Our History & Mission
We approach songs from different cultures by looking at the deep feelings behind the songs, recognizing that each one's own culture is not the best culture, but one of many that have value. The Chorus is interested in a repertoire of compassionate music--music that unites people in good causes and helps singers and audience feel involved in society.
The Chorus performs for various events in the Township of Teaneck and throughout Bergen County, and also offers its own workshops and concerts. To fulfill its mission of appropriately performing music from many cultures, the Chorus has hosted workshops on Latin American music, African and African American music, and multicultural music in general. In the spring of 2003 the group sponsored a workshop and choral festival, led by well-known choral director and workshop leader Nick Page, that featured six guest choruses, including both adults and children and groups from several different cultural backgrounds. This festival also featured the premiere performance of a work commissioned by the Chorus, "A Promise I Will Keep," by Nick Page and Nina Penfold.
Concerts have had themes such as “Music of the Americas,” featuring music from both North and South America; “The Music of Teaneck,” music composed or arranged by Teaneck residents; “All That Jazz,” an all-jazz event, with the Calvin Hill Trio; “Music of the Movies,” and “Music of the Caribbean and Brazil,” with special Brazilian and Caribbean vocal, guiatr, and rhythm soloists.
Other concerts were even more ambitious. In 2004, the Chorus collaborated with the choir of Hope Presbyterian Church (Korean) in a presentation of “Songs of the Silk Road.” Inspired by Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road project, this event included songs from countries along the ancient Silk Road from Japan through Korea, China, Taiwan, Mongolia, Georgia, Armenia, to Italy. The international theme was followed up but brought closer to home in the 2006 “Songs of the Immigrant Experience” concert, in which chorus members helped select pieces that closely reflected the immigrant experiences of their own families.
One of the most memorable choral experiences was the winter, 2006, concert featuring well-known folk singer Joe Jencks and focussed on “Voices of Liberation.” This was followed in the spring of 2007 by a concert entitled, “When Poetry Sings,” featuring choral settings of poems including a commissioned setting of the winning poem from a contest sponsored by the chorus at Teaneck High School.
Music from American Musicals was the theme of the winter concert in 2008, followed the next spring by an ambitious presentation entitled “From LP to MP3: An Intergenerational Concert,” in which the four generations of chorus members helped one another appreciate and sing music from many genres, from bebop to hip hop.
The 2008-2009 season, which celebrated the Chorus’ Tenth Anniversary, presented festive concerts reprising the repertoire from the first ten years. The winter 2008 concert presented selections from our international/multicultural repertoire, called “The Songs Within Us,” and the spring presentation, “Our American Songbook,” focussed on the American repertoire. The highlight of the anniversary celebration concert season was the premiere performance of a piece commissioned as a gift to the Chorus from our director Steven Bell, from well-known composer Lee Kesselman, entitled “Meet Us In the Air, based on poems by Wendell Berry.
As the Chorus moves into its second decade it continues its commitment to approaching songs from many cultures “by looking at the deep feelings behind the songs,” and “recognizing that each one’s own culture is not the best culture, but one of many that have value.” The Chorus’ vision is increasingly important in this time of global stress and change. Now more than ever we all need to learn to sing together, listen to one another, and celebrate and embrace our diversity.