Choral Director to Conduct Valedictory Concert
After 16 years of directing the Community Chorus at South Berwick, taking this non-auditioned group to levels of performance that have attracted professionally trained singers to join, won the respect of instrumentalists who provide concert accompaniment, and more than doubled the chorus membership, Harry Moon is retiring. He will conduct his last concert with the CCSB in performances April 9 and 10.

Titled "Within These Walls," the concert program is organized around musical genres that take place within certain types of physical walls as well as music dealing with metaphorical walls, such as natural settings, liturgical seasons, human relationships, and the human spirit.
Works on the program include a 16th century antiphonal motet by Giovanni Gabrieli, written to be sung in the Cathedral of St. Mark in Venice, Italy, and a Johannes Brahms lied (art song), a genre which gained popularity in the 19th century due to its suitability for performance in high society drawing rooms and public spaces smaller than grand concert halls. The chorus will also perform two examples of a completely different but equally popular 19th century song form: the American spiritual.
One of the spirituals -- "If I got my ticket, can I ride?" -- was arranged by Robert Shaw, legendary American choral and orchestra director and recipient of numerous awards, including 14 Grammys and the first Guggenheim Fellowship ever given to a conductor. Early in Moon’s career, Shaw, then director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, became his mentor after selecting him to organize and rehearse a chorus to sing with the orchestra in its summer concerts. During his years with Shaw, Moon learned techniques he has used with every chorus he has directed since, including the CCSB.
Throughout his career, Moon has championed the work of living composers, a practice he remains true to in his last CCSB concert. Most of the pieces on the program are 20th and 21st century creations. Among them are "Water Night" and "Seal Lullaby" by Grammy-winning choral composer Eric Whitacre. A characteristic of Whitacre’s compositional style is the building of harmonic clusters that, despite the density of their appearance on the page, sound glisteningly light. In "Water Night," for instance, the chorus sings in 14-part harmony, yet the effect is not ponderous.
The 75-voice chorus will be accompanied by pianist Gail Adams, cellist Victoria Myers, and oboist/English hornist Amanda Doiron.
The April 9 performance takes place at 7:30 p.m. in Immaculate Conception Church, 98 Summer St., Portsmouth, NH. On April 10 at 3 p.m. the chorus performs at Our Lady of the Angels Church, 162 Agamenticus Rd., South Berwick, ME.
Tickets are $12 in advance and for seniors and students, $15 at the door. Tickets are available at South Berwick Pharmacy, 289 Main St., South Berwick; Gary’s Guitars, 800 Islington St., Portsmouth; Baldface Books, 488 Central Ave., Dover; and online at

Chorus and Orchestra to Heighten Holiday Spirit with Bach’s Magnificat
The Community Chorus at South Berwick will give full-throated expression to the anticipatory spirit of the Advent season in performances of its upcoming holiday concert, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, on Dec. 5 and 6. CCSB Music Director Harry Moon will lead the 69 voices of the chorus and a 20-piece orchestra, along with CCSB pianist Gail Adams, in a program designed around the ancient hymn of the concert title.
The concert opens with Harry Moon’s arrangement of the most familiar version of O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. The text of this hymn springs from the Old Testament prophecy of the birth of a child named Emmanuel, who will become the protector of the Israelites and their monotheistic beliefs. (The names Emmanuel and Jesus refer to the same person.) This is followed by the centerpiece work of the program, Johann Sebastian Bach’s Magnificat, the New Testament depiction of Mary’s reaction to her involvement in the fulfillment of the prophecy. Well-known Bach scholar John Eliot Gardiner has characterized the choral parts of the Magnificat as among the most "hair-raisingly difficult" Bach ever wrote.
With the exception of Sanctus in E-flat, by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, one of Johann Sebastian’s sons, the rest of the program consists of works by 20th and 21st century composers referencing the O Come, O Come, Emmanuel theme in one way or another. Composer Daniel Gawthrop sets writer Madeleine L’Engle’s reworking of the Emmanuel verses to an entirely new melody. In Daron Hagen’s rendition of the traditional hymn, the roles of chorus and orchestra are reversed: the chorus hums a four-part accompaniment to two cellos playing the melody.
As has become the custom with CCSB holiday performances, the concerts will include audience sing-alongs of carols.

