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CLASSICAL MOVEMENTS PRESENTS 7th ANNUAL SERENADE! WASHINGTON, D.C. CHORAL FESTIVAL: A JFK 100 CELEBRATION JUNE 27—JULY 4, 2017 17 CHOIRS | 14 COUNTRIES | 14 CONCERTS | 11 WORLD PREMIERES Co-presented by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Established in 2011 and hailed by the Washington Post as “true harmonic convergence,” Classical Movements’ Serenade! Washington, D.C. Choral Festival is an international choir celebration that offers an unforgettable, life-changing experience for singers and audiences alike. Presented free to the public, since its inception, Serenade! has showcased more than 50 choirs from some 25 countries to enthusiastic audiences at prestigious venues throughout the Washington metropolitan area. The 7th annual Serenade! Festival, from June 27—July 4, 2017, promises to be a very special edition, as it is copresented with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, in celebration of President Kennedy’s centennial and one of his longstanding initiatives, the Peace Corps. For 8 days and nights, select youth and adult choirs hailing from countries that have benefited from Peace Corps volunteers will perform collaborative concerts and exchange cultures through shared workshops and side-by-side rehearsals with select American choirs, all while participating in community outreach projects all across the region. Featuring 5, multi-choral performances on the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage—as well as 1 mass choir finale concert conducted by Joshua Habermann, director of the Dallas Symphony Chorus and Santa Fe Desert Chorale, in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall on Monday, July 3—Serenade! choirs will perform 8 additional concerts at stunning and historic venues in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Notable among the Serenade! 2017 ensembles: the world’s oldest boy choir, Catalonia’s Escolania de Montserrat, who will perform music composed for them by the legendary Pablo Casals, President Kennedy’s honored guest at the White House in 1961; Latvian Voices, an a cappella ensemble from the capital of Latvia, that Baltic nation the President visited while still a Harvard student touring Europe; Gandharva Choir from New Delhi, India, where as a 34-year-old congressman, then Rep. Kennedy met the country’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1951. As for those groups from countries served by the Peace Corps, Serenade! will highlight Insingizi, a thrilling, threeman ensemble from Zimbabwe, Balkanes, an all-female quartet that shares both the sacred and profane traditions of their native Bulgaria and Pihcintu, a refugee children’s chorus based in Portland, Maine. "...the Serenade Festival, an international choral festival which has been held in DC for several years; this year, it will move (in part) to the Kennedy Center and present choruses from countries where the Peace Corps, a Kennedy initiative, has been active." — Anne Midgette, Washington Post Also, Classical Movements' Eric Daniel Helms New Music Program has commissioned 11, brand-new works by composers from the festival’s featured countries, each piece inspired by the 5 ideals President Kennedy championed—Justice, Freedom, Courage, Service and Gratitude—manifested every day, the world over by Peace Corps volunteers. For more information, please visit

2017 Serenade! Washington, D.C. Choral Festival: A JFK 100 Celebration "How many of you, who are going to be doctors, are willing to spend your days in Ghana? Technicians or engineers, how many of you are willing to work in the Foreign Service and spend your lives traveling around the world?" — Sen. John F. Kennedy, on the campaign trail at the University of Michigan In the early morning of October 14, 1960, there in front of the student union in Ann Arbor, presidential candidate Kennedy first challenged the nation to volunteer for peaceful service in underdeveloped countries. Months later, Senator Kennedy solidified his ideas about a service corps, making it a major campaign pledge. Sargent Shriver was tasked to work on a report regarding the feasibility of this volunteer corps that would work on projects in other countries. Shortly after receiving Shriver’s report, now President Kennedy signed Executive Order 10924, thus establishing the Peace Corps. Sargent Shriver served as Director of the Peace Corps from 1961-1966.

INDIA – Peace Corps country, world’s biggest democracy As a 34-year-old U.S. congressman from Massachusetts, Rep. John F. Kennedy visited India in 1951. So taken by India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, only a decade later, during his first State of the Union address, President Kennedy likened “the soaring idealism of Nehru” to the words of Churchill and de Gaulle. The following year, seeking to steady the nerves of Nehru's nation, JFK dispatched the USS Enterprise to the Bay of Bengal during the height of the Sino-Indian conflict.

Having represented India during the third annual International Choral Festival at Lincoln Center and the brand-new John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 1972, the Gandharva Choir comes back to the banks of the Potomac after a 45-year absence.

