Classic Choral Society and featured artists for Spring 2018 concerts

Hear Classic Choral Society's "Unheard Of" Program!

Reprinted with kind permission of Barry Plaxen, DH Canvas, April 2018

“Our focus is the modern-ness of the music, not the ages of the poetry.

“It’s those two Norwegian composers I want our audiences to hear (and love!).”
So spaketh Janiece Kohler, the formidable Artistic Director of Classic Choral Society (CCS), “since Walter Latzko passed the CCS baton to me, close to 30 years ago now.”

She is speaking about the words of...

“St. Augustine of Hippo (born in 354 AD in Algeria) set to music by a Norwegian guy who is younger than anybody in CCS, good ol’ William Shakespeare set to music by a famous contemporary jazz pianist, Rudyard Kipling set to music by Eric Whitacre, and the UK’s Euan Tait and St. Augustine set to music by Kim Andre Arnesen and Ola Gjeilo.

Euan Tait’s aim as a librettist is to write words that are a powerful catalyst for music, with strong choral architecture, and which speak in the widest possible way for the spiritual longings of a very diverse society. “I delight in writing for choral composers, and love to offer new words for composers to enjoy shaping into their own music.”

...and she’s speaking about the music of:

Kim AndrĂ© Arnesen (b.1980) is a Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo was born in Norway in 1978 and moved to the U.S. in 2001 to begin his composition studies at the Juilliard School. His setting of the Gloria from the Latin Mass will also be performed for the women’s chorus and 4-hand piano. “Bill Powers is the tenor saxophone soloist on Gjeilo’s Evening Prayer (and it calls for improvisation on his part, too).”

Eric Whitacre writes, “The White Seal is a beautiful story, classic Kipling, dark and rich and not at all condescending to kids. Best of all, Kipling begins his tale with the mother seal singing softly to her young pup. I was struck so deeply by those first beautiful words, and a simple, sweet Disney-esque song just came gushing out of me.”

“Piano is a BIG part throughout our program,” continued Kohler. “Hudson Valley favorite Ruthanne Schempf is the featured pianist. She’s not merely serving as an accompanist - that’s for sure. I’m especially anxious to hear her interpretation of Gjeilo’s Ubi Caritas that the composer transcribed from his own piano improvisation.”

Ubi Caritas was originally an a cappella piece, a hymn of the Western Church, long used as one of the antiphons for the washing of feet on Maundy Thursday. The original a capella Gregorian melody was composed sometime between the 4th and 10th centuries, though some scholars believe the text dates from early Christian gatherings before the formalization of the Mass.

Joining Ruthanne to make four piano hands for Gjeilo’s Gloria is Jonathan B. Hall, new Minister of Music at Goshen’s First Presbyterian Church, sure to become another favorite,” Kohler concluded. And that’s not all! “There’s the Bard’s Songs and Sonnets by the blind Jazz piano legend Sir George Shearing for chorus, piano and string bass, with Analise Reed on bass,” Kohler added.

The CCS Spring Concerts are at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 58 W. Main Street, Middletown, April 28 at 7:00 pm and Blooming Grove United Church of Christ, 2 Old Dominion Road, Blooming Grove, May 6 at 4:00 pm. Admission is free, good will donations are welcomed. Call 845-713-4543 for information.

Read more

Panera Fundraiser - March 12, 2018


What we do for the love of music

Did you know that although we may sound like professionals (and indeed some of us are or have been), all of the singers with Classic Choral Society are unpaid volunteers?  However, there’s very little that’s "free" in presenting a concert.  The wonderful instrumentalists who accompany us are paid professionals; then there are music licensing and rental expenses, as well as insurance and other supplies that add up.

Yet, for nearly 60 years, we remain committed to bringing first-class choral music performances to the Hudson Valley – FREE OF CHARGE.  To accomplish this, we always spend time fundraising to make it all possible. 

Please contact one of our members before Monday, April 23, to place your order.  You can place your order at   We will acknowledge your order with instructions on how to make a payment through our website via PayPal.  Payment is due before the order can be placed.  There must be a plant or two of your liking that you can enjoy while supporting one of our region's oldest and most respected performing arts organizations.  

 Wessels Fundraiser Plant Selection
 Wessels Fundraiser Order Form
 Wessels Fundraiser - Price Chart 

Plants will be available for pickup on Tuesday, May 8, 2018, between 4:30pm - 6:30pm at Blooming Grove United Church of Christ.  Other arrangements may be made in advance of pickup date.  If you order 6 plants or more a CCS member will deliver the plants to you.  Local orders please, thank you.  


Latest News

  • This is our biggest fundraiser of the year!
    Classic Choral Society- Spring 2018 Plant Sale

    ... Read more
More news