Press release December 4, 2015

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:   December 4, 2015

For More Information:   Call BCCO at 510-433-9599.  See

Contact:  Jan Murota, or 510-725-2246

Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra’s 50th Anniversary Performances in January Will Spotlight Bernstein, Brahms and More

Berkeley, Calif. – The Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra (BCCO) will present a musical celebration of its 50-year history at Hertz Hall at UC Berkeley in January.

Under the direction of Music Director Ming Luke, the 220-singer chorus will present three performances of an eclectic program of music celebrating its 50th anniversary on Friday, Jan. 8, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, Jan. 9, at 3 p.m.; and Sunday, Jan. 10, at 3 p.m. All BCCO concerts are free and open to the public; donations are encouraged.

The concert series will include pieces from the eras of BCCO’s three visionary music directors: selections from Handel’s Messiah in honor of BCCO’s first music director, Eugene Jones, who served from 1966 to 1988; portions of Brahms’ German Requiem and Sibelius’ Finlandia in honor of Arlene Sagan, BCCO’s music director from 1988 to 2011; and Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, conducted by current director Luke.  In addition, the concert will include a piece composed for BCCO’s 50th anniversary by Napa-based composer Kurt Erickson, the winner of BCCO’s recent Emerging Composer Competition.

Luke commented, “No American musician embodied the American musical spirit such as Leonard Bernstein. A product of his era that was also influenced and shaped by his training and performances, Bernstein's music retains a full melting pot of musical styles from the classical greats like Beethoven, Mozart, in addition to various genres like jazz and pops.” Says Luke, “In Chichester Psalms, Bernstein has created an infectious musical melange filled with influences from his Jewish roots, his love of Broadway musicals, and an underlying vein of jazz rhythms and drive.”  

Guest conductor Joseph Liebling, former director of the Oakland Symphony Chorus, will conduct the first and fourth movements of the Brahms.  The program also will feature the Berkeley Community Chamber Singers, BCCO’s community outreach ensemble, directed by Derek Tam; the Berkeley Women’s Community Chorus, which BCCO helped found in 2013, led by Debra Golata; and the Berkeley High School Concert Chorale, which BCCO helped to revive in 2012, led by Steffanie Schaeffer. Soloists include Bay Area professional soprano Heidi Moss, and girl sopranos Jennifer Lee and Emma Broback from the Contra Costa Children’s Chorus.

According to Luke, the year 2016 celebrates both BCCO's history and, more importantly, how its history has shaped it into the organization it is today.  “Each of us is a product of our previous experiences, and this is no less true for an organization and its musical experiences.  Chichester Psalms is symbolic of BCCO as an organization: this concert shows our roots of our past, the breadth of our current day programs; and of course, concludes with the Chichester Psalms, the true representation of who we are today.”  


The Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra is a no-audition community chorus dedicated to performing major classical works with orchestral accompaniment, free to the public. In 2016 it will celebrate its 50th year of performance. Ming Luke, BCCO’s third music director since its founding, is widely recognized for his innovative music education programs. Luke has performed more than 120 educational concerts with the Berkeley Symphony, for which he is associate conductor. He frequently conducts for the San Francisco Ballet Orchestra and has worked with ensembles across the United States, Europe and Russia.