RED BANK, MIDDLETOWN: JOY TO THE EARS

shrews-chorale-christ-episcopalNeil F. Brown conducts the Shrewsbury Chorale, above, and Ryan Brandau, below, leads the Monmouth Civic Chorus, as the local vocal organizations present their annual Christmas concerts this Sunday.

director-brandauBlessed as it is with a well-above-average amount of choral voice talent — and numerous, well-established outlets for those voices to be heard — the Greater Red Bank Green is indisputably the area’s epicenter of classic carols and cantatas of Christmas.

And, with the New Jersey Chamber Singers and Tower Hill Choir having had their glorious say this past weekend, two more long-running organizations are on deck to herald the season in their own inimitable way, at a pair of concurrent concert events taking place this Sunday.

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RED BANK: LOCAL ARTS ORGS GET 2017 GRANTS

art-alliance-classThe Art Alliance on Monmouth Street is one of 15 Red Bank area nonprofit entities named as grantees in the Monmouth Arts 2017 ArtHelps program.

Press release from Monmouth County Arts Council

Some two dozen arts groups in Monmouth County — 15 of them based in Red Bank and surrounding communities — have been named by Monmouth Arts as the recipients of their ArtHelps Local Arts Program Grant Awards for Fiscal Year 2017.

Designed to help Monmouth Arts meet its mission to enrich the community by inspiring and fostering the arts, the grants will result in over 3,000 high quality, low cost art events (art exhibitions, concerts, dance, theater, film and festivals) estimated to reach over 800,000 people. The 24 awarded grants totaled $94,500, including $3,500 in mini-grants that will be awarded during the year for smaller arts projects by organizations including new and emerging groups.

The awards were presented at a networking meeting held at House of Independents in Asbury Park on September 21, an event during which Monmouth Arts premiered their new website, and special guest Michael Pilla of Pilla Creative Marketing spoke on building your audience with email marketing and Facebook ads.

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LINCROFT: A 60TH SEASON, A SUMMER SING

Neil F BrownThe 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.

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LINCROFT: A CHORUS OF APPROVAL

Chorale_Group_wo_conductorThe Shrewsbury Chorale is looking to corral some new voices — and for the next two Tuesday evenings, the public is invited to join in the chorus of community.  

It’s one of those local treasures whose activity in the community extends back nearly 60 years, as the Shrewsbury Chorale prepares to embark upon its 59th season of choral classics and popular repertoire, presented in settings that have ranged from the modestly-scaled historic churches of Monmouth County to the National Cathedral in Washington, DC and Carnegie Hall.

For the next couple of Tuesdays, the community arts organization gets back to its roots, extending an invitation to all interested singers to join in a pair of open rehearsals hosted at the Chorale’s regular Tuesday evening rehearsal venue, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County in Lincroft.

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SHREWSBURY CHORALE HEARS YOUR VOICE

Press release from Shrewsbury Chorale

Do you like to sing? Shrewsbury Chorale invites all interested local singers to participate in our Open Rehearsals on September  22 and 29, 2015, from 7:45 to 10 pm. We practice weekly on Tuesday evenings at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County, 1475 West Front Street in Lincroft.

The Chorale is a mixed chorus serving Monmouth County for almost 60 years. As we begin our new season, we welcome  Mark C. Cook as our interim conductor. Mr. Cook is a familiar face to our audiences. He has performed admirably as our accompanist for the past four years. Mr. Cook has accompanied soloists and choral ensembles throughout the United States and Europe. Currently, he serves as Organist/Music Director for the Church in Brielle. We are fortunate to be able to employ his many talents in this new capacity of interim Conductor/Accompanist.

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SHREWSBURY CHORALE WELCOMES NEW VOICES

Press release from The Shrewsbury Chorale

Do you like to sing? The Shrewsbury Chorale, a 50-member mixed chorus under the direction of Anthony LaGruth, invites all interested local singers to participate in Open Rehearsals on the nights of January 6 and 13, 2015.

Scheduled to run from 7:45 to 10 pm, the Tuesday evening sessions take place at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County, 1475 West Front Street in Lincroft.

