Building upon Classical Movements‘ record-breaking year for new music in 2017 (15 world premieres on 5 continents), we are pleased to announce that, this season, our now 13-year-old Eric Daniel Helms New Music Program will usher in 18 new works by 16 composers hailing from 11 countries.

Commissioned for CM clients as diverse as the Seattle Symphony and Minnesota Orchestra, Los Angeles Children’s Chorus and Olga—as well as all three of our own international music festivals: Prague Summer Nights, Serenade!, Ihlombe!—the 2018 Helms New Music Program compositions will be premiered in CM destinations as far-flung as North America, Europe and Africa, everywhere from Kennedy Center, the Rudolfinum to Regina Mundi RC Church.


Seattle Symphony | Prague Summer Nights: Young Artists Music Festival | Serenade! Washington, D.C. Choral Festival

Naturally, Classical Movements’ inaugural Composer-in-Residence, the Syrian-born composer and Grammy-winning clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, will be the busiest, writing and performing his full-force Clarinet Concerto with the Seattle Symphony, as well as a chamber version for retiring Berliner Philharmoniker clarinetist Walter Seyfarth to debut during our fifth annual Prague Summer Nights: Young Artists Music Festival. In addition, Azmeh’s work for clarinet and mass choir, featuring text by the medieval Sufi mystic Ibn Arabī, will be premiered by all the choruses invited to attend the eighth edition of our Serenade! Choral Festival, “Mandela at 100: Songs of Hope, Justice and Unity,” co-presented by Kennedy Center.

“Stranded Syrian composer lands Washington job” — Slipped Disc

Minnesota Orchestra

In partnership with Classical Movements, the Minnesota Orchestra‘s historic, five-city tour to South Africathe first visit by a professional U.S. orchestra to the “Rainbow Nation”—will be highlighted by another CM commission celebrating the centennial of Nobel Peace Prize-winning icon Nelson Mandela. Osmo Vänskä will conduct internationally lauded South African composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen‘s setting of Madiba‘s own words, titled Harmonia Ubuntu, starring South African soprano Goitsemang Oniccah Lehobye.

“Composer to honour Madiba milestone with new work” — Sunday Times

Prague Summer Nights

Prague Summer Nights 2018 will hear the world premiere of acclaimed composer and critic Greg Sandow‘s latest string quartet, The Remembered Song, commissioned specifically for PSN Festival Orchestra and Tucson Symphony concertmaster Lauren Roth and her chamber music students. PSN’s auditioned string players will work directly with Sandow on both preparation and performance of his piece.

Live from Strathmore Mansion, watch Sandow’s Quartet for Anne


Los Angeles Children’s Chorus

Commissioned for longtime CM clients Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, in honor of Artistic Director Anne Tomlinson’s 22nd and final season, Norwegian composer Therese B. Ulvo‘s four poems from children’s writer Ruth Lillegraven‘s I am I am I am (“Wild of Spring,” “My Heart,” “Rest Now, Heart,” “My Cradle”) will be performed first at home in Pasadena, then on the road in Reykjavík, Oslo and Bergen during LACC’s Nordic summer tour.

Peruse the score for Ulvo’s I am I am I am

Serenade! Choral Festival

Once again co-presented with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, CM’s Serenade! Festival concludes with an exuberant grand finale, featuring individual performances by all participating ensembles, as well as world premieres from both Kinan Azmeh and fêted South African composer Qinisela Sibisi—commissioned for the entire 2018 Serenade! mass choir, conducted by Scott Tucker, Artistic Director of Washington Choral Arts Society. Sibisi’s lyrics are drawn from the Nobel Prize Lecture that Mandela delivered at Oslo City Hall on December 10, 1993.

Watch Voices of the Nation orchestra and chorus perform Sibisi’s Ngiyakholwa


Serenade! Choral Festival for Countermeasure

A 2012 alumni of our Helms New Music Program, back by popular demand, award-winning composer Aaron Jensen returns to Serenade! with a new, multi-media opus for the ensemble he founded, those cool Canadian chanteurs of Countermeasure, utilizing archival footage from South Africa‘s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Peruse the score for Jensen’s We Are As One, commissioned for Serenade! 2012


Serenade! Choral Festival for Olga

Apropos, Dutch composer Anne-Maartje LemereisRequiem for the Glass Ceiling was written explicitly for Olga, the female-identifying a cappella quintet formed in 2012 at Utrecht Conservatory by five guys named Jonathan, Philip, Pétur, Matt and Arjan (and “Ketill,” their red, cast iron mascot).

Watch Lemereis explain her inspiration to Olga

Serenade! Choral Festival for Olga

Meanwhile, fellow Dutch composer Carlijn Metselaar‘s work for this woke quintet of Dutch, Icelandic, Russian and English men takes its name from one of the newest additions to the Oxford English Dictionary: Mansplaining. Explains Metselaar,I thought that a piece which plays up to Olga’s witty performance style—with big lush chords, barbershop harmonies and driving rhythms—would be the best way to approach it.”

Read more from Metselaar on Olga


Serenade! Choral Festival for Parranda El Clavo

Hailing from a small coastal village in Barlovento, Betsayda Machado has been dubbed “the voice of Venezuela.” Fronting her band Parranda El Clavo for some three decades now, she remains the most expert exponent of the especially infectious Afro-Venezuelan tambor genre—a spirit-shaking fiesta guaranteed to have every last person in D.C. up and moving with a brand-new song for Serenade!

