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Hampshire Choral Society press release   Date: 1/17/12 Bookmark and Share

Smith Musicians to Collaborate for Premiere

NORTHAMPTON, Ma.—The American premiere of a long-lost work by eminent British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams will be presented at Smith on Sunday, Jan. 22, with several Smith music faculty and alumnae among the performers.

Ralph Vaughan Williams

The Hampshire Choral Society, led by Allan Taylor (who earned his master’s degree at Smith), has the privilege of being the first in the United States to present Ralph Vaughan Williams’ A Cambridge Mass on January 22, at 3 p.m. in John M. Greene Hall. (If postponed due to weather, the concert will take place the following Sunday, Jan. 29, at the same time and place.)

The concert will showcase the depth of musical talent in Western Massachusetts. The orchestra will include three Smith current and retired music department faculty members: Jonathan Hirsh, Sarah Briggs, and Janet van Blerkom. Soloists are Louise Fauteaux (soprano), Mary Brown Bonacci (mezzo soprano), Marc Winer (tenor), and Peter W. Shea (baritone).

This long-lost work, composed by the young Vaughan Williams for his doctoral degree in music, remained in the Cambridge University Library for over 110 years, never published or performed. It was rediscovered and brought to publication by the conductor and musicologist Alan Tongue. Maestro Tongue conducted the world premiere of A Cambridge Mass at Fairfield Hall, Croydon, UK on March 3, 2011, and will be the guest conductor for the American premiere.

Maestro Tongue’s friendship with one of the Hampshire Choral Society’s sopranos, Dorothy Morse, and her husband, Tony, of Pelham, led to this tremendous opportunity to premiere a new work by a major composer.

Hampshire Choral Society Music Director Allan Taylor will conduct music for strings by the British composers Elgar, Britten and Holst to open the program, and he will perform as organist for A Cambridge Mass.

Considered among the composer’s most ambitious works, A Cambridge Mass will be performed by four soloists, an eight-part chorus of 145 singers, and a 42-piece orchestra. This concert is expected to draw national attention.

Tickets are $30 for preferred seating (available only if purchased before the day of the concert); $20, general admission; $15, students and seniors. Advance ticket purchases will be accepted through Friday, January 20, online at, with payment by check or cash presented the day of the concert (credit cards not accepted). Tickets will also be on sale in advance at Broadside Bookstore and State Street Fruit Store in Northampton; at Coopers Corner, Florence; and at A.J. Hastings in Amherst. Tickets will be sold at the door the day of the concert.

Founded 59 years ago, the Hampshire Choral Society is a 145-voice amateur choir that rehearses in Northampton and performs in Hampshire County. The largest New England chorus outside of Boston, it is a community organization whose members are a mix of experience levels and ages 18 to over 80.

About the conductors

Allan Taylor has been the music director of the Hampshire Choral Society for 10 years. During his tenure, he has conducted an eclectic mix of well-known and seldom-heard compositions from the choral repertoire, including works by Bach, Mozart, Handel, Haydn, Bruckner, Poulenc, Mendelssohn, Duruflé, and Franck.

Since he became director in 2001, the Hampshire Choral Society has expanded in size to become the largest New England chorus outside of Boston. He earned the BA degree in classics at Trinity College, Hartford, where he studied organ with eminent recitalist Clarence Watters. He earned the Master of Arts degree in music at Smith College where he held the Early Music Fellowship and studied harpsichord with Lori Wallfisch. Mr. Taylor is an assistant professor at Westfield State University, teaching music theory, conducting, music history, and directing the Festival Chorus and the Chorale.

Alan Tongue is a freelance conductor working in Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic, Argentina, Bolivia, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. His teachers included Celibidache, one of the 20th century’s great conductors, Robert Shaw, and Thurston Dart. Mr. Tongue has been chief conductor of Northern Sinfonietta, the Northern Ireland Symphony, and Studio Symphony Orchestra. He was a producer and staff conductor of the BBC NI Orchestra. He won the Novello Award in Edinburgh in 1991 for outstanding interpretation and a genuine understanding of new music in the general repertoire.

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