#Resist: Chestnut Street Singers Announce Season of Resistance and Resilience

Philadelphia’s cooperative chamber choir tackles questions of liberation, artistic censorship, and devotion.


All concerts are pay what you wish!

Chestnut Street Singers, Philadelphia’s cooperative chamber choir, is preparing an entire season of concerts that explore the struggles and the reconciliation of the human spirit. Their season theme, RESISTANCE AND RESILIENCE, examines music as a tool for liberation, and features new venues, new musical styles, and the choir’s largest roster ever.

Based in Center City, Chestnut Street Singers is a cooperative chamber choir committed to active engagement with musical traditions and their evolution. They are dedicated to presenting polished, engaging performances…while still being able to sip wine with their audience.

The season begins with WE WHO BELIEVE in November, when the ensemble will take up the mantle of revolution, with songs and poetry reflecting generations of struggle, reconciliation, and faith.  Today’s changemakers are volunteering, marching, and hashtagging, but the history of human resistance echoes with song. We Who Believe honors music as a tool for liberation: a way to speak the deepest truths, to offer encouragement, and to sustain hope in the depths of oppression. The concert spans centuries and continents, with music by Ysaye Maria Barnwell, Benjamin Britten, Alberto Favero, Ted Hearne, and Philadelphia’s own Melissa Dunphy.

(Performed Friday, November 9 at 8 PM, Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, 8855 Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia, PA, and Sunday, November 11 at 4 PM, First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, PA)

In March 2019, the choir will go BEHIND CLOSED DOORS to consider works and themes that were originally composed or performed in secret.  Due to social or political pressures, there are times when artists are not able to express themselves openly. Unwilling or unable to stop creating, many notable composers and poets decided to continue working Behind Closed Doors. Others created seemingly neutral works that hid their subversion in plain sight. With works by William Byrd, Philip Moore, William Dawson, and Moses Hogan, this program explores compositions and poetry that were once shared only with a select few.

(Performed Friday, March 15 at 8 PM, Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, 8855 Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia, PA, and Sunday, March 17 at 4 PM, Saint Mark’s Church, 1625 Locust Street in Philadelphia, PA)

The ensemble closes their season in June with THE SILENT FOREST, a meditation on what grounds us, with centuries of lesser-known German works honoring beauty and devotion even amidst brokenness. In the process,the choir will explore several centuries of German music, ranging from lesser-known renaissance motets to 20th century landmarks. Featured composers include Michael Praetorius, Robert Schumann, Hugo Wolf, and Arnold Schoenberg

(Performed Saturday, June 1 at 8 PM, Our Mother of Consolation Catholic Church, 9 East Chestnut Hill Avenue in Philadelphia, PA, and Sunday, June 2 at 3 PM, Old Saint Joseph’s Church, 321 Willings Alley in Philadelphia, PA)

The Chestnut Street Singers are dedicated to offering concerts that are accessible––both financially and intellectually––to their friends, neighbors, and students.  Therefore, in keeping with the ensemble’s mission, all concerts are pay what you wish at the door.

For more information, visit chestnutstreetsingers.org.

ABOUT CHESTNUT STREET SINGERS: During the long, snowy winter of 2010, a handful of Philadelphia choral singers decided that they needed more from the local music scene. Hoping for an ensemble featuring challenging repertoire, cooperative musicianship, and innovative programming, they decided to take matters into their own capable hands and founded Chestnut Street Singers.  Besides performing great and sometimes under-appreciated music, our goals are many: we cherish our place in the Philadelphia community and are dedicated to offering concerts that are accessible––both financially and intellectually––to our friends, neighbors, and students; we support the work of young composers and instrumentalists; we celebrate the varied inspirations––sometimes silly, sometimes sexy, sometimes thoughtful, and sometimes all three––of classical music; and we believe that making music together is a stimulating, strenuous endeavor, one worth celebrating and supporting.

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