During our fall 2015 and spring 2016 seasons, the Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra will celebrate its 50th anniversary.
We have so much to celebrate: joyful rehearsals with Ming, breathtaking choral masterpieces, a loyal community of singers, growing audiences, dynamic performances accompanied by an outstanding orchestra and thrilling soloists, a conductor mentoring program that has brought us gifted young assistant conductors, highly successful composer competitions, and much more. An exemplar of what a community organization can be, BCCO remains true to its traditions of free concerts and of welcoming singers of all levels and experience, with no auditions. We firmly believe, as we have for 50 years, that everyone should make music!
Our plan for the year is to have fun, provide musical enrichment, and honor our past and present while looking to the future. We hope you — our audience and current and past BCCO members — will join us for music and community events that will highlight the power of making music together. Here are some highlights; watch this site for additional information and details about what’s happening in our 50th anniversary season.
November 8, 2015: Community Sing of Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols
If you haven’t had the chance to sing with Ming, this is a great opportunity to find out how much fun it is. The afternoon event will include a rehearsal and run-through of the Ceremony of Carols, accompanied by harp and piano. Ming will share with us the musical and historical context of one of Britten’s best-loved pieces, led by Ming.
After the sing, there will be a social gathering (involving food, of course) where former BCCO members can reconnect with their old friends and get to know current BCCO singers.
January 8, 9, and 10, 2016: A Celebration of 50 Years of Singing in Community
Our fall concert series will celebrate our musical past as well as the musical seeds that BCCO has planted in the larger community. We’ll perform selections from our repertoire that highlight the eras of Eugene Jones and Arlene Sagan, BCCO’s first two music directors, whose eras spanned 45 years. We remain grateful for Eugene’s founding vision and for Arlene’s fierce commitment to music as everyone’s birthright. We have found in Ming not only a music director who embraces our philosophy, but also a brilliant teacher who ever expands our understanding of the music and of what we can achieve.
We are delighted that at our January 2016 concert series, Joe Liebling, former director of the Oakland Symphony Chorus and our devoted friend and conductor in 2010–11, will guest conduct part of the program. The concert will include a new work, written for our anniversary, by Napa composer Kurt Erickson, winner of our recent Emerging Composer Competition. Also on the program are special performances by our outreach group, the Berkeley Community Chamber Singers; the Berkeley Women’s Community Chorus, led by Debra Golata, a group BCCO is proud to sponsor; and possibly the Berkeley High School Concert Chorale, led by Steffanie Schaeffer, a chorus that BCCO was instrumental in reviving.
Spring 2016: Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem
As the culmination of our 50th year, we will perform Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. The War Requiem is a monumental work, composed to mark the 1962 consecration of the rebuilt cathedral in Coventry, England, which had been destroyed by World War II bombs. Britten — a life-long pacifist and conscientious objector — wove together the Latin text of the requiem mass and poems of World War I poet Wilfred Owen. The resulting piece is a profound reminder of losses suffered in two World Wars and of the cost of war to the individuals and societies that continue to fight them. Leading up to this concert series we will sponsor a number of public events including a lecture series and poetry readings.
The BCCO History Archive
A newly formed archive committee is collecting photos, programs, recordings, and other memorabilia. If you have items to share (we can copy and return them to you), please contact us.
The BCCO StoryChorus
Who better to tell the story of this extraordinary organization than all of you — singers past and present, orchestra members, audience members? The StoryChorus project will ramp up slowly over the next few months, with a full launch for our fall 2015 season. We’ll be gathering stories through the end of our 50th celebration, in June 2016. Please join us and share your story about BCCO — in writing, photographs, video, or audio.