Press Release - March 25, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:   March 25, 2013 For Further
 Call BCCO at 510-433-9599, or see                                  


Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra To Spotlight Winning Compositions in May Concerts


Berkeley, Calif. – The Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra (BCCO) will feature finalists from its national Young Composers Competition in its spring concert series in May. The concerts, which also will include Maurice Durufle’s Requiem Op. 9, are free and open to the public.


Although BCCO has sponsored composition competitions in the past, this is the first time it has sponsored a nationwide competition focused on young composers, under the age of 40. “The three compositions chosen as finalists are all wonderful works with individual voices and statements.  We're looking forward to performing them for our audiences,” said Music Director Ming Luke.


The chorus will perform three short works by the top-ranked composers: Costas Dafnis’Carmen Vocis,  a poetic reflection on the unique expressiveness of the human voice;Michael Schachter’s Oseh Shalom Bimromav, the text of which is a well-known Hebrew prayer about granting peace to all people; and Keane Southard’s A Day of Sunshine, a setting of a Longfellow poem which the composer describes as a high-spirited song of thanks for “the gift of life in
the beauty of the natural world.”


Durufle’s hauntingly beautiful Requiem, one of only 14 pieces the famously self-critical composer and organist allowed to be published during his lifetime, is considered to be his masterpiece. The Requiem, composed in 1947, has been described as   “an astounding successful compromise between musical styles 1,400 years apart.” The Requiem draws its musical themes from both Gregorian chant and the modern harmonic language of Debussy, Ravel, and Faure.


Soloists for the Durufle Requiem will be Carrie Hennessey, mezzo-soprano, and Igor Vieira, baritone.


To further encourage young people to appreciate music by creating educational and performance opportunities for young musicians, BCCO's May 3rd concert will feature a chorus of Berkeley High students conducted by BCCO Assistant Director Derek Tam.   As part of an outreach program to encourage choral singing at the high school (which currently has no formal choral instruction), Mr. Tam has been working with the student singers over the last two semesters, creating a chorus that will perform two short pieces as part of BCCO's May 3rd concert.


BCCO is a non-auditioned community chorus of more than 220 singers that performs major classical works with orchestral accompaniment. Ming Luke is the third director since BCCO’s founding in 1966.  Some of Luke’s recent conducting engagements include the San Francisco Ballet, Opera San Jose, Sacramento Opera, Napa Regional Dance Company, Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra, Napa Valley Symphony and the Bolshoi Orchestra.


Luke directs and conducts the Berkeley Symphony’s music education program. The Berkeley Symphony recently honored Luke for his work with its nationally recognized Music in the Schools program, which supplements music education for more than 4,000 students in all of Berkeley’s public elementary schools.


Luke also is music director of the Napa Valley Youth Symphony and the Modesto Symphony Youth Orchestra. The two orchestras took top honors in 2011 at the Los Angeles International Music Festival under his direction.


BCCO’s assistant conductor, Derek Tam, performs in the Bay Area as a pianist and a harpsichordist in addition to serving as conductor for various musical groups, church choirs, and school programs.


The concerts will be held at St. Joseph the Worker Church, 1640 Addison St.,
Berkeley, on Friday, May 3, at 8 p.m.; Sunday, May 5, at 4:30 p.m.; and Sunday, May 12, at 4:30 p.m. For more information, call BCCO at 510-433-9599, or see