Charis (KAH-ris) Chamber Voices is a choral ensemble known for excellent musicianship, vocal clarity, and a distinctively rich, warm sound. Founded in 1994 by Suzanne Peck, the group has attracted some of the finest amateur voices in Westchester County and has gained a devoted following in the metropolitan region. Dennis Keene, director of New York City’s renowned Voices of Ascension, has called Charis “the finest chorus in Westchester County.” Charis presents diverse musical programs, including intimate a capella chamber pieces, major choral works with orchestra, and popular jazz tunes. Charis appeared with the Westchester-based orchestra Philharmonia Virtuosi when under the direction of the late Richard Kapp. The group has also participated in the Soclair Music Festival in Lebanon, New Jersey, and was a featured ensemble at the Dennis Keene Summer Choral Festival in Kent, Connecticut. Charis has also been invited to perform at Caramoor for the past two years. In addition to live concert recordings, two additional recordings have been produced: "Hoping It Might Be So", a selection of Christmas music including work from contemporary American composers, and "From Sorrow Free", a collection of American songs from ranging from hymns of Colonial New England to original settings of 20th century poetry.
The group, now under the artistic direction of Maestro Arthur Sjögren, is known for its diverse repertoire, unique blend of voices and captivating performances. Although Charis performs repertoire from Renaissance to Contemporary, the group concentrates on settings of fine poetry by contemporary American composers. Charis has performed (and recorded) a number of works by such composers, including James Bassi, Franz Biebl, Julie Dolphin, William Hawley, Judith Zaimont, Nancy Wertsch, Elliot Z. Levine, and James Harold Carr.
In addition to various benefits and special appearances, Charis typically prepares three annual programs, in early December, March and May, each with several performances. Some of the group's previous concert programs are summarized below:
Spring 2014: Psalms and Songs
Otto Nicolai, Randall Thompson, Robert Schumann, Percy Grainger and others.
Winter 2014: Cantatas: J.S. Bach and Dietrich Buxtehude
Cantatas by J.S. Bach and D. Buxtehude, J.S. Bach's Mass in G Major, and W.A. Mozart's Venite Populi.
Fall 2013: Christmas by Candlelight
Featuring works of Guerrero and Benjamin Britten, plus Charis' annual carols by candlelight and sing-along.
Spring 2012: What a Wonderful World: Motet, Madrigals and More A program of rarely-heard nineteenth-century motets and madrigals by Felix Mendelssohn, Cornelius, Feliciano, de Pearsall, and Sullivan (of Gilbert & Sullivan), plus a medley of favorites from Richard Rodgers' Oklahoma.
Winter 2012: A Royal Affair: Henry Purcell's Ceremonial Music for Queen Mary Accompanied by brass ensemble, this concert also featured additional vocal works from the 16h to 20th centuries.
Fall 2011: A Candlelight Christmas Concert Celebratory works from around the world for choir, organ, piano and harp, including songs by B. Britten, Johann Pachelbel, Herbert Howells and the American premiere of works by Michael Waldenby.