Vocal recitals and master class
MCC has presented benefit solo recitals by guest artists including Barbara Dever, Jo Ellen Miller, Jody Sheinbaum, Steven Tharp and Donita Volkwijn, as well as ensemble recitals performed by Chorus members. Tony winner Victoria Clark led a master class for musical theater singers to benefit MCC in 2009.
- 2008 ASCAP/Chorus America Alice Parker Award, awarded to one North American chorus annually for programming significant recently composed music that expands the mission of the chorus and challenges the chorus's audience in a new way.
- 2010 Spinnaker Award for Arts and Culture from the Eastern Monmouth Area Chamber of Commerce
The Monmouth Civic Chorus has produced three recordings on CD: A Merry Little MCC Christmas, released November 2014; An MCC Christmas, well-known holiday carols (sold out); and Grace Notes, selections from choral classics.
The Monmouth Civic Chorus has performed on tour in numerous European countries. Highlights include singing in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican in Rome, the Duomo di Santa Maria del Fiori in Florence, St. Stephan's Cathedral in Vienna, the home of Edvard Grieg in Norway, and St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin. Tours under the direction of Bill Shoppell took MCC to Austria and Germany in 1984, the British Isles in 1987, and to Austria, Switzerland and Italy in 1990. MCC toured Eastern Europe in 1993, directed by Mark Shapiro, and Scandinavia in 1996, under the baton of then-Assistant Conductor Steven Russell. In 2015, Ryan Brandau led the chorus on a tour of the Republic of Ireland.
The Chorus has offered scholarships to vocally talented New Jersey high school seniors since 1970. To date the Chorus has distributed more than $50,000 in scholarship awards. Scholarship auditions are held annually in the spring in Red Bank, by appointment only. Scholarship applicants must perform two contrasting selections from the standard vocal repertoire (opera, operetta, art songs, Gilbert and Sullivan, oratorio), with at least one selection in Italian, French or German.
Small groups of Chorus members perform holiday carols throughout the community in December, including regular gigs at the Sickles Market tree lighting in Little Silver and the Holiday Harmonies outdoor entertainment in Red Bank. MCC ensembles have also performed at local senior communities and at benefits for charitable causes, including an open sing of the Brahms Requiem to raise funds for World Trade Center disaster relief in September 2001. Every summer, MCC holds an open sing, inviting all singers in the community to sing with Chorus members.
Membership in the Monmouth Civic Chorus is open to adult singers and high school students who meet audition requirements. Experienced singers in all voice parts are welcome to schedule an audition appointment at any time throughout the season (September to May).
MCC is a not-for-profit organization with no office and no paid administrative staff. All administrative aspects of running the chorus, from setting up and tearing down the stage to managing all the complexity of a large and diverse organization, are performed by volunteers. The elected board of directors, consisting largely of singing members, is responsible for developing and implementing the long-range plan, overseeing the group's fiscal health and grant compliance, responding to the needs of the director and members, and maintaining productive relationships with the audience and community. In addition to the President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Registered Agent, board members chair the following standing committees:
- Financial Development
- Financial Operations
MCC is funded in part by the Monmouth County Arts Council through funding from the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, through the County Historical Commission, and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/ Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding is received from individual and corporate donors, foundation grants and matching gifts. MCC has an Endowment Fund as a permanent income source, and a Sostenuto Society for donors who have included the Chorus in their estate planning.
MCC is a member of Chorus America and the New Jersey Choral Consortium.
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