"A Season to Rejoice" was the title of our December 2014 concerts.
Although the observance of Christmas has changed in many ways over the centuries, at its root it remains a birthday celebration. For the Community Chorus at South Berwick’s December 2014 Christmas concert, "A Season to Rejoice," CCSB Music Director Harry Moon put together a program that not only adhered to the Nativity theme but expanded upon it with a commemoration of the 300th anniversary of the births of composers Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and Gottfried August Homilius.
The chorus performed cantatas appropriate to the season by both tercentennial composers -- Homilius’s "Uns ist ein Kind geboren" (A Child is Born to Us) and C.P.E. Bach’s "Heilig" (Holy), both sung in German.
The rest of the program consisted of works by 20th century composers, either original pieces or arrangements of traditional Christmas tunes: Walter Mathias’s "Hodie, Christus natus est," Kevin Siegfried’s "I Sing of a Maiden," David Kraenbuehl’s "The Star Song" (sung by the CCSB Chamber Voices), Colin Mawby’s arrangement of "Jesus Christ, the Apple Tree," Bob Chilcott’s arrangement of "In the Bleak Mid-Winter," John Rutter’s "Candlelight Carol," and Z. Randall Stroope’s "American Christmas/American Rhapsody," a medley of carols and Morten Lauridsen’s "O magnum mysterium" The chorus was accompanied by a 13-piece chamber orchestra along with CCSB keyboardist Gail Adams.

"Welcome Spring! Tenebrae to Lux aeterna" was CCSB's Spring 2014 Offering. No other season lends itself to as much metaphorical use as spring. Love, hope, birth, rebirth, renewal, rejuvenation, redemption, freshness, youthfulness, friskiness, emerging beauty, new growth, a bounce, the lifting of gloom, the lengthening of daylight, the continuity of life in the physical and spiritual sense – all are associated with spring. In programming this concert CCSB Music Director Harry Moon took full advantage of the possibilities of this one simple word. Because Easter embodies so many connotations of springtime, and because so much great music has been written for Easter, this concert began and ended with sacred works. CCSB was accompanied by a full string ensemble which added much depth, vitality, and color to the concert.
The concert began with serious works of Shubert, Kuhnau, and Bach on the Easter narrative, including rich Bach's Cantata No 4. For the second half, the concert shifted gears with secular works of renewal and rebirth including Songs of Nature by Dvorak, a reprise of a 2006 CCSB-commissioned work on a poem by South Berwick's lauded Sarah Orne Jewett by local composer Kevin Siegfried, a wonderful setting of Simple Gifts with string ensemble, and the lovely Caritas et amor by Stroope. The concert ended with aplomb with the audience favorite opening movement of Gloria by Vivaldi.

CCSB and the generosity of the Flatbread Company and Orange Leaf benefits. CCSB was the recipient of two separate benefits on the same evening, March 25, 2014. The Flatbread Company and Orange Leaf Yogurt of Portsmouth invited CCSB to participate in their benefit programs, whereby a portion of the evening's proceeds are donated to a chosen non-profit organization. The Flatbread Company is a popular downtown family restaurant, and the Orange Leaf specializes in frozen yogurt offerings. At the events, CCSB was able to promote its upcoming Spring concert, its Spring Raffle, and be very visible in the Seacoast community. Generous donations to CCSB's program were made from both businesses. CCSB sincerely appreciates the generosity of these arts oriented businesses!

CCSB presents "A Boy was Born" December 2013. Performed at favorite local venues to enthusiastic audiences, each of the five segments of this concert described a different aspect of the concert story -- A Boy Was Born. As is the custom for CCSB's Christmas concerts Dr. Moon chose to designate each of these segments as "wreaths" such as Wreath for the Birth, Wreath for a Rennaissance Christmas, and Wreath for Madonna and Child. In the context of this concert, the wreath represents how all the composers on the program have taken the musical tradition associated with Christmas full circle, devising new works for the 20th and 21st centuries using centuries-old text and imagery. Singers were accompanied by harp and oboe in addition to accompanist Gail Adams. Beginning with seasonal favorites, the concert proceeded with a-capella with 20th century works by Britten (a beautiful setting of A Boy Was Born) and haunting and then exuberant Christmas works of Poulenc. Berkey's (of Manheim Steamroller fame) setting of Silent Night and Paulus' Three Nativity Carols highlighted the harp and oboe accompanists. A renaissance excursion with CCSB's Chamber Singers was followed by works again of the 20th century, including a final setting of A Boy Was Born by Mathias.

