Thursday evening, September 26th, 2019:
     50th Anniversary Gala

Saturday, November 16th, 2019:
      Our Favorite Things

Saturday and Sunday, May 2nd and 3rd, 2020:
      Craig Hella Johnson: Considering Matthew Shepard

Last season BCS presented two contrasting concerts.  The fall concert, "Music from the Sistine Chapel," included Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli, Allegri's Miserere, and motets and mass movements by Josquin, Lassus, and their contemporaries. In April we presented two masterworks of 20th century French composers: Francis Poulenc's Stabat Mater and Maurice Duruflé's Requiem. Both concerts were challenging, and both concerts drew accolades from critics and our audiences.

This year marks the 50th consecutive season of the Bloomington Chamber Singers. As arts organizations throughout the country struggle to keep afloat, we are fortunate to have a solid musical and financial base, built over the years by hundreds of gifted singers and dedicated board members. This year we are going to celebrate that achievement with a gala evening and with two concerts of repertoire befitting the anniversary.

We will open our season Thursday evening, September 26, 2019 with a special 50th Anniversary Gala that will look back over the years and recognize the directors, musicians, and board members who have built BCS to the group it is today. Malcolm Abrams, editor of Bloom magazine, will be our MC, and our special guests include illustrious soprano Sylvia McNair. Choral repertoire for the evening includes Morton Lauridsen's Sure on this Shining Night, Jannequin's Chant des Oiseaux, and selections from Rachmaninov's Vespers. The mayor will proclaim that day "BCS Day" in Bloomington, and many of our past alumni and friends will be present to share with us in what we know will be a night to remember.

In November we will present a concert of Our Favorite Things--a retrospective of choral pieces selected by BCS singers, drawing from the hundreds of pieces performed in the 50 years we have been singing. This evening of choral gems will include works by Monteverdi, Byrd, Brahms, Rachmaninov, Britten, Barber and Eric Whitacre. Also highlighted will be several recent compositions by the new generation of choral masters, including Ola Gjeilo and Elaine Hagenberg.

For over 30 years BCS has hosted a Sing-along of Handel's Messiah during the holidays, an event that draws hundreds of singers and listeners from throughout the region.  Last year we added a second Sing-along of Parts 2 and 3 of Messiah during the Lenten season, and we will continue that tradition this year.

In May of 2020 we will mount a semi-staged production of Considering Matthew Shepard, Craig Hella Johnson's powerful reflection on the events surrounding the 1998 hate crime beating and death of Matthew Shepard. This three-part "fusion oratorio" (as the composer describes it) speaks with a fresh and bold voice, incorporating a variety of musical styles seamlessly woven into a unified whole. Johnson sets a wide range of poetic and soulful texts by poets including Hildegard of Bingen, LeslĂ©a Newman, Michael Dennis Browne, and Rumi. Passages from Matt’s personal journal, interviews and writings from his parents Judy and Dennis Shepard, newspaper reports and additional texts by Johnson and Browne are poignantly appointed throughout the work. This recent work, premiered to wide acclaim in 2016, offers a universal message of love and hope for a better world. Audiences describe this work as “brilliant,” “powerful,” “innovative,” “dazzling,” and “gripping.” The Bay Area Reporter wrote “it has the richness, depth and complexity to compel repeated hearing, and the power to get you the first time out,” and from the The Washington Post: "Considering Matthew Shepard" demonstrates music’s capacity to encompass, transform and transcend tragedy. Powerfully cathartic, it leads us from horror and grief to a higher understanding of the human condition, enabling us to endure.” The dramatic unfolding includes a breadth of musical styles, ranging from gospel to chant to movements for extended voices. It is a work of uncommon melodic beauty, and consistently has left audiences profoundly moved.

In addition to our main concert repertoire, BCS serves the community by caroling for civic functions and bringing music to various hospitals and nursing homes throughout the area.

The season promises to be a rich and rewarding one, and we look forward to welcoming the new singers who will become part of our group.