Saturday, October 14, 2017

Tenor CAMEO HUMES to solo in "Hiawatha's Wedding Feast."

Chicago tenor CAMEO HUMES will solo with the CBASO and the CBA Chorus in "Hiawatha's Wedding Feast" at St James' Episcopal Cathedral on Wednesday, November 8th as the winner of The American Prize Chicago Oratorio Award. Mr. Humes was chosen from a field of more than a dozen vocalists from all over the country who applied for the opportunity. A bio of the artist is below.

Cameo Humes

CAMEO HUMES is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after tenors in the operatic and concert repertoire. He has performed with Fort Wayne Philharmonic, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Hilton Head Choral Society, Gainesville Civic Chorus, and the Orchestra Sinfonica dell’International Chamber Ensemble in Italy. His most recent engagement included a debut with Teatro alla Scala in the roles of Peter, Crab man, Mingo and Robbins in their production of Porgy and Bess. Other operatic credits include the title role in Mozart’s La clemenza di Tito, Ottavio (Don Giovanni) with Operafestival di Roma, Almaviva (Il Barbiere di Siviglia), Gastone (La Traviata), Prunier (La Rondine), Peter (Porgy and Bess) with Lyric Opera of Chicago (cover), Dayton Opera and Skylight Music Theatre of Milwaukee, Crab man (Porgy and Bess) with The Princeton Festival, Nelson (Porgy and Bess) with Cincinnati Opera, Ballad Singer (Of Mice and Men), and Ensemble (Show Boat) with Houston Grand Opera. Mr. Humes has also performed regularly in the chorus of the Lyric Opera of Chicago since the 2014-15 season. He has performed as tenor soloist for the world premiere of Mozart’s Requiem staged with the Cincinnati Ballet, a performance that he repeated in the spring of 2015. Other recent concert engagements include Handel’s Judas Maccabeus, Mozart’s Grand Mass in C minor, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass with the Bach Society of Dayton, Bach St. John Passion and Mass in B minor, and The Seven Last Words of Christ by Théodore Dubois. He has recorded the lead role in Richard Thompson’s The Mask in the Mirror, a modern opera based on the life of Paul Laurence Dunbar; a role that Mr. Humes successfully portrayed on the stage with Trilogy Opera of New Jersey in 2014. A lover and avid performer of the Negro spiritual, he has toured Spain, France and Ireland with the world renown American Spiritual Ensemble, and has served as Adjunct Professor of Voice and Opera workshop at Central State University. Mr. Humes completed his undergraduate studies at Stetson University and earned a Master of Music degree from the University of Florida.

TICKETS are available here, or at the door.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

HIAWATHA in CHICAGO
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's "Hiawatha's Wedding Feast," his once world-famous cantata, returns to the Windy City in November 2017.

HIAWATHA TICKETS

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor as a young man.
BACKSTORY
by David Katz, founding music director and principal conductor
of the Chicago Bar Association Symphony


Anglo-African composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) was black—his mother was English, his father from Sierra Leone—the first classical composer of African descent to be recognized internationally for his music.

Coleridge-Taylor achieved fame overnight with the premiere of Hiawatha's Wedding Feast, his setting of lines from Longfellow's epic poem, The Song of Hiawatha, which premiered at the Royal College of Music in November 1898, when the composer was just 22 years old. Hiawatha proved a sensation, was soon performed hundreds of times, selling hundreds of thousands of copies across the globe.

Because of the success his Hiawatha cantata garnered for him, Coleridge-Taylor toured the U.S. three times, meeting President Theodore Roosevelt at the White House and conducting the work in many places, including St. Louis, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Boston, Washington, and in Chicago.

Racial prejudice being what it was (and sometimes, unfortunately, still is) it is perhaps not surprising that the music of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor disappeared into the void in the years following his early death at the age of 37. But for a time, during the first decades of the last century, as the article on Wikipedia states, "Hiawatha's Wedding Feast became so famous in Britain that for many years it rivaled Handel's Messiah and Mendelssohn's Elijah in the public's affections."

The composer in his studio
Thirty-five years ago, I conducted the first Hartford performance of Hiawatha's Wedding Feast heard in that city in fifty years. The moment seems right for this charming, tuneful, gentle and fragrantly themed choral-orchestral work to again be heard live in Chicago, where I hope it will capture some of the excitement and joy the work once generated in a very different time. I am proud that the CBASO and CBA Chorus will be the ones to present its latest revival, joined by a tenor soloist selected from The American Prize, and it is my plan for us to work with colleagues from the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College to bring additional attention and additional scholarship to our performance of the music of this unjustly forgotten composer.

