Norwalk Symphony concert features Mendelssohn Choir of Connecticut

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Founding director Carole Ann Maxwell will direct the Mendelssohn Choir of Connecticut at our next concert. Read about both below.

The Mendelssohn Choir of Connecticut (MCC) was founded in 1984 by alumni of the Fairfield University Chamber Singers who wished to continue their musical association with Dr. Carole Ann Maxwell. Under her leadership, the Choir has performed a wide range of repertoire in New England, New York, and many European capitals. The Choir’s renditions of the world’s greatest choral masterpieces have earned it a reputation as one of the leading vocal ensembles of the region. Its diverse programming reflects an extensive repertoire from all periods and genres – from classical to contemporary and from opera to theater, film, and pop. The MCC embraces a mission of developing and promoting the choral arts – a mission that begins with the training of its own members and reaches out to the entire community of Fairfield County.

The Choir’s repertory has included Bach’s Magnificat, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Meeresstille und gluckliche Fahrt, Schubert’s Miriam’s Siegesgesang, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Brahm’s Alto Rhapsody and Liebeslieder Waltzes, Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, Vaughan Williams’s Sea Symphony and Toward the Unknown Region, Honegger’s King David, Orff’s Carmina Burana and Citulli Carmina, Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky, and the Stabat Mater and the Armed Man Mass of Karl Jenkins. The MCC has performed Requiem settings by Mozart, Verdi, Fauré, Duruflé, and Rutter, as well as American songbook entries from Gershwin, Sondheim, and many others and film score chorales by John Williams and Patrick Doyle. Opera in concert has been a recurring feature, including performances of Verdi’s Aïda, Bizet’s Carmen, and Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.

Over the years, the MCC has been honored to present the world premieres of The Child in Us All and the Prologue from North and South, by Tony Award winner Charles Strouse, Stephen Schwartz’s Academy Award-winning song “When You Believe” from Prince of Egypt, and “Chief Seattle” by Gregg Smith. In celebration of its Silver Anniversary, the Choir commissioned a work by Randal Alan Bass, O Divine Music, which it premiered in May 2010. That same year MCC also introduced Connecticut composer Edward Thompson’s What the Ivy Said to the Fallen Snow. In 2014 the Choir premiered Child of War by Jin Hi Kim, a setting of texts by the Vietnamese peace activist Kim Phuc.

The Choir has performed regularly with the symphony orchestras of Norwalk, Bridgeport, Wallingford, and New Haven. The ensemble has appeared several times in Carnegie Hall under the auspices of both Distinguished Choirs International and Mid-America Productions. In addition to a memorable performance at the 2006 National Pastoral Musician’s Conference in Norwalk, the Choir has also sung to enthusiastic audiences in Rome, Florence, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Galway and Dublin.

Beyond its artistic achievements, the MCC plays an important civic role through its local outreach programs, notably its Mendelssingers ensemble. The Mendelssingers regularly perform in hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities and at various community events to bring the wonder and awe of live choral music to the broadest spectrum of the Connecticut public. The Choir receives support from the Connecticut Office of the Arts, the Carstenson Foundation, and many generous corporations, businesses and individuals throughout Fairfield County.

One of America’s preeminent conductors of collegiate, community and professional choral ensembles, Carole Ann Maxwell, DSM, has been the Director of Choral Activities at Fairfield University since 1980. She is also the Founding Artistic Director and Conductor of The Mendelssohn Choir of Connecticut. In these and all her affiliations, Dr. Maxwell continuously strives for choral excellence through the total commitment and magnificent voices of thousands of gifted singers who gladly audition and travel great distances for the opportunity to work with her.

Noted for immense energy, consummate professionalism and complete dedication to the choral arts, Dr. Maxwell’s mission is to inspire and challenge each singer’s musical potential. Combining her talent with a wonderful sense of humor has set Dr. Maxwell aside from other conductors, making her extremely unique, and placing her in great demand. Her distinctive style and artistic leadership have produced critically acclaimed results from podiums throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. In addition, Dr. Maxwell is a favorite Chorus Master for area orchestras and is a member of the Board of The Fairfield County Children’s Choir. 

Dr. Maxwell has been recognized for her artistic achievements with numerous awards. In 1992, Immaculata College presented Dr. Maxwell with the prestigious “Distinguished Music Alumna” award. The National Music Honor Society, Pi Kappa Lambda, honored her with membership citing her excellence and outstanding contributions in the field of choral music. The Connecticut Post named Dr. Maxwell a recipient of the “Woman of Substance” Award, celebrating outstanding women of the region, and Oxford Health Care honored her with its Humancare Award for her exceptional efforts in the community. In 2000, Dr. Maxwell was named “Woman of the Year” by Fairfield University Women’s Studies Program. Dr. Maxwell has been named to the National Jesuit Honor Society, Alpha Sigma Nu, and in 2016 was recognized as the Distinguished Faculty/Administrator for Fairfield University. The University has further acknowledged her commitment to Fairfield and the choral arts by establishing the Carole Ann Maxwell, D.S.M. Endowment for Choral Music.