Beginning Tuesday, June 7, St. George's Choral Society will host a two-week choral intensive, with two rehearsals a week, culminating in a free public performance on June 18 at 7 PM of Brahms's Ein deutsches Requiem. This performance will feature Brahms's arrangement of the work for chorus and piano, four hands. Both the choral intensive and public performance will take place at The Church of the Incarnation on Madison Avenue and 35th Street, New York City.
I spoke with Dr. Matthew Lewis, Artistic Director of the group, about his founding of the Summer Choral Festival when “summer sings” abound.
Laura Daly: What did you think was lacking in the usual summer sings that prompted you to start St. George’s Choral Society Summer Festival?
Michael Lewis: My goal is to allow the singers more time to become more comfortable and confident with the music. Summer sings are great fun, but it always seemed to me that singers would enjoy themselves more if we had more time to rehearse. So, the Summer Festival really allows for that. At the same time, there is a fun aspect to it. It’s summer time; we are all here to enjoy ourselves through music, and camaraderie. So, there is a certain comfortable aspect to it.
LD: This is the third year of the Summer Festival. What have participants thought of the experience?
ML: From what I have heard, they really enjoy it. It is a finite period of time (two weeks), which allows people to continue working or doing what they normally do, while staying in New York. If it lasted for more than two weeks, it becomes a greater commitment. The time period seems just right for most people: enough time to feel comfortable with the music, so they can perform it, without going on for too many weeks and rehearsals.
LD: What are your motivations for your musical selections for the Festival?
ML: I think of several things: what CAN we accomplish (what is feasible), what WILL people enjoy singing, and what will attract people to come hear the concert. Above all, it needs to be a time of setting goals and reaching them, and having an artistic reward at the conclusion.
LD: Potential choristers for the Summer Festival need to fill out an application. What are you looking for in the applicants?
ML: I think it's important that singers know what they will be in for, and what the sort of “normal” expectations are of choral singers. In this concentrated program, someone who doesn’t have as much experience or musical training might feel overwhelmed or left out, finding it difficult to keep up with the pace of rehearsals. I want to make sure people are appropriately placed.
About The Summer Festival
Participation costs $175.00 for those who are accepted and pay by midnight on May 8. After May 8, participation is $225.00. Final deadline for acceptance and payment is midnight on June 2. In certain instances, financial aid may be available. Apply here: bit.ly/21FZPH0. The Festival includes four rehearsals with professional section leaders; one dress rehearsal; one concert with professional soloists. Refreshments at each rehearsal.
Rehearsals will be held at the Church of the Incarnation (Madison Avenue at
35th Street) on:
Tuesday, June 7, 7:00-9:30 PM
Thursday, June 9, 7:00-9:30 PM
Tuesday, June 14, 7:00-9:30 PM
Thursday, June 16, 7:00-9:30 PM
Saturday, June 18, dress rehearsal 2:00-5:00 PM; concert 7:00 PM.
Laura Daly is manager of marketing and artist relations for the St. George's Choral Society.