Classical Movements’ Eric Daniel Helms New Music Program Commissions 11 New Works

Classical Movements
7 min readMar 20, 2017

From June 27 through July 4, 2017, Classical Movements will co-present our 7th annual Serenade! Washington, D.C. Choral Festival alongside the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as part of its year-long JFKC: A Centennial Celebration. In addition, our Eric Daniel Helms New Music Program has commissioned 11, brand-new works by composers of from the festival’s featured countries, each piece inspired by the 5 ideals President Kennedy forever championed — Justice, Gratitude, Courage, Freedom and especially Service — that will premiere during our week-long celebration throughout the Washington metropolitan area.

HAITI: Sydney Guillaume (b. 1982)

“Ansanm Ansanm” (All Together We Sing)

Lyrics by his father, Gabriel T. Guillaume

Premiere by Serenade! mass choir on Monday, July 3 at 6:00 p.m. in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall

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)

“High Flight”

Setting of John Gillespie Magee, Jr. (1941)

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 Catlan 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 2007–14. 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.

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.

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.

ZIMBABWE: Insingizi (Dumisani Moyo, Blessings Nqo Nkomo, Vusa Mkhaya)

“Bom Bom Jeys” (It is important to know who we are and where we come from, so that we know where we are going)

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

“Freedom of the Steppe”

Traditional, arrangement by Uuganbatar Tsend-Ochir
New lyrics by Janlav Tumursaikhan

Combining 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, finely-tuned 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.

About Serenade! Washington, D.C. Choral Festival:

“…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 (March 8, 2016)

E stablished 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 27July 4, 2017, promises to be a very special edition, as it is co-presented 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.

About Classical Movements:

Moving the Music, Changing the World

T he premier concert tour company for the world’s great orchestras and choirs, Classical Movements creates meaningful cultural experiences through music in 145 countries. An industry leader for over a quarter-century, Classical Movements fully understands both the travel and the performance needs of professional symphonies and choruses, as well as conservatory, university and youth ensembles. Producer of two international choral festivals — Serenade! in Washington, D.C. and Ihlombe! in South Africa — and the Prague Summer Nights: Young Artists Music Festival, in addition, Classical Movements organizes more than 60 tours every year, producing some 200 concerts every season. Distinguished clients include many of America’s top-tier orchestras (Baltimore, Cincinnati, Minnesota, National, New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, etc.), international ensembles like the London Philharmonic, Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar, Royal Concertgebouw, Wiener Philharmoniker and celebrated soloists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Lang Lang and Joshua Bell. Also, Classical Movements’ Eric Daniel Helms New Music Program has commissioned over 50 works from Grammy, Oscar and Pulitzer Prize-winning composers. Winner of Americans for the Arts’ BCA10: Best Businesses Partnering with the Arts Award, since its founding 25 years ago, as a truly global company, Classical Movements remains committed to facilitating cultural diplomacy across the world — promoting peace through the medium of music. Classical Movements: Moving the Music, Changing the World.


Logan K. Young, Marketing and Public Relations Manager

+1 (703) 683–6040




Classical Movements

The premier concert tour company for the world’s great orchestras and choirs, creating meaningful cultural experiences through music in 145 countries.