The Crossing (choral ensemble)

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The Crossing
OriginPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Years active2005–present
LabelsInnova Recordings, Albany Records, Navona Records, Cantaloupe Music, ECM Records
MembersKaty Avery, Nathaniel Barnett, Jessica Beebe, Julie Bishop, Kelly Ann Bixby, Karen Blanchard, Steven Bradshaw, Scott Dettra, Colin Dill, Micah Dingler, Robert Eisentrout, Ryan Fleming, Joanna Gates, Dimitri German, Fiona Gillespie, John Grecia, Barbara Hill, Steven Hyder, Michael Jones, Heather Kayan, Heidi Kurtz, Chelsea Lyons, Ken Lovett, Maren Montalbano, Frank Mitchell, Rebecca Myers, Donald Nally, Dan O'Dea, Rebecca Oehlers, James Reese, Daniel Schwartz, Rebecca Siler, Daniel Spratlan, Elisa Sutherland, Dan Taylor, Laura Ward, Shari Alise Wilson

The Crossing is an American professional chamber choir, conducted by Donald Nally and based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It focuses on new music, commission and premiere works, and collaborates with various venues and instrumental ensembles.

Consistently recognized in critical reviews, in 2014, the ensemble was hailed as "ardently angelic" by the Los Angeles Times[1] and "something of a miracle" by The Philadelphia Inquirer.[2]


Formed by a group of friends in 2005, the ensemble has since grown and according to The New York Times in 2014, "has made a name for itself in recent years as a champion of new music".[3]

The choir was the resident choir of the Spoleto Festival, Italy, in 2007; appeared at Miller Theatre of Columbia University in the American premiere of James Dillon's Nine Rivers with the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE); joined Bang on a Can's first Philadelphia Marathon; and has appeared with the American Composers Orchestra, Network for New Music, Quicksilver Baroque, Lyric Fest, Piffaro, red fish blue fish, Tempesta di Mare Baroque Chamber Orchestra, PRISM Saxophone Quartet, Toshimaru Nakamura, Dolce Suono, and in the summer of 2013, The Rolling Stones.

The ensemble has sung in venues including the Walt Disney Concert Hall, The Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art; it made its Lincoln Center debut in July 2014 in a world premiere of a composition by John Luther Adams in a collaboration with the Mostly Mozart Festival, the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival, eighth blackbird, JACK Quartet, and TILT Brass.

The choir frequently commissions works and has presented over 70 world premieres. Projects for the 2017-18 season include commissions with Michael Gilbertson, Aaron Helgeson, Benjamin C.S. Boyle, and Kile Smith.

The ensemble records extensively and has released ten recordings on various labels: Innova Recordings, Navona Records, Albany Records, ECM Records, and Cantaloupe Music. Its recording of Thomas Lloyd's Bonhoeffer was nominated for Best Choral Performance for the 59th Grammy Awards.

The choir is the recipient of three ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming as well as the Dale Warland Singers Commission Award from Chorus America; conductor Donald Nally also received the 2012 Louis Botto Award for Innovative Action and Entrepreneurial Zeal and the 2017 Michael Korn Founders Award for Development of the Professional Choral Art for his work with the ensemble.

In December 2014, the ensemble began a collaboration with visual artists Allora & Calzadilla in their largest U.S. exhibition to date, Intervals, at the Perelman Building at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and The Fabric Workshop and Museum. This included over 300 performances of David Lang's Lifespan as well as monthly performances of In the Midst of Things, a fifteen-minute unaccompanied re-imagining of moments from Franz Joseph Haydn's The Creation (1798).

In June 2016, the organization launched an ambitious commissioning project called Seven Responses, the purpose of which was to perform Dieterich Buxtehude's Membra Jesu Nostri (BuxWV 75) juxtaposed with commissioned responses by Caroline Shaw, Hans Thomalla, Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, Anna Thorvaldsdottir. David T. Little, Santa Ratniece, and Lewis Spratlan, in collaboration with Quicksilver Baroque and International Contemporary Ensemble. The two-day program was premiered at the Philadelphia Episcopal Cathedral and later reprised at Merkin Concert Hall as a part of the 2016 Mostly Mozart Festival in Lincoln Center.

Month of Moderns[edit]

In 2009, the ensemble established an annual festival, held in the early summer, consisting of several new-music concerts in one month, with commissioned works based on a central theme tying the entire festival together.

