Classic Broadway - Worcester Chorus sings that other great American Music, Chris Shepard, Conductor

Six Decades of Broadway Musicals

Sunday, November 4, 2012
Alden Memorial, WPI - 5:00 PM

Tickets: $35 Adults, $15 Students, $5 under age 18

"Worcester Chorus was brilliant..." - The Worcester Telegram & Gazette

America's other great contribution to great music - Broadway!  Classics from over six decades - Selections from West Side Story, Porgy & Bess, Guys & Dolls, Pippin, Les Mis, and more...!   Click on the Program tab for more information.

Please Note: 


Parking and Shuttle for easy access to Alden Hall
Starting at 4 PM and running in a continuous loop until approximately 5:20 PM, a 14-passenger van will be available to shuttle patrons from the Higgins House Parking Lot to the door of Alden Memorial Hall.  After the performance, the van will be at the front door to return folks to the same parking lot.  Please be aware that only 14 people may be transported in one trip and only back to the same lot.  Please plan to arrive at the lot well enough ahead to allow time.  The shuttle will stop running at 7 PM or earlier, depending upon end time of concert.  Higgins House lot, located behind the Campus Center, is easily accessible from Salisbury Street.
Directions to WPI's Higgins House parking lot:
Enter One John Wing Road as the destination address whether using a mobile navigator system or Internet mapping software. Or, copy the directions below.
From the East
Take Mass. Turnpike (I-90) to Exit 11A (I-495). Proceed north to I-290, then west into Worcester. Take Exit 18, turn right at end of ramp, and stay in the right lane. Fork right before the next traffic light onto Concord Street. At Grove Street Concord becomes Salisbury Street. Continue past Tuckerman, Lancaster, Wachusett, Dean, Boynton Street and the Private Way into WPI's campus. Turn left onto John Wing Road, taking an immediate right into the parking lot. John Wing Road is an oak tree-lined road that looks like a private drive.
From the North
Take I-495 south to I-290. Follow directions from east.
From the South and West
Take the Mass. Turnpike (I-90) to Exit 10 (Auburn). Proceed east on I-290 into Worcester. Take Exit 17 (Route 9, Belmont Street), turn left at end of ramp, follow Rte. 9 west through Lincoln Sq., where Belmont Street becomes Highland St. then right onto Harvard Street. Proceed two blocks to Salisbury Street. Turn left on Salisbury. Continue past Lancaster, Wachusett, Dean, and Boynton Streets and the Private Way into WPI's campus. Turn left onto John Wing Road, taking an immediate right into the parking lot. John Wing Road is an oak tree-lined road that looks like a private drive.

Shuttle provided by Worcester Airport Limousine.


Worcester Chorus: CLASSIC BROADWAY
November 4, 2012
Alden Hall

Choral Selections from Pippin  Stephen Schwartz, arr. Cassey

Broadway Legends: Lerner and Loewe Lerner & Loewe, arr. Huff
Marie Harrington, Larry Smith, Alan Hoffsommer, Bill Major

Medley from Guys and Dolls Frank Loesser, arr. Huff
Susan d’Entremont, Paul Dexter

Medley from Porgy and Bess Ira & George Gershwin and DuBose 
Mark d’Entremont       & Dorothy Heyward, arr. Warnick


Walk Him Up the Stairs (Purlie)  Udell & Geld, arr. Bower

Choral Selection from West Side Story Bernstein & Sondheim, arr. Stickles
Ellen Friend

I Will Sing (Harmony, Kansas)   Anna K. Jacobs & Bill Nelson
Paul Dexter, Larry Smith, Lisa Dutton-Swain

Medley from Les Misérables Schönberg & Kretzmer, arr. Lojeski
Maureen Power, Eric Jaeger, Pamela Mahoney, Patrick Bobkowski, Marina Paul,
Kristen Schnetzler

One Day More (Les Misérables)  Schönberg & Kretzmer, arr. Brymer
Craig Phyfe, Jacob Sutherland, Angela Knapton, Lucy Parker

Music from the Broadway stage needs little introduction to American audiences: alongside the African-American spiritual and its descendants—jazz, gospel, and many forms of popular music from R&B to rap—musical theater is the other truly “American” musical form.  Many songs from shows have achieved the same place in American culture as the indigenous folksongs in other, older cultures throughout the world. 

One of the most fascinating aspects of this genre of music is that so many songs, written to appeal commercially to a specific audience in a specific era, have remained central to the American musical canon for so long.  From the first “modern” musical, Show Boat, in 1927 (which gave us the standards “Old Man River” and “Can’t Help Lovin’ that Man”) the music of the true Broadway masters has stood the test of time.  One need only look at the current Broadway revival of Porgy and Bess to see the enduring legacy of the Broadway musical.

In this evening’s concert, we pay homage to some of the greatest Broadway composers and lyricists of the past century.  We don’t “start at the beginning” and present the works in chronological order: instead, we mix and match to make the point that this is essentially a conservative art form, so the music from 1935’s Porgy and Bess can exist quite happily alongside the music of Lerner & Loewe from three decades later.  Interestingly, of all the music on this concert, it is the music of Stephen Schwartz from Pippin which most strikingly bears the mark of its era: this is clearly music from the 1970s, with its references to folk and funk.  Schwartz has proven to be something of a musical chameleon, mastering the music of the different periods in which he has worked.  It seems hardly possible that the composer of the quintessential 1970’s musicals Godspell and Pippin would also have penned the 2003 hit Wicked—Schwartz has a grasp of the music Zeitgeist that has stymied other Broadway composers who have sought to span different eras with equal success.

