WESTFIELD, NJ: The Choral Art Society of New Jersey, Inc. will perform John Knowles Paine’s Mass in D on Saturday, January 23, 2010, at 8:00 P.M. at The Presbyterian Church in Westfield, located at Mountain Avenue and East Broad Street.
James S. Little, Musical Director of the Society, will conduct the evening’s performance. Soloists include Ellen Goff Entriken, Soprano; Sharon Byrne, Alto; Kurt Alakulppi, Tenor and Andrew Martens, Bass. The Choral Art Society Orchestra will accompany the chorus. Admission is $20, $15 for seniors and students, at the door. For information call 908-654-5737 or visit our web site www.thechoralartsocietyofnj.org.
Never heard of John Knowles Paine? Many devotees of choral music haven’t either. Yet this late 19th century (1839-1906) American composer’s Mass is highly appealing with its beautiful melodies, surging rhythms, many moving passages, and arresting fugues. Indeed, the pervasive counterpoint is reminiscent of Bach, while other of the work’s features will remind listeners of Beethoven and Handel.
That Paine’s music exhibits the influence of German composers is no surprise. After studying organ, piano, harmony, and composition in his native Portland, Maine, Paine left for Berlin in 1858 when he was 19. There he studied organ with the Bach enthusiast, Karl August Haupt, as well as orchestration, and gave organ and piano recitals in England and Germany, where he received special acclaim for performances of Bach’s organ works.
Paine began writing his 18-movement Mass while in Germany but did not complete it until after his return to the United States in 1861. He conducted the premiere of the work in February 1867 in Berlin, the first performance in Europe of a large work by an American composer. In the spring of that year, the Mass received its first American public performance in Boston. An Atlantic Monthly critic described it as “a work of considerable power and great formal beauty” in which “command over musical form was at once evident.” The work’s subsequent performance history is unknown until 1972, when composer/conductor Gunther Schuller led a performance at the New England Conservatory.
Mr. Little has been the Director of the Choral Art Society of New Jersey since the Spring of 1999. He is organist and choirmaster of Calvary Episcopal Church in Summit since 1993, where he directs a program of youth and adult choirs, a handbell choir and a concert series by the Calvary Chorale and guest ensembles and soloists. Mr. Little received an M.M. in Sacred Music from WestministerChoirCollege where he studied organ with Eugene Roan and choral conducting with Melanie Jacobsen and Joseph Flummenfelt. He has performed organ recitals in New Jersey, New York City and New England and is widely known as an accompanist throughout northern and central New Jersey. He is a member of the American Guild of Organists, the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers and the Phi Mu Alpha music fraternity.
Ellen Goff Entriken, Soprano, grew up on Long Island and received her Bachelor of Music degree in voice from CapitalUniversity in ColumbusOhio. She also studied at the Franz Schubert Institute in Baden bei Wien, Austria, where she was the recipient of the Franz Schubert Prize for Voice and was featured in a recital aired on Austrian Radio. Ms. Goff Entriken made her Carnegie Hall debut as soprano soloist in a performance of Handel’s Joshua with the Oratorio Society of New York. She has also appeared as soprano soloist with the American Symphony Orchestra at Avery Fisher Hall, LincolnCenter, as well as with numerous other choral and orchestral ensembles in the New York area. Since 1988 she has been the soprano soloist at The First Presbyterian Church in New York City. Other organizations of which Ms. Goff Entriken has been a member include the Gregg Smith Singers, the New York Concert Singers and the New York Virtuoso Singers. She has sung with the Choral Art Society in Bach’s St. John Passion and most recently in Orff’s Carmina Burana.
