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Somerset Hills Chorus and Rise Up Chorus to present "Annelies"

originally published: 05/27/2023

Somerset Hills Chorus and Rise Up Chorus to present "Annelies"

(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- Two New Jersey community choirs—the Somerset Hills Chorus and Rise Up Chorus—are combining their forces to present Annelies by contemporary British composer James Whitbourn. The choral work is based on The Diary of Anne Frank, and the libretto, by Melanie Challenger, is largely made up of extracts from the diary. Performances will take place on Saturday, June 10, 7:00pm at the Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church in Plainfield and on Sunday, June 11, 5:00pm at the Presbyterian Church in Morristown. 

The Somerset Hills Chorus is part of Music in the Somerset Hills, which was created in 2010 by Stephen Sands. Speaking of the early rehearsals for Annelies, Sands says “It is remarkable how much the singers are taking the responsibility of relaying the deep and affecting story of Annelies Marie Frank. It is being treated more like a solemn responsibility than a typical concert.”

Rise Up Chorus was founded more recently by Matthew LaPine, who, like Sands, is a music teacher in the Somerset Hills School District. “It's important we don't forget what happened in the early part of the 20th century,” LaPine says. “If we do forget then it could very easily happen again.”

Annelies is written for a large chorus, a soprano soloist, and (in this version) a small instrumental ensemble consisting of piano, violin, cello, and clarinet. When it premiered in London in 2005