Houston Chamber Choir

Performing Tuesday, June 21 at 8:15 - 9:00, and 9:30 - 10:15 PM, St. Paul's United Methodist Church

Described by Peter Phillips as “one of this country’s leading ensembles,” the Houston Chamber Choir is celebrating its 20th anniversary this season. During this time it has performed with Dave Brubeck, Peter Schickele, Jamie Bernstein and guest conductors, Anton Armstrong, Maria Guinand, Joseph Flummerfelt, and Paul Hillier who remarked following his engagement, “I loved working with the Houston Chamber Choir. Robert Simpson has created something special.” The ensemble has collaborated with Dave Brubeck, Dutch new music specialist Reinbert de Leeuw, and Grammy-winning jazz bassist Christian McBride, whose commissioned work for jazz trio and chorus the Houston Chamber Choir recently premiered. A champion of contemporary music, the choir has commissioned works from Christopher Theofanidis, David Ashley White, Jocelyn Hagan and Dominick DiOrio. These works may be heard on its recently released compact disc, Soft Blink of Amber Light.

The choir’s earlier recording of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russian secular choral music, Ravishingly Russian, was greeted with glowing reviews: “Ravishing is right” (Gramophone) and “The singing was top-of-the-line” (American Record Guide). The ensemble’s world premiere recording of Psalmi ad Vesperas by late seventeenth-century Italian composer Giovanni Paolo Colonna was hailed by Fanfare magazine as “one recording that Baroque music lovers will need in their collection."

Robert Simpson is Artistic Director of the Houston Chamber Choir, the professional ensemble he founded twenty years ago. He also serves as Canon for Music at Houston’s historic Christ Church Cathedral, and Lecturer of Church Music at the Shepherd School of Music, Rice University. Chorus America recognized his leadership in the field by awarding him the Michael Korn Founders Award for the Development of the Professional Choral Art. He earned the Associate and Choirmaster certificates from the American Guild of Organists receiving both the award for the highest Choirmaster grades and the S. Lewis Elmer Award for highest overall grades.

Choirs under Mr. Simpson’s direction have toured the United States, Europe and Mexico, and performed before national conventions of Chorus America, the American Choral Directors Association, the American Guild of Organists and the Association of Anglican Musicians. They have appeared nationally on CBS-TV, ABC-TV and American Public Radio.

Robert Simpson is an honors graduate of Brown University and the School of Sacred Music at Union Theological Seminary after which he studied for two years at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne, Germany. His teachers include organists Barclay Wood, Robert Baker, Michael Schneider, and the Swedish conductors Gustaf Sjökvist and Eric Ericson.

Mary Preston is the Resident Organist and Principal/Lay Family Chair with the Dallas Symphony. She also serves as Organist and Choirmaster at St. John’s Episcopal Church and School in Dallas. Mary has been presented in recital throughout the US, Europe and Asia to audiences responding with enthusiasm and excitement. She has been a featured artist for numerous AGO national and regional conventions. Along with performing concerti and other major works with the Dallas Symphony, she has performed with the L.A. Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Denver, East Texas and other orchestras. She performed the world premiere of Poul Ruders’ Organ Symphony No. 4 and the Guilmant and Saint-Saëns organ symphonies with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, and continues to perform and record with the Dallas Wind Symphony as well. Her recordings are produced on the Reference, Gothic and Naxos labels, and are met with rave reviews. 

About the Composer of the AGO 2016 Commission

Zachary Wadsworth’s “vivid, vital, and prismatic” music has established him as a leading composer of his generation. His compositions have been heard in venues around the world, from Washington’s Kennedy Center to Tokyo’s Takinogawa Hall, and have been performed by such ensembles as the choir of Westminster Abbey, the Yale Schola Cantorum, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Atlanta Philharmonic Orchestra. As the 2012-2013 recipient of the Douglas Moore Fellowship for American Opera, Wadsworth was in residence at the Metropolitan Opera and the Santa Fe Opera. In 2014, he had his Carnegie Hall debut.

Winner of an international competition chaired by James MacMillan, Wadsworth’s anthem Out of the South Cometh the Whirlwind was performed at Westminster Abbey in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II. Other recent honors include a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, three Morton Gould Young Composer Awards from ASCAP, and first-prize recognition in competitions sponsored by the American Composers Forum, the King James Bible Trust, Long Leaf Opera, the Pacific Chorale, the Boston Choral Ensemble, and the Esoterics. Wadsworth’s music is widely broadcast and distributed, with recent publications by Novello, G. Schirmer, and E.C. Schirmer, and airings on NPR, BBC, and CBC.

Wadsworth earned graduate degrees from Cornell University (DMA) and Yale University (MM), and is an honors graduate of the Eastman School of Music (BM). Originally from Richmond, VA, Wadsworth now resides in Calgary, Alberta. He has taught at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and the University of Calgary, and he maintains an active performing life as a tenor and pianist. For more information, please visit www.zacharywadsworth.com.

The Houston Chamber Choir
Robert Simpson, Founder and Artistic Director
Mary Preston, organ

The Storm has Wrapped the Sky                                                                                                Alexander Dargomysky

The Golden Cloud                                                                                                                     Pytor Illyich Tchaikovsky

Kangaroo                                                                                                                                                  Sergie Ekimov
                                                                                                                                                                          (b. 1974)

* * *

O Clap Your Hands                                                                                                                              Orlando Gibbons

Tristis est anima mea                                                                                                           Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa

* * *

Even Song                                                                                                                                           John LaMontaine
                                                                                        organ solo                                                          (1920–2013)

*Earthquake                                                                                                                                     Zachary Wadsworth
                                                              SATB chorus, soprano solo, and organ                                             (b. 1983)

Jauchz, Erd’, und Himmel, juble! (Rejoice, Earth and Heaven, Rejoice)                                                       Max Reger
                                                                                     organ solo                                                             (1873–1916)

* * *

Stars                                                                                                                                                       Ēriks Ešenvalds
                                                                                                                                                                          (b. 1977)

Deep River Spiritual                                                                                                                             arr. Roy Ringwald

Pinball Wizard                                                                                                                                        Pete Townshend
                                                                                                                                                                          (b. 1945)
                                                                                                                                                            arr. A. P. Jackman

*Houston AGO 2016 Commission