The Crossing heads outdoors for premiere of ‘Farming’

by Michael Caruso
Posted 6/15/23

Donald Nally and The Crossing will present the world premiere of Ted Hearne’s “Farming” outdoors at Kings Oaks Farm in Newtown, Bucks County, June 22-25. The Grammy Award-winning …

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The Crossing heads outdoors for premiere of ‘Farming’


Donald Nally and The Crossing will present the world premiere of Ted Hearne’s “Farming” outdoors at Kings Oaks Farm in Newtown, Bucks County, June 22-25. The Grammy Award-winning choir, founded and conducted by Nally, a resident of Germantown, makes its home in the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill.

Ashley Tata will direct this stirring new work by Ted Hearne Thursday, June 22, at 7:30 p.m., Friday, June 23, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 24, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, June 25, at 7:30 p.m.. Casual attire – comfortable clothes, layers, and hiking shoes -- are recommended. Seating will be on wooden benches and similar surfaces.

Written for and commissioned by The Crossing with support from the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, “Farming” is scored for 24 vocalists accompanied by guitars, percussion and electronics. Hearne has been working on “Farming” for several years, and it showcases his stylistic eclecticism, pulsating rhythms, and dynamic energy.

“Farming” began as a work about food, farming, money, and the environment. It evolved into a large-scale production about land and its ownership, transfer, and labor. The presentation incorporates lighting, sound and costume design, along with a six-piece band.

Born in Chicago in 1982, Hearne is a composer, singer, bandleader, and recording artist. His career has been inspired by the overlay of different viewpoints and their subsequent sonic possibilities. He has created personal and multi-dimensional works that explore unconventional interactions of texts and music. They often project a sense of intellectual and artistic inquiry.

Hearne’s canon of music includes “Sound from the Bench,” “Place,” “The Source,” “A 24-Decade History of Popular Music,” and “Dorothea.”  

 Donald Nally and The Crossing have been at the forefront of promoting newly composed choral music. They have collaborated with some of the leading musical ensembles in the country and have performed in some of its most high-profile venues. Locally, The Crossing has worked with Lyric Fest and Piffaro. The choir has also performed with the New York Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, two of the most acclaimed symphony orchestras in the world. They have appeared locally in the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill and the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. Recently they performed at Lincoln Center’s Geffen Hall in New York City and Disney Hall in Los Angeles.

For more information about The Crossing’s performances of “Farming,” visit

‘Changing of the Guard’

After 37 years of service, East Fall’s K. James McDowell is stepping down as president and artistic director of the Academy of Vocal Arts. He will be succeeded by Scott Guzielek, who has served as vice president and general manager since 2019. AVA, located at 1920 Spruce St. in Center City, is the nation’s only full-scholarship postgraduate school dedicated solely to the training of professional singers.

An alumnus of both the Curtis Institute of Music and AVA, McDowell had led the school since 1986. His tenure has seen the purchase of the two adjoining properties on Spruce Street to the east of the original townhouse AVA has occupied for the past 88 years. He has worked strenuously to increase the size of AVA’s endowment and establish fellowships for all of the school’s students. He successfully sought accreditation for AVA’s curriculum with the National Association of Schools of Music.

Speaking of his retirement, McDowell said, “As I turn the page and embark on my life’s next chapter, I wish to express my deepest gratitude to AVA. It’s been an honor and a privilege, and I know that I am leaving the organization in excellent hands with Scott.”

Guzielek worked closely with McDowell to negotiate the difficult terrain of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. Although in-person instruction was suspended, AVA continued to instruct its more than two dozen aspiring singers virtually.

“I am honored and deeply grateful to the AVA board for this opportunity to lead this exceptional organization of such bright, talented people,” Guzielek said. “I look forward to continuing AVA’s fine legacy of musical excellence and helping it to achieve new goals in the years to come.”

 Prior to coming to AVA, Guzielek was the director of artistic operations at the Palm Beach Opera and artistic administrator of the Washington National Opera. For more information about AVA, visit

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