Here is the program rearranged in chronological order:
Porgy & Bess, 1935
Guys & Dolls, 1950
West Side Story 1957
Lerner & Loewe, 1950s-60s
Purlie, 1970
Pippin, 1972
Les Misérables, 1987
Harmony, Kansas, 2012

Though so many of these works speak for themselves, Purlie and Harmony, Kansas almost certainly require a little more explanation.  Purlie opens with this gospel number, sung at a funeral in an African-American church in Georgia in the Jim Crow era.  The Broadway production featured two actors who later went on to television fame later in the decade—Sherman Helmsley of The Jeffersons and Robert Guillaume of Benson.

The ink is still fresh on the score of Harmony, Kansas, which was recently produced in San Diego.  Written by the young team of Anna K. Jacobs and Bill Nelson, it is the story of a young gay couple struggling with their move to a farm in rural Kansas from their former urban life.  The small cast of the show is all male, but Anna kindly wrote an arrangement of the final number for us to present in a mixed choir version.

About the Artists

The Worcester Chorus is under the sponsorship of Music Worcester, Inc., and has the unique distinction of being one of the most outstanding ongoing choral groups in the United States, having been founded in 1858 to sing in the first annual Worcester Music Festival in the newly-built Mechanics Hall. The 120-member chorus includes singers from Worcester County, northern Connecticut, and the Boston area. Its repertoire includes, not only the Western world's finest choral masterpieces, but also contemporary literature and arrangements of American folk songs and classics from the musical theater, as well as commissioned works. Each year the chorus performs with orchestra and soloists in Mechanics Hall as part of The Worcester Music Festival, including an annual performance of Handel's Messiah, a Spring Choral Concert, and in guest appearances throughout the Northeast and overseas.

The Worcester Chorus is a major community chorus that includes both amateur singers and professional musicians. It endeavors to foster the choral arts and to enhance the cultural life of Worcester and the surrounding area through the highest level of musicianship and artistry, resulting in enriching and emotional experiences for audience and singer alike.

In recent years, Artistic Director and conductor Christopher Shepard has been most associated with the choral music of Johann Sebastian Bach. He founded the Sydneian Bach Choir and Orchestra in Sydney, Australia, and was the music director of BACH 2010, a project to perform all of Bach’s choral cantatas. Under his direction, the ensemble performed over seventy-five cantatas, as well as the two Passions, B-Minor Mass, and Christmas Oratorio. A Sydney reviewer wrote of the cantata series that “these well-attended events, using a fine choir and perceptive soloists, are high points in our musical terrain.”

In addition to the music of J.S. Bach, Chris has conducted many staples of the choral-orchestral repertoire, and he has commissioned and premiered a number of new choral works in both Australia and America. Chris was recently named Music Director of the Dessoff Choirs, one of New York City’s most venerable choral organizations. They perform regularly with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, and have long had a commitment to new music. Since returning to America, Chris has also been a guest conductor at Emmanuel Church in Boston, a church renowned for its three-decade Bach cantata project. He currently serves as Music Director of the First Congregational Church in Watertown, CT. He has conducted avocational choirs for more than two decades, including the Stamford MasterSingers, Greater Middletown Chorale, and Waterbury Chorale in Connecticut.

Resident in Sydney from 1996 to 2008, Chris served as Director of Music at Sydney Grammar School, one of Australia’s most prominent high schools. Music education has been a major focus of his career; before moving to Sydney, Chris led the choral program at the Taft School in Connecticut, where his Collegium Musicum appeared at the 1994 ACDA Eastern Division convention. The Litchfield County Children’s Choir, which he founded in 1990, continues to thrive after nearly two decades. Since 2004, Chris has been Music Director of the Hotchkiss Summer Portals Chamber Music Program, an intensive chamber music program for advanced young players and singers from around the world. He conducts the chamber orchestra and choir, serving on the faculty alongside such guest ensembles as the Shanghai Quartet, the Brentano String Quartet, and Cantus. Over the last two decades, Chris has given several presentations for the American Choral Directors’ Association and has conducted several high school regional festival choirs in New England.

With SBS-TV, an Australian national public television network, Chris presented two documentaries: Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and From Mozart to Morrison with eminent Australian jazz musician James Morrison. The Melbourne Age recommended the Mozart documentary as a “novel, thoughtfully produced hour”. In 2000, Chris was chorusmaster with the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs for their performance in the Olympics Opening Ceremony. Throughout his years in Sydney, Chris worked with a wide range of school and community choirs as conductor and clinician.

Chris holds degrees from the Hartt School and the Yale School of Music, where he studied choral conducting with Marguerite Brooks. He is currently completing his PhD in Musicology at the University of Sydney, researching the performance history of Bach’s B Minor Mass in 20th century America. updated June 2010