Esteemed conductor Martin Neary brings his Millennium Consort Singers to Pomona College's Bridges Hall of Music (150 E. Fourth St., Claremont) on Sunday, October 27 at 8 p.m. with a program in homage to Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of music. The concert is free and open to the public.
"For our return to beautiful Bridges Hall of Music with this phenomenal ensemble, I wanted to lead a choral celebration honoring the patron saint of music and also make a nod to the centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten," says Neary. "I am delighted that we will perform four glorious settings by Britten, and selections by Gerald Finzi and James MacMillan, plus two world premieres by California composers Tom Flaherty and JAC Redford."
Joining the ensemble is prizewinning organist Edward Murray. Additionally, the Pomona College Choir, under the direction of Donna M. Di Grazia, will join the MCS for one of the selections.
The West Coast-based Millennium Consort Singers came together in 2007, founded by Kelly Garrison, director of the Da Camera Society, to perform choral masterpieces from the Renaissance and the 20th and 21st-centuries. Their opening concert, before a sold-out audience at St. Sophia's Cathedral, featured works by contemporary British composer John Tavener and his earlier namesake, John Taverner. Of the concert, the Los Angeles Times wrote, "The company effortlessly spanned the centuries in a program of mostly a cappella anthems by Henry Purcell, Jonathan Harvey and Ralph Vaughan Williams, as well as Vaughan Williams' Mass in G minor." Since then MCS performed in Pomona College's Bridges Hall of Music, and in 2010 at Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Conductor Neary was organist and master of the choristers at Winchester Cathedral (1972-87) and at Westminster Abbey (1988-98). He was a prizewinner at the first St. Alban's International Organ Competition, and quickly became recognized internationally as a concert organist. Throughout his career, Neary has been a champion of contemporary music, both as conductor and organist. In particular, he has been associated with two English composers, Jonathan Harvey and John Tavener. With the Winchester Cathedral and Westminster Abbey Choirs he introduced many of Harvey and Tavener's works to audiences all over the world in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the Kremlin (Moscow). Among his recordings is a CD for Sony Classical of Purcell's Music for Queen Mary with the Westminster Abbey Choir, which was nominated for a Grammy. In 1998, Neary was appointed a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order by the Queen of England, in appreciation of his services at the funeral of Princess Diana.