PARK RIDGE, IL, March 14, 2014 – The Northwest Choral Society (“NWCS”), under the direction of artistic director Alan Wellman, will present “Crowning Jewels – Music of Britain’s Choral Revival” on Sunday, May 10, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. at the Grace Episcopal Church in Oak Park.


The concert will celebrate the revival of late 19th century choral music in England, and feature Benjamin Britten’s cantata Rejoice in the Lamb.  Other British masterpieces on the program include the choral repertoire of Sir Charles Villers Stanford’s Three Latin Motets, op. 38, Ralph Vaughan Williams’ O Clap your Hands, and Herbert Howells’ A Hymn for St. Cecilia.

English composer, conductor and pianist Benjamin Britten was a central figure of British classical music, having written a wide range of 20th-century works including opera, choral music, orchestral and chamber pieces, as well as film music.  Mr. Britten was commissioned in 1943 to compose what became Rejoice in the Lamb to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the consecration of St. Mathews Church in Northampton, England.  The text for the cantata is excerpted from a poem entitled “Jubilate Agno” by Christopher Smart, an 18-century deeply religious poet, but in whom genius and madness were nearly equal.  Britten chose ten of the most celebratory and religious sections of the poem to set to music, with some of God’s humblest creatures and things, including the poet’s cat, being called upon to testify, each in its own way, to the glory of God.

The chorus will be accompanied by Grace Episcopal Church’s organist, Dennis Northway, playing the Cassvant Organ.  This instrument has 77 ranks and 6,500 pipes, which permits virtually all of Christian organ literature to be played in the register it originally was written. 

 A quintet from the Chicago Gargoyle Brass will accompany the chorus on several of the non-Britten compositions.   The chamber group, comprised of faculty and former students at the University of Chicago, has performed recitals, major liturgical works and organ and brass concerts in major churches in the Chicago area.

Tickets for “Crowning Jewels” are $20 for adults and $15 for students and seniors and may be obtained online at, by calling 224 / 585-9127 or the day of the concert at the Grace Episcopal Church, 924 Lake Street, Oak Park, IL.

A complimentary preconcert lecture and discussion of the concert music will be hosted by chorus member John Morrison 45 minutes prior to the concert.


Grace Episcopal Church is one of the best examples in America of England’s 19th Century Gothic Revival Movement.  Designed by architect John Sutcliffe, the church is an 1898 interpretation of St. Paul’s, Knightsbridge, London, which was built in 1839.  Ground was broken for the Oak Park church in 1901 and the 11,000 square-foot brick and Indiana limestone nave was completed in 1905.  The congregation continued to build according to the 1898 blueprints until the church and its interior appointments were completed in 1967.  


Lipke-Kentex-Hesse / Dionne Supply of Chicago is providing much appreciated sponsorship financial support for the concert.

“Crowning Jewels” will be NWCS’s final concert for the 2013-14 season.  The chorus will perform during a 4-day tour of the Minneapolis – St. Paul area in July.  The next concert will be December 7, featuring Shaw’s The Many Moods of Christmas with brass accompaniment.

Founded in 1965, the Northwest Choral Society is a non-profit organization that promotes and encourages the appreciation, understanding and performance of a wide variety of outstanding choral literature. 

The Northwest Choral Society invites experienced singers to audition to join the organization.  Basses, tenors, altos and sopranos with previous choral experience and 17 years of age can obtain additional information about the Northwest Choral Society at