The theme for Month of Moderns 2009 was The Celan Project, works based on the poetry of Paul Celan.

Month of Moderns 2010 featured The Levine Project, works based on or inspired by the words of Pulitzer-Prize winner and U.S. Poet Laureate Philip Levine. "Seneca Sounds" was the focus for Month of Moderns 2011, with works based on the words and philosophy of Seneca the Younger.

Month of Moderns 2012 was centered on Modern Vespers, works fashioned after the ancient evening prayer service, cast in modern themes and musical languages.

A much larger project, The Gulf (Between You and Me), based on a three-part commissioned poem by Pierre Joris inspired by the Deep Water Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, dominated Month of Moderns 2013.

Month of Moderns 2014 included five major commissioned world premieres loosely based around Novalis's poem Astralis questioning our existence and eternity.

After 2014, the ensemble moved away from a theme solely surrounding the Month of Moderns alone and more towards a theme for each season. The Month of Moderns festival continues to be a signature part of the organization's season, regardless of theme, with each concert featuring at least one or more world premiere.

Death of co-founder Jeffrey Dinsmore[edit]

In April 2014, Crossing co-founder Jeffrey Dinsmore died at age 42; he was preparing for a rehearsal with The Crossing and the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Disney Hall. The ensemble subsequently established The Jeffrey Dinsmore Memorial Fund.

The Crossing later commissioned 15 composers who had a connection with Mr. Dinsmore to write short quartets to be published in a printed omnibus. The ensemble gave the world premiere of those works on July 8, 2016 in Philadelphia.

Big Sky Choral Initiative[edit]

In the summer of 2015, The Crossing partnered with the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center in Big Sky, Montana, to offer a week-long fellowship intensive for students of composition and choral singing. In 2017, the program expanded to two weeks, offering educational opportunities to conducting fellows as well. Composing, conducting, and singing fellows interact with members of The Crossing on a daily basis, exploring, writing, and singing new music throughout the week. The Big Sky Choral Initiative continued its creative journey with a new paradigm in 2018, collaborating with Michael Gordon (composer) and filmmaker Bill Morrison (director) to create a new work specific to this unique gathering at Big Sky. The work draws on the land of Montana - its history, beauty, struggles, and expanse - as inspiration for this hour-long work for unaccompanied choir and film. [4]

Commissioned world premieres[edit]

U.S. premieres[edit]

Major performances[edit]


Grammy Nominations and Awards[edit]

"Best of" Lists[edit]

  • Philadelphia Inquirer "Best Events in Classical Music 2008" for Kile Smith's Vespers (David Patrick Stearns)
  • Philadelphia Inquirer "Best Events in Classical Music 2009" for Month of Moderns (David Patrick Stearns)
  • Philadelphia Inquirer "Best Events in Classical Music 2011" for world premiere of Seneca's Zodiac (David Patrick Stearns)
  • Philadelphia Inquirer "Best Events in Classical Music 2014" for Month of Moderns (David Patrick Stearns)
  • Fanfare Magazine "Best Recordings of 2009" for Kile Smith's Vespers (Peter Burwasser)
  • Philadelphia Inquirer[5] "Best Events in Classical Music 2015" for Toivo Tulev's "A child said, what is the grass?" (David Patrick Stearns)
  • Philadelphia Inquirer[6] The Crossing included twice in The Philadelphia Inquirer's 'bests' of 2016 (David Patrick Stearns)
  • Asbury Park Press[7] Gavin Bryars' The Fifth Century included on list of top albums of 2016 (Carton Wilkinson)
  • Chicago Tribune "Best Classical Albums of 2016"[8] for Gavin Bryars' The Fifth Century (John Von Rhein)


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Swed, Mark (April 21, 2014). [1]. Los Angeles Times.
  2. ^ Stearns, David Patrick (July 14, 2014). [2]. The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  3. ^ Schweitzer, Vivian (February 21, 2014). [3]. The New York Times.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "A classical year: The best, the worst, the squid brains - Philly". Retrieved 1 March 2018.
  6. ^ "From 'Breaking the Waves' to 'Einstein on the Beach': The Year in Classical Music - Philly". Retrieved 1 March 2018.
  7. ^ "Bowie's 'Blackstar' among top albums of 2016". Retrieved 1 March 2018.
  8. ^ Rhein, John von. "From Bach to Bryars, the best classical albums of 2016". Retrieved 1 March 2018.

External links[edit]