2015-2016 Concerts

What Sweeter Music – 15th Anniversary Concert & Reception

Friday, October 30, 2015
First Church, Cambridge

Our new season marks the fifteenth anniversary for the Ensemble. Our first concert is a celebration of this anniversary at which we will sing pieces from the Ensemble’s repertoire from the last 15 years. We will be joined by the two previous artistic directors, founder Thomas Cunningham and successor Miguel Felipe, for this concert at First Church in Cambridge. There will be a special reception after the concert, continuing the celebration!


Third Boston Byzantine Music Festival

Friday, November 13, 2015
First Church, Cambridge

BCE presents this concert as part of the Third Boston Byzantine Music Festival. We will sing Byzantine-inspired music by Arvo Pärt, John Tavener and Ivan Moody.


Sing Nowell!

Saturday, December 19, 2015
Old South Church, Boston

Loosely based on the traditional service of Nine Lessons and Carols, includes carols for choir and congregation using the fine organ in Old South Church, and many arrangements of secular carols to get you into the holiday spirit!


First Night Concert

Thursday, December 31, 2015
On New Year’s Eve we join in the First Night celebrations in Boston with a special performance of Pulitzer Prize winner David Lang’s Little Match Girl Passion.


Passio: SCSM Conference at Boston University

Friday, February 12, 2016
Marsh Chapel, Boston University
As part of the Annual Conference of the Society for Christian Scholarship and Music we present Arvo Pärt’s setting of the St. John Passion (1982): Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi secundum Joannem.


Serenade to Music – Settings of William Shakespeare

Dates and venues tba

Our final concert celebrates the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare in a concert of texts by Shakespeare set by composers such as Frank Martin, Jaakko Mäntyjävri and Ralph Vaughan Williams. This concert will also include the world premiere of a new work by Gregory Brown, winner of our 2015 Commission Competition.

2014-2015 Concerts

Dark, Dark Night

November 1 & 2, 2014
Marsh Chapel, Boston University & Cathedral of the Holy Cross

For our first cycle we celebrate the two Christian festivals that occur on our actual concert dates: first, All Saints day (November 1), and second, All Souls Day (November 2). We broaden our understanding of these days beyond the Christian concept and invite you to come and remember the saints who have enriched your life and the souls who have gone before you, without whom you would not exist. We sing music to soothe your soul and help you through the dark, dark night of death. Our program includes a piece for All Saints by the celebrated renaissance composer Carlo Gesualdo, and the extraordinary Funeral Ikos by John Tavener, a piece that uses vivid imagery from the Greek Order for the Burial of Dead Priests set to music of unearthly beauty. Finally, we sing the Requiem, Op. 9 by Maurice Duruflé in the version for choir and organ. Based on the plainchant for the Mass for the Dead, Durufle’s music is powerful and evocative and has been a popular piece with choirs and audiences since its composition in 1947.


Still, Still Night

December 20, 2014
Old South Church, Copley Square

Our annual holiday concert celebrates the release of our new CD of Christmas music, entitled Still, still night. Loosely based on the traditional service of Nine Lessons and Carols, this concert follows the Christian story which we develop to a more inclusive celebration of birth and motherhood. This candlelight concert also includes carols for choir and congregation using the fine organ in Old South Church, and many arrangements of secular carols to get you into the holiday spirit!


Cold, Cold Night

March 20 & 27, 2014
The Oberon Theater, Cambridge

Hans Christian Anderson’s story of “The Little Match Girl” is a modern passion setting that describes the cold, cold night in which a poor girl freezes to death. David Lang’s 2007 Pulitzer Prize-winning setting for choir and percussion instruments has received extraordinary popular and critical acclaim. Using only the most minimal musical material Lang has created a piece that is not only contemporary and relevant, but also profound. This concert also features the world premiere of the short opera Riding on a Train at Rush Hour by Samuel Beebe, winner of our 2014 competition for a new work. This piece is the first in a series of 10-minute operas for choir that BCE is commissioning in the next few years.


