Established in 2011, and lauded by the Washington Post’s Anne Midgette for “the most genuinely international ensemble I’ve ever heard, apart from the Olympic Games,” Classical Movements‘ Serenade! Washington, D.C. Choral Festival is an exuberant celebration of international choral music, offering unforgettable experiences for both singers and audiences alike.

With freewill donations collected for local non-profit charities, Serenade! has showcased more than 83 choirs from 32 countries at storied venues throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, such as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Music Center at Strathmore.

For our third consecutive summer together, Classical Movements and Kennedy Center will co-present the 2019 Serenade! Choral Festival, inviting vocal ensembles of all kinds, the world over, to join us across Greater Washington for a deep, meaningful investigation into “The Human Journey: Music, Migration & Identity.”

Watch a preview of Classical Movements’ Serenade! Choral Festival

Accompanied by two new travel companions—
both National Geographic and the National Gallery of Art
we won’t be making our 9th annual Serenade! sojourn alone…

For more detailed information on Classical Movements’
2019 Serenade! Choral Festival, please call or email:
(+1) 703-683-6040 | info@classicalmovements.com

Serenade! 2020: June 30-July 7
Serenade! 2021: TBA

Where do we come from? And, as a people, how has that informed who we are now? Moving forward, will we continue to strive for a brighter, shared tomorrow?

On Monday, July 8, 2019 at 6:00 PM on stage at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, the 9th annual Serenade! Choral Festival will conclude with a truly grand finale: individual performances from all participating ensembles, as well the 2019 Serenade! mass choir, led by the 2019 recipient of the Robert Shaw Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Choral Directors Association, Doreen Rao. Dr. Rao will conduct her second Serenade! mass choir in the world premiere of Refuge—a brand-new work by internationally lauded soprano, composer and Director of Vocal Studies at the University of Chicago, Patrice Michaels—commissioned by Classical Movements’ own Eric Daniel Helms New Music Program.

See All of Our Past Serenade! in D.C. Artists

Concert Schedule

Washington, D.C. | Mexican Cultural Institute

Date: Fri, July 5
Time: 6:45 pm
Tickets: TBA
Artists: Túumben Paax (Mexico), Choir Cedemusica (Ecuador)


 

Alexandria, VA | St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

Date: Fri, July 5
Time: 7:30 pm
Tickets: Free, with Eventbrite Registration
Artists: Sedaa (Iran, Mongolia), Barbara Furtuna (Corsica), Toronto Beaches Children’s and Youth Chorus (Canada), Crystal Children’s Choir (USA)


 

Washington, D.C. | Kennedy Center Millennium Stage

Date: Sat, July 6
Time: 6 pm
Tickets: Free
Artists: Barbara Furtuna (France) & Crystal Children’s Choir (USA)


 

Baltimore, MD | Second Presbyterian Church

Date: Sat, July 6
Time: 7:30 pm
Tickets: Free, with Eventbrite Registration
Concert Benefitting: ERICA (Episcopal Refugee and Immigrant Center Alliance)
Artists: Sedaa (Iran, Mongolia), Túumben Paax (Mexico), Toronto Beaches Children’s and Youth Chorus (Canada), Choir Cedemusica (Ecuador)


 

Castleton, VA | Castleton Festival

Date: SUN, July 7
Time: 6:00 pm
Tickets: $10-$20
Artists: Túumben Paax (Mexico), Crystal Children’s Choir (USA)


 

Washington, D.C. | Kennedy Center Millennium Stage

Date: Sun, July 7
Time: 6pm
Tickets: Free
Artists: Calmus (Germany), Choir Cedemusica (Ecudaor) & Toronto Beaches Children’s and Youth Chorus (USA)


 

Washington, D.C. | Church of the Epiphany

Date: Sun, July 7
Time: 7:30 pm
Tickets: $25-$35 via Eventbrite
Artists: Calmus (Germany), Barbara Furtuna (France), Sedaa (Mongolia, Iran)


 

GRAND FINALE

Washington, D.C. | Kennedy Center Concert Hall

Date: Mon, July 8
Time: 6 pm
Tickets: Free
Artists: Anima Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus (USA), Barbara Furtuna (France), Calmus (Germany), Choir Cedemusica (Ecudaor), Crystal Children’s Choir (USA), Sedaa (Mongolia, Iran), Toronto Beaches Children’s and Youth Chorus (USA), Túumben Paax (Mexico).

 

Serenade! 2019 Choirs

ANIMA –  Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus celebrates its 54th season in 2018-19. One of the leading children and youth choral organizations in North America, its rich heritage has served as an artistic and educational model for many years. Recent national awards include the 2013 ASCAP Adventurous Programming award from Chorus America, the 2013 Tribute Award from Chicago A cappella, the 2013 Non Profit of the Year Award from the Glen Ellyn Chamber of Commerce, the 2009 Dale Warland Singers Commission Award from Chorus America and the American Composers Forum, and the once-in-an-organizational lifetime Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence from Chorus America in 2008.

The Corsican ensemble, Barbara Furtuna is a polyphonic group of four men mostly performing a capella, or occasionally with other instruments or ensembles. Although the group still finds its inspiration in the island’s oldest traditions, it now also distinguished by its own creations, and offers a music that speaks to contemporary longings. Performing alone or in collaborations including with famed tenor, Placido Domingo; the baroque ensemble L’Arpeggiata; and with the Persian music ensemble, Constantinople; the quartet has shown that it transcends a single register and that traditional music still has the ability to surprise and to move us.

TBCYC_Publicity Picture

Founded in 2006 by artistic director Bronwen Low and with the invaluable contribution of our director of drama, Joanne Mitchell, we are currently in our 13th season. The Toronto Beaches Children’s & Youth Chorus has grown from an initial membership of 30 choristers to one of over 170 members today, and is comprised of children aged 4-18 from all over Scarborough and Toronto’s East End. We are a choir who welcomes all, regardless of ability, and we aim to give our choristers a high quality musical and dramatic experience within an atmosphere where hard work and fun coexist.

The Washington Post marvelled at the way Calmus “held the audience…spellbound with its artistry,” and this German a cappella quintet’s trademark blend of sound, precision, and wit has led to a successful twenty-year touring career internationally and two dozen critically acclaimed recordings. First Prize Winner of the Concert Artists Guild Competition (2009), Calmus embodies the rich choral tradition of Leipzig, its hometown city so closely associated with Bach and Mendelssohn. Whether singing music by those German masters or other works in its diverse repertoire, Calmus has captivated both audiences and critics alike for twenty years with its charming stage presence, flawless technique and entertaining presentation.

Coro Cedemusica

Cedemusica is a non-profit institution based in the city of Ambato created in 2008, dedicated to the promotion, organization and execution of music education. Choir Cedemusica has participated in sacred, popular and academic festivals, in Ecuador, Peru and Colombia. In addition, the choir sang with the Philadelphia Boys Choir & Chorale at the Lalama Theater in July 2017 under the direction of Jeffrey R. Smith and Jasmine Simons; as well as with the Pacific Boychoir Academy of Oakland, CA, USA, led by Andrew Brown in July 2018 in Ambato. They bring with them their Ecuadorian culture through various indigenous wardrobes, and songs of indigenous and Afro-Ecuadorian rhythms.

Crystal Children’s Choir was founded in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1994. Since then, it has grown into a 1,000 member organization. The choir’s mission is to strive for choral music excellence by providing choral music education to children and blending the best of Eastern and Western musical traditions. Crystal Children’s Choir aspires to be a cultural ambassador of children’s choral music, especially in the field of Chinese folk songs and newly commissioned works. Through offering the choristers a unique musical and life-enhancing education, Crystal Children’s Choir hopes to nurture teamwork, love of music, and excellence in choral singing among the younger generation.

