The New Amsterdam Singers, led by Clara Longstreth, will open its 45th season with a program entitled Comfort and Joy, featuring James MacMillan's Missa Brevis, the New York premieres of Judith Shatin's The God of Glory and Sheena Phillips's Two Carols, and works by Bach, Brahms, Victoria, Schütz, Randall Thompson, Abbie Betinis, and others. The concerts will take place tonight, December 7, 2012, at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 9, at 4:00 p.m. at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 122 East 88th Street (at Lexington Avenue).
James MacMillan (b.1959), who is known for his striking sacred choral music, wrote his Missa Brevis when he was 17, but it was only released for publication 30 years later, in 2007. The work is imbued with the style of the Renaissance and Baroque works that MacMillan was singing in his school choir, as well as music by Benjamin Britten and Kenneth Leighton, with whom he studied composition. The pre-eminent Scottish composer of his generation, MacMillan attracted attention with the acclaimed BBC Proms premiere of The Confession of Isobel Gowdie (1990), which later was named the 1993 Gramophone Contemporary Music Record of the Year Award. Other works include his percussion concerto, Veni, Veni, Emmanuel, premiered by Evelyn Glennie in 1992; Seven Last Words from the Cross for chorus and string orchestra; a cello concerto for Mstislav Rostropovich; Quickening for The Hilliard Ensemble; and A Scotch Bestiary, commissioned to inaugurate the new organ at Disney Hall.
Judith Shatin (b.1949) is an American composer and sound artist whose recent projects include commissions from the Cassatt Quartet, the Peninsula Women's Chorus, and the Scottish Voices, as well as an orchestral consortium commission for Jefferson, In His Own Words for narrator and orchestra. Other works include Tower of the Eight Winds for violin and piano; Singing the Blue Ridge, for mezzo-soprano, baritone, orchestra, and the calls of wild animals; and For the Birds, for amplified cello and electronics from processed birdsong. Her music has been featured at festivals including Aspen, BAM Next Wave, Grand Teton, Havana in Spring, Moscow Autumn, Seal Bay, Ukraine, Soundways (St. Petersburg) and West Cork. She is currently CWilliam R. Kenan, Jr. Professor at the University of Virginia,
Sheena Phillips (b.1958), a native of the UK, is a composer, singer, and choral conductor. She first studied at Cambridge University, and later founded the Rudsambee Company of Singers in Edinburgh, a group known for its musical diversity. Ms. Phillips lives in Princeton, New Jersey, where she works chiefly as a composer and arranger. Her composing interests lean toward the folk and jazz idioms, and she receives commissions from a wide range of choirs on both sides of the Atlantic.