Just in time for the season
Cantigas Choir makes Jersey City debut
by Al Sullivan
Reporter staff writer
Nov 19, 2017 | 2011 views | 0 0 comments | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A HOME COMING – Cantigas Choir will debut in Jersey City with a holiday concert.
A HOME COMING – Cantigas Choir will debut in Jersey City with a holiday concert.
After 15 years of concerts primarily in Hoboken, Hudson County’s Cantigas Choir will make its Jersey City debut, presenting its 16th annual winter concert, entitled “Winter Roses,” on Saturday, Dec. 16, at 7:30 p.m. at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 440 Hoboken Ave., between Summit and Central.

This is the group’s first major concert in Jersey City. The suggested donation for the concert is $20, $10 for seniors and students.

“With more than half of our members hailing from Jersey City, this concert feels like a homecoming,” artistic director and Jersey City resident Joan Litman says. “Additionally, Cantigas has welcomed 15 new members this season, a sign of the inclusive spirit and enthusiasm of Jersey City and Hoboken women to sing uplifting repertoire from around the world!”

The choir’s diversity now spans its widest range of ethnicities, professions, backgrounds and age, with members from 13 to 75 years old.

Named after a medieval Spanish song form called a “cantiga,” the choir is composed of women of varying ages and backgrounds, and advocates through song for those whose hearts need to be uplifted and whose voices need to be heard.

Litman founded the group in September 2002. Litman is a native of Los Angeles and has been a choral director in the New York metropolitan area for 30 years. She is a member of the music faculty of the United Nations International School in Manhattan and a member of the summer faculty at the Kodály Institute at Capital University.

In April 2008, Litman was the guest conductor at the American International School in Even Yehuda, Israel, and her United Nations International School children’s chorus performed for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to New York last year.

A mission of uplift

The choir seeks to bring women of the community together to explore the rich tradition of female singing and performs a broad spectrum of global music, both ancient and contemporary. Cantigas performs and rehearses regularly in Hoboken and now performs shows in Jersey City and sometimes even Manhattan.

In addition to performing for the inmates at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in Clinton, New Jersey, and on behalf of cancer survivors in Bayonne, Cantigas has performed for the Eastern Division of the American Choral Directors Association and performs works from composers that include Leonardo San Juan, Paul Hennessee, Lillian Redl, and Wassim Ibrahim.

The family-friendly, festive concert will feature well-loved classics like Benjamin Britten’s “There is No Rose” from A Ceremony of Carols and “Ave Maria” by Johann Sebastian Bach and Charles Gounod, as well as more contemporary works like “What Snow!” from Eric Whitacre’s Five Hebrew Love Songs (with solo performances by soprano Shaylin Schundler and violinist Ashley Horne) and Amanda McBroom’s “The Rose” (made popular by Bette Midler).

Guest performances include two student artists: 14-year-old songwriter Chloe Hennessee, who set to music the poem “A Change in Me,” written by a mother incarcerated in Washington state; and eighth grader Mia Bernard will perform Johannes Brahms’ Cello Sonata No. 1 in E Minor accompanied by her mother, Min Kim.

The program will feature piano accompaniment by assistant director Erasmia Voukelatos and a solo by a Jersey City resident, soprano Amanda Guerette.

As always, the winter concert includes audience participation for holiday singing. “Our audiences are lively and lusty singers,” Litman says. “One senses that there is a need for more community singing and this is the time of year to let it out! If you enjoy the diversity of the people who make up our community here in Hoboken and Jersey City, come out and experience our musical heritage from tender lullabies to the raw and beautiful harmonies.”

For more information go to http://www.cantigas.net.

Al Sullivan may be reached at asullivan@hudsonreporter.com.

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