John Cloys, Executive Director
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For thirty-seven years The Princeton Singers has captivated audiences and listeners through excellent singing and musicianship. Founded as a small, independent ensemble in 1983 by John Bertalot, then choirmaster and organist at Trinity Church in Princeton, New Jersey, the Singers soon earned a reputation for “excellent tuning, impeccable control, and subtlely nuanced phrasing.”
Since being appointed Artistic Director in 1998, composer-conductor Steven Sametz has expanded the group’s repertoire. Under Dr. Sametz, the ensemble has been noted for its versatility and its mastery of works from Bach to Schoenberg, with forays into unexplored and exciting realms such as Aboriginal and Native American ritual music, Igbe chanting and Arab-Andalusian muwashahat. Our repertoire has come to include not only the local holiday favorite, “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” when we bring to life traditional carols while Dylan Thomas’s classic story is read by a narrator, but also popular collaborations with the Princeton University Art Museum, where the Singers’ range and Dr. Sametz’s creative programming genius are given free rein, allowing us to pair Rothko with Ligeti and Jasper Johns with John Cage. Whatever the repertoire, the Singers have been hailed as “masterful choral singers” with a “rich vocal color” and “flowing choral tone.”
The Princeton Singers is also a vital force in the creation of new choral compositions, serving as choir-in-residence at the biennial Lehigh University Summer Choral Composers Forum which is co-sponsored by the American Choral Directors Association. There, composers from around the country gather to write new works that they then hear performed by the Singers in workshops. At the end of a week’s writing and rewriting, their works are premiered at a culminating performance. Additionally, each season The Princeton Singers commissions a new work by Dr. Sametz, and for our 30th anniversary the group commissioned and premiered new works by Steven Stucky and A.J. Kernis, both Pulitzer Prize-winning composers.
In addition to popular hometown performances, The Princeton Singers has been featured at conventions of the American Guild of Organists, the American Choral Directors Association, and Chorus America. Dr. Sametz has led the ensemble in collaborative concerts with Chanticleer, The American Boychoir, Westminster Choir College’s Schola Cantorum, the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Lehigh University Choral Arts, and the Princeton Girlchoir. The Princeton Singers has been heard on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today” and “With Heart and Voice,” and has been broadcast by the BBC while on tour in Europe.
In September of 2016, they were featured guest choir at the 2016 Shenzhen Choral Festival in Shenzhen China. While in China, they also participated in several workshops and as part of a “flashmob” held at the Shenzhen Cultural Center, the largest such facility in all of Shenzhen.