Sharon Byrne, Mezzo-soprano, frequently appears as a guest soloist with several New Jersey musical organizations, including the Raritan Community Choir, the Westminster Conservatory Chorale, and the Choral Art Society of New Jersey. Her many solo performances include Brahms' Alto Rhapsody, as well as Handel's Messiah, Bach's Magnificat, Bach’s Mass in B-Minor, Bach’s St. John Passion, Mendelssohn's Elijah, Mozart's Requiem, and Verdi's Requiem. Ms. Byrne holds a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education from WestminsterChoirCollege. While studying at Westminster, she sang with the Westminster Symphonic Choir in performance of Britten’s War Requiem, Honegger’s Jeanne d’Arc au Boucher and Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem (recorded with the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Kurt Masur). Ms. Byrne sang on two recordings (Singing for Pleasure and Westminster Choir at Spoleto Festival, U.S.A.) and toured Europe and the Far East with the critically acclaimed Westminster Choir and under the direction of Dr. Joseph Flummerfelt. She has performed in the operas choruses of Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier, Verdi's Falstaff and Janackek's The Excursions of Mr. Broucek at the Spoleto Festival, U.S.A. Ms.
Byrne currently lives in Essex County, New Jersey where she teaches high school choral music in the public school system. She is the mezzo-soprano soloist/section leader for the Calvary Chorale and the Calvary Church Choir at Calvary Episcopal Church in Summit, New Jersey.
Kurt Alakulppi, Lyric Tenor, made his Carnegie Hall debut singing Schubert’s Mass in G with the New England Symphonic Ensemble, and his LincolnCenter debut as Eduardo in Rossini’s La Cambiale Di Matrimonio at Alice Tully Hall. The Seattle native recently sang the Rachmaninoff Vespers and Haydn’s Heiligmesse with the Riverside Choral Society, the Mozart Requiem at the TillesCenter, and Britten’s War Requiem, Haydn’s Creation and Handel’s Messiah,all with the Queen’s College Choral Society. Mr. Alakulppi was regarded by Opera News as making a “strong contribution” with his “ductile tenor” as Simon Stimson in the professional company premiere of Ned Rorem’s Our Town at Lake George Opera. Recent opera highlights include Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni at Anchorage Opera, Pedrillo in The Abduction from the Seraglio at Skylight Opera, and a return to Alice Tully Hall as Kid Conner in Victor Herbert’s The Red Mill with The Little Orchestra Society.
Andrew Martens, Bass, a versatile performer equally comfortable on both the operatic and concert stages, received his BA in Music and German from Duke University and a Masters and Graduate Diploma in Vocal Performance from the New England Conservatory. He has been an apprentice artist at the Central City Opera and pursued an Artist Diploma in Opera from the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. A member of the San FranciscoOperaCenter's Young Artist Program, Merola and the Western Opera Theatre, he toured the US and Japan. Mr. Martens has collaborated with such notable directors as Christopher Alden, David Kneuss, Lotfi Monsouri, Linda Brovsky, John Moriarty, Elizabeth Bach and Paolo Montarsolo. He has also had a long association with the Hudson Opera Theater and has sung numerous roles including the roles of the villains in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Méphistophêlès in Faust , Sparafucile in Rigoletto, Colline in La Bohème, Raimondo in Lucia di Lammermoor, Don Bartolo in Le Nozze di Figaro, Angelotti in Tosca and Gremin in Eugene Onegin as well as many others.
Active in the Latvian community, Mr. Martens created the role of Priesteris in the world premier of Ilona Brege’s Dzivais Udens in Riga, Latvia as well as Andrievs in Andrejs Jansons' Laimes Reiboni .As part of the Song Festival celebrations in Chicago, Mr. Martens was selected to share the stage with pianist Arturs Ozoliņš as part of The Outstanding Artists Recital in Chicago’s Orchestra Hall. In the 2007 season, Mr. Martens sang as soloist in the Latvian Song Festival’s week long celebration in Indianapolis. Upcoming engagements for Mr. Martens include Benjamin Britten’s Noye's Fludde (or Noah's Flood,) with the Church of the Transfiguration and Bach’s Wachet Auf and the Magnificat with First Presbyterian Church in New York City.
Funding has been made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, through a grant administered by the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs.