Current Season 2017-18


2017 – 2018 Season: New Horizons

A Message from Ars Musica’s Music Director, James Kennerley

I am deeply honored to lead Ars Musica as their new Music Director in the chorale’s 52nd season. Our theme is New Horizons, showcasing music that pushed the boundaries of art and culture to new and exciting heights. We look forward to presenting concerts of some of the most glorious and thrilling music of all time featuring many of the finest vocalists and instrumentalists of Ridgewood, New York City, and beyond.

This season we will perform well-known masterpieces by Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Johann Sebastian Bach. We’ll also explore music by George Gershwin, his contemporary, Francis Poulenc, as well as a Holiday celebration featuring readings and music for the Christmas and Hanukkah season together with our sister choir, the New Jersey State Children’s Chorus.  

In this climate of uncertainty and division one thing is certain: we all need community and we all need music. The arts invite us to explore and understand ourselves and others in highly effective ways. Music allows us to gather in a singular space to enjoy timeless works of art in ways that audience members and performers alike can transcend the clamour of everyday life.

Ars Musica is committed to engaging in the cultural life of our community in Bergen County and beyond. The New Jersey State Children’s Chorus (NJSCC) was founded in 2016 and is the only choir of its kind to provide essential education and outreach in the area. The Encore Young Artist Program (EYAP) demonstrates our commitment to developing the careers of emerging professional vocalists by providing expert performance and educational experience.

Ars Musica Chorale is one of the finest and oldest choral groups in Bergen County. Come and experience the thrilling sound of 80 voices performing some of the greatest music in stunning venues. We can’t wait to welcome you, and I can’t wait to meet you!

With my very best wishes,

James Kennerley

Ars Musica’s concert season is made possible in part by a grant administered by the Bergen County Division of Cultural & Historic Affairs from funds granted by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Ars Musica Chorale, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) registered non-profit organization.

Celestial Harmonies: heavenly choral music by Rachmaninoff and Samuel Barber

Saturday November 11, 2017 (Veterans’ Day Weekend), 7 PM (no pre-concert talk)
Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 155 Linwood Ave, Ridgewood, NJ 07450


  • Samuel Barber: Agnus dei (arrangement of the Adagio for Strings)
  • Sergei Rachmaninov Vespers (All-night Vigil), Opus 37


We open our season with Celestial Harmonies, a concert featuring works for a cappella choir by two of the finest composers of the twentieth century. Samuel Barber composed his String Quartet in in 1936. Its celebrated Adagio movement has been called “semplice e bella” (simple and beautiful) by Italian conductor Toscanini, “full of pathos and cathartic passion.” In 1967 Barber set the music to the prayerful words of the Agnus dei to create a highly passionate and dynamic piece.

Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Vespers (properly entitled the All-night Vigil) was written and premiered on March 23, 1915 in Moscow. While he is most well-known for the virtuosic piano concertos and decadent symphonic music, I find that the beauty and power of the All-night Vigil brings us to the very heart of Rachmaninoff and the Russian musical tradition. Rachmaninoff combines the traditional Russian Orthodox chants with romantically-inflected harmonies, creating a rich color palate which at times features eleven-part harmonies! The bass parts are renowned for their depth, descending to a low B-flat in one movement. As one of Rachmaninoff’s friends commented, “Now where on earth are we to find such basses? They are as rare as asparagus at Christmas!”

Well, we will have them! Ars Musica’s 80-voice chorus together with the alto and tenor soloists will make a thrilling sound: you won’t want to miss it.


An Ars Musica Holiday Celebration: a joyful procession through many cultures and many centuries.

Saturday, December 9, 7pm (no intermission)
Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 155 Linwood Ave, Ridgewood, NJ 07450


  • Works by Eric Whitacre, John Rutter, Vince Guaraldi, John Taverner,
  • American spirituals,
  • Hanukkah songs,
  • and traditional carols for the audience to participate in.


Come join us for a spectacular candlelight holiday concert featuring traditional and not-so-traditional music and readings for Christmas, Hanukkah, and elsewhere composed over a span of eight centuries. Let Ars Musica Chorale and the New Jersey State Children’s Chorus take you on a magical journey to distant lands, featuring tales of donkeys, shepherds, sleigh bells, Hanukkah songs, and Christmas carols for everyone to sing.

We’re delighted to welcome our featured guest (TBD) who will give readings by Charles Dickens, Christina Rossetti, and others.

