Photo credit: John Mabasa
Washingtonians donned their best black tie and headed out on the unseasonably warm Monday night to the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts to enjoy the Choral Arts Society 35th Annual Gala. The swanky rooftop event was preceded by a 90-minute concert in the concert hall, where guests enjoyed performances from the Choral Arts Society as well as the SYC Ensemble Singers from Singapore and the Choral Arts Christmas Youth Choir. The gala was held under the gracious honorary patronage of the Singapore Ambassador, Ashok Mirpuri and Mrs. Gouri Mirpuri. The Choral Arts’ 35th Annual Gala celebrated the 50th anniversary of Choral Arts in tandem with the 50th anniversary of the independence of the Republic of Singapore.
The concert portion, which was open to the public, featured Christmas classics, choral favorites from John Rutter, alternative arrangements to traditional carols, and a highly spirited sing-a-long. Under the direction of Conductor Scott Tucker, singers took guests on an enjoyable holiday ride.
Standout performances included I Wonder as I Wander, performed by the Choral Arts Youth Choir under the direction of Brandon Straub. Though young, the female soloists voice showed maturity and grace, particularly impressive for her age (she is a sophomore in high school).
The Singaporean SYC Ensemble Singers wowed guests with an eclectic mix of international songs, including an onomatopoeic piece that employed the singers’ whistles and other unusual vocal exercises to mimic the sounds of nature, such as water droplets. The SYC Ensemble Singers was formed in 1964 as the Singapore Youth Choir, a national choir for young singers. Renamed in 2004, the choir today is an adult chamber ensemble known for its strong programming and advocacy of contemporary music.
Guests enjoyed familiar carols like O Come All Ye Faithful, Silent Night, and Jingle Bells, which they joined with their own voices. The audience was treated to a trumpet trio encore, which included a performance by the conductor.
Following the conclusion of the program, gala guests headed upstairs to enjoy the ball. Transformed into a majestic winter wonderland, the rooftop terrace of the Kennedy Center was festively decorated to entertain guests with a full seated dinner, silent auction, and dancing as hundreds of high-stature Washingtonians partied late into the night. Various supporting and performing organizations presented; most notably, Executive Director Debra L. Kraft, who is retiring, delivered her final remarks.
In its 50 years The Choral Arts Society of Washington (Choral Arts) established and maintains a dedication to excellence. Led by Artistic Director Scott Tucker, Choral Arts’ commitment to artistic excellence is demonstrated by frequent invitations to perform regularly with the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) and other world-class orchestras including London Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony, and the Mariinsky Orchestra, as well as alongside legendary conductors such as Christoph Eschenbach, Valery Gergiev, Marin Alsop and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Choral Arts is committed to connecting choral music to the country’s growing diversity and partnering with global organizations to develop inspiring programs. Choral Arts also stands on a secure and stable financial and governance foundation.
Founded in 1965 by Artistic Director Emeritus Norman Scribner (1936 – 2015), Choral Arts stands out as a leader among its peers, earning awards, not only for its artistic excellence, but its administrative leadership and educational portfolio. Notably, Choral Arts has consistently operated in the black since 2004, remaining fiscally strong in spite of recent economic challenges.