The Clarion Choir
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About The Clarion Choir
Performing on both concert and operatic stages, the Clarion Choir is one of North America's top professional vocal ensembles. It is a part of the larger Clarion Music Society, which also includes the Clarion Orchestra. The two organizations share the same conductor, Steven Fox, who also founded Musica Antiqua St. Petersburg, Russia's first period-instrument orchestra. The Clarion Orchestra was founded in 1957 by musicologist/conductor Newell Jenkins. From the beginning it focused on early music, and in the 1970s the group began using historically appropriate instruments; it was one of the first ensembles in the U.S. of its kind to mount a regular concert series.
After Jenkins' directorship ended in the mid-1990s, the group went on hiatus. It was re-formed in 2006 by Fox, in collaboration with the Clarion Music Society's board of directors, and at this time the Clarion Choir was formed as well. Headquartered in New York, the choir has performed around North America and Europe. The choir made its Lincoln Center debut at the White Light Festival in 2011, a concert described by The Wall Street Journal as "superb...the choristers sang with purity of tone and ensemble precision." The Clarion Choir was featured on the Public Broadcasting System's NYC-Arts program in 2014. It has also performed at the Tully Scope Festival, the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Frick Collection, Miller Theatre at Columbia University, the Quebec International Festival of Sacred Music, the Twelfth Night Festival, and Bargemusic (with The Knights chamber orchestra). In 2009 they performed Bach's St. Matthew Passion, BWV 244, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
The Clarion Choir has been especially closely associated, both in performance and on recordings, with the composition Passion Week, by Russian composer Maximilian Steinberg (1923), a massive choral work for the Christian Holy Week based on texts in Old Church Slavonic. Suppressed by Soviet authorities in the 1920s, the work did not receive its world premiere until 2013, in a performance by the Portland, Oregon group Cappella Romana. The Clarion Choir gave the New York premiere the following year and went on to give premiere performances in Moscow and St. Petersburg (under the auspices of the U.S. State Department, to strong Russian acclaim during a period of deteriorating relations between the two countries), and later in London. The choir's debut recording, released on Naxos in 2016, featured Passion Week. In 2017 the choir joined the Clarion Orchestra for a live performance of Mozart's The Magic Flute. ~ James Manheim