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Noteworthy! From NAS

Most Recent Reviews

New York Times Review, June, 2015

New York Times Review, May, 2014

New York Times Review, May 2013

New York Times Review, June 2012

New York Times Review, May 2011

Highlights

"Shakespeare in song is hardly an unexplored subject. Still, where else but at a New Amsterdam Singers concert would you have encountered rewarding Shakespeare settings by Jaakko Mantyjarvi, a Finnish composer and teacher born in 1963, and Knud Jeppesen, a Danish musicologist and composer who died in 1974, along with a batch of settings of passages from “The Tempest” by the British giant Ralph Vaughan Williams and the Swiss master Frank Martin? As always, the singing of this choir of nearly 70 voices had warmth, texture and confidence."  (The New York Times, May 2014)

"Clara Longstreth, one of the more imaginative choral programmers around, leads her New Amsterdam Singers (a superb amateur group) in a concert of miniatures..." (The New Yorker, March 2004)

"Rhythms were exactly agreed upon, and the expressive effect often came from the precise accentuation of this or that word, this or that musical motif. Textures, too, were marvelously clear." (Paul Griffiths, The New York Times, May 2002)

 "The New Amsterdam Singers are best known for their rewarding programs of a cappella music from all periods, usually performed in church settings. They also sing large choral works with orchestra. But it's not often that this chorus and its dedicated music director, Clara Longstreth, get to throw themselves into a rich, contemporary work for full chorus, four soloists and a sizable orchestra like Charles Fussell's Specimen Days, which received its New York premiere on this program. People who think of the New Amsterdam Singers as tasteful interpreters of motets should have heard the full-throated, fervent sound they summoned for this Boston-based composer's 1992 piece" (Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, February 1997)

"Clara Longstreth, the director of the admirable New Amsterdam Singers, has a knack for assembling fresh choral programs with new and recent works. Her devotion to contemporary music is not a cause but an enthusiasm. Judging by the vitality of the performances she elicits from her choristers, her excitement is contagious." (Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, April 2005)

"This year's big music festival in Arjeplog started with a powerful choral program. The New Amsterdam Singers from Manhattan, New York, filled the church of Arjeplog with the most beautiful singing in a more than one hour program Thursday night. The New Amsterdam Singers were technically and musically as near perfect as you could wish...with vocal technique well to the fore." (Norra Västerbotten [Northwest Baltic], July 1999)

"The spring concert given by the New Amsterdam Singers, on Thursday in St Peter's Church at the Citicorp building, offered amateur choral singing at its best... Their performance was a victory for eagerness and discipline. A lot of musical bases were covered, expeditiously. In the first half came two ways of expressing love and longing: Monteverdi's "Lover's Tears at the Beloved's Tomb," where the reason for grief could hardly be more explicit, and Brahms' "Gypsy Songs," which, with buoyancy and in exuberant dance rhythms, brush aside any close inspection of their melancholy. After intermission, Ms. Longstreth and her singers turned to the voices of nature, across an even longer span of time, from Clement Janequin in the early 16th century to Jacob Avshalomov in the early 21st. The Janequin was his "Le Chant des Oyseaux," where a lot of the fun comes from serious adults chirruping away like sparrows, nightingales or, inevitably, cuckoos. The performance was, let's say, a hoot. Mr. Avshalomov did rather the same thing with whales. At one point, "His Fluid Aria," a setting of a poem by his wife, Doris, had the men singing while the women twittered in convincing imitation of the humpbacked-whale songs that have been recorded. In other places the whales were distinctly, and sweetly, anthropomorphic. A cow was imagined stroking a bull: the women were singing now, the men humming in satisfaction." (Paul Griffiths, The New York Times, May 2001)

"Clara Longstreth, the music director of the estimable New Amsterdam Singers, has a knack for putting together rewarding programs that mix the old and the new, the familiar and unfamiliar." (Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times, May 2005)


From New Amsterdam Singers' very first review, in 1976, Jack Diether writes of the Chamber Chorus performance:

"Anyone with the wit to include Sir Arthur Sullivan ("Brightly dawns our wedding day") and P.D.Q. Bach ("My Bonny Lass She Smelleth") in a madrigal group should be kissed resoundingly on both cheeks. (Jack Diether, The Westsider, May 1976)



