News & Archives

This is where you'll find the latest news about the choir, so check back here often to keep track of us. We also post on Facebook, Twitter - plenty of ways to keep in touch with us!


Latest News for the 2018 - 2019 Season

 

The 39th Annual Peddler’s Village Scarecrow Festival Welcomes Sabrina Sunshine Sisterly Love

September, 2018

Sabrina Sunshine Sisterly Love is the Choral Society’s entry for this year’s competition. She is standing proudly outside the Surf & Turf restaurant in Peddler's Village. Sabrina is a flower child from the 1970s. Many thanks go to Valorie Wigen for coming up with the concept, and putting in all the long hours creating this vibrant scarecrow. Sabrina really catches the eye!!

We encourage the Choral Society’s fans, extended family, and the general public to vote for Sabrina. Voting is done according to each scarecrow's number and category. Sabrina is number 10 in the group category, as you can see from the yellow tag on her left arm. Ballots are available in all shops and restaurants. Please drop your completed submission in ballot boxes located in the Cock 'n Bull, Giggleberry Fair Indoor Family Fun Center, Buttonwood Grill and at our Hospitality Center. THINGS TO REMEMBER: Ballots are not valid without your name, address and email address. No ballots will be accepted by mail. One vote per category, per person. Voting closes on Monday, October 8, 2018.

 

 


PRESS RELEASE
BUCKS COUNTY CHORAL SOCIETY ANNOUNCES “SUMMER SING”
Featuring Handel’s Israel in Egypt
AND AUDITIONS FOR NEW SEASON – Tuesday, August 21, 2018

July 19, 2018

Bucks County Choral Society performing with the Philadelphia Master Chorale and Korean drummers.

Doylestown, PA – The Bucks County Choral Society will host a “Summer Sing” with Handel’s exciting oratorio Israel in Egypt on Tuesday evening, August 21, at 7:30 pm at Lenape Valley Presbyterian Church, located at 321 W. Butler Avenue, New Britain, PA. Choral Society Artistic Director, Thomas Lloyd, will conduct the event.

The event is open to all free of charge, and music scores will be available for attendees to borrow at the door. Additionally, the Choral Society invites experienced singers looking for a choir to join are encouraged to attend and sign up for auditions to be held in early September.

The Choral Society’s 2018-2019 Season will feature Handel’s Israel in Egypt, with the acclaimed baroque orchestra Tempesta di Mare; a traditional Christmas program with the Fairmount Brass, the modern regional premier of César Franck’s late Romantic masterwork, The Beatitudes, with Symphony in C, and Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts, with the Jay Fluellen Jazz Ensemble. 

To sign up for an audition, click here for our auditions page!


MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS DONATED TO STUDENTS IN CUBA
By Lisa Landley

July 20, 2018

The Guillermo Tomás Conservatory provides instruction on more than 20 types of instruments to approximately 300 students in third grade through high school. Students are accepted by audition and are placed on a professional track in music along with regular academic studies. Many graduates become professional musicians and/or instructors. The school is currently working toward developing their jazz band program and in recent years has received donations from the New York-based program, Horns to Havana, and has received visits from high profile musicians such as Wynton Marsalis.

My contact with the school began in 2011, at which time I toured the school and donated several instruments. I became interested in the Cuban music education system following my participation in the first annual CORHABANA festival in 2000 with Philadelphia’s Singing City Choir. I decided to investigate Cuba’s music education system with the purpose of conducting preliminary research for a future dissertation topic. I returned to Cuba in 2009 on a teacher tour and was fortunate to meet tour guide and former teacher, Tatiana Rodriguez, who helped me arrange visitations in 2011 at Guillermo Tomás Conservatory, the school at Las Terrazas, and the fine arts community center, Casa del Niño y la Niña, in Havana.

Students, Staff, and BCCS Visitors at Guillermo Tomás Conservatory

During my trip in 2011, Tatiana arranged for me to observe a class of 6 and 7 year- old aspiring musicians taught by a music teacher in her home in preparation for auditions at Havana’s music schools. Also participating in this class was Tatiana’s 4 year- old son, Ivan Daniel, who delighted everyone by singing a Cuban song. I happened to have a ¼ size violin with me, which I offered to Tatiana for Ivan’s use. I must digress here to include another key event that took place at this class: the music teacher’s 13-year-old daughter, Roxanna, had played a flute solo for us, demonstrating advanced technique for her age. Her mother explained that the flute was not her own but was on loan from her school. It happened that the other instrument I had brought with me to donate was a flute, which I pulled out of my bag and presented to Roxanna. Roxanna’s mother invited everyone to an outdoor concert in Havana the next day where, to my surprise, Roxanna was the soloist with her middle school jazz band – and she was playing in public for the first time on her very own flute – the one I had given her! She played beautifully and proudly posed for photos afterward with her new instrument; needless to say, this was a very special moment!

