Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia

Since its founding fifteen decades ago, Mendelssohn Club Chorus has been devoted to sharing great choral music as a way to connect artists, audiences and communities. Mendelssohn Club, one of America’s oldest choruses, continues to expand its repertoire in the 21st century by collaborating with a wide range of musical organizations, each of which is devoted to representing, or reaching out to, new audiences in innovative ways. Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia performs choral music to create a shared transcendent experience among its singers and audiences. Through the excellence of its adventurous performances, Mendelssohn Club advances the development of choral music as an art form.

During its long, rich history, Mendelssohn Club played a role in forming the Philadelphia Orchestra; gave the Philadelphia premiere of the Brahms Requiem, provided more than 300 singers for the American premiere of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, gave the world premiere of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13; and was nominated for a GRAMMY for its recording of the Vincent Persichetti Winter Cantata. The 140-voice chorus is a highly artistic, auditioned chorus, made up of 16 professional core singers; music teachers, professors, therapists, and instrumentalists, as well as those with music training but who have other nn-music-related professions. That the chorus’s projects are recognized both for their artistic achievement and as the critical gathering place that it provides for a community passionate about singing speaks to the integral role that it plays in the region, particularly Philadelphia’s singers, instrumentalists, composers, collaborating organizations that they employ and the audiences that they inspire.

Mendelssohn Club believes in taking artistic risks that stretch and challenge its singers and audiences; in supporting the talent, passion, and dedication of its singers, and in the powerful communal experience that comes from shared music-making; in respecting the commitment and appreciation of the audience members; and in ensuring Mendelssohn Club’s long-term stability as an important cultural resource in the region and as an influence in the world of choral music.

“With a passionate commitment to artistic excellence, repertoire diversity, audience engagement, and commissioning new works, the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, under the direction of Maestro Alan Harler, continues to be a dynamic, vibrant, and relevant choral ensemble in the greater Philadelphia community.”
Rollo Dillworth, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Chorus America

For information about Mendelssohn Club’s concerts and programs, or to order tickets for the 2014-2015 season, visit www.mcchorus.org. You can also find Mendelssohn Club on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mcchorus.

Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia

A founding resident company of The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia is a 33-member professional ensemble led by Music Director Dirk Brossé. The Chamber Orchestra, founded in 1964, has a well-established reputation for distinguished performances of repertoire from the Baroque period through the twenty-first century.

The Orchestra’s development was motivated in part by the desire to provide performance opportunities to young professional musicians emerging from the Curtis Institute of Music and other regional training programs but also by a desire to make substantial contribution to the City and region’s cultural life. In addition to presenting its own productions, the Orchestra started to develop an entrepreneurial approach by seeking other performance opportunities among the region’s presenter/producer community, thereby providing additional employment for its members. The ensemble also championed new music, focusing on regional composers. In total, the organization has commissioned and premiered over seventy new works.

In 1994, Ignat Solzhenitsyn, a concert pianist and conducting graduate from the Curtis Institute of Music, joined the Chamber Orchestra as Assistant Conductor. In 1998, he was named Principal Conductor and Music Director in 2004. Maestro Solzhenitsyn, in assuming the position of Conductor Laureate in 2010, remains closely associated with the Orchestra.

A conductor and composer of international acclaim, Maestro Dirk Brossé enters his fourth season as Music Director of The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia in September 2013. In the 2013-2014 subscription season, the Orchestra will perform six concert programs from September through May in the Kimmel Center’s intimate, 600-seat Perelman Theater and one concert program in the Kimmel Center’s Verizon Hall. Two of the concert programs will also be performed at Lincoln University.

The Chamber Orchestra has performed with such internationally acclaimed guest artists as Plácido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Mstislav Rostropovich, Issac Stern, Rudolph Serkin, The Eroica Trio, Jean-Pierre Rampal, The Romeros Guitar Quartet, Julie Andrews, Bernadette Peters, Ben Folds, Elvis Costello, Sylvia McNair, Steven Isserlis, Joseph Silverstein, Ransom Wilson, Gerard Schwarz, Jahja Ling and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, among others. The ensemble travels regularly, having toured the United States, Europe, and Israel.

