The Dessoff Choirs, one of the leading choruses in New York City, is an independent chorus with a reputation for pioneering performances of choral works from the Renaissance through the 21st century. Founded in 1924 by Margarete Dessoff, Dessoff is celebrating its centennial over the 2023–24 and 2024–25 seasons with programs that reflect music from the Choirs’ rich history as well as move forward into the next 100 years with new collaborations and commissions.
Since Dessoff welcomed its ninth music director, Malcolm J. Merriweather, in May 2016, Dessoff has championed the music of Black composers such as Margaret Bonds, Valerie Capers, and David Hurd, and provided a stage for musicians and soloists of color. It released, to great acclaim, two CDs presenting music by Bonds: The Ballad of the Brown King and Selected Songs (2019) and Credo and Simon Bore the Cross (2023). In addition, the Choirs are featured on Rough Magic, a new album from Roomful of Teeth, in Eve Beglarian’s recently commissioned None More Than You. Past performances of note include Britten’s War Requiem and Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with Lorin Maazel in his final performances as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic, as well as the US premieres of Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 5 and John Tavener’s all-night vigil, The Veil of the Temple.
The Dessoff Choirs is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and by funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.
Grammy nominated conductor and baritone Malcolm J. Merriweather is music director of The Dessoff Choirs and has been engaged to prepare the New York Philharmonic Chorus for appearances with the Orchestra in the 2022–23 and 2023–24 seasons. He is also an associate professor at Brooklyn College and serves on the faculty at the Manhattan School of Music. He has conducted ensembles in venues that include Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Madison Square Garden, and Westminster Abbey, as well as at the Vatican before Pope Francis. His repertoire covers everything from Bach to the world premiere recording of Margaret Bonds’s The Ballad of the Brown King (AVIE Records). Merriweather has earned degrees from Eastman, Manhattan School of Music, and Syracuse University.