Sedaa means “voice” in Persian and connects traditional Mongolian music with the Orient which makes an extraordinary and fascinating sound. Master singer Nasaa Nasanjargal and Naraa Naranbaatar who studied in their Mongolian homeland, abduct you together with the virtuosic Dulcimer player Ganzorig Davaakhuu and the Iranian Multi- instrumentalist Omid Bahadori into one genuinely exotic world between Orient and Mongolian steppe. The base of their modern composition is formed by natural sounds which are produced with traditional instruments and the use of old age song technologies of their nomadic ancestors with which a person produces several tones at the same time.

Designated “Ambassador 2014” of the International Federation for Choral Music, winner of a Gold Medal at the 6th Fukushima Vocal Ensemble Competition 2013, Gold Medal in the Contemporary Music Category, and the “Golden David” for the Best Choir at Florence International Choir Festival in Italy, 2012. Túumben Paax Female Vocal Sextet (New Music, in Mayan Language) has been a pioneer ensemble in Mexico due to its style and conformation. It was created in 2006 by Lucía Olmos, and it is formed by professional singers from the best music schools in México. It is currently conducted by Rodrigo Cadet.

On Sunday, July 1, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. on the stage of the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, the Serenade! Choral Festival’s “Mandela at 100: Songs of Hope, Justice & Unity” celebration concludes with a truly grand finale, highlighted by individual performances from all participating ensembles, as well as two world premieres commissioned by Classical Movements’ own Eric Daniel Helms New Music Program for the entire 2018 Serenade! mass choir, conducted by Scott Tucker, Artistic Director of the Choral Arts Society of Washington: Ibn Arabī Recitation by Classical Movements’ Composer-in-Residence Kinan Azmeh and decorated South African composer Qinisela Sibisi’s brand-new setting of Nelson Mandela’s most famous words, Let the New Age Dawn.

See All of Our Serenade! in D.C. Ensembles

(Serenade! 2019: July 3-9; Serenade! 2020: July 8-13)

Established in 2011 and hailed this summer by the Washington Post‘s Anne Midgette as “the most genuinely international ensemble I’ve ever heard, apart from the Olympic Games,” Classical Movements’ Serenade! Choral Festival is an exuberant celebration of choral music from around the world, offering unforgettable, life-changing experiences for both singers and audiences alike.

Presented free to the public—with freewill donations collected for local non-profit charities—Serenade! has showcased more than 85 choirs from some 33 countries to enthusiastic audiences at prestigious venues throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.

Once again co-presented by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the 8th annual Serenade! Choral Festival will honor the 100th anniversary of the birth of South African revolutionary, politician and philanthropist, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

From June 25—July 2, 2018, professional vocal ensembles hailing from nations sharing President Mandela’s prized notions of “Hope, Justice & Unity” will perform collaborative concerts and exchange cultures through shared workshops and side-by-side rehearsals with select community choral groups and youth choirs alike, all while participating in outreach and service projects across the Greater Washington region.

Featuring five multi-choral performances on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage—as well as the always anticipated Serenade! mass choir concert inside the Concert Hall—Serenade! ensembles will perform 12 additional concerts at stunning and historic venues in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

WASHINGTON, D.C.
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Concert Hall

SUNDAY, JULY 1 | 6 PM | FREE

Starring…
Betsayda Machado & Parranda El Clavo (Venezuela)
Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir (Australia)
Chennai Children’s Choir (India)
Countermeasure (Canada)
Ensemble Tyva Kyzy (Tuva Republic)
Nai Syrian Children’s Choir (Canadian-Syrian refugees)
Nathaniel Dett Chorale (Canada)
Olga Vocal Ensemble (Netherlands)
Tiharea (Madagascar)

Castleton, VIRGINIA | Castleton Festival

Date:               MON, JULY 2
Time:              6 p.m.
Tickets:          $10-20 (Orchestra & Balcony)
Featuring:     Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir (Australia)

Serenade! Mandela at 100 on Millennium Stage:

All Kennedy Center Millennium Stage concerts are free and start at 6 p.m.

