WMC Receives NEA Art Works Grant

For immediate release
December 8, 2015
Contact: Joseph F. Gradisher

Washington Master Chorale Receives National Endowment for the Arts Grant

  • National Endowment for the Arts Awards More Than $27.6 Million Across Nation
  • Includes $10,000 awarded to the Washington Master Chorale

(Washington, DC) — In its first 50 years, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) awarded more than $5 billion in grants to recipients in every state and U.S. jurisdiction, the only arts funder in the nation to do so. Today, the NEA announced awards totaling more than $27.6 million in its first funding round of fiscal year 2016, including an Art Works award of $10,000 to the Washington Master Chorale for its planned Spring 2017 “Time and Memory” performance, which will include the premier of a newly-commissioned work by composer Jennifer Higdon.

The Washington Master Chorale is a Washington, D.C.-based choir of sixty voices, comprised of both volunteer and professional singers. The Chorale was founded in 2009 with the goals of increasing public awareness of choral music as art and contributing to the American choral cannon by facilitating the creation of new choral works of the highest caliber. Under Artistic Director Thomas Colohan, the Chorale has quickly built a reputation throughout the region for vocal excellence and discriminating concert programing.

The Art Works category supports the creation of work and presentation of both new and existing work, lifelong learning in the arts, and public engagement with the arts through 13 arts disciplines or fields.

NEA Chairman Jane Chu said, “The arts are part of our everyday lives – no matter who you are or where you live – they have the power to transform individuals, spark economic vibrancy in communities, and transcend the boundaries across diverse sectors of society. Supporting projects like the one from the Washington Master Chorale offers more opportunities to engage in the arts every day.”

“Our ‘Time and Memory’ project will explore the theme of nostalgia expressed in both poetry and music, and will feature the world premiere performance of a new work for chorus and chamber ensemble by Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Jennifer Higdon,” according to Maestro Colohan.

The concert will also feature John Corigliano’s “Fern Hill,” on text by Dylan Thomas, Samuel Barber’s “Knoxville: Summer of 1915, Op. 24,” on texts by James Agee, and Imant Raminsh’s “Songs of the Lights,” based on Native American texts.

Plans also include a pre-concert conversation with the composer, as well as a video interview/podcast on the chorus’s website. The concert will be presented at The Church of the Epiphany in downtown Washington, DC.

“We’re thrilled and gratified that the NEA chose to support the Washington Master Chorale and this exciting new work,” noted Maestro Colohan.

Added Washington Master Chorale Board of Directors Chair Diane Kresh, “We are grateful to the NEA for supporting the commissioning of new choral music. The healing power of music has been well-documented. It is our hope that ‘Time and Memory’ will bring solace to a discordant world.”

This holiday season, the Washington Master Chorale will present its winter concert on Sunday, December 20 at 4 p.m., at the historic Church of the Epiphany in Washington, D.C. The concert will include an afternoon of time-burnished carols, motets, folk ballads, shape-note hymns, and chants ranging from Medieval to modern times. This year’s annual holiday concert will feature Three Nativity Carols for chorus, oboe and harp by the late Stephen Paulus. A giant among 20th-century American composers, Paulus draws from medieval musical idioms and texts to convey both the mystery and joy of Christ’s birth.

Continuing its celebration of newly commissioned choral music, the Chorale will premiere Russell Nadel’s “Early Winter Tree.”  This artful interweaving of harp and voices, with a text by American lyric poet Sara Teasdale, evokes both winter’s time of loss and the inevitability of spring’s rebirth.  Of course no Washington Master Chorale concert would be complete without several selections from “Carols for Choirs,” the masterful compilation of songs edited by the late Sir David Willcocks, arguably the most influential choirmaster of his generation.

For more information on the Washington Master Chorale, including ticket information for the winter concert, visit www.washingtonmasterchorale.org.

For a complete listing of projects recommended for Art Works grant support, visit the NEA website at arts.gov. Follow the conversation about this and other NEA‐funded projects on Twitter at #NEAFall15.