The Shrewsbury Chorale welcomes new permanent music director Neil F. Brown — and sounds a keynote to a milestone 60th season — with a public-invited, informal performance of Vivaldi’s “Gloria” on August 16.
In a history highlighted by performances at places like Carnegie Hall and Washington’s National Cathedral, it’s an undeniable milestone: the Diamond Anniversary of the Shrewsbury Chorale, the community arts group that prepares to embark upon its 60th season of choral classics and popular repertoire in 2016.
It’s a season that begins in earnest this coming December, with the chorale’s annual presentation of holiday hymns and carols. But before that, the organization founded back in the 1950’s by Alden Hammond stays attuned to the more casual pace of the current season with an August 16 Summer Sing event that invites everyone who holds a song in their heart, as it welcomes a special person to the podium.
Taking his place at the helm — and officially beginning his tenure as the new, permanent music director — will be Neil F. Brown, the veteran educator and musician who formerly served as Chorale accompanist and later served as guest conductor for the chorale’s March concert and June gift gala.
A director of music ministry at Manasquan’s Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, and a primary school music teacher in Weymouth Township, maestro Brown is described as a leader “who conducts with a clear and expressive style, challenges us to do our best with firmness, but always with good humor.” He takes over officially from his predecessor, Anthony LaGruth, who departed as music director at the end of 2015.
Scheduled for 7:45 p.m. at the chorale’s regular rehearsal venue, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County in Lincroft, the Summer Sing invites the singing community to lend its voices to performance of Vivaldi’s “Gloria.” Scores will be provided, and a $10 donation is requested from all participants.
The “informal read-through” of the Vivaldi masterwork will afford music lovers a chance to meet Brown and accompanist John Balme in an atmosphere of “friendly music making,” and get better acquainted with the organization whose members have been known to offer holiday carols at senior homes, homeless shelters and other facilities, in addition to local businesses (Sickles Market, The Grove, Dearborn Farms) and the outdoor Holiday Harmonies entertainments on the streets of downtown Red Bank.
Through their participation in benefit concerts, Shrewsbury Chorale singers have also helped raise funds for such nonprofits as HABcore, the American Cancer Society, and the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. And while the nonprofit mixed chorus has been invited back for encore visits to Carnegie Hall, it exists first and foremost as a quality setting in which church choir members, music teachers, high school students, retirees and passionate singers from all walks of local life can explore their skills, challenge themselves, and make beautiful music with such orchestras as the Garden State Philharmonic.
Regular rehearsals of the chorale continue at the UUCMC Meetinghouse every Tuesday night (7:45 to 10 p.m.) through the season, with additional open rehearsal sessions offered at various times of the calendar year. To schedule an audition, call Joy More at (732) 216-3907 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.