The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh: A Rich Musical Tradition
The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, (MCP), a symphonic chorus composed of volunteer members and professional “core” singers is passionate about choral music. Renowned for its excellence, the Choir combines the clarity of words with the mystical power of music so that the deepest and most universal of human expressions are magnified through a community of voices. Founded in 1908, the MCP holds the distinction of being Pittsburgh’s oldest continuously performing arts organization at 110 years young.
The Choir is known for its mastery of the great choral classics. Now in its second season under the direction of Matthew Mehaffey, the Mendelssohn Choir has also been celebrated for its exciting premieres of more contemporary works, such as Times They Are A Changin’: The Words and Music of Bob Dylan, an original, brand new commission by popular choral composer Steve Hackman in 2018. Other past performances include The Music of Downton Abbey, James Whitbourn’s Annelies, Durufle’s Requiem, Beethoven‘s Mass in C, Brahms‘ Schicksalsleid, Rossini‘s Petite Messe Solennelle, an entire concert devoted to the works of George Gershwin, as well as Aaron Copland’s In the Beginning, Mozart’s Great Mass, and Bach’s majestic Mass in B Minor to sold-out audiences at East Liberty Presbyterian Church. In 2009, the Choir sang a critically acclaimed performance of Rachmaninoff’s a capella masterwork, The All-Night Vespers at St. Paul’s Cathedral, and performed the epic oratorio Elijah in 2008 under the baton of its Director Emeritus and Grammy Award winning Robert Page.
Flexible in size as well as in style, the 32-voice Mendelssohn Chamber Singers presented an invited performance on the Library of Congress concert series in Washington D.C.
As the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra’s chorus of choice, the MCP has performed under the baton of some of the world’s greatest conductors, including Lorin Maazel, Mariss Jansons, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Michael Tilson Thomas, Claudio Abbado, Mstislav Rostropovich, Leonard Slatkin, Charles Dutoit, André Previn, Sir Neville Marriner, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Helmuth Rilling, Ingo Metzmacher, Richard Hickox, Zdenek Mácal and Manfred Honeck.
Performances of the Choir with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra are heard locally over WQED-FM (89.3) and distributed nationally by PRI. The MCP has numerous commissions and premieres to its credit, including works by Ned Rorem, Nancy Galbraith, Steve Hackman and Derek Bermel. Through its recordings and commissions of new choral works, the Mendelssohn Choir seeks to advance the choral art. The Choir’s most recent recording is Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Children’s Festival Chorus of Pittsburgh with Manfred Honeck conducting.
A leader and collaborator in the regional arts community, the Mendelssohn’s artistic partners have included the Pittsburgh Opera, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, the River City Brass Band, the Children’s Festival Chorus, and the Duquesne University Tamburitzans. The Mendelssohn Choir continues to garner critical accolades as it shares the joy of choral music with the more than 50,000 individuals who hear the Mendelssohn in performance each year. The singers who comprise the Mendelssohn share a remarkable commitment to the art of making great choral music and collectively contribute more than 45,000 volunteer hours each year.
A prime component of the MCP’s educational outreach is the Junior Mendelssohn Choir, a training and performance project serving select high school students from throughout the greater Pittsburgh region. Students receive personalized vocal training and exposure to some of the great works of the choral repertoire as a way to supplement their high school choral experience.
The MCP is a Steinway Artist, the only chorus holding that designation.