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Our New Director

Our Next Concert

John Wilson home page photo.jpg

Dr. John Wilson

Choral Art Society of NJ is pleased to announce the appointment of its new music director, John Wilson. Dr. John Wilson is also the new Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities in the School of Fine & Performing Arts at SUNY New Paltz. Prior to this appointment, Dr. Wilson served as the choral director at Bridgewater-Raritan High School for seventeen years. CAS is excited to welcome John!

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Choral Art Society of New Jersey’s first concert of the 2024-2025 season is a blend of modern and classical favorites, including:

  • In Terra Pax, Gerald Finzi

  • Gloria, John Rutter

  • No La Debemos Dormir, Christina Whitten Thomas

And other selected works.

The concert will be on Sunday afternoon, January 26, 2025. More details to follow

Singers Welcome!

Are you a choral singer looking for a warm and welcoming musical home? Come join Choral Art Society of NJ! Check us out during our first two "Open Rehearsals" on Tuesday, September 11th and 18th. No obligation! See what you think.  We rehearse on Tuesday nights from 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm, First Presbyterian Church, 140 Mountain Ave, Westfield.

Any questions? Please send them to us via the contact page.

OUR REVIEWS

Choral Art Society of NJ and NJ Youth Chorus perform in Jan 2024 concert

Choral Arts Society Embraces Eclectic Musical Program

By SUSAN MYRILL DOUGHERTY

WESTFIELD – As part of the Choral Arts of New Jersey’s 62nd season and under the baton of conductor of Martin Sedek, The New Jersey Youth Chorus with conductor Joanna Scarangello was a guest feature of a unique and memorable concert. On Sunday, January 28, 2024, Dr. Sedek assembled a concert that not only was musically pleasing but offered a message of inspiration and hope for children and parents alike.

 

The unique “Circlesong” by Bob Chilcott started the afternoon at The Presbyterian Church in Westfield with excerpts from “Birth & Childhood” that, as the name suggests, presents aspects of the experience of life from birth to later life. The Introduction section established a dark mood in instrumentation with timpani and a substantial, covered tone of the adult choir. Each of the six parts in “Circlesong” utilized lyrics from First Nations poetry from North America including Navajo, Seminole, Pueblo, Yaqui,Kwakiutl-Kwakwaka’wakwup, and Dakota. The composer’s notes in the program shared, “The circle symbolizes day and night, the pattern of the seasons, and the cyclical round of our natural world.” In his “Birth, Song for bringing a child into the world,” an insistent drum added to the constant forward momentum of the piece. Switching mood entirely, the choir then sang a cappella “Newborn” with stellar diction and unity of sound. The Yaqui song “Childhood,” presented by the New Jersey Youth Choir, masterfully echoed the light lyrics of praising flowers dancing. A sweet-faced girl with a voice to match soloed “A Child’s Song.”The last of the six phases “Give Me Strength” utilized the pairing of the adult voices and the young girls.

 

The youth choir got their separate spotlight with two numbers. First, they shared, “I Start Out Singing” by Jocelyn Hagen, and the audience silently sent approval of, “oh yes, oh yes” right back to them. Their second number by Tracy Wong “JAM!” soundedAfrican but was Malaysian folk- inspired. The body percussion of snapping fingers and stomping feet added a delightful, fun twist to their intriguing presentation.

 

The world premiere of any piece is always exciting for audience members, the performers, as well as the composer. Director Sedek said of his friends, composer Andey Stolyarov of Connecticut and local New Jersey poet Peter Tourian, “It was a joy to bring these two mutual friends together for their collaboration.” The world premiere of their piece, “The Greatest Miracle” regales a parent’s joy of being with his toddler. The short, simple yet profound poem was combined with a musical line that complemented the message perfectly.

 

The underlying theme of the afternoon concert may be summed up in Sedek’s words: there is one thing that unifies us worldwide – “We all love our kids.” He showcased John Rutter’s “Mass of the Children,” not a complete Latin Mass but known as a nonliturgical “Missa brevis.” This portion was augmented by a ten-piece orchestra and guest soloists soprano Casandra LaMotte and baritone Carl Muhler. For the Rutter work, the centerpiece of the concert, the youth choir again joined the adult choir. Their angel-like voices began the Kyrie with a lovely flute trilling the opening notes. The purest tone of the young girls floated above the notes of the adult choir like an overarching rainbow. One of the most powerful moments in the Rutter composition came when the timpani added thunder in the “Gloria” segment. In the “Sanctus and Benedictus,” flute, clarinet, and oboe combined to great effect, and in the “Hosanna in the Highest,” conductor Sedek skillfully led the vocalists and instrumentalists to a magnificent crescendo complete with crashing cymbals. And what could be more ethereal than outstanding young girls’ voices singing “I, a child, and thou, a lamb. We are called by his name. Little lamb, God bless thee.” That phrase was completed with lovely flute (Jacqueline Burkat) and harp (Merynda Adams) accompaniment.

 

In the finale to the concert and end of the Rutter selection, baritone soloist Mr. Muhler commanded our attention with a fine rendition of the prayer “Lord, be with me this day in each endeavor.” Ms. LaMotte’s lush voice, likewise, drew in the audience for the “Dona nobis pacem” that beseeches Christ to “grant us peace.” Through the 80-minute concert, the audience set aside the rest of the world's wars, and violence but was transported to a blissful state of peace and hope through music.

Union County Hawk review of May 5 2023 Beethoven Concert
Unoin County Hawk review of Choral Art Society of NJ Beethoven Concert
NJ State Council for the Arts logo

Made possible in part by funds from the Union County
Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs, a partner
of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

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