Most residents probably don't know it, but New Jersey has been a breeding ground for new choral music for nearly two decades. And Schola Cantorum on Hudson (SCH) is a big reason why. Founded in the mid-1990s by choral, vocal performer and educator Deborah Simpkin King, PhD, the independent non-profit's 35-member choral ensemble not only has a rich performance schedule, but it supports educational programs that train emerging music professionals, while taking a leadership role in the premiere of new choral works.
"We believe that music can positively impact and enrich lives," says SCH Artistic Director King, who takes pride in the ensemble's growing recognition by the national choral community for its innovation and excellence. King is so passionate about her vision of choral music as a medium of "personal growth, creativity and self-discovery" that she works practically 24/7 with avocational singers, professionals, high school youths, and composers. One of SCH's programs, for instance, is Project : Encore, which supports music which has received a premier, but has not yet enjoyed subsequent attention in performance.
King, an East Orange resident who received her doctorate in Musicology from the University of North Texas, holds the deep-seated belief that artists are in the world not just to display their talent, but to inspire, educate and uplift audiences. Clearly, people are responding. The ensemble now has dual performance homes in Montclair and Manhattan, and prominent international experience as well.
In keeping with King's cultural mission of creating life-enriching programming that takes artists and audience members on an "internal journey," of sorts, SCH's 2012-2013 season is dedicated to the theme of "Our Mother Earth."
"We hope our performances encourage conversation about how we can live in harmony with nature in our increasingly high-tech world," King says. The ensemble's first New Jersey concert of the season celebrates the grandeur, protection and comfort of trees. "Trees furnish us with two of life's essentials, food and oxygen," says King, "but they also serve as metaphors of faith and human peace."
New Jersey poet Joyce Kilmer's famous "Trees" will appear in three different musical guises (two of which will be world premiere performances), as will composer Randall Thompson's setting of the Robert Frost poem, "The Road Not Taken," and a stunning contribution by last season's SCH Featured Composer Ivo Antognini. The Montclair concert is at 5 p.m. tonight, November 18 at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Montclair. Tickets are $20 in advance/$25 at the door.
For further information about SCH or to purchase tickets, go to www.scholaonhudson.org.
Schola Cantorum on Hudson is a Montclair, NJ-based 501(c)(3) non-profit. It was founded in 1995 by Deborah Simpkin King, Ph.D. SCH supports an internationally recognized new music initiative and multi-pronged education and engagement program, in addition to its multiple performing ensembles.