Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh Hosts “Candid Conversations” for Choral Music

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Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh Hosts “Candid Conversations” for Choral Music
The choir will host weekly online events featuring professional vocal coaching and hot topics from diverse voices

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (July 2, 2020) – The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh (MCP) has been connecting communities to the art of choral music for 112 years, and even a pandemic will not stop the choir from continuing that mission. This summer, MCP has teamed up with the Oratorio Society of Minnesota (OSM) to offer “Candid Conversations,” a weekly, online program that will combine professional vocal coaching sessions with lectures on timely topics in choral music. The sessions, which are free and open to all, will be held on Wednesdays, 8-9:30 p.m. EST, July 8 through August 5.

Hosted by Matthew Mehaffey, who directs both MCP and OSM, the program will feature guest vocal coaches Jamie Chamberlin, Kiera Duffy, Elisabeth Stevens, Nathan Granner, and Victoria Vargas, along with guest lecturers Ahmed Anzalduá, Tesfa Wondemagegnehu, and Jocelyn Hagen.

The program comes at a time when MCP, like many entities, is examining the influence of structural racism within its organization and its field, as well as exploring how to create greater equity and inclusion in its work. Through “Candid Conversations,” MCP engages with some of these issues while highlighting the diverse voices of some of choral music’s rising stars.

Each class will begin with a 20-minute vocal coaching session, in which a professional singer will lead participants through a complete vocal warm-up followed by a short question-and-answer session about vocal technique and at-home practice habits.

Following the vocal session, Mehaffey, or a distinguished guest, will give a lecture or lead a discussion. Prior to each session, a listening and reading list will be posted at Though completely optional, reviewing these materials will enable participants to get more out of each live session.

“This is a great opportunity for singers and fans of choral music, no matter your level of skill or familiarity, to come together and dig into the art and culture of choral music,” says Mehaffey. “Whether you join us for all five sessions or drop in for one or two, we look forward to sharing this experience with you.”

The EventBrite link can be found here.


July 8: Candid Conversations: Series Overview
Discussion led by Matthew Mehaffey, Music Director – The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh and The Oratorio Society of Minnesota
Vocal coaching by Jamie Chamberlin, soprano – Satan’s Fall – Feb. 2020 World Premiere w/MCP, LA Opera, Long Beach Opera, UCLA School of Music

July 15: Interrogating the Tradition: Upholding Whiteness in Choral Music
Discussion led by Tesfa Wondemagegnehu, Assistant Professor St. Olaf College (MN)
Vocal Coaching by Kiera Duffy – Opera Singer, Professor of Music, University of Notre Dame (IN)

July 22: Latin American Choral Music
Discussion led by Ahmed Anzaldúa, founder of Border CrosSing
Vocal coaching by Elisabeth Stevens, soprano – Let My People Go – Feb. 2019 w/MCP, Opera Singer, Founder of StudioLis NYC, author of Perfect Practice: A Journal for Singers

July 29: Telling the Stories of Women Through Choral Performance
Discussion led by Jocelyn Hagen, composer/arranger
Vocal Coaching by Nathan Granner, tenor – Satan’s Fall – Feb. 2020 World Premiere w/MCP, Long Beach Opera

August 5: It is Enough: Mendelssohn’s personal connection to his most famous protagonist, Elijah
Discussion led by Matthew Mehaffey, Music Director – The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh and The Oratorio Society of Minnesota
Vocal Coaching by Victoria Vargas, mezzo-soprano – MN Opera and University of Minnesota


When: Wednesdays, 8-9:30 p.m. EST, July 8–August 5, 2020
Where: Find the links to watch on Facebook or YouTube at
Cost: Free and open to all. Come for one, two, three, four or all five all sessions. Registration encouraged, donations appreciated at


About the Mendelssohn: Critically acclaimed as one of the finest choruses in the country, the 111-year-old Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh (MCP) is re-inventing choral music for the 21st century. MCP singers are everyday community members from diverse backgrounds and professions who give generously of their time and talent to create powerful, unexpected, and deeply moving moments of musical discovery. Composed of 100-plus singers, the Choir performs both with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and in its own concerts, and it fosters the next generation of choral singers through the Junior Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh. More info:

About the Oratorio Society of Minnesota: The Oratorio Society of Minnesota, established in 1980, is an auditioned 90-voice ensemble based in the Twin Cities metro area. The group challenges and delights its audiences and singers through dynamic and diverse choral music performed with skill and passion. Its civic engagement and educational programs foster lifelong choral singing. More info:

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