Date:               TUES, JUNE 26
Featuring:      Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir (Australia); Indonesian Children and Youth Choir – Cordana (Indonesia)

Date:               WED, JUNE 27
Featuring:      Olga Vocal Ensemble (Netherlands); Chennai Children’s Choir (India)

Date:               THURS, JUNE 28
Featuring:      Ensemble Tyva Kyzy (Tuva Republic); Nathaniel Dett Chorale (Canada)

Date:               FRI, JUNE 29
Featuring:      Tiharea (Madagascar); Betsayda Machado & Parranda El Clavo (Venezuela)

Date:               SAT, JUNE 30
Featuring:      Howard University Gospel Choir (U.S.A.); Countermeasure (Canada)

Serenade! Mandela at 100 World Premieres: 

In addition to the two works for the 2018 Serenade! mass choir, Classical Movements’ Eric Daniel Helms New Music Program has commissioned eight more works by composers from the festival’s featured countries, each piece inspired by the ideals Mandela, himself, championed.

A 2012 alumni of the Eric Daniel Helms New Music Program, back by popular demand, award-winning composer Aaron Jensen returns to Serenade! with a new work for the ensemble he founded, those cool Canadian chanteurs of Countermeasure. Inspired by Mandela’s 1994 autobiography Long Walk to Freedom, Jensen has titled his tribute Long Road to Freedom.

Dutch composer Anne-Maartje LemereisA Requiem in Quotes was written explicitly for Olga Vocal Ensemble, 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). Meanwhile, fellow Dutch composer Carlijn Metselaar’s Well, Actually for this woke quintet of Dutch, Icelandic, Russian and English men takes its inspiration 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.”

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 Arriba Mandela, her brand-new song for Serenade!

Having mastered the forbidden-for-women art of Tuvan throat-singing, southern Siberia’s Ensemble Tyva Kyzy 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 new arrangement of the traditional tune Дагын катап дарлатпас бис (“We Will Not Fall”) 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.

Founded in 1997, the name of this singing, dancing and percussion-playing trio of sisters 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 co-founder Talike Gellé’s Serenade! commission Heagnen-Tsy Tratse (“Heaven’s Treaty”) is sure to make for an embarrassment of riches, indeed.

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! by Vedanth Bharadwaj and Manjula Ponnapalli called நம்ம பாடு (“Let’s Sing”) that acknowledges humanity’s interconnectedness, as well as the ongoing need to make our world, and especially the environment, a better place.

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. Nai will present the world premiere of Canadian composer Hussein Janmohamed‘s new multilingual work, Rise Children, Let’s Rise to Peace, via livestream from the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto.

Also notable among the 2018 Serenade! international ensembles: the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir, who recall Mandela’s exhortation to their nation to confront Australia’s history of oppression in the same way South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission had; Nathaniel Dett Chorale, who performed for Madiba during his iconic 2001 “Mandela and the Children” concert in Toronto; and Indonesian Children and Youth Choir – Cordana, whose glorious combination of song and movement recalls Mandela’s joyful declaration, “It is music and dancing that make me at peace with the world.”

The two American ensembles invited to perform during the 8th annual Serenade! Choral Festival have both local and Mandela ties, too. The Howard University Gospel Choir of Washington, D.C. represent that institution where the recently elected President of South Africa delivered 1994’s convocation speech. And while participating in Classical Movements’ 2013 Ihlombe! South African Choral Festival, the Singing Sensations Youth Choir of Baltimore, Maryland serenaded the ailing Nobel Peace Prize-winning icon outside his hospital room, mere months before his passing.