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Founded in 1971 by the late composer/conductor M.B. Sreenivasan, the Madas Youth Choir is presently led by K.S. Subramanian, a retired bureaucrat and well-known translator of Tamil literature. MYC has been at the forefront of traditional Indian choral singing for more than four decades. ◊ Watch us on YouTube! ◊

SPAIN (Catalonia) On November 13, 1961, an almost 85year-old Pablo Casals, the Spanish cellist and composer living in exile, finally accepted the personal invitation from President Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Lee Kennedy to perform in the East Room of the White House. For decades, Casals had refused to perform in the U.S., or any other country, that recognized the fascist government of Francisco Franco. Held in honor of Governor Luis Muñoz Marín and his wife, Inés Mendoza de Muñoz, of Puerto Rico, the official event featured Lithuanian violinist Alexander Schneider and Polish pianist Mieczysław Horszowski. Composers Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland, conductors Eugene Ormandy and Leopold Stokowski were in the audience. Also attending? Teddy Roosevelt's daughter, Alice Longworth— the last president for whom Pau Casals had performed.

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Quite frequently, Casals’ choral music was written for and performed by his fellow Catalonians Escolania de Montserrat, Europe’s oldest boy choir. Three years ago, as covered by the New York Times and Washington Post, Classical Movements arranged the ensemble’s first-ever concert tour of the United States in their 700-year history.

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MONGOLIA – Peace Corps country Mongolian folk band Egschiglen formed in Ulaanbaatar in 1991. In English, “egschiglen” means "beautiful melody,” and they are one of very few traditional Mongolian bands to have become internationally popular. From the beginning, Egschiglen set the focus of their work on contemporary music—systematically exploring the sound dimensions of works by modern Mongolian composers, but using traditional instruments from Mongolia and Central Asia, including the morin khuur, tobshuur, joochin, as well as extended vocal techniques such as overtone singing.

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BULGARIA – Peace Corps country ◊ Watch us on YouTube! ◊

“Balkanes sing a cappella, transmitting real magic. These four girls have the punch, the sweetness, the clarity and the mystery. Poetry, song, a little dancing, superb costumes and traditional jewels, Balkanes conquer your heart.” — Le Progrès de Lyon

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA The Passamaquoddy American Indian/First Nations tribe of Maine and New Brunswick, Canada have a great word: “pihcintu.” Roughly translated, that word means “when she sings, her voice carries far,” and that’s precisely why award-winning songwriter and producer Con Fullam chose it as the name for Portland, Maine's choir of immigrant girls from around the globe. Hailing everywhere from the British West Indies, Burundi, Cambodia, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lebanon, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Sudan, Uganda, Vietnam and Zambia to Somalia, Sudan and Yemen, Pihcintu helps to restart these young girls' lives. "War-torn villages, bloodshed, refugee camps, famine and political turmoil were devastating realities for many of these singers," says Fullam, "before being embraced by the warmth, companionship and harmony that Pihcintu provides."

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ZIMBABWE – Peace Corps country Insingizi is an extraordinary trio from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, offering uplifting performances filled with harmonious a cappella singing, traditional chanting, hand percussion and superb choreography. Their songs possess a gentleness and honesty that stir the soul, indeed.

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PANAMA – Peace Corps country In January 1963, President Kennedy agreed to fly the flag of Panama, alongside the U.S. flag, at all nonmilitary sites in the Canal Zone. However, Kennedy was assassinated before his orders were carried out. One month after his death, Canal Zone Governor Robert J. Fleming, Jr. issued a decree that the “Stars and Stripes” would no longer be flown outside schools, post offices, police stations or other civilian locations where it had been raised previously, and Panama's flag would not be flown either. Governor Fleming's order infuriated many Zonians, who interpreted it as U.S. renunciation of sovereignty over the Canal Zone, itself. Coro Polifónico de Panamá was founded on April 30, 1966 by maestro Arnold Walters, who, from the outset, was dedicated exclusively to the performance of polyphonic choral art. Maestra Electra Castillo is the choir’s present director, performing more than 40 concerts each year throughout the Republic.

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IRELAND Capella, Wallace High School Senior Chamber Choir will sing some of JFK’s favorite songs:      

“Greensleeves” "I Believe that ‘Hail to the Chief’ Has a Nice Ring." “The Boys of Wexford” “The Wearin' o' the Green” “Londonderry Air” “Kelly, the Boy from Killane”

     

“The Minstrel Boy” “Beyond the Blue Horizon” “When Irish Eyes are Smiling” “Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral” “Danny Boy” “Killarney”

CANADA President Kennedy addressed a joint session of parliament in Ottawa during a state visit from May 16-18, 1961. Les Voix Boréales Founded in 1998, Les Voix Boréales is a choir of about 145 girls (ages 8-17), one of three choirs from the largest Québec choral organization of more than 300 young people. LVB sings regularly with major orchestras like the Montréal Symphony, contributes to the productions of the Montréal Opera and collaborates with Québec artists like Céline Dion. ◊ Watch us on YouTube! ◊