Alan Harler

Meet Alan Harler

Alan Harler became Mendelssohn Club’s twelfth Music Director in 1988 and was named Artistic Director in 2009.  Maestro Harler served as Laura H. Carnell Professor and Chairman of Choral Music at Temple University’s Esther Boyer College of Music.

A strong advocate for new American music

Alan Harler is a strong advocate for new American music.  He was founder and director of the Contemporary Vocal Ensemble of Indiana.  During his tenure with Mendelssohn Club, he has commissioned and premiered over 55 new compositions, including Julia Wolfe’s Anthracite Fields (2013), David Lang’s battle hymns (2009), Jennifer Higdon’s On the Death of the Righteous (2009) and Pauline Oliveros’s Urban Echo: Circle Told (2008) in his 20th anniversary season. Other major commissions are Robert Moran’sRequiem: Chant du Cygne (1990), Charles Fussell’s Specimen Days (1992), Robert Stern’s Returning the Song (1994), Cynthia Folio’s Touch the Angel’s Hand (1994), James Primosch’s Fire Memory/ River Memory (1998), Charles Fussell’s High Bridge (2003), and Andrea Clearfield’s The Golem Psalms(2006) and Tse Go La (2012).  Maestro Harler conducted Mendelssohn Club in a critically acclaimed recording of the Moran Requiem for Argo/London Records in 1994.  In 2012, Innova Records released a CD featuring the Higdon, Primosch, and Clearfield commissions for large chorus and orchestra.  As conductor of the Temple University Concert Choir, he has presented many Philadelphia premieres, including Moran’s Hagoromo, Alfred Schnittke’s Requiem, and Arvo Pärt’s Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi Secundum Joannem. If you would like to support Alan’s vision, contribute to the Alan Harler New Ventures Fund.

An exceptional conductor with a global reach

Alan Harler is an active conductor outside of Philadelphia, having performed regularly at the Festival Casals in San Juan, Puerto Rico and the Aspen Choral Institute, and has given master classes and conducted performances in Taiwan and China under the sponsorship of the Taiwan Philharmonic Association.

He has prepared choruses for many of the country’s leading orchestras and conductors including Ricardo Muti, Charles Dutoit, Christoph Eschenbach, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Klaus Tennstedt, Zubin Mehta, Lorin Maazel, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, David Roberstson and Max Rudolph.

Harler counts the teaching experience as one of the most important creative elements of his work. “One of the strongest characteristics of a good conductor is the ability to teach. You teach as you conduct. I’m really a teacher at heart,” he says.

Harler has led many master classes in conducting, and currently serves as one of five Conducting Mentors with the Conductors Guild, making himself available for consultation with young conductors internationally.  At Mendelssohn Club, he works with a young conductor apprentice each year through our apprenticeship program.

Recognized for his outstanding work
  • Adventurous programming by Maestro Harler was recognized in 2013 by Chorus America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, which recognized member choruses that demonstrated a commitment to fostering and promoting new music.
  • Maestro Harler’s provocative programming vision was recognized in 2009 by Chorus America, with the Michael Korn Founders Award for Development of the Professional Choral Art.
  • Harler was also honored in 2009 by the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia with an Honorary Lifetime Membership for Distinguished Contribution to Musical Life of Philadelphia.
  • In December 2007, Harler conducted the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in a performance of Handel’s Messiah — an honor typically offered to music directors of orchestras.
  • In August 2007, Harler received the Elaine Brown Award for Life-long Service to Choral Music, given by the Pennsylvania Division of the American Choral Director’s Association.
  • In April 2005, Harler was honored with Temple University’s Creative Achievement Award for 2005
  • In 2004, Harler received the Emanuel Kardon Foundation Award for “contributing to the vitality and excellence of the Philadelphia arts community.”
  • In 1995, Harler was elected to the Board of Chorus America, the national professional association of professional and volunteer choruses.

North American Premiere by Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia