GSS had many
millennium projects, including performing composers born at the turn
of the 20th Century — Aaron Copland, Kurt Weill,
Ernst Krenek and George Antheil. Three new CDs were released: Music
of Lukas Foss, Like Shining and Music of Brian Schober. GSS again
became an opera chorus, performing in the Berkshire Opera Company
production of Bellini’s I Capuleti e I Montecchi (a
version of Romeo and Juliet). The Singers acquitted themselves
wonderfully and had splendid reviews.
birthday year. In May, GSS premiered Gregg’s children’s
opera The Dreameater with Barry Solowey’s Central Park
East Elementary Choir — the final project of a 5-year
Annenberg grant. David Hancock, dear friend and long-time GSS
recording engineer, died from Parkinson’s. The first concert
of the 30th year of our New York Concert Series opened
with Gregg’s poignant setting of Nancy Murphy’s text In
Memoriam — 9/11/01.
Our New York
Concert Series continued to feature Gregg’s music. GSS made
what was to be their last tour — several concerts in North
In March GSS began
a long-awaited Ives project with sponsorship from the Charles Ives
Society, recording several of Ives early church works from the 1890s
when he was still a very young man. In May, St. Mary’s
College, the sister college of Notre Dame awarded Gregg an honorary
In March GSS sang
the New York premiere of Gregg’s Emily’s Autumn,
a cycle of five Emily Dickinson settings. In June Chorus America
honored Gregg with the Louis Botto award for entrepreneurial spirit.
In accepting this $5,000 award, Gregg said “I never thought
of myself as being entrepreneurial, but I guess since the Gregg
Smith Singers are nearly 50 years old, I must be!”
Anniversary Year. Nearly 100 of our wonderful former singers
re-united in November for a special weekend of celebration. We sang
a concert of GSS “Signature works” with the current GSS
and, in the 2nd half, with GSS past and present.
Mendelssohn’s Heilig and Ives Psalm 90 were highlights. Of
course we ended with Gregg’s Now I walk in Beauty.
50th Anniversary celebration, GSS presented a Concert of
Commissions in January with ten new works written for GSS. In April
we joined with LISCA, Gregg’s Community Chorus in a long-time
GSS favorite, the Monteverdi Vespers of 1610. July marked
the 34th and final summer of the Adirondack Festival of
exclusively in NYC, GSS Concert Series presented two concerts
opening with Bach motets and featuring new American music. We
recorded Ned Rorem’s NEA-commissioned 50th
Anniversary Four Sonnets for Chorus and Piano which became the title
work of GSS’ 2nd Living Artists CD “I Am In
Need Of Music” released in November.
GSS received its
largest-ever NEA grant — $70,000 which we miraculously matched
— to present in April an American Masterpieces Festival called
THE GREGG SMITH SINGERS LEGACY — Celebrating the American
Masterpieces commissioned, recorded and performed over 50 years —
a symbolic passing of the torch to choruses of today: Cantori New
York, Saint Peter’s Church Choir, LISCA, and of tomorrow:
Syracuse Children’s Chorus. These five choirs including GSS sang
four concerts in three days.
Our March concert
was sung in memory of Lukas Foss, Gregg’s teacher at UCLA who
had often written for GSS, and of Edmund Najera, long time
singer/composer member of GSS. Thomas Schmidt became GSS’
associate conductor, sharing rehearsals and concerts with Gregg. In
December GSS’ long-awaited Virgil Thomson CD will be released
by Albany Records.