Thursday, Mar 2, 2023
Concert locations also include the choir’s founding church in Ohio
by Adam Grybowski
The Westminster Choir will embark on a spring tour in Ohio and Pennsylvania from March 12-18. The tour includes an appearance by the choir’s tenors and basses with the Pittsburgh Symphony as well as a concert at the choir’s founding church in Dayton, Ohio.
Setting the standard for choral excellence since 1920, the Westminster Choir is composed of students at Westminster Choir College of Rider University.
This year’s spring tour program includes works by Thomas Tallis, Arvo Pärt, Felix Mendelssohn-Barthodly, Francis Poulenc and more. It will begin with a concert on March 12 at 4 p.m. at Westminster Choir’s founding church, Westminster Presbyterian Church in Dayton, Ohio. It was there that John Finley Williamson originally founded the choir in 1920. Only two years later, the choir began touring the United States, going on to sing at renowned performance venues such as Carnegie Hall in New York City and Symphony Hall in Boston.
Now in its 103rd year, the Westminster Choir was supposed to visit Dayton on its 100th anniversary, but those plans were canceled because of the pandemic.
“It is wonderful to return to touring,” says Dr. James Jordan, the conductor of the Westminster Choir. "It is only right that we sing there and perform for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the choir."
The spring tour will continue with a stop in Columbus, Ohio, at Otterbein University on March 14 at 7:30 p.m. for a collaborative concert with the Otterbein Concert Choir at Church of the Messiah United Methodist Church. Otterbein University was the alma mater of Williamson and his wife, Rhea Parlette Willamson, who graduated as a part of the Otterbein’s Class of 1911. Williamson brought the Westminster Choir there many times during his lifetime.
Members of the choir will then participate in three performances of Mozart’s Requiem at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts with the Pittsburgh Symphony and the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh on March 17 and 18 at 8 p.m. and March 19 at 2:30 p.m.
These performances will be conducted by Manfred Honeck and include the internationally recognized soloists soprano Jeanine De Bique, mezzo soprano Catriona Morison, tenor Ben Bliss and bass Tareq Nazmi. Actor F. Murray Abraham, known for his Academy Award-winning role in Amadeus and more recently his performance in the HBO series The White Lotus, will narrate the program.
Additionally, the Westminster Choir will perform in pre-concert lectures with world-renowned composer Sir James MacMillan. MacMillan will speak about the use of chant in his works featuring selected motets from The Strathclyde Motets. The Pittsburgh Symphony will also premiere a work by Macmillan titled Her tears fell with the dews at even.
The tour will also include a concert at Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh on March 18 at 2 p.m.
Praised by The New York Times for its “full-bodied, incisive singing,” the Westminster Choir also forms the core of the Westminster Symphonic Choir, which has performed and recorded with world’s leading conductors and orchestras.
The Westminster Choir 2023 spring tour concert schedule is as follows:
Serenity of Soul: Westminster Choir at the Westminster Presbyterian Church
March 12, 4 p.m.
Westminster Presbyterian Church
125 N. Wilkinson St.
Dayton, Ohio 45402
Admission to this concert is a free will offering
Collaborative concert with the Otterbein Concert Choir
March 14, 7:30 p.m.
Church of the Messiah United Methodist Church
51 N State Street, Westerville, Ohio 43081
In Words and Music: Honeck Conducts Mozart’s Requiem
Performance with The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
March 17-18, 8 p.m., and March 19, 2:30 p.m.
Pre-concert lectures with Sir James Macmillan and the Westminster Choir
Dates and time TBA
600 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15222
Westminster Choir at the Calvary Episcopal Church
March 18, 2 p.m.
Calvary Episcopal Church
315 Shady Avenue
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15206