A Milestone in Sacred Music

Written and interviewed by AVA Administrative Associate Stephen Trygar


This weekend, the Academy of Vocal Arts opens its virtual doors to present you with this year’s production of Jubilate! A Concert of Sacred Music. Tickets for this performance are still available, and the performance will be running from Saturday, March 20 at 7:30 PM EST until Saturday, April 3 at 11:59 PM EST. Reservations can be made on our website or by calling the Box Office at (215) 735-1685. We look forward to seeing you there!


Opera has been around for hundreds of years, but prior to the dawn of this beloved art-form, music was a way for people to connect with their God. Music opened up a direct channel between the Creator and the created, and what better way to use the gift of music than to return it back? Jubilate! A Concert of Sacred Music has been a staple in AVA’s opera seasons for the past twenty-one years, and it has continued to remind us that the greatest composers of our past continuously returned to their roots, creating some of the most beautiful music, celebrating the being that brought them into this world.

Master Vocal Coach David Antony Lofton has been the spearhead in this project since its beginning twenty-one years ago. I recently asked David about his experience in establishing Jubilate as a regular part of our seasons. “My involvement with the Jubilate project began when Mr. McDowell asked if anyone was interested in putting together a sacred music program. He felt that the singers at the school should also learn many of the major oratorial pieces because they would sing lots of those before their careers were totally established as opera singers. I eagerly accepted the challenge to organize this project. I even brought in an opera chorus from New Jersey that I was directing to enhance the program.” He then went on to recount some of his favorite performances of the past. “Some of my musical favorites have been the complete Part 1 and Part 2 of Mendelssohn’s Elijah, The complete Stabat Mater of Rossini, By the Waters of Babylon by Liszt, and He’s So Wonderful by my late friend James H. East.”

Many of our talented Resident Artists performed together with several members of our wonderful orchestra, an experience that many of them haven’t been able to do since a year ago this very week. When given the chance to talk with our Resident Artists and orchestra members, they all expressed their excitement and gratitude to be able to perform together again, even if in just a small capacity. Their excitement is evident in this beautiful concert, and I invite you to take a look at our full program on the AVA website. You can expect to hear pieces by J.S. Bach, George Frideric Handel, Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Schubert, Virgil Thomson, Nadia Boulanger, José Mauriccio Nunes Garcia, and even an arrangement created by David Lofton. We are excited to bring you this special performance of Jubilate! A Concert of Sacred Music as part of our Virtual 20-21 Season, and we hope that you enjoy listening and watching as much as we enjoyed performing this wonderful concert.


Aubry Ballarò, soprano

Loella Grahn, soprano

Joanna Latini, soprano

Renée Richardson, soprano

Ethel Trujillo, soprano

Alice Chung, mezzo-soprano

Pascale Spinney, mezzo-soprano

Anne Marie Stanley, mezzo-soprano

Shawn Roth, tenor

Sahel Salam, tenor

Benjamin Dickerson, baritone

Daniel Gallegos, baritone

Kevin Godínez, baritone

Titus Muzi, baritone

Griffen Hogan Tracy, bass


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