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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our May concerts, entitled Seven Stars, will include seven different pieces dedicated to the stars, including works by Jonathan Dove, Ēriks Ešenvalds, & Arvo Pärt.
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.
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).
A spring bouquet, featuring Britten’s Five Flower Songs, and songs about roses by Lauridsen and others.