The Mendelssohn Choir of Connecticut is a community choir comprised of amateur and professional musicians. Through developing and performing repertoire from all musical periods and genres, the choir strives to develop and promote an appreciation of choral music. Further, it strives to educate its members and the general public in the musical arts, to nurture emerging artists, and to attract people of diverse backgrounds both as choral singers and audience members.
MCC was founded in 1984 by alumni of the Fairfield University Chamber Singers who wished to continue their musical association with Dr. Carole Ann Maxwell. Under Dr. Maxwell’s leadership, the Choir has performed a wide range of repertoire in New England, New York, and many European capitals. The Choir’s renditions of the world’s greatest choral masterpieces have earned it a reputation as one of the leading vocal ensembles of the region. Its diverse programming reflects an extensive repertoire from all periods and genres—from classical to contemporary and from opera to theater, film, and pop. The MCC embraces a mission of developing and promoting the choral arts—a mission that begins with the training of its own members and reaches out to the entire community of Fairfield County.
The Choir’s repertory has included Bach’s Magnificat, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and Meeresstille und glückliche Fahrt, Schubert’s Miriams Siegesgesang, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Brahms’s Alto Rhapsody and Liebeslieder Waltzes, Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, Vaughan Williams’s Sea Symphony and Toward the Unknown Region, Honegger’s King David, Orff’s Carmina Burana and Catulli Carmina, Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky, and the Stabat Mater and the Armed Man Mass of Karl Jenkins. The MCC has performed Requiem settings by Mozart, Verdi, Fauré, Duruflé, and Rutter, as well as American songbook entries from Gershwin, Sondheim, and many others and film score chorales by John Williams and Patrick Doyle. Opera in concert has been a recurring feature, including performances of Verdi’s Aida, Bizet’s Carmen, and Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess.
Over the years, the MCC has been honored to present the world premieres of The Child in Us All and the Prologue from North and South, by Tony Award winner Charles Strouse, Stephen Schwartz’s Academy Award–winning song “When You Believe” from Prince of Egypt, and “Chief Seattle” by Gregg Smith. In celebration of its Silver Anniversary, the Choir commissioned a work by Randol Alan Bass, O Divine Music, which it premiered in May 2010. That same year MCC also introduced Connecticut composer Edward Thompson’s What the Ivy Said to the Falling Snow. In 2014 the Choir premiered Child of War by Jin Hi Kim, a setting of texts by the Vietnamese peace activist Kim Phuc.
The Choir has performed regularly with the symphony orchestras of Bridgeport, Norwalk, Wallingford, and New Haven. The ensemble has appeared several times in Carnegie Hall under the auspices of both Distinguished Concerts International and Mid-America Productions. In addition to a memorable performance at the 2006 National Pastoral Musicians’ Conference in Norwalk, the Choir has also sung to enthusiastic audiences in Rome, Florence, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Galway, and Dublin.
Beyond its artistic achievements, the MCC plays an important civic role through its local outreach programs, notably its Mendelssingers ensemble. The Mendelssingers regularly perform in hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities and at various community events to bring the wonder and awe of live choral music to the broadest spectrum of the Connecticut public. The Choir receives support from the Connecticut Office of the Arts, the Carstensen Foundation, and many generous corporations, businesses and individuals throughout Fairfield County.