The music will include selections by Eric Whitacre, John Rutter, Irving Berlin, and our very own Music Director, James Kennerley, as well as a surprise visit from Charlie Brown, Linus, and Lucy. We will even celebrate a Californian Goyishe Christmas with seasonal selections by Irving Berlin and friends!

It will be a glorious evening and we can’t wait to celebrate with you. This event sells out quickly so please be sure to purchase your tickets early to avoid disappointment.

Notes: Joint presentation with Ars Musica Chorale and the New Jersey State Children’s’ Chorus

Porgy in Paris: music by Francis Poulenc and George Gershwin

Saturday March 3, 2018, 7 PM (no intermission)
Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 155 Linwood Ave, Ridgewood, NJ 07450


  • Francis Poulenc (1899–1963): Stabat Mater
  • George Gershwin (1898–1937): Porgy and Bess (abridged)


George Gershwin and Francis Poulenc wrote some of the jazziest music of the twentieth century. Born within a few months of each other (Gershwin in September of 1898 and Poulenc in January of 1899) they could not have come from more contrasting backgrounds. Poulenc was raised in a wealthy, pious Roman Catholic Parisian family with a successful family pharmaceutical business. Gershwin, on the other hand, was raised in the tenements of Brooklyn and New York City’s Lower East Side to a Russian-Ukrainian Jewish family. His father worked a variety of jobs, and the family moved around frequently.

But both men wrote music that pushed the boundaries of their respective cultures. Poulenc was a member of a group of contemporary French composers known as Les Six that worked to forge a new way of expressing music that was distinct from the Romanticism of Wagner and the impressionism of Debussy and Ravel. Penned in 1950, the Stabat Mater was dedicated to the memory of Poulenc’s friend and artist Christian Bérard. Its text is a medieval meditation on the suffering of Mary during the events leading to Jesus’ crucifixion. Poulenc uses the resources of the soprano solo, full chorus, and orchestra to create a ravishingly beautiful and dramatically varied work.

Porgy and Bess was first performed in 1935 and remains one of Gershwin’s most performed stage works today. The first performance featured a cast of African-American singers that created much controversy at the time. Gershwin called the work a folk opera, the first of its kind: “Its people naturally would sing folk music…Therefore I wrote my own spirituals and folksongs.” The score contains some of the most memorable tunes of all time, including Summertime, I got plenty o’ nuttin’, and Bess, You Is My Woman Now.

Don’t miss Porgy in Paris – two game-changing works from America and France showcasing the jazziest harmonies, snappiest rhythms, and the most luscious choral music!

Masterworks Concert: J S Bach’s Mass in B Minor

Saturday May 19, 2018, 7 PM pre-concert talk, 7:30 performance (with intermission before Credo)
West Side Presbyterian Church, 6 South Monroe Street, Ridgewood, NJ 07450

Repertoire: Bach Mass in B Minor


Ars Music Chorale returns to the unparalleled acoustics of West Side Presbyterian Church in a performance of the boundary-breaking masterpiece by Johann Sebastian Bach, the Mass in B Minor. We’re delighted to be partnering with the acclaimed Adelphi Orchestra to present this season’s Masterworks concert. The Mass in B Minor is one of the greatest—perhaps the greatest—musical works of art, a revolutionary tour-de-force of styles, genres, orchestration, and instrumental and vocal virtuosity, and human emotion and understanding.

One of the greatest mysteries surrounding the piece is its purpose – we still don’t really know why Bach wrote it. Parts of the piece were started as early as 1714, and the final movement finished in 1748 or thereabouts. It was never performed in its entirety during Bach’s lifetime (that didn’t happen until the nineteenth century, remarkably). It’s possible that parts were written in an attempt—albeit unsuccessful—to secure a new job. It may also have stood as part of a series of encyclopedic works produced by Bach during the last decade of his life. Of maybe it should be seen as a piece in praise of God. At the end of the final movement, Bach writes S.D.G  – Soli Deo Gloria (to God alone be glory).

“Since performing this work in concert at Bach’s own church in Leipzig several years ago I’ve dedicated more and more time to studying, teaching, and performing Bach’s music. The B minor Mass is truly the mountain peak of Bach’s musical output, showcasing his mastery of every aspect of compositional technique available to him. I’m so excited to be performing this work with Ars Musica!”




(551) 226-9305

Mailing Address
Ars Musica
PO Box 525
Paramus, New Jersey 07653



Discover Jersey Arts

Ars Musica’s concert season is made possible in part by a grant administered by the Bergen County Division of Cultural & Historic Affairs from funds granted by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.



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