On our November concert, I will pair Hiawatha's Wedding Feast with Dvorak's New World Symphony.

On Coleridige-Taylor's headstone near London are inscribed these words by poet (and the composer's close friend) Albert Noyes: Too young to die, his great simplicity, his happy courage in an alien world, his gentleness, made all that knew him love him.

I hope, after our encounter with his music, both audience and musicians will discover we feel the same way.

***

A short documentary about the composer on You Tube, narrated by his daughter and including excerpts from the cantata: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsYU8WfmIoA

The Wikipedia Article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Song_of_Hiawatha_(Coleridge-Taylor)#Background

A good recent performance on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yr1sdM67oH8
(The recording includes all of the cantatas that make up SCT's "Song of Hiawatha." Hiawatha's Wedding Feast is first, running about 30 minutes.)

HIAWATHA TICKETS



NOTES on "HIAWATHA" by Miriam Scott

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor

Anglo-African composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) was just 22 and recently graduated from the Royal College of Music (RCM), London, when he completed Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast. Hiawatha, a cantata for chorus, orchestra, and tenor, is based on a section of The Song of Hiawatha, the epic poem by noted American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. 

The piece was an instant hit from its first performance at the RCM on November 12, 1898, and during the beginning of the 20th century gained the young composer wide acclaim, if not financial security.  Insecure in his own abilities, and a novice in the music publishing business, Coleridge-Taylor sold the Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast’s copyright to music publisher Novello’s for a mere 15.15 British pounds, in today’s terms the equivalent of 1,855.18 GBP or $2,404.64.   During his 1910 visit to the United States Coleridge-Taylor remarked more than once:  “If I had retained my rights in the Hiawatha music I should have been a rich man.”

Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast was Coleridge-Taylor’s most successful production, in its time rivaling Handel’s Messiah and Mendelssohn’s Elijah in popularity. After the cantata’s premiere, Sir Hubert Parry, a contemporary composer, pronounced it “one of the most remarkable events in modern English musical history.” The work was received enthusiastically not only in England, but also in South Africa, New Zealand, and the United States. 

Despite the popular success of Hiawatha (more than 200,000 copies of the music sold during his too-brief lifetime), Coleridge-Taylor struggled to make a living for himself and his family and his extraordinary efforts to write original commissions, to conduct his and other composers‘ works, and to teach contributed to his premature death from pneumonia at the age of 37. 

From 1904 until his death in 1912 he was principal conductor of the Handel Society of London, and professor at Trinity College of Music, at the Crystal Palace School of Art and Music, and at the Guildhall School of Music.  At the time of his death, Coleridge-Taylor had produced 82 numbered compositions and some 25 other works.

Unlikely Musical Career
The composer in is studio
Coleridge-Taylor’s humble origins and dark skin would not necessarily anticipate his illustrious musical future, even if his unmarried white English mother named him after the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Coleridge-Taylor’s black African physician father (Daniel Hughes Taylor) returned to his native Sierra Leone before the child’s birth and, apparently, never knew of his existence. The composer experienced racism in England, although not as extreme as the racism in the United States.  In his early childhood, Coleridge-Taylor lived with his mother in his maternal grandfather’s modest household in the London suburb of Croydon. This grandfather sparked Samuel’s musical gift when he gave the five year old a small violin and his first music lessons.  

In addition to his violin mastery, Coleridge-Taylor was an in-demand boy treble soloist at several churches. His musical talent recognized, Coleridge-Taylor in 1890 at age 15 entered the RCM.  The young man soon showed promise as a composer and in 1892 was accepted as a student to RCM composition teacher Charles Villiers Stanford, at the time a noted composer.  By the age of 20, Coleridge-Taylor had already scored nearly 30 vocal and instrumental works.  Inspired by Johannes Brahms’ Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, Coleridge-Taylor wrote his own clarinet quintet, leading Stanford to acclaim the originality of his student’s work.  Thus Coleridge-Taylor became the RCM’s star student in composition, and in 1893 he received the RCM’s only composition fellowship.

