Voices of Ascension Chorus and Orchestra, founded and directed by conductor Dennis Keene, is one of the world's premier professional choral ensembles. The ensemble's annual series of concerts in New York City, now in their 22nd season, and recordings on Delos International have received unalloyed critical acclaim. The singers of Voices of Ascension are among the finest ensemble singers in the United States. Most are active as soloists as well. Artistic Director Dennis Keene has blended this group of New York’s finest professional singers into a richly satisfying ensemble, unique in its flexibility and artistic command of choral music of every period and style. The number of singers in the ensemble varies according to the works performed, usually ranging from 20 to 40.
Voices of Ascension evolved from a concert series of the Church of the Ascension in New York City, where 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 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. Their other best-selling CDs include The Duruflé Album, Prince of Music – the greatest choral works of Palestrina, Voices of Angels (music of Hildegard von Bingen), and Hear My Prayer, with Metropolitan Opera soprano Hei Kyung Hong, released in 2004. The recording of Song of the Stars, A Celebration of Catalan Music recorded in March, 2007, was released to critical acclaim by Naxos in June, 2009. A month later it hit the Billboard classical charts and received a Grammy nomination.
In addition to their annual New York concert series at the Church of the Ascension and Delos recordings, Voices of Ascension has made guest appearances with the San Francisco Symphony, EOS Orchestra, the Mark Morris Dance Group, and Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival. The ensemble has also been featured by major American music organizations: For the American Guild of Organists, Maestro Keene assembled the enormous forces needed to perform and record the rarely heard Berlioz Te Deum in 1996; and to mark the centennial of Maurice Duruflé's birth, Voices of Ascension was invited to perform his Requiem for the final concert of the AGO's 2002 national convention in Philadelphia.
Voices of Ascension marks its twenty-second season with a five-concert New York series at Church of the Ascension. We also celebrate the installation of the Manton Memorial Organ at Church of the Ascension with a four-concert organ recital series and a week-long organ academy.