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LATVIA – Peace Corps country John F. Kennedy came to Riga as a student of Harvard University in August of 1939, just moments before the outbreak of World War II. Latvian Voices: The repertoire of Latvian Voices is wide: folk songs and original compositions with lyrics from traditional sources, classic choral standards and modern, inventive transcriptions. Their concerts are enriched with arrangements of internationally loved popular songs, as well as original compositions by Latvian Voices, themselves. The group considers their main mission to be the spreading of Latvian culture, especially the country’s rich musical heritage, and through songs and staging, the ensemble introduces concert-goers to the Latvian worldview—a viewpoint deeply rooted in the symbiotic relationship of humans and nature.

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UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Serving the community since 1964, Anima- Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus is widely recognized for its musical excellence, innovative and effective educational philosophy and outreach programs that bring rich educational and cultural opportunities to children who would not otherwise have such experiences. As one of the nation's leading community youth choruses, Anima has been an artistic and educational model across North America for decades.

Established in 1965, the award-winning Miami Children’s Chorus (MCC) continues today as a youth chorus for 206 children, ages 8-18. MCC offers children of Miami-Dade County the opportunity to study and perform standard and experimental forms of choral music. From performing with the Cleveland Orchestra, appearing in the Florida Grand Opera productions or singing on recordings by Gloria Estefan or Jim Papoulis, MCC has earned recognition as an exemplary children’s choir. MCC currently conducts a wide variety of community service ventures and leads a music commissioning project of new works from around the world for Children’s Voices.

Le Cantanti di Chicago (The Singing Women of Chicago) was founded in 2014 by Sri Lankan-born musician Dhilanthi Fernando, who is also the group’s director. The 20 women in the choir range in age from teenagers to octogenarians and come from many backgrounds and nationalities, representing the diversity of their home city, Chicago. Their mission is to enrich the world through the joy of choral performance, weaving a musical tapestry from many genres, styles, languages and cultures to uplift the human spirit and to support causes that promote peace, hope and wholeness in the world.

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CHINA – Peace Corps country “The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word 'crisis.' One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger, but recognize the opportunity.” — John F. Kennedy Shanghai No.3 Girls High School Concert Band Representing the only public high school for girls in China (and alma mater of three of China’s First Ladies), Shanghai’s No. 3 Concert Band was established in 1991 by conductors Cao Peng and Yu Xianming. Trained in wind band music of symphonic style and scope, the band also promotes arts education for all, helping to carry out their school’s four main aims of “independence, ability, care and elegance.”

KENYA – Peace Corps country An important tie between JFK and Kenya is Senator Kennedy’s 1960 decision to support a young, dynamic leader, Tom Mboya, with his efforts to send African students to America for higher education. The Student Airlift initiative was instrumental in bringing hundreds of African students to the United States, including Barack Obama, Sr., President Obama's father. Nairobi Girls Chorale: Formed in 2008 with a membership of six girls from various colleges in Nairobi, the group specializes in choral presentations of African music, Negro spirituals and topical compositions. Nairobi Girls' Chorale is directed by David Isindu.

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2017 Serenade: A JFK 100 Celebration Eric Daniel Helms New Music Program Commissions HAITI: Sydney Guillaume (b. 1982) “Ansanm-Ansanm” (All Together) Lyrics by his father, Gabriel T. Guillaume Premiere by Serenade! mass choir on Monday, July 3 at Kennedy Center Concert Hall at 6pm Praised by the Miami Herald for “impressive maturity and striking melodic distinction,” Sydney Guillaume’s compositions are known to be intricate, challenging and yet highly-spirited. Featured at numerous conferences and international festivals like the American Choral Directors Association and World Choir Games, he’s written for renowned choirs such as the Grammy-nominated Seraphic Fire, Westminster Chorus, University of Miami Frost Chorale, Nathaniel Dett Chorale, Illinois Wesleyan University Collegiate Choir, St. Louis Chamber Singers and Miami Children’s Chorus. Since 2013, he has led the Imbroglio Sextet, a group of musicians from Haiti, Spain, Bolivia and the U.S. Recent conducting engagements include an all-Guillaume concert at Lincoln Center and with Imbroglio Sextet at Carnegie Hall. LATVIA: Ēriks Ešenvalds (b. 1977) Premiere by frequent collaborator Latvian Voices ( One of the most sought-after composers working today, the music of Ēriks Ešenvalds has been heard on every continent, performed by: the Boston Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Utah Symphony, King’s Singers, Britten Sinfonia, Choir of Trinity College Cambridge, Bavarian Radio Choir and Latvian National Symphony Orchestra. Composer of the 2014 World Choir Games Anthem in Riga, the 2015 ACDA National Conference in Salt Lake City premiered his Whispers on the Prairie Wind. To date, five recordings are devoted exclusively to his work, featuring Polyphony, Latvian Radio Choir and Sinfonietta Riga. A new Ešenvalds release is forthcoming on the Naxos label. SPAIN: Bernat Vivancos (b. 1973) “L’ametller” (The Almond Tree) Setting of Catalan poet Joan Maragall (1903) Premiere by former ensemble Escolania de Montserrat ( Present Professor of Composition and Orchestration at the Catalonia College of Music, Bernat Vivancos served as Music Director of Escolania de Montserrat from 200714. Alongside Arvo Pärt, he served as Composer-in-Residence with Barcelona’s Palau de la Música Catalana for the 2014-15 season. His music can be heard on several CDs, including Blanc (2011) and Requiem (2015) from Neu Records, both recorded by the Latvian Radio Choir, conducted by Sigvard Klava. Aiming to “unite beauty, sensuality and spirituality” in both his choral and orchestral works, Vivancos’ recent commissions include works for Asociación Española de Orquestas Sinfónicas, Oslo Domkirkes Ungdomskor and, of course, Escolania de Montserrat. For more information, please visit

