Mendelssohn Chorus to present spring concert at St. Paul’s Church

by Michael Caruso
Posted 4/18/24

Artistic director Dominick DiOrio will lead the Mendelssohn Chorus of Philadelphia in its first return to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church since December.

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Mendelssohn Chorus to present spring concert at St. Paul’s Church


Artistic director Dominick DiOrio will lead the Mendelssohn Chorus of Philadelphia in its first return to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Chestnut Hill, since its annual “Feast of Carols” concert in December. The performance is set for Saturday, April 27, at 4 p.m.

The program will be anchored by two great works from the choral repertoire: Sir Benjamin Britten’s “Rejoice in the Lamb” and Leonard Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms.” The Britten is set to Christopher Smart’s poetry. The Bernstein was written for the Anglican Cathedral in Chichester, England. It will be performed in its rarely heard chamber music arrangement for organ, harp, percussion and choir. Shorter works by Johannes Brahms, Cesar Franck and Herbert Howells will fill out the bill of fare.

The concert will also feature the church’s director of music, Andrew Kotylo, at its mighty Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ, now nearly completely restored following a multi-year project. For more information visit

Final ‘Five Fridays’

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church will host the final of its acclaimed and beloved “Five Fridays” series of fundraising chamber music recitals April 19 at 7:30 p.m. The featured ensemble is the Puget Sound Piano Trio whose members are violinist Maria Sampen, cellist Alistair MacRae and pianist Ronaldo Rolim.

The Trio will perform Franz Joseph Haydn’s Piano Trio in E major, Felix Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio No. 2 in C minor, and Miguel del Aguila’s “Barroqueada.” For more information visit or

‘Young Musicians” at Woodmere

“Young Musicians Musicales” celebrated its 90th anniversary season with a concert performed at Chestnut Hill’s Woodmere Art Museum Saturday evening, April 6. The program of music composed by Johann Sebastian Bach, Aaron Copland, and Camille Saint-Saens drew an audience that virtually packed Woodmere’s sumptuously resonant Rotunda. 

The concert at Woodmere was a break from YMM’s usual protocol of performing in the houses of patrons and donors who wish to open their private homes to aspiring young musicians and the organization that has supported them since 1933. Now headed by Finnish-born concert pianist and noted pedagogue, Marja Kaisla, the 16 young musicians played their hearts out in challenging chamber music versions of works often heard in fuller symphony arrangements.  

The evening’s opening work was Bach’s Concerto for Two Keyboards in C minor, BWV 1060. The piano soloists were Alyssa Gabrilovich and Jacob Madden, with Ovidiu Marinescu leading the ensemble. Although the score was originally intended for two harpsichord soloists, Gabrilovish and Madden projected Bach’s peerless counterpoint through clarity of texture and focused phrasing. Marinescu accompanied them supportively and securely. 

Most local music lovers are familiar with the full symphony orchestra version of Copland’s “Appalachian Spring,” originally composed in 1942 for Martha Graham. Originally it was intended for a mere 13 players, including piano. Hearing in that arrangement Saturday evening was a revelation. The score is both more contrapuntal and jazzier than that which one hears when it’s performed by more than 80 players. Its rendition at Woodmere was highlighted by the splendid playing of 14-year-old pianist Paavo Toikka, a student of Kaisla.

Wrapping up the celebration was a spirited performance of Saint-Saens’ ever-delightful “Carnival of the Animals.”

‘A Secret Fire’

The Sylvan Consort of Viols, joined by soprano Laura Heimes and lutenist Mark Rimple, presented “A Secret Fire” Sunday afternoon, April 7, in the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Rosemont. Together they performed a program of late Renaissance and early Baroque music for gut-strung viols – the predecessors of the modern violin family of metal string instruments – including songs featuring Heimes and nearly always accompanied gently yet solidly by Rimple.

The music of composers such as William Byrd, Thomas Morley, John Dowland, Henry Purcell and Orlando Gibbons was heard through stylistic interpretations that caught the transparency of texture and eloquence of phrasing of songs that enhanced the aristocratic life of the late 16th and early 17th centuries in England and France. The ensemble, balance and blend of the strings were immaculate. Heimes’ delicately expressive soprano never faltered in the purity of her tuning or the efficacy of her projection of the often fragility of the poetry that stood behind the music.

The Church of the Good Shepherd, built in the gothic revival style that evokes the Anglican parish churches in every Anthony Trollope novel, also recalls their acoustics – warm, clear and resonant. It’s the perfect venue for small ensembles of period instruments. The next program in the series is “In Praise of Mary: Chants and Improvisations” with Ruth Cunningham. For more information visit

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