Referring to young Coleridge-Taylor, the music critic Auguste J. Jaeger wrote to his future wife that “I have long been looking for a new English composer of real genius and I believe I have found him.” Mr. Jaeger became a champion of Coleridge-Taylor’s music and pressed music publisher Novello’s to publish Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast.

Coleridge-Taylor in 1897 completed his studies at the RCM where several of his student compositions (mostly small group chamber pieces) were performed. Edward Elgar, even in Coleridge-Taylor’s lifetime considered a top English composer, was among the music luminaries of the time who were impressed by Coleridge-Taylor’s work and promoted it.  Elgar urged the directors of the prestigious Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester to perform Coleridge-Taylor’s Ballade in A Minor for Orchestra in 1898.

Hiawatha

Longfellow’s poem, completed in 1855, adopted the trochaic tetrameter [a rapid meter of poetry consisting of four feet of trochees; a trochee is made up of one stressed syllable followed by one unstressed syllable] of the Finnish epic poem The Kalevala. When he chose to set the poem to music, Coleridge-Taylor acknowledged his attraction for the characters’ curious-sounding Indian names such as Nokomis, Chibiabos, and Iagoo, and that “The essential beauty of the poem is its native simplicity, its unaffected expression, its unforced realism”. Furthermore, Coleridge-Taylor was a great admirer of the Czech composer Antonín Dvořák, and of that composer’s Symphony from the New World which, some experts say, was inspired in part by Longfellow’s Hiawatha. The unusual rhythms of Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast are said to be a reflection of Coleridge-Taylor’s admiration for Dvořák’s music.

African-American Influence

Although many of Coleridge-Taylor’s works resemble the style of white English composers, even from his student days he was interested in reflecting his African heritage.  In this last pursuit, Coleridge-Taylor looked to African-Americans.  He found inspiration from the Fisk Jubilee Singers, a gospel chorus from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, that had toured in England.  Coleridge-Taylor also partnered with African-American poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar, whom he met in London in 1896, to set some of Dunbar’s poems to music.  And he composed some African-themed orchestral works.  The overture to Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast even incorporates strains from the African-American spiritual “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen”  and the composer used melodies of African-American spirituals in his “Twenty-Four Negro Melodies, P. 59” for piano.  Contemporaries reported that he advocated for black classical music.

U.S. Reach

Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast was performed in the U.S. before Coleridge-Taylor’s tours here in 1904, 1906, and 1910.  The Ann Arbor, Michigan Argus-Democrat of December 15, 1899 announced a December 18 performance by the Choral Union with the Chicago Festival Orchestra.  The Chicago Apollo Club on April 15, 1901, at the Chicago National College of Music, presented the premiere Chicago performance of the cantata which “is creating quite a furore both in England and in this country”, the monthly magazine Music reported.  Also in 1901, the African-American Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Choral Society of the District of Columbia was founded specifically to perform Hiawatha and it invited the composer to conduct the piece when he would tour the U.S. which he did for the first time in November 1904.  In an unusual honor at the time for an individual of African descent, President Theodore Roosevelt received Coleridge-Taylor at the White House during the composer’s 1906 visit.

The composer was well-known and respected among African-American communities in the early 20th century, much as Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X are well known today.  Schools were named after him, including The Historic Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary School in Baltimore, Maryland, and Coleridge-Taylor Montessori Elementary School in Louisville, Kentucky.

In a spring 1908 letter to Coleridge-Taylor, the honorary treasurer of the S. Coleridge-Taylor Choral Society summed up African-Americans’ high regard for the composer and his cantata: “In composing Hiawatha you have done the coloured of the U.S. a service which, I am sure, you never dreamed of when composing it.  It acts as a source of inspiration for us, not only musically but in other lines of endeavor. When we are going to have a Hiawatha concert here, for at least one month we seem, as it were, to be lifted above the clouds of American colour prejudice, and to live there wholly oblivious of its disadvantages, and indeed of most of our other troubles.”

Chicago Pleasure

During his visits to Chicago in late November/early December 1904 and 1906, Coleridge-Taylor conducted a program of his shorter pieces but not Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast.  Although the composer’s 1904 Chicago concert was arranged with only 10 days’ notice, the hall was full.  Reportedly, the Chicago concert pleased him more than the others:  “My best time was in Chicago.  The audience was made up almost entirely of those whom you would call really musical people, and there was no mistaking the immense German element among the listeners. Coloured people always put in a large attendance, and they were most enthusiastic.”

