Features Music from Around Globe on Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Hoboken’s all-women community chorus, Cantigas Women’s Choir, presents its 11th annual winter concert entitled A GIFT FOR THE SEASON: Songs from Near and Far on Saturday, December 15 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Matthew Trinity Church at 57 Eighth Street (at Hudson Street) in Hoboken, N.J. The suggestion donation for the concert is $15 ($5 for seniors and students).
“Our theme ‘A Gift for the Season’ was chosen well before Hurricane Sandy devastated our community,” says Joan Litman, Cantigas founder and director. “In light of all of the damage and loss Hoboken suffered, more than ever, music is truly a gift — and unites us by bringing hope and healing.”
The holiday-themed concert celebrates music from around the globe — including a Georgian wedding song “Shen Khar Venakhi,” a Spanish carol “A La Nanita Nana,” a traditional English carol “The Cherry Tree Carol,” the Jewish folksong “S’vivon,” and the canon “Be Like the Bird” written by contemporary American composer Abbie Betinis with text from French poet Victor Hugo. The program will also feature three movements from J.S. Bach’s “Magnificat” featuring soprano Jessica Laurel Smith and the Italian Christmas carol “Gesu Bambino” featuring soloist Michelle Whitescarver.
“For those who enjoy live music and diverse choral artistry, you won’t find it richer on this side of the Hudson River,” Litman says. “This concert features something for everyone — from sing-alongs of well-loved Christmas carols to the Cantigas debut of a little girl, Addie Mauldin, with the voice of an angel. In the season of devastation, those searching for inspiration and whose souls need to be uplifted should come and experience the transcendent beauty from the women of our own community.”
Cantigas also uses music to empower women with annual performances at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in Clinton, N.J., Hamilton Park Health Care Facility in Jersey City, N.J., and other community groups in the New York and New Jersey area. “The social justice strand of our mission is one that is at the root of who we are,” Cantigas founder Joan Litman says. This year, the group will visit the Jersey City nursing home on December 18 as well the Hoboken homeless shelter on December 20.
Cantigas Women’s Choir, named after a medieval Spanish song form called a “cantiga,” is composed of 50 women of varying ages and backgrounds and brings women of the community together to explore the rich tradition of women’s singing. The group performs a broad spectrum of global music and advocates through song for those whose hearts need to be uplifted and whose voices need to be heard, performing regularly with the inmates of the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in Clinton, N.J., as well as at other community events like the Cancer Survivors Support Network in Bayonne, New Jersey, and the Empty Bowls hunger relief benefit in Hoboken. Litman founded the group in September 2002.
Director Joan Isaacs Litman is a native of Los Angeles and has been a choral director in the New York metropolitan area for 30 years. She was awarded with the prestigious “Educator of the Year Award” by the Organization of American Kodaly Educators in Washington D.C., in March 2009. She also received the first “Excellence in Teaching” award from Westminster Choir College. Litman is a member of the music faculty of the United Nations International School in Manhattan and a member of the summer faculty at the Kodály Institute at Capital University. In April 2008, Litman was the guest conductor at the American International School in Even Yehuda, Israel, and her United Nations International School children’s chorus has performed for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to New York. Additionally, Litman is the author of Song Caravan: Songs of the Middle East. She is a founder and Music Director Emerita of Mustard Seed School in Hoboken.