Long, Long Night

June 6 & 7, 2014
First Church, Cambridge & Cathedral of the Holy Cross

The theme of our final cycle is the long, long night, not just in a literal understanding, but also in a metaphysical one that relates it to the span of human life. We celebrate precious life and the journey we travel, but we link to the themes of resurrection and rebirth from our other concerts and reflect that our journeys have meaning and truth. The music we sing includes Taverner’s five-voice motet Dum transisset Sabbatum (1575), which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus and, to bring our season full circle, we sing his famous setting of Audivi vocem,which we heard in a setting by Thomas Tallis in our first cycle. John Taverner (1490-1545) was widely regarded as one of the most important composers of his era. A former organist of Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford, he composed mostly vocal music and was both innovative and creative in his use of harmony and counterpoint. We juxtapose the music of the renaissance Taverner with the modern one, celebrating the life and work of John Tavener (1944-2013), who claims lineage to his illustrious predecessor. Tavener’s haunting and spare music has touched many with its beauty and grace. We reprise his Song for Athene (sung at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales), and we include music from his extraordinary cycleEx Maria Virgine for choir and organ. We will repeat this concert as part of the 2015 Boston Early Music Festival Fringe.


2013-2014 Concerts

raindrops footsteps

November 17, 2013
Amherst College, Amherst, MA
November 22 & 24, 2013
St. Paul Church, Cambridge & Gordon Chapel, Old South Church, Boston

The opening concerts of BCE’s 2013-14 season celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Benjamin Britten with his famous Hymn to St. Cecilia, one of the greatest choral works of the twentieth century. We celebrate the extraordinary choral music of Arvo Pärt with a number of works, including his popular Magnificat and we are honored to be giving the US premieres of two works he composed in 2012. Our program includes the world premiere of raindrops footsteps by Rita Ueda, winner of our 2013 competition for a new work.


A Choral Holiday 2013

December 14, 2013
Old South Church, Boston

For the fourth annual Choral Holiday, BCE updates the traditional Lessons and Carols service with repertoire both old and new, including Paul Ayre’s reimagining of Handel’s “For unto us a child is born,” several works by Benjamin Britten to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth (including the ever-popular “Ceremony of Carols”), carols by Poston, Rutter, Tavener and others, and carols for congregation accompanied on the church’s world-famous organ. Selected seasonal readings complement the holiday program.


Path of Miracles

March 28 & 30, 2014
St. Paul Church, Cambridge & Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Boston

BCE’s spring concert is dedicated to the New England premiere of English composer Joby Talbot’s masterpiece “Path of Miracles,” a four-movement work that describes the pilgrimage route to Santiago di Compostela in Spain. This remarkable work is a choral tour de force that is designed to wow all of your senses.


Cosmic Journey
May 30 & June 1, 2014

Our May concerts, entitled Seven Stars, will include seven different pieces dedicated to the stars, including works by Jonathan Dove, Ēriks Ešenvalds, & Arvo Pärt.



2012-2013 Concerts

Chansons Profanes

November 9 & 11, 2012
The Edward M. Pickman Concert Hall at the Longy School of Music

Celebrating anniversaries of Claude Debussy (1862-1918) and Jean Françaix (1912-97), this concert featured some little-known secular French works from the twentieth century that combined humor and virtuosity.

Click here to see a full list of events throughout the U.S. in honor of of the centennial of Jean Françaix.


A Choral Holiday

December 15, 2012
Old South Church, Copley Square, Boston

For the third annual Choral Holiday, BCE sang repertoire both old and new, including Thompson’s Stopping by woods on a snowy evening, Judith Weir’s My Guardian Angel, and Jan Sandström’s creative re-imagining of Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming. Audiences also enjoyed carols for congregation accompanied by the church’s world-famous organ and selected readings that complemented the program’s theme of snow and roses.



March 8 & 9, 2013
St. Paul’s Church, Cambridge & Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Boston

The act of deploration, or lament, especially for the death of a loved one, has inspired composers to write some of the most powerfully moving music. This concert began with the famous Deploration on the death of Ockeghem by Josquin. In the first of two main sections we contrasted Tallis’s settings of the Lamentations of Jeremiah for men’s voices with Tartini’s setting of the Stabat Mater dolorosa for women’s voices. In the second main section, we highlighted different approaches to text interpretation with settings of When David heard, from the renaissance and from the twentieth century. The concert concluded with the monumental 40-part motet Spem in alium by Tallis (1505-85).


Rose Songs

May 17 at 8:00 PM & May 19 at 3:00PM, 2013
Gordon Chapel, Old South Church, Copley Square

A spring bouquet, featuring Britten’s Five Flower Songs, and songs about roses by Lauridsen and others.