Every year Chorus America honors three choirs, two adult choirs and one youth choir, who have an outstanding commitment to new music. These ensembles do not only regularly program music from the last 25 years, often from living composers, but also perform it at the highest caliber. If these groups aren’t yet on your radar, they certainly should be. You can find great recordings of their work and also lists of new pieces they have programmed and commissioned that merit additional performances.
Few choral groups are such ardent advocates of new vocal music as C4 as every one of their concerts consists of musically exclusively from the last 25 years. The ensemble is uniquely organized as a collective and lacks a single artistic leader, instead, artistic and administrative decisions are made through committees. They actively recruit singers who are also conductors and composers; at any given concert you can catch as many as 10 conductors taking their turn at the podium, and about 1/3 of programs comprise pieces written by members of the group. Not only does this group champion new music, they offer a model for other composers to use as a way of workshopping and performing their own work.
The name clearly states the outstanding quality of this group. For 25 years conductor Harold Rosenbaum (the 2014 recipient of the Ditson Conductor’s Award, established by Columbia University to honor conductors for their support of American music) has led the NY Virtuoso Singers in a critically acclaimed career of excellent choral music. Throughout their history the Virtuoso Singers have had an emphasis on new work from the standard repertoire, as well as regularly commissioning pieces and hosting competitions for emerging talent. Most noteworthy was their series of 25 commissions for their 25th anniversary and two daring concerts consisting exclusively of their premieres.
Like many youth chorus, the Piedmont East Bay Children’s Choir is both an educational institute and performing arts organization. Unlike many youth chorus, however, they are serious advocates of new music and regularly commission work for their ensemble and then take them on tour, vastly increasing the exposure of this work and it’s impact on their composers. Their flagship group ENSEMBLE, lead by artistic director Robert Geary, has commissioned dozens of work for children’s choir.