Check out Machado’s Tiny Desk Concert for NPR Music

Serenade! Choral Festival for Tyva Kyzy

Having mastered the forbidden-for-women art of Tuvan throat-singing, southern Siberia’s Tyva Kyzy (“Daughters of Tuva”) is literally a one-of-a-kind ensemble—the only all-female group in the Tuva Republic that dares to publicly perform the five main styles of traditional khöömei song. Heading to Washington with a world premiere arrangement by founder Choduraa Tumat, these women accompany themselves on a range of folk instruments, such as the chadagan, a beguiling, zither-like instrument of their own making. 

Watch Tyva Kyzy perform Сеткилимден сергек ыр-дыр (Cheerful Song of My Soul) in Amsterdam

Serenade! Choral Festival

Founded in 1997 by three sisters—Talike, Isabelle, Lara—the name of this singing, dancing and percussion-playing trio from the Androy region of southern Madagascar couldn’t be more apt. Translated from Malagasy, the national language of their homeland, Tiharea means “wealth,” and hearing their virtuosic stylings live and in-person on a Serenade! commission is sure to make for an embarrassment of riches, indeed.

Watch Tiharea’s live performance at the Afro-Pfingsten Festival

Serenade! Choral Festival

Finalists on the hit Middle East program Arabs Got Talent, the five singers and multi-instrumentalists of Siraj formed in Tangier in 2006. Since then, the group has garnered some 15,000 YouTube subscribers, while logging more than 200 headlining performances worldwide. In D.C., they’ll perform the world premiere of ل مأ (Hope).

Check out the official music video for Siraj’s On the Way

Serenade! Choral Festival

An inspirational ensemble consisting of orphaned, blind and differently-abled Tamil kids, the Chennai Children’s Choir sings with perfect diction in Telugu, Hindi, Bengali, Urdu, Kannada and English, including a new work for Serenade! that explores Mandela’s many connections to Mahātmā Gandhi.

Watch the full-length CCC documentary, The Journey


Serenade! Choral Festival

Meaning “sound of the flute” in Arabic, Nai Syrian Children’s Choir provides a unique space for young refugees to learn to express their grief, yearning, love and hope through singing in their mother tongue and in the official languages of their new home, Canada. Right now, Nai is set to present their world premiere via livestream.

Watch Nai’s polyglot performance for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Ihlombe! South African Choral Festival

Similar to Serenade!, Classical Movements’ 10th annual Ihlombe! South African Choral Festival (“the largest international choral gathering in South Africa,” Cape Times) features a true diversity of ensembles performing for effusive audiences in every venue imaginable. CM’s third initiative celebrating the 100th anniversary of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s birth, Ihlombe! 2018 will close with two mass choir world premieres, including a powerful setting of Madiba’s famous “It’s In Your Hands” speech—delivered on his 90th birthday during the 46664 AIDS charity concert at London’s Hyde Park—care of decorated University of KwaZulu-Natal professor Phelelani Mnomiya

Click here for Mnomiya’s Ziyankomo and the Forbidden Fruit, produced by Opera Africa

Ihlombe! South African Choral Festival

A native of Butterworth in the Eastern Cape, Sibusiso Njeza was trained in the Apostolic church tradition, becoming a protégé of the late Babalo Tshayingca. Having risen through the ranks of the highly competitive Sakhabengoma Choral Society, he currently teaches at the University of the Western Cape, where his own Creative Arts Choir has taken home two first-place finishes at the National Eisteddfod of South Africa. Penning his own text for the second Ihlombe! mass choir commission, conducted by Nelson Mandela University professor Sidumo Nyamazele, Njeza notes his piece urges us all “to love more, to see beyond the color of one’s skin, religion and sexuality.”

Click here for Cape Town Opera’s production of Njeza’s Blood of Mine


Since the endowment of our Eric Daniel Helms New Music Program in 2005, Classical Movements has commissioned composers from some 20 different countries to create more than 50 new works. Helms alumni include both choral and orchestral, male and female voices: John CoriglianoJoan Tower (twice), Christopher RouseCaroline ShawMichael Gordon and the late Stephen Paulus, as well as Paquito D’RivieraTania LeónBright Sheng (twice, too), Piret Rips-LaulOscar Escalada and Mokale Koapeng (both twice, yet again). Premiered everywhere from Carnegie Hall to Buenos Aires’ Teatro Colón, Helms-commissioned composers have won Grammys, Pulitzers, Grawemeyers, as well as an Oscar and MacArthur. Named after Neeta Helms’ late father, the Eric Daniel Helms New Music Program is yet another way Classical Movements demonstrates its commitment to both its clients, as cutting-edge artists, and to the wider world of classical music—promoting the creation of fresh, exciting work that encourages international collaboration.

Moving the Music, Changing the World

The premier concert tour company for the world’s great orchestras and choirs, Classical Movements creates meaningful cultural experiences through music in 145 countries. An industry leader for over a quarter-century, Classical Movements organizes more than 60 tours every year, producing some 200 concerts every season. Producer of two international choral festivals—Ihlombe! in South Africa and Serenade! in Washington, D.C.—and the Prague Summer Nights: Young Artists Music Festival, in addition, Classical Movements’ Eric Daniel Helms New Music Program has commissioned over 50 works from Grammy, Oscar and Pulitzer Prize-winning composers. Winner of Americans for the Arts’ BCA10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts Award, since its founding in 1992, as a truly global company, Classical Movements remains committed to facilitating cultural diplomacy across the world—promoting peace through the medium of music.

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