Under Scott Tucker’s artistic leadership, the acclaimed Choral Arts Chorus has expanded to over 190 singers, launching the Choral Arts Chamber Singers and the Choral Arts Youth Choir. Maestro Tucker maintains Choral Arts’ strong connection with the National Symphony Orchestra, as well as continuing the choir’s reputation as sought-after collaborators, receiving invitations from a wide range of guest contracts. Tucker has prepared the Choral Arts Chorus for such conductors as Christoph Eschenbach, Emil de Cou, John Mauceri and Rossen Milanov. Tucker prepared the chorus to perform Mahler’s “Symphony of a Thousand” for Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra on the 100th anniversary of the U.S. premiere with the orchestra and Verdi’s Messa da Requiem for Marin Alsop and the Baltimore Symphony. Most recently, Tucker prepared the choruses for NSO performances of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Christoph Eschenbach and for Carmina Burana with incoming music director Gianandrea Noseda. Deeply committed to supporting new music, Tucker continually programs world premieres, Choral Arts commissions and performances of recently composed works. Prior to his tenure with Choral Arts, Tucker commissioned and premiered more than 30 works from composers such as Ernani Aguiar, Bernard Rands, Steven Stucky, Augusta Read Thomas, Carol Barnett, David Conte, Libby Larsen and Chen Yi. Prior to his engagement with Choral Arts, Tucker was the P.E. Browning Director of Choral Music at Cornell University.

Hailed as a “virtuoso” and “intensely soulful” by the New York Times and “spellbinding” by the New Yorker, Syrian-born Kinan Azmeh, Classical Movements’ inaugural Composer-in-Residence, was the first Arab to win the premier prize at the 1997 Nicolai Rubinstein International Competition, Moscow. A student of Charles Neidich, Azmeh is a graduate of the Juilliard School and both the Damascus High Institute of Music, where he studied with Shukry Sahwki, Nicolay Viovanof and Anatoly Moratof, and Damascus University’s School of Electrical Engineering. In 2013, Azmeh earned his doctoral degree in music from the City University of New York. Having appeared as a soloist, composer and improviser in the most prestigious concert halls in the world, he has also shared the stage with Yo-Yo Ma, Daniel Barenboim, John McLaughlin and Djivan Gasparian, among others. Azmeh is a member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, with whom he won a Grammy in 2016, and leads two of his own bands: Hewar and Kinan Azmeh CityBand. 

South African composer Qinisela Sibisi is a versatile musician, equally at home in various genres: classical, jazz, soul, gospel and traditional African styles. With his music degree and a post-graduate teaching qualification from the University of Zululand, Sibisi has been an educator, choirmaster, conductor and adjudicator since 1984. Currently, he serves as a senior music lecturer at Esayidi TVET College in KwaZulu-Natal. In addition to the world premiere of Let the New Age Dawn at Classical Movements’ Serenade! Choral Festival, 2018 will see the staging of his first opera, Uqomisa Iliba.

Serenade! Testimonials:

It was a very special pleasure for us to have been involved in Serenade! It was an enjoyable, instructive and educational experience for us all. The physical, cultural and psychological distance travelled by the women and men of the Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir from the dust of Central Australia to the world’s most powerful capital and its prestigious stages was monumental, mind stretching and historic, expanding their horizons, enhancing their skills, and widening their friendship circle.

“Absolutely magical…you have created something truly special with the Serenade! Festival.”

Grant Gershon | Artistic Director, Los Angeles Master Chorale

“Laced with precision, care, passion, variety and excitement,
Classical Movements is the go-to company to organize a festival such as Serenade!”

Madras Youth Choir (India)

“The high-class of [Serenade!] is exceptional.”

Philippe Ostiguy | Artistic Director, Les Voix Boréales (Canada)

“With all the many different musical experiences we had,
it is impossible to put into words how amazing Serenade! was.”

Laura Jēkabsone | Latvian Voices

Serenade! Press:

“The most genuinely international ensemble I’ve ever heard, apart from the Olympic Games.”

Anne Midgette, Washington Post

“Bringing together top-tier choirs from a dozen countries in a bid to show music’s universality—
how the joy of singing transcends cultures.”

Agence France Presse, 2017

“A majestic showcase of what can be achieved through collaboration, and a most welcome reminder that
we all have a voice, and that the glory of song can resoundingly reaffirm a
common sense of humanity, the world over.”

Songlines Magazine (U.K.), 2017

“Serenade! will fill this region with a rich diversity of sounds and will promote cultural interaction.”

Tim SmithBaltimore Sun

🎼 Connect with CM!

Interested in more information about our Serenade! Festival?