Song of Hiawatha Trilogy
A memorial to the composer in his hometown of Croydon (SCT in the center).
Following Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast’s success, Coleridge-Taylor completed two more sections in 1899 and 1900, The Death of Minnehaha, and Hiawatha’s Departure, respectively.  The trilogy, published as The Song of Hiawatha, was first performed in its entirety in 1900 at the Royal Albert Hall. The last two parts never attained the success of Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast.   However, from 1924 until the beginning of World War II, the complete trilogy and the Hiawatha Ballet Music were performed with costumes, scenery, and up to 1,000 performers at the Royal Albert Hall for two weeks annually.  The famous English conductor Sir Malcolm Sargent recorded Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast in 1929 and again in 1961. 

While in modern times Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast, and Coleridge-Taylor’s music, had declined in popularity, interest in black composers has grown most recently spurring new performances and recordings.  On the 100th anniversary of the work’s premiere, it was revived in Boston in 1998.  The Colour of Music Festival in Charleston, South Carolina scheduled a performance for October 21, 2017.

On August 24, 2017, during Chicago’s classical radio station WFMT’s Mid-Day program, host Lisa Flynn played a cut from a new release (Music by Composers of African Descent, or Violin Gems from Black Composers issued summer 2017) by Hungaro-Ethiopian violinist Samuel Nebyu playing Coleridge-Taylor’s Romance, Op. 39.  Again on September 6, 2017, WFMT aired Coleridge-Taylor’s Clarinet Quintet in A.  Rachel Barton, Chicago’s own star violinist, in 1997 released a new recording under the Cedille label of Violin Concertos by Black Composers of the 18th and 19th Centuries including Coleridge-Taylor’s Romance in G Major for Violin and Orchestra.

The British paper The Guardian in a June 2, 2015 article titled “Ten black composers whose work deserve to be heard more often” says of Coleridge-Taylor: “Even better [than Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast] are Coleridge-Taylor’s works for violin and orchestra, which are elegant pieces of fin de siecle romanticism.”

- Program note by Miriam B. Scott

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Saturday, July 15, 2017

HIAWATHA in CHICAGO
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's "Hiawatha's Wedding Feast," his once world-famous cantata, returns to the Windy City in November 2017.

HIAWATHA TICKETS

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor as a young man.
BACKSTORY
by David Katz, founding music director and principal conductor
of the Chicago Bar Association Symphony


Anglo-African composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) was black—his mother was English, his father from Sierra Leone—the first classical composer of African descent to be recognized internationally for his music.

Coleridge-Taylor achieved fame overnight with the premiere of Hiawatha's Wedding Feast, his setting of lines from Longfellow's epic poem, The Song of Hiawatha, which premiered at the Royal College of Music in November 1898, when the composer was just 22 years old. Hiawatha proved a sensation, was soon performed hundreds of times, selling hundreds of thousands of copies across the globe.

Because of the success his Hiawatha cantata garnered for him, Coleridge-Taylor toured the U.S. three times, meeting President Theodore Roosevelt at the White House and conducting the work in many places, including St. Louis, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Boston, Washington, and in Chicago.

Racial prejudice being what it was (and sometimes, unfortunately, still is) it is perhaps not surprising that the music of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor disappeared into the void in the years following his early death at the age of 37. But for a time, during the first decades of the last century, as the article on Wikipedia states, "Hiawatha's Wedding Feast became so famous in Britain that for many years it rivaled Handel's Messiah and Mendelssohn's Elijah in the public's affections."

The composer in his studio
Thirty-five years ago, I conducted the first Hartford performance of Hiawatha's Wedding Feast heard in that city in fifty years. The moment seems right for this charming, tuneful, gentle and fragrantly themed choral-orchestral work to again be heard live in Chicago, where I hope it will capture some of the excitement and joy the work once generated in a very different time. I am proud that the CBASO and CBA Chorus will be the ones to present its latest revival, joined by a tenor soloist selected from The American Prize, and it is my plan for us to work with colleagues from the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College to bring additional attention and additional scholarship to our performance of the music of this unjustly forgotten composer.

On our November concert, I will pair Hiawatha's Wedding Feast with Dvorak's New World Symphony.

