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American and British Art Songs of the 20th Century

Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, Benjamin Britten, Ernest Charles, Aaron Copland, John Jacob Niles, Ralph Vaughan Williams


Liliana Sydorenko and Meredith Wallace, trebles
Katherine Wessinger, soprano
Helen Karloski, mezzo-soprano
Andrew Henderson, piano and organ

Debut Recording



“the fifty-five singers on this recording truly make a glorious sound!... solid and healthy vocal technique... Their diction is elegant and clear, but not overdone in the unnatural mannerthat some children's choirs insist upon... The group's sound at the beginning of eachphrase is worth noting: with or without a glottal, each onset sounds comfortable and well-supported... exemplary quality of the vocal production... two of the NYCCC's staff members are featured soloists, and they model the same fine technique and intonation that they teach... This is a group worth following for many reasons, and I encourage AAM colleagues to check out the recording.”
Marjorie Johnston, The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians [December 2016]
“All twenty-six art songs are dispatched with a youthful vigour that is quite infectious, and although the pieces do not demand extreme technical levels, the versatility and heartfelt warmth of the singing are a cause for constant enjoyment. Sound and presentation are first-rate... this CD is indeed a simple gift replete with moments of genuine juvenile sparkle and affection.”
Gerald Fenech, Music & Vision [July 2016]
“[This] MSR Classics like a breath of fresh air... The CD’s title comes, of course, from Copland’s Simple Gifts, the fourth of the 10 Old American Songs performed here with sensitivity and spirit, led by Mary Wannamaker Huff with simplicity and stylistic effectiveness... There are 26 songs in all, averaging just over two minutes apiece, and every one is direct in expression, set with care and sensitivity to the words and their underlying emotion, and not attempting to essay great heights of passion or grand echoes of epics of the distant past. The children’s voices fit the material well... listeners can pay close attention to Andrew Henderson’s fine piano and organ playing in support of the chorus...”
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [May 2016]
“the musicianship and technical ability of these young singers is impressive... But to be clear, the achievement is, even more importantly, artistic. This is a heart-warming program of charming but substantial material—most of it folk-song based—sung with innocence and assurance. I was captured by the very first song... Huff keeps things lively and moving forward, not lingering too long over even the more reflective works, while Henderson provides alert and sympathetic accompaniment… The recording is outstanding, and there are nice notes and texts. Definitely recommended.”
Ronald Grames, Fanfare [March/April 2016]
Art song is the central musical form used in teaching a young singer about technique and performance. Every serious young singer begins their vocal study with these works: first in Italian, then German, French, and English. So this is where the New York City Children’s Chorus begins, as well. In addition to learning choral masterworks, both old and new, every chorister at the NYCCC learns a core repertoire of art songs throughout their study here. We offer to you our first recording, Simple Gifts, our study of American and British Art Songs of the first half of the 20th Century.

Teaching children to sing exceptionally well, teaching children to read music, teaching children to harness their range of emotions to give immediacy to their performances, teaching children that depending on and cooperating with others can often give a greater result than working alone -- these are the things that singing in a children’s chorus can do. This is what the New York City Children’s Chorus strives to do every day. We are pleased to offer this, our first recording, as we give back some of our favorite music to you. [Mary Wannamaker Huff]

The New York City Children’s Chorus at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church is a graded choral program for children in the metropolitan New York City area who wish to receive training in the art of singing in a rigorous and rewarding choral environment. Founded in 2012, the NYCCC is comprised of nine choral ensembles for 165 children ages four through eighteen, steeped in the bel canto tradition, exploring a range of Western music from Bach to Broadway. Recent performances for the choristers in the advanced performing choirs heard in this recording, Concert Choir and In Harmony, include J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Benjamin Britten’s Saint Nicolas, appearances on Good Morning America, Saturday Night Live and the Today Show, as well as tour appearances in Vienna, Salzburg, Toronto and Washington, D.C. Choristers learn, through hard work and dedication, to develop a passionate commitment to excellence through studying the choral art, to develop discipline and self-confidence, and to give back to their community through the gift of music. Conductor Mary Wannamaker Huff is the Artistic Director of the New York City Children’s Chorus and Associate Director of Music at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church. She founded the NYCCC at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in 2012, having conducted her first children’s choir in 1999. Ms. Huff has coached her choirs and soloists for a remarkably diverse range of venues from Carnegie Hall, to major television networks, to outreach concerts in our local homeless shelter and nursing homes. Her noted work as a pedagogue began with training at Furman University and Yale University, followed by teaching in independent, inner city and catholic schools.
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Accompanist Andrew Henderson co-founded the New York City Children’s Chorus at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in 2012, where he has served as Director of Music and Organist since 2005. Dr. Henderson serves on the organ faculties at the Manhattan School of Music and Teacher’s College at Columbia University, and as the Associate Organist at New York City’s Temple Emanu-El. Dr. Henderson holds degrees from Cambridge University, where he served as Organ Scholar at Clare College, and from Yale University and The Juilliard School.

Soprano Katherine Wessinger brings a fresh musicality to a wide repertoire on the concert, opera and recital stage. She has appeared as a soloist with Sacred Music in a Sacred Space, New York Virtuoso Singers, Canticum Novum, Saint Andrew Chorale, Brooklyn Conservatory Community Orchestra, Mansfield University Festival Chorus, River Concert Series, and with the Alba Music Festival. In addition to her work as a concert soloist, she performs opera from the Baroque through the 21st century. Ms. Wessinger is the private voice instructor for the New York City Children’s Chorus.

Mezzo-soprano Helen Karloski is a versatile artist, equally at home in oratorio, opera, and chamber music. She won first place in the 2015 Lyndon Woodside Oratorio Solo Competition at Carnegie Hall and won a Grammy Award in 2015 for The Sacred Spirit of Russia with Conspirare. Along with Conspirare, she performs regularly with the New York Choral Artists, Voices of Ascension, Musica Sacra, Handel and Haydn Society, Tucson Chamber Artists, Oregon Bach Festival and Junges Stuttgarter Bach Ensemble. As Administrative Assistant of the NYCCC, Ms. Karloski is directly involved in all matters of administration and management.

The Vagabond (Robert Louis Stevenson)
The Call (George Herbert)
The Roadside Fire (Robert Louis Stevenson)

SAMUEL BARBER (1910-1981)
The Daisies (James Stephens)
Sure on this Shining Night (James Agee)

AARON COPLAND (1900-1990)
The Boatmen’s Dance (Traditional American)
The Dodger (Traditional American)
Long Time Ago (George Pope Morris)
Simple Gifts (Traditional Shaker)
I Bought Me a Cat (Traditional American)
The Little Horses (Traditional American)
Zion’s Walls (John G. McCurry)
The Golden Willow Tree (Anglo-American Ballad)
At the River (Robert Lowry)
Ching-a-Ring Chaw (Minstrel Song)

Shenando (Traditional American)

The Sally Gardens (William Butler Yeats)
The New Year Carol (Anonymous)
Oliver Cromwell (Suffolk Nursery Rhyme)

JOHN JACOB NILES (1892-1980)
The Carol of the Birds (John Jacob Niles)
Go ‘Way from my Window (John Jacob Niles)
I Wonder as I Wander (Appalachian Carol)
What Songs were Sung (John Jacob Niles)

There is a Garden (Leonard Bernstein)
Simple Song (Stephen Schwartz)

ERNEST CHARLES (1895-1984)
When I have Sung my Songs (Ernest Charles)

MSR Classics
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