The Voices of Ascension
VOICES OF ASCENSION, founded in 1990 and directed by conductor Dennis Keene, is one of the world’s premier professional choral ensembles. Over the course of its 25 year history, Voices of Ascension has produced an annual concert series, released Grammy-nominated recordings, and engaged in artistic collaborations with the San Francisco Symphony, Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival, José Limón Dance, the Mark Morris Dance Group, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and others. These performances have won acclaim for their ‘sheer musical excellence’ (NY Times), the chorus for being the ‘finest in American choral music’ (Stereophile), and Dr. Keene as the ‘leader most widely touted to pick up the mantle of Robert Shaw’ (NY Times).
Dennis Keene has blended this group of New York’s 20-40 finest professional singers into a richly satisfying ensemble. The singers, most active as soloists themselves, are unique in their flexibility and artistic command of choral music of every period and style. Voices of Ascension evolved from a concert series of the Church of the Ascension in New York City in 1989. Dennis Keene and the Ascension Choir produced “Tribute to Duruflé,” the first complete retrospective of the music of French composer Maurice Duruflé. This major music festival drew international attention and was later broadcast across the U.S. on American Public Radio. The following year the startup group incorporated as Voices of Ascension and presented its first season of concerts to immediate critical success.
In 1993 Dennis Keene and Voices of Ascension began a long-term relationship with the major recording company, Delos International. Their first commercial recording, Ave Maria, received exceptional critical praise and was later re-released as Mysteries Beyond: Songs and Chants in Praise of Mary. The ensemble's second recording, Beyond Chant: Mysteries of the Renaissance, became one of the best selling choral recordings in the country, climbing to the number 10 spot on Billboard’s Classical Chart. The group’s latest recording, Song of the Stars, A Celebration of Catalan Music, was released by Naxos in June, 2009. The next month it made Billboard’s Classical Chart, and later was nominated for a Grammy Award.
Additionally, as the organization celebrates its 25th Anniversary season and looks to the future, Voices of Ascension plans to develop professional training programs to ensure the future of classical choral performance. These initiatives include the Voices of Ascension Young Soloist Program and the Voices of Ascension Conductor Academy led by Dr. Keene. The Young Soloist program works in partnership with institutions such as the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program, George London Foundation, Metropolitan Opera Lindemann Program and major music conservatories to create solo opportunities with the ensemble for talented young performers. The Conductor Academy will offer intensive training and conducting opportunities with Voices of Ascension for selected conductors as well as access to rehearsals and performances for additional conductors during the season.