On Coleridige-Taylor's headstone near London are inscribed these words by poet (and the composer's close friend) Albert Noyes: Too young to die, his great simplicity, his happy courage in an alien world, his gentleness, made all that knew him love him.

I hope, after our encounter with his music, both audience and musicians will discover we feel the same way.

***

A short documentary about the composer on You Tube, narrated by his daughter and including excerpts from the cantata: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsYU8WfmIoA

The Wikipedia Article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Song_of_Hiawatha_(Coleridge-Taylor)#Background

A good recent performance on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yr1sdM67oH8
(The recording includes all of the cantatas that make up SCT's "Song of Hiawatha." Hiawatha's Wedding Feast is first, running about 30 minutes.)

HIAWATHA TICKETS



The Artistic Leadership Team for HIAWATHA'S WEDDING FEAST

DAVID KATZ, Founding Music Director and Principal Conductor 
of The Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra
David Katz
David Katz is one of the most versatile performing artists currently working in the Chicago area.
Now celebrating his 32nd season as the founding music director of The Chicago Bar Association
Symphony Orchestra, Katz has led Chicagoland’s unique all-lawyer ensemble nearly two hundred times during his long tenure, in repertoire ranging from Trial By Jury, (the first performances of Gilbert & Sullivan’s courtroom operetta ever to be presented in a working courtroom with a cast and orchestra made up entirely of legal professionals) to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, as well as major orchestral and choral-orchestral works by Brahms, Britten, Bruckner, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Poulenc, Respighi, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky and others.

In 2011, Katz and the CBASO, joined by the CBA Chorus and guest choirs, nearly three hundred musicians in all, presented Orff's Carmina Burana to a capacity crowd at Orchestra Hall, Chicago, in celebration of the CBASO's 25th season. The ensemble returned to Symphony Center in spring 2015 for Something Wonderful!, an all-Rodgers & Hammerstein concert.

David Katz has led more than sixty orchestras and opera companies throughout the U.S., Canada
and Mexico as guest conductor, including concerts with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the
Mississippi Symphony and the Corpus Christi Symphony. Former associate conductor of the Elgin Symphony Orchestra under Margaret Hillis, and for twelve years music director of the Adrian Symphony Orchestra and co-founder of OPERA!Lenawee in Michigan, Katz is currently artistic director of Hat City Music Theater, Inc., in Connecticut, where he is founder and chief judge of The American Prize national nonprofit competitions in the performing arts. In 2016, Katz was honored by Musical America as one of only thirty “Top Professionals of the Year” nationally for his work creating and sustaining The American Prize. TAP has awarded more than $40,000 in prize money to performing artists nationwide since its creation.

A professional playwright, actor and arts advocate, Katz tours internationally in his acclaimed one-man play, MUSE of FIRE, about the secrets of conducting. He has presented the play scores of times throughout the Midwest, Northeast, and in Canada, including an extended engagement in Chicago. Two books by David Katz, Muse of Fire: A Symposium on the Art of Conducting, and Bruck Stories, a companion volume, will be published by Del Gatto Press next year. Katz is also at work on Wonderful Counsellor, a memoir about three decades of music-making with Chicago lawyers.

David Katz holds baccalaureate and master’s degrees in composition and conducting from the Hartt School of Music of the University of Hartford. He was a student of the great Lithuanian maestro, Vytautas Marijosius, and was the first in the school’s history to be awarded an Artist’s Diploma in Conducting. Katz also studied for five years under Charles Bruck at the Pierre Monteux School for Conductors, in Maine, and later founded Opera Maine, the Monteux Opera Festival, and the Chamber Orchestra of Maine. He has partnered such artists as Itzhak Perlman and Misha Dichter in concert and has worked with some of the greatest twentieth century composers, including William Schuman, Hans Werner Henze, Milton Babbitt and Elliott Carter. Katz’s own compositions are published by Carl Fischer and G. Schirmer, among others.



STEPHEN BLACKWELDER, Director of The The Chicago Bar Association Chorus
Stephen Blackwelder
Particularly noted for his fluent work with singers and choral groups, Stephen Blackwelder is currently celebrating his twelfth season as director of the DePaul Community Chorus. Under his direction, the DCC has grown to 150 members and recently collaborated with the Oistrakh Symphony of Chicago in successful performances of Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Bruckner’s Mass in D Minor, Haydn’s Mass in Time of War and Brahms’ Requiem. Now in his seventeenth season as Music Director of the Waukegan Symphony Orchestra, his 2017-18 schedule includes four subscription concerts with that ensemble, three concerts with the DCC and three concerts as newly appointed Director of the Chicago Bar Association Chorus. Stephen very much looks forward to collaborating with Maestro Katz and the spirited members of the CBA Chorus and Symphony Orchestra.

