RED BANK: CHORUS SEEKING SUMMER SINGERS

Press release from Monmouth Civic Chorus

On Wednesday, August 17, the Monmouth Civic Chorus invites singers to a Summer Sing session, inside the air-conditioned United Methodist Church at 247 Broad Street in Red Bank.

Beginning at 7:30 p.m., Dr. Ryan James Brandau will lead the singers in three classics of choral music: “Dona Nobis Pacem” by Ralph Vaughan Williams, “Cantique de Jean Racine” by Gabriel Fauré, and “Ubi Caritas” by Maurice Duruflé. The admission fee of $10 (students $5) at the door includes refreshments and score loan. No advance reservations are needed.

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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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RED BANK: BACK ON THE BLOCK

Block PartyThe Red Bank Community Block Party returns for the annual West Side neighborhood reunion with a slate of events that include a Friday night preview and a Saturday night after-party.

As reported here on redbankgreen, it started as a get-together among a group of longtime Red Bank friends – West Side friends, specifically – who wanted to see each other in a happier sort of setting than just the occasional funeral.

Five years on, the Red Bank Community Block Party has grown from a best-kept-secret affair to one of the most anticipated hometown events of the summer months. And, when the party gets going this weekend, it will extend not only beyond its staked-out block of Drs. James Parker Boulevard, but even beyond the borders of a single Saturday.

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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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