INDIA: Madhup Mudgal “Vasudhaiva Kutumbkam” (The World Is One Family) Premiere by present ensemble Gandharva Choir (

Principal Conductor of New Delhi’s Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, Madhup Mudgal is a dedicated, exacting teacher and frequent performer at major festivals in India and abroad. As the leader of the acclaimed Gandharva Choir, his compositions for choreographed solo and group dances use a variety of poetic source texts.

BULGARIA: Milena Jeliazkova and Milena Roudeva “Orissiya” (Destiny) Premiere by present ensemble Balkanes ( Half of the quartet Balkanes, Bulgarian-French singers/composers Milena Jeliazkova and Milena Roudeva have performed their compositions and arrangements around the world for the past 20 years. In addition to Balkanes, both women perform with the medieval Mediterranean ensemble Henri Agnel, among several other projects.

GERMANY: Christoph Göbel (b. 1976) Premiere by frequent collaborator Sjaella ( Professor of Aural Training at Leipzig’s Hochschule für Musik und Theater since 2104, Christoph Göbel composes concert works and jazz arrangements, especially for vocal ensembles. His recent commissions include: Calmus Ensemble, Gewandhaus Choir, inter alia, Landesjugendchor Thüringen and Ensemble Amarcord. UNITED STATES: Con Fullam (b. 1949) “Under One Sky” Premiere by present ensemble Pihcintu ( Con Fullam is an award-winning producer, musician and songwriter. Co-creator and composer of the children’s series Wompkees, his music has been nominated for an Emmy. Fullam has also been recognized by the American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers for his contributions to the world of the performing arts.

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ZIMBABWE: Insingizi ( A Serenade! staple from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, Insingizi perform truly uplifting concerts, filled with harmonious a cappella singing, call-and-response chanting, fascinating hand percussion and superb choreography, like their take on the “gumboot dance" of the oppressed South African miners of long ago—always a highlight of this ensemble’s energetic live shows. With equal parts hope and faith, Insingizi's music possesses a gentleness and honesty that stirs the soul, conveying their kind of optimism in the face of the world's seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

MONGOLIA: Egschiglen ( Combing traditional instruments from the Central Asian steppe with vocal techniques from its many shamanistic traditions, Egschiglen have been exploring the soundscapes of contemporary Mongolian composers with their compelling, finelytuned performances since their founding in Ulaanbaatar back in 1991. Impressive, too, in the diversity of their collaborations, the band’s latest project finds them working with musicians from Bavaria’s Altmühl Valley in their adopted home of Franconia, Germany.

INDIA: Madras Youth Choir ( “Musical Tribute to JFK” Founded in 1971 by the late composer and conductor M.B. Srinivasan, the Madras Youth Choir is presently led by K.S. Subramanian, a retired bureaucrat and well-known translator of Tamil literature. MYC has been at the forefront of traditional Indian choral singing for more than four decades.

MOROCCO: Siraj ( Premiere in 2018 “‫( ” أم ل‬Hope) Formed in Tangier in 2006, the 5 vocalists, 1 percussionist and 1 guitarist of Siraj have recorded more than 17 original songs, while logging over 200 festival performances.

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2017 Serenade! Washington, D.C. Choral Festival: A JFK 100 Celebration  

Established in 2011 and hailed by the Washington Post as “true harmonic convergence,” the Serenade! Washington, D.C. Choral Festival is an i...

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