Sounds of Harp & Hope


Mark your calendars for Saturday, December 11th at 7:30pm for a great winter concert!

Cantigas Women`s Choir Annual Winter Concert

Hoboken’s all-women community chorus, Cantigas Women’s Choir, presents its ninth annual winter concert entitled SOUNDS OF HARP & HOPE on Saturday, December 11 at 7:30pm at St. Matthew Trinity Church at 57 Eighth Street (at Hudson Street) in Hoboken, NJ. The suggestion donation for the concerts is $15 ($5 for seniors and students).

Christopher Greene of Maplewood, NJ, serves as the interim director for the choir that was founded by Joan Isaacs Litman, who is on sabbatical this season. The performance will feature piano accompaniment by assistant director Erasmia Voukelatos. “Working with an all-women chorus is an eye-opener to me in seeing the way these women create community,” Greene says. “They are an extraordinary, guileless community of mutual support and their willingness for hard work is impressive.”

The concert features music from around the world sung in French, German, Russian, and English. Highlights include Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols, Johannes Brahms’ Four Songs, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Angel” and “Now the Waves are Sleeping,” Claude Debussy’s “Noël des enfants qui n’ont plus de maisons,” Léo Delibes’ “Dôme Épais,” Paul Siskind’s “Bright Morning Stars are Rising,” and Dolly Parton’s “Light of a Clear Blue Morning.”

“The concert captures the way different cultures at different times deal with the experience of ‘hope’ — the audience will leave with a sense of beauty and wonder during these times of war and economic hardship,” Greene says. “Britten’s Ceremony of Carols is a definite highlight and expresses the joy and devotion of the Christmas season.”

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Cantigas also uses music to empower women with annual performances at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in Clinton, N.J. “We’re the only group I know of that regularly performs at the women’s prison. The social justice strand of our mission is one that is at the root of who we are,” Cantigas founder Joan Litman says. The group makes its excursion to the prison this year on December 14, followed by an evening of holiday caroling at a local nursing home on December 16.

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.

Interim director Christopher Greene hails from Atlanta, Georgia, and now lives in Maplewood, N.J. He is a soloist and has been a choral music director for 40 years. He received his master’s degree in voice from Temple University and was the founder of the choral program at Stockton College, where he conducted four choruses and a professional orchestra. He sang with the professional New York Choral Artists under the greats, including Leonard Bernstein and Erich Leinsdorf. Greene has been the music director and parish administrator at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Jersey City for 20 years.

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