Meet the Artists
In May 2010, Dessoff named its newest music director, Chris Shepard.
Tracing its roots back to 1924, when Margarete Dessoff and Angela Diller founded the Adesdi Chorus of women’s voices and, soon after, a mixed chorus called the A Cappella Singers of New York, The Dessoff Choirs continues to make its home in New York City. An independent chorus not affiliated with any religious or community group, Dessoff has established a reputation for pioneering performances of choral works from the Renaissance era through the 21st century. The “s” in Choirs connotes the group’s various ensembles, ranging from the large Symphonic Choir that appears with major orchestras, to the smaller Chamber Choir featured in more intimate works.
In the mid-20th century, Dessoff’s reputation grew throughout the country thanks to a unique and distinguished collection of Renaissance pieces, then little-known, edited by Paul Boepple, who succeeded Margarete Dessoff as music director. Palestrina, Dufay, and Josquin des Pres were but a few of the then rarely-performed composers Dessoff helped acquaint Americans with through the publication of 48 editions in the Dessoff Choir Series and the release of 13 records. Under Maestro Boepple, Dessoff also premiered works by Arthur Honegger, Frank Martin, and George Perle. Michael Hammond continued the tradition of presenting works from different eras, as did Amy Kaiser, who extended the group’s reach to explore non-Western traditions. With Kent Tritle, Dessoff released its first CD, Reflections, on which appear the world premiere of Paul Moravec’s “Songs of Love and War” and works by Robert Convery, John Corigliano, and Ned Rorem, an effort that helped earn the group the 1999 ASCAP/Chorus America Award for Adventurous Programming.
In addition to presenting its own concert series each season, under Kent Tritle Dessoff took part in numerous New York, American, and world premieres by composers such as Philip Glass, Tan Dun, and Sir John Tavener, and collaborated with major ensembles and orchestras. Music director James Bagwell continued to foster that tradition, with appearances in recent seasons ranging from collaborations with the Kronos Quartet and Mark Morris Dance Group to the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, and, in June 2009, the New York Philharmonic in Lorin Maazel’s final performances as music director. Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, the capstone of the Philharmonic’s live recording of the Complete Mahler Symphonies, features The Dessoff Symphonic Choir and is available for download on iTunes. In December 2009, Dessoff released its second CD, Glories on Glories, also available as digital download from multiple online retailers.