"Normally we decline to review choral concerts since so few contemporary composers are represented on such programs. Clara Longstreth's New Amsterdam Singers is a welcome exception. ...[In Paul Alan Levi's In the Beginning,] the chorus was lucid and well balanced and showed that much care and attention had been granted the piece. ... It was also fun to hear the chorus do traditional works with such gusto, especially 'Pandemonium' from Berlioz's The Damnation of Faust, but also 'Round and Infernal Fugue' from Boito's Mefistofele and the 'Witches' Chorus' from Verdi's Macbeth. ... We can see why Clara Longstreth's NAS is one of the favorite singing groups in town--it's an audience-pleasing, palate-enriching server of choral chefs-d'oeuvre" (Barry L. Cohen, New Music Connoisseur, Summer 1998)

 "The delightful program offered by Clara Longstreth and the New Amsterdam Singers on Wednesday evening, Glorious Britten, went punningly beyond its title to offer a cross section of 20th-century works by British composers... As usual with Ms. Longstreth, the performances were impeccably prepared. Her 74-voice chorus was spirited and light on its feet, though not always perfectly unified, and the 20-voice chamber chorus that held the fore in the middle of the program achieved an admirable purity." (James R. Oestreich, The New York Times, May 1993)

"Concertgoers tend to regard our country's new music as bitter medicine. But the problematic repertory went down with a spoonful of sugar at an attractive concert by the New Amsterdam Singers billed as Music and Poetry of Contemporary America. That's no surprise; founder and conductor Clara Longstreth never fails to choose balanced programs of taste and class. ... Longstreth leads her 60-voice volunteer group and core chamber choir with thoughtful attentiveness." (Leslie Kandell, Chorus!, Summer 1994)

"Who could resist a program entitled Choral Kaleidoscope (From the Sublime to the Silly)? This critic certainly couldn't, so he attended the concert of that name given last Wednesday in Merkin Hall by the New Amsterdam Singers under the direction of Clara Longstreth. The gamut-running selections were all most rewarding to hear, especially as so expertly performed. The New Amsterdam Singers specialize in a cappella music, and they are justly renowned for their performance of it. Dead-center pitch is one of their hallmarks, and it was especially gratifying to hear motets by Tallis, Orlandus Lassus, Gesualdo and Bruckner sung with healthy vibrant tones rather than the antiseptic hoots that too often pass for 'authenticity' in these scores. They were also equally adept in more modern music by Aaron Copland, Petr Eben (a U.S. premiere of two liturgical works), Samuel Barber and Elliott Carter." (Bill Zakariasen, New York Daily News, May 1991)

"A concert on Sunday afternoon celebrating this year's centennial of Martin's birth, by Clara Longstreth's New Amsterdam Singers at St. Ignatius Episcopal Church, was, therefore, most welcome. ... Ms. Longstreth's 70-member New Amsterdam Singers, obviously well drilled gave a fine account of the demanding Mass." (James R. Oestreich, The New York Times, March 1990)


About out first CD, American Journey:

Elliott Hurwitt of Fanfare Magazine picked American Journey as one of his top five CD choices in 1994. "American Journey won a very special place in my esteem... I strongly urge that you go out and buy this disc." (Elliott Hurwitt, Fanfare Magazine, December 1994)

"The New Amsterdam Singers perform well throughout this recording. In Crossing the Bar, the chorus ably navigates the demanding shifts of tonal centers and styles, as Ives's setting fluctuates between church-hymn and barbershop-quartet writing styles, with polytonal passages interspersed... The best singing by the full ensemble takes place in Hovhaness's David Wept for Slain Absalom and Fine's The Choral New Yorker. The ensemble demonstrated sensitivity, sectional cohesion, and a precise attention to dynamic nuance, particularly in the quieter sections of the two works. ... The inclusion of Matthew Harris's Shakespeare Songs spotlights the excellent chamber choir Longstreth has selected from the larger ensemble. This twenty-one-voice ensemble sings with good vocal dexterity and sensitivity to balance and intonation. ... This recording constitutes a very fine showing by this all-volunteer community chorus and a fitting tribute to the ensemble's silver anniversary." (Scott W. Dorsey, Choral Journal, August 1996)