Choral music has always been an active component of Blackwelder’s musical life and he has led performances of the Downer’s Grove Oratorio Society, Camerata Singers of Lake Forest, Waukegan Festival Chorus and numerous university, church and temple ensembles. Formerly the conductor of the early music ensemble Ars Musica Chicago, he led that group in numerous concerts and recordings over 8 concert seasons. As an accomplished professional singer, he performed frequently under such conductors as Robert Shaw, James Levine, Sir Georg Solti, Claudio Abbado and Margaret Hillis while a member of the Aspen Chamber Choir and Chicago Symphony Chorus.

A former Music Director of the Hinsdale Chamber Orchestra, he continues to attract and delight audiences with fresh, innovative programming and an informal and appealing concert style. Highlights of past seasons include performances with celebrated flautist Carol Wincenc, Metropolitan Opera soprano Nancy Gustafson, Ruben Gonzalez and John Sharp of the Chicago Symphony, and the NIU Philharmonic with soloists from the famed Vermeer Quartet. Guest conducting engagements include the Richmond, Bremerton and Sacramento Symphonies, as well as the Chicago String Ensemble, where he was praised for his “warmly expressive” conducting by Robert Marsh of the Chicago Sun-Times.

A native of North Carolina, Blackwelder was the first undergraduate to receive a Bachelor of Music in conducting and voice from UNC-Chapel Hill. During his studies for the Master of Music degree at Northwestern University, he assisted Grigg Fountain with the Alice Millar Chapel Choir in addition to his duties with orchestral and opera groups. Professional study includes four seasons with the renowned Aspen Music Festival and master classes with Sir Georg Solti, Max Rudolf and Erich Leinsdorf.



MAREK RACHELSKI, Resident Conductor of The Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra
Marek Rachelski
Newly appointed Resident Conductor of the Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra, Marek Rachelski enjoys a rich variety in his musical life as conductor, pianist/harpsichordist and as collaborative artist in recital. Marek holds degrees from Northwestern University, Wayne State University and the Academy of Music in Prague HAMU. He has appeared with orchestras in the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, Canada and the USA, and has served on the faculties of Loyola University and De Paul University. He is the Artistic Director of Musica Lumina Ensemble and Conductor/Founder of the Niles Metropolitan Chorus. In four seasons the NMC/ML has performed major works of the repertoire: Requiems of Mozart, Faure, Rutter; the Magnificats of Pärt, Bach and Pergolesi; Haydn’s Creation, Rossini’s Stabat Mater, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, a yearly Handel’s Messiah, and the St. John Passion of J. S. Bach.

Past Music Director of Opera Las Vegas, he accompanied aria recitals and conducted complete staged performances of Puccini’s La Boheme, Donizetti’s L'elisir d'amore, Mollicone’s The Face on the Barroom Floor and a Puccini 150th celebrating operas of Puccini including excerpts from La Boheme, Madama Butterfly, Tosca, Manon Lescaut, Turandot, La Fanciulla del West, La Rondine, and Gianni Schicchi. He founded the Las Vegas Diocesan Cathedral Choir and the Las Vegas Peoples Valley Chorus which performed Requiems by Faure, Rutter and Brahms, Handel’s Judas Maccabeus, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Vespers, Rossini’s Stabat Mater, Vivaldi Juditha Triumphans and a yearly Handel’s Messiah.

As Assistant Conductor of the Elgin Symphony he conducted Young People’s Concerts and performed with Victor Borge; he was also Music Director of the Valley Civic Orchestra and conducted the Elgin Area Youth Orchestras. A composer of over 100 works, he was commissioned in 1989 for a setting of Psalm 145 for the Papal Mass in Detroit and for a Magnificat by the Lira Singers for their 25th Anniversary. In addition to awards from the Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society, he was presented with the Pulaski Award for his contributions to Polish American Culture. Rachelski enjoys collaboration as recital accompanist for a rich variety of musical artists, both instrumental and vocal.