I visited Cuba again in 2015 and brought a ¾ size violin for Ivan in addition to other instruments (including 2 xylophones!) that Tatiana delivered to the schools for us. In 2016 I received an important e-mail from Tatiana: Ivan had passed the audition at Guillermo Tomás and was admitted as a violin major. However, he still did not possess his own instrument; students at Cuban music schools typically do not own their own instruments; rather they borrow them from the school, and sometimes share them with others. So, I made plans to bring a full-size violin for Ivan on our BCCS choir tour. In view of my history with Tatiana and Ivan, with his journey toward a successful conservatory audition, you can perhaps imagine how it felt to finally present Ivan with his very own violin, donated by my son.

Following my reunion with Tatiana at the Presidente Hotel on July 3rd, while the rest of the choir was settling in and having lunch, Tatiana took four of us to visit the Conservatory where we delivered 4 clarinets, 2 flutes, a viola, a ¼ size violin, 22 Yamaha recorders, plus accessories such as reeds, strings, brass mouthpieces, rosin, and various school supplies. Robert Landley, Fay Manicke, and Carl Yaffe helped transport the donations and we all enjoyed a visit with school staff and students as well as a brief tour of the school. That evening, Tatiana brought Ivan and his grandmother to our concert at the Museo Nacional de Bella Artes, which she described as “magical.”

My sincere thanks to all tour members who donated instruments and supplies: Soomi Amagasu, Oliver Flint, Dawn Irwin, Fay Manicke, Ron Matthews, Nancy Plum, Laura Steere, Rick Wigen, and Carl Yaffe. Thanks also to the music stores who donated supplies at my request: Music & Arts in Doylestown, Hunterdon Music in Flemington, NJ, and to Sam Ash Music for their discount on a case of rosin, in short supply at Cuban music schools. I know from personal experience how much these donations will mean to students who will use them to pursue their dreams.


BASEBALL EQUIPMENT TO CUBA
By Raighne Kirk

July 20, 2018

Charles Hasting presents bases to the Plaza de la Revolution baseball team.

On the day following the 4th of July, in Cuba, Bucks County Choral Society helped both countries’ interest in Baseball with supplies. The primary carrier was tenor Charles Hastings, who had already made a lasting impression on tour members and Cuban citizens with his fluent interpretation skills. Baseballs, mitts, bases and a home plate were stuffed into the cases of various choir members, hoping to donate them to a local team encountered along our tour. Enrique Núñez Diaz, a programmer of Cuban music events and all around extra tour guide for Cuban Culture, knew who to go to.

Enrique picked Charles and Raighne up in his Purple Lada car, and drove off with two cases full of the supplies. We went to the Plaza de la Revolution district in Havana and Charles Hastings presenting baseball equipment to the Plaza team met the Plaza team, young athletic boys who were very surprised by the encounter. Charles and Enrique explained our intent, and coach Raidel approached us with graciousness. Raidel was given three bases and a home plate, each player two baseballs and a bat, while the catcher was handed a mask and chest protector. Charles had blank trophies to give as well, but Raidel instructed us to go to the Sports Municipality of Plaza de la Revolution, as they would engrave and distribute them. Enrique drove us to the delegation, where Charles and Raighne were asked to spell their names so that we could be announced to the teams who receive the trophies. The emotional high we were on after this morning’s jaunt was possible through Enrique’s contacts and Charles’ determination to leave a small mark on a well-worn field.


PRESS RELEASE
BUCKS COUNTY CHORAL SOCETY PERFORMS WITH CHOIRS IN CUBA

July 21, 2018

A delegation of 66 singers and family members of the Bucks County Choral Society (BCCS) participated in a ten-day, people-to-people cultural exchange program in the Republic of Cuba from June 30 to July 8.

