The Mystic River Chorale
THE MYSTIC RIVER CHORALE was founded in September 1984. About 30 singers participated in the first concert, "A Concert of Modern Invention", held in the spring of 1985, which featured works of William Billings, Randall Thompson and Gabriel Fauré. The Mystic River Chamber Singers, drawn by audition from the Chorale, were organized two years later. In 1987 the Chorale became an independent, not-for-profit performing arts organization. The Chorale has had six directors since its inception in 1984; James and Patricia Dehls (1984-1992), the late Michele Holt (1992-1997), Joan Cook (1997-2007), Frank Martignetti (2008-2021) and Frank R. Zilinyi (2021-present).
The group has performed with the Con Brio Choral Society, the Norwich Diocesan Choir, and the Storrs Collegium Musicum as well as with the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. In 1995, under the direction of Dr. Michele Holt, members of the Chorale and friends visited Germany, Austria and Switzerland and in 1997, toured Belgium and France.
Members of the Chorale have also sung back-up for Paul Anka and Rosemary Clooney at the Foxwoods Theater.
From 1997 to 2001, the Chorale extended its community involvement by awarding a college scholarship to a senior attending Fitch or Stonington High School who will be pursuing music study at the collegiate level. We hope to resume this program in the future, as funding permits.
The Mystic River Chorale has performed many major works, including Poulenc's Gloria, Requiems by Brahms, Duruflé, Dvořák, Fauré and Mozart; Bach's Christmas Oratorio and Magnificat; Saint Saens' Christmas Oratorio, Schubert's Magnificat, Bernstein's Chichester Psalms and Mass; Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 2, Vaughan Williams' Dona Nobis Pacem, Rutter's Gloria, Orff's Carmina Burana, Handel's Messiah, and masses of Haydn, Mozart, Rheinberger, and Schubert. In 2001, the Chorale gave the second known public performance of the recently discovered Mendelssohn Gloria in conjunction with his Magnificat. In 2010, the Chorale joined with Con Brio Choral Society and the University of Bridgeport Chamber Singers to present the regional premiere of the new choral concert version of Leonard Bernstein's epic theater piece Mass. The Chorale has performed the New England premiere of Greg Bullen's The Orchard (2015), and the Connecticut premiere of Craig Phillips' Dies Gratiae: Requiem Reflections (2016). The Chorale has also commissioned works by Edward Tyler and Alice Parker.
LET US CELEBRATE our past Artistic leaders who have shaped the Chorale, especially our most recent Artistic Director, Dr. Frank Martignetti. For 13 seasons, Frank led us artistically and strategically, and was honored to be a national finalist for the 2015 American Prize in choral conducting for his work with the Chorale.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chorale cancelled performances from May 2020 to January 2021, during which would have been the preferred public celebration and “send-off” timing with Frank Martignetti. The Chorale had programmed music to recognize Dr. Martignetti’s many accomplishments, including a favorite masterwork, Mozart’s Requiem.
Under his leadership, the Chorale has broadened its community outreach, collaborated with area high school choirs and other area ensembles, had singers make their Avery Fischer Hall and Carnegie Hall debuts, and presented new and neglected works, including grant-funded regional premieres.
An eclectic musician whose work spans the fields of choral conducting, music education, musical theater, and church music, Dr. Martignetti serves as Director of Music & Performing Arts at the University of Bridgeport, where he has long led the choral and music education programs.
A professional church musician since 1994, he currently serves as Director of Music Ministries at Advent Lutheran Church on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Noted for his ability to build and revitalize ensembles, Martignetti proudly taught music in the public schools for ten years, almost exclusively in urban schools. In 2006, the New Haven Symphony Orchestra recognized his efforts in the New Haven Public Schools by naming him a recipient of its Excellence in Music Teaching Award.
Dr. Martignetti holds degrees in history, conducting and music education from the University of Rochester, the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, New York University, and the Eastman School of Music. His current research uses ethnographic and case study approaches to study music teaching and learning in urban public schools. His writing has appeared in the Choral Journal, the Music Educators’ Journal, and Visions of Research in Music Education. He has presented papers and workshops at a variety of conferences, high schools, organizations and universities.
On Sunday evening, February 7, 2021, WCRI (Classical 95.9) broadcasted a Conducting Conversations episode hosted by Mike Maino, with Chorale artistic guests Frank Martignetti and Frank R. Zilinyi, and Tim Rooney, the Chorale’s President. The episode may be accessed and downloaded from WCRI's podcast site .