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AROUND THE GREEN: VOICES HEARD ON HIGH

MCC ChrisMillerAbove: Dr. Ryan Brandau leads the assembled voices of the Monmouth Civic Chorus in the annual Christmas program at the Count Basie Theatre…while the New Jersey Chamber Singers (right) visit Red Bank’s United Methodist Church in one of several choral concerts around the greater Green this weekend. (Top photo by Chris Miller)

NJCSIt’s been said that it just wouldn’t be the Yuletide season in Red Bank without the yearly performance of Handel’s Messiah by the assembled voices of The Monmouth Civic Chorus — and while true, it’s hardly the only occasion for Hallelujahs from fans of choral music this weekend. The fact is, Saturday and Sunday offer not one but four separate choir concerts in and around Red Bank, each a labor of love from the area’s most dedicated vocal artists.

It begins on Saturday evening, December 6, with the annual showcase of Holiday Favorites by Shrewsbury Chorale, in the beautiful setting of St. George’s by the River Episcopal Church (7 Lincoln Avenue in Rumson). It’s a selection of seasonal signatures from the venerable vocal organization, now in its 58th season and directed by Maestro Anthony La Gruth. Tickets, available at the door, are priced at $25 for adults; $20 for seniors and students; $10 for children under 12. For more information, or to reserve discounted advance tickets, call (732)513-8413 — and read on for more.

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LINCROFT: MANY CALLED, SUMMER SINGING

Monmouth-Civic-Chorus.3.16.13Dr. Ryan Brandau (right) and the Monmouth Civic Chorus invite the public to lend their voices to a performance of Mendelssohn’s ELIJAH on August 13 — one of two such Summer Sing events going on at the edges of the Green.

Summer loves may be fleeting — but for two highly acclaimed local choral ensembles, the year-round passion for making music doesn’t take a breather during the season of itchy tuxedos and sweat-stippled score sheets. Within one seven-day interlude, music lovers are invited to step out from the audience and join the assembled voices of their favorite choirs, in a fun seasonal custom known as the Summer Sing.

The democratic look into the magic of music-making starts Wednesday evening, August 13, when Dr. Ryan Brandau and the Red Bank-based Monmouth Civic Chorus host an opportunity to participate in a performance of a choral masterwork last performed by the MCC in 2000 — Felix Mendelssohn’s Elijah, the classic cantata that illuminates the story of the Biblical prophet with some of the  composer’s best-known vocal passages. It takes place at 7:30 pm, just off the edge of the greater Red Bank Green (at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, 112 Middletown Road in Holmdel). No reservations are required, and the admission fee of $5 includes refreshments and loan of the score.

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CHORALE RHAPSODIZING OVER GERSHWIN GALA

It’s being described as a “first of its kind” event for the Shrewsbury Chorale — one that’s got the members of the Lincroft-based vocal ensemble under the baton of Anthony La Gruth “buzzing with excitement.”

It’s a special “Gershwin and Gifts Gala” fundraiser that will crown the Chorale’s 2013-2014 season with an auction of unique gift items, plus catered cuisine by Red Bank’s Buona Sera Ristorante — and, as the name suggests, the music of the great American master George Gershwin.

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JOYOUS, MAJESTIC INDOOR VOICES, PLEASE

A 2010 performance of the Monmouth Civic Chorus, conducted by Mark Shapiro, at the First Presbyterian Church, Red Bank.

It’s a local holiday tradition of which it’s been said, “It won’t be Christmas without it” — and when the voices and instruments of The Monmouth Civic Chorus assemble in Red Bank on the afternoon of December 18, they’ll return once more to a classic oratorio that formed the heart of the very first MCC concert more than 50 years ago, a work that’s become synonymous with the expression of joy and celebration.

When the familiar notes of the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s The Messiah soar toward the grand ceiling of the Count Basie Theatre, however, they’ll carry with them an inaudible but distinctly bittersweet undertone — a realization that the 2011 performance of this seasonal signifier will be the final one under the baton of longtime artistic director Mark Shapiro.

The veteran conductor, who announced his departure effective next spring, has in his 20-plus years at the podium helped the borough-based MCC evolve from a dedicated suburban troupe of “weekend warriors” to an acclaimed and confident force that’s appeared at Carnegie Hall and St. Peter’s Basilica, hosted some top-notch guest soloists — and challenged audiences and vocalists alike with new, unfamiliar, even experimental programming that would be the envy of many big-city chorales.

For the Basie concert, of course, it’s all about the comfort and joy of some favorite holiday choral music — and this coming Saturday and Sunday, lovers of harmonious human voices in all their intricacy and splendor can rejoice in the fact that no less than THREE marvelous organizations will be making some beautiful sounds around the greater Green.

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