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March 5, 2005

Bella Voce calls it quits

Chicago Tribune (IL):

At a time when many arts organizations are struggling to survive, the excellent Chicago vocal ensemble Bella Voce has decided to disband at the end of the season and call off its search for a new artistic director. Anne Heider, who has held that position for most of the choir's 22-year history, announced her retirement from the group last year. "All classical organizations, including the well-established institutions, are being affected by dwindling audiences caused by economic hardships and/or competition from other media for entertainment time and dollars," said general manager Tamara Schupman in a statement Thursday. "Bella Voce came to the painful realization that it didn't have the resources to effectively counteract these pressures."

One of the choir's original members when it was founded in 1982 under the name His Majestie's Clerkes, Heider was known for her pristine, historically informed readings of repertory ranging from medieval chant to American contemporary works. She commissioned numerous pieces for the a cappella chorus, including one by Midwest composer Janika Vandervelde to be premiered at Bella Voce's final concerts April 22 and 30 and May 1.

Last year, Bella Voce won the Alice Parker ASCAP Chorus America Award for its adventurous programming, notably the 2002 Midwest premiere of Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara's "Vigilia." Over the years, Bella Voce brought such distinguished guest conductors as Sir David Willcocks, Paul Hillier, Simon Preston and Alice Parker to Chicago and appeared as a guest ensemble in concert series from Stratford-upon-Avon to St. Louis.

Posted by acapnews at March 5, 2005 12:11 AM