Over 18-months in the planning, the ten-day tour centered around four concerts; two in collaboration with professional, nationally known Cuban choirs, and two workshops conducted by the maestros of the celebrated choirs. Repertoire for the Cuban concerts, coordinated by Choral Society Artistic Director, Thomas Lloyd, was performed for local audiences on June 2 and 3 at Delaware Valley University with special guest Rolando Morales-Matos and his Latin jazz ensemble as the final concert—¡Música Latina!—of the Choral Society's 2017–2018 season.

The program was comprised of six African-American spirituals, three American musical-theater selections, four Cuban choral works and a fifth piece by American composer Shawn Kirchner sung in Spanish with text by the Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda. The two collaborative concerts included sets by the Matanzas Chamber Choir directed by José Antonio Méndez and Coro Entrevoces (a select chamber choir of the Coro National de Cuba) conducted by Digna Guerra. Each concluded with the choirs in mixed formation and the Cuban directors and Thomas Lloyd taking turns directing pieces in Spanish and English. Remarks from the American choir were delivered in Spanish throughout the programs by Lloyd and translated by Choral Society tenor Charles Hastings.

Reflecting on the tour after returning, Lloyd said, "The Cuban singers and audiences were always right there with us, whether it was enthusiastically supporting our halting attempts to get the right 'feel' for complex Latin rhythms or sharing the haunting melodies of the spirituals or the familiar refrains of West Side Story and Oklahoma. Their choirs were able to be both very precise and rhythmically 'loose' at the same time. The warmth of their smiles and enthusiasm for singing were infectious. As visitors we were never treated like strangers!"

Choral Society soprano, Lisa Landley of New Hope, a visitor to Cuba four times while working on her doctoral program, chaired the local planning committee in conjunction with Denver based, KI Concerts, a travel company specializing in overseas travel itineraries and concert arrangements for performing arts organizations. Accompanying Thomas Lloyd and the choir on this historical tour were Choral Society Board of Directors chair, Louis White, his wife Libby (the former Mayor of Doylestown), former Board secretary, Pat Valentine (now living in Williamsport, PA) and KI Concerts CEO, Oliver Scofield. Shirley Piercy, an original member of the Choral Society now living in Florida, rejoined the group for this long-anticipated venture.

At the time the Choral Society contracted with KI Concerts, two other American choirs were scheduled to visit Cuba in advance of the Bucks County group, but fluctuating political circumstances caused those choirs to withdraw. The Choral Society remained resolute and Scofield was delighted to join the choir for his first visit to the island nation to oversee touring logistics with the Cuban contacts he had arranged long distance.

The choir performed a concert at Matanzas' largest Catholic Church after a Sunday Mass for a capacity audience less than 24 hours after arriving in Cuba, and a collaborative concert the next evening with Maestro Méndez, who earlier led the choir in a workshop at Sala White, one of the city’s restored historic theaters. While in Matanzas, the American choir members provided baseballs, bats, gloves and a complete set of bases to a youth sports league.

The remainder of the tour was spent in Havana, with tours and free time in Old Havana as well as the planned musical activities. The choir sang a workshop with Maestra Guerra at the headquarters of the Coro Nacional de Cuba, which she has led since 1975. They sang two public concerts in Havana, one at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de Cuba and a final concert with Maestra Guerra and her Entrevoces choir at the historic Iglesia de San Francisco de Paula. Singers also visited the American novelist Ernest Hemingway’s home and had a tour and conversation with international artist Lester Campa, at his residence and studio in the eco-village community of Las Terrazas. Campa, whose work is on display in New York City and in galleries and museums throughout Europe and South America, spoke about his techniques and philosophy of art and delighted the visitors with his high praise for the Philadelphia Art Museum and The Barnes Foundation.

Upon arriving in Havana, a group from the choir visited a music conservatory and gifted them with musical instruments (violins, clarinets, a flute) and packages of strings for guitars and violins, which are almost impossible to get on the island. One-third of the group had pre-arranged to extend the tour for two days and traveled three hours south of Havana to experience the agricultural region of the island when the concerts were concluded. The square mileage of Cuba is roughly the same as Pennsylvania.

Singers found the warm and welcoming reception by the Cuban people, hotel staffs and the audiences inspiring. The friendships forged with the three Cuban guides on the buses, the shared stories of how our lives differ and are similar, and the opportunities to interact with Cuban citizens made for a memorable and rewarding experience. Singers are presently compiling anecdotes and stories of their experiences when they moved about individually or in small groups.

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