Crescendo is a national award-winning music performance organization. For fifteen years, Crescendo has presented concerts in northwestern Connecticut, the Berkshires, New York City, and New York’s mid-Hudson Valley. Its choral singers include highly-trained amateurs and local professionals. Many of its soloists and instrumentalists are internationally-known musicians.
Founder and Artistic Director, Christine Gevert, is celebrated for her innovative approach to programming and performance. Crescendo’s audiences are often rewarded with programs of rarely-heard and newly discovered works. Often Ms. Gevert uses original manuscripts to make her own performing editions for chorus, soloists and orchestra because there are no existing published editions. Crescendo has presented ten U.S. premieres.In 2014 Crescendo won the prestigious Chorus America/ASCAP Alice Parker Award for Adventurous Programming.
Early Music: The core of Crescendo’s repertoire is early music from the Renaissance and Baroque eras that extends far beyond the standard repertoire, including historically informed productions of large-scale choral works. Many of these are rarely performed works by German, Polish, Czech, Italian, Spanish and Argentinian composers, such as members of the Bach family and their German contemporaries, and Pękiel, Biber, Zelenka, Torri, Torrejón y Velasco and Zipoli, whose works Crescendo premiered in the U.S.
Latin American Music: Crescendo’s commitment to Latin American music stands out from other regional music ensembles. Ms. Gevert has introduced audiences to Baroque and Colonial Era Latin American music, to Incan chant, and to combining Andean folk instruments with classical period instruments. Contemporary works by young com-posers from Chile, Brazil, and Argentina, as well as her own arrangements and compositions are also programmed. Crescendo presented the U.S. premiere of a folk mass by contemporary Chilean composer, Jaime Soto León. This past December, in partnership with Ensemble El Fuego, Crescendo celebrated the artistry of the Mexican nun Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, a renowned 17th century philosopher, composer and poet.
Contemporary and 20th Century Music: Crescendo’s programs have included a jazz mass by Dave Brubeck and innovative and even challenging experimental productions that merge jazz and early music styles. A multimedia production of Totentanz by Hugo Distler, which combined music, dance, narration, and projected animation, received international recognition when a film of the performance was shown at a conference in Florence, Italy in 2008. Composers such as the Norwegian-American Ola Gjeilo, the Chilean Javier Farías and the Americans Eric Whitacre, Alice Parker, Robert Shaw, and Jonny Priano have been featured in programs.
Commissions: The program for which Crescendo won its national award included its first commissioned works, West Lake Cycle, by John Myers and Five Elements, by Cheng-Chia Wu. They were performed in 2013 as part of the program “New and Ancient Voices: Interpreting Nature in China and the U.S.” much of which was sung in Mandarin Chinese. In 2016 Crescendo premiered Juan Mesa’s Three Choral Fantasias on Shakespeare Quotes by Juan Mesa.
Also, in 2016, Crescendo embarked on a year-long collaboration with composer John Myers, the Norman Rockwell Museum and the Berkshire Children’s Chorus. Myers’ multimedia work, Paintings in Song, premiered at Saint James Place on April 1, 2017 garnering much critical praise.
It has continued to be performed at the museum and at other venues. The work features choruses, instrumentalists, and graphic animation and celebrates Norman Rockwell’s timeless images in a musical setting, highlighting the continued relevance of the cultural values represented in nine of his paintings including the iconic Four Freedoms.
Crescendo recently collaborated with composers Jonny Priano, Juan Mesa, and Cheng-Chia Wu, and poets Frances Roth, Bruce McEver and Juliet Mattila for modern settings of Psalm 116, as part of “The Mystical 16” performances.
Founding Artistic Director Christine Gevert has conducted and performed in the U.S, South America, and Europe and has recorded for Carpe Diem and Alerce labels.
Her performance and teaching work in the U.S., Chile and Germany has focused on early music, organ, harpsichord, choral and orchestral conducting, Baroque vocal technique and composition. In recent years she has been invited to give solo recitals in France, Poland, Chile and Bolivia and has appeared at Early Music Festivals throughout the Eastern U.S. She has also performed in Boston, New York City and Washington DC, including appearances at the Brooklyn Beat Festival, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and St. Bartholomew’s Church.
Ms. Gevert has authored and published more than eighty historical basso continuo realizations with the Swiss music publisher, Amadeus Verlag.
She holds a master’s degree in organ and early music performance from the Hochschule für Musik and Theater in Hamburg, Germany, a bachelor’s degree in music theory from the Universidad de Chile, and she studied choral and orchestral conducting in Berlin, and harpsichord in London.
Concerts feature primarily Crescendo’s own ensembles:
The Crescendo Chorus, a group of 25 to 50 auditioned amateur and professional singers; the Crescendo Vocal Ensemble, a select group of singers from the chorus; the Crescendo Period Instrument Orchestra of professional musicians, mostly from the East Coast; and the Crescendo Ensemble of Andean Instruments. These are joined on a regular basis by distinguished internationally-acclaimed soloists such as
soprano Julianne Baird and countertenor Nicholas Tamagna.
CRESCENDO’S CONNECTION TO ITS COMMUNITY
Crescendo places a high value on its close relationship to the local community. An essential part of its mission is to offer skilled amateur singers opportunities to participate in performances of professional quality and to perform music in a wide variety of musical genres, periods, and cultural origins. Crescendo also gives young professionals
from our local region the chance to work with internationally-recognized artists and to perform as soloists, thus giving them career-building opportunities they would otherwise have only in Boston or New York.
Special outreach concerts have also been given to connect with cultural segments of our communities, such as the Polish community in Torrington, CT and the Latin American communities in Great Barrington, MA, Hartford, CT and Annandale-on-Hudson (Bard College), NY.
Crescendo has attracted a loyal audience, and its concerts are frequently filled to capacity.
CRESCENDO’S COMMITMENT TO EDUCATION
Education is a core part of Crescendo’s mission and its programming. We have offered programs for young musicians – both for instrumentalists, and for singers. Our most recent program, the “Young Baroque Artists” in 2017 featured four extraordinarily talented teenage singers alongside four professional singers. The young singers received individual coaching for a complete academic year. Chorus rehearsals include detailed analysis of the works and their historical context. The Artistic Director gives talks in our communities about upcoming concerts and other musical subjects. The illustrated concert programs help place the music within the context of art and social history and include the complete text of vocal music in both English and original language.
The Artistic Director and members of Crescendo have visited high schools to introduce them to new musical formats and traditions. Talented local teenagers have coached individually with the Artistic Director and have joined the Crescendo Chorus and Vocal Ensemble concerts.