With its Christmas 2013 concert, A Boy Was Born, the Community Chorus at South Berwick focused on the theme of the Nativity. The program, which, aside from two Renaissance pieces sung by the chorus's Chamber Voices, was made up entirely of 20th and 21st century arrangements of traditional carols and original works.

The concert featured works by Benjamin Britten, Francis Poulenc, both known as much for their instrumental works as for their choral writing. Other composers included Peter Aldins, Chester Alwes, Jackson Berkey, Michael Fink, Derek Healey, Mykola Leontovich, Peter Wilhousky, William Mathias, and Stephen Paulus, who have achieved distinction as choral conductors, performers and music educators.

Robert's Maine Grill, in Kittery, Maine, graciously hosted a "Community Supper" on November 27th and December 4th, 2013 to help support Community Chorus at South Berwick.
Every Tuesday & Wednesday night Robert's Maine Grill, Route 1, in Kittery offers a "Community Supper" starting at 4PM. The main focus of the supper is a $14, 3 course menu – a mid-week "recession buster" offering. The menus are in the spirit of Robert's style: Maine Comfort Food with an updated twist. Robert's regular dinner menu is also available. To add to the community spirit of it, each Tuesday & Wednesday Robert's donates a portion of proceeds from the evening to a local non-profit. Upcoming Community Supper menus are posted at Robert's Maine Grill .

CCSB presented "With Voices of Singing" as its Spring 2013 concert, including the 65 singers of CCSB and special guests the Sandpipers Seacoast Children's Chorus . The concert combined classics by Mozart, Schubert, and Vivaldi performed by CCSB, followed by performance of short works by the Sandpipers, and culminated in CCSB and the Sandpipers combining on very appealing works written for two choirs. A string ensemble accompanied works in both sections.

CCSB presented "Gloria in excelcis Deo" as Winter 2012 concert. Gloria in Excelsis Deo (glory to God in the highest), the liturgical phrase most readily identified with Christmas, was the theme for the holiday concert, accompanied by brass – in this case, a brass quintet along with percussion and piano. The program opened with the driving tempo and jazzy rhythm of Kent Newbury's 1988 setting of Gloria in Excelsis Deo, sung in Latin, followed by the fluid, canonic interweaving of melody lines passed from one voice part to another in three motets by Renaissance composer Hans Leo Hassler.The chorus then sang Glory to God by Randall Thompson, two Israeli Chanukah songs, sung in Hebrew, works by New England-based composer Gwyneth Walker, and then progressing chronologically from the 16th century with their performance of Claude Goudimel's Gloria in Excelsis Deo motet, 20th century American composer Ned Rorem's Christmas motet While all things, and ending with Brian Holmes' 2001 setting of a G.K. Chesterton poem.
In keeping with a CCSB Christmas concert tradition, the audience was encouraged to sing along, but this time listeners and chorus members alike needed to pay close attention to the conductor for their participation.
The concert closed with yet another setting of Gloria in Excelsis Deo, this one a fast-paced chime-like piece written in 1991 by American composer Eleanor Daley.

CCSB presents "On the Bookshelf" as Spring 2012 concert. The theme for the concert was a musical "browsing", as if in a library spending an unhurried afternoon wandering from topic to topic. Dr. Moon's program was seemingly eclectic, but was beautifully united musically ad with this theme of browsing. The concert included a wide range of works that spanned subjects, time, and the globe. Subjects included folksongs of the United Kingdom and Ireland, Sacred Verse, Weather and Climate Change, Shakespeare, Folks songs of America, and American spirituals; and works ranging from Lotti's Crucifixus, to Henry Mollicone's National Weather Forecast, to Chapman's homage to Shakespeare's sonnets Love and Shapes High Fantastical, to a remarkable moving setting of The Streets of Laredo, and more. This theme presented the opportunity for CCSB to address one of its missions: to engage and participate with the local community with a collaboration with the Friends of the South Berwick Library. The Friends are committed to raising funds to supplementing Town funding of the facility, which is being completed in 2012. The Friends promoted the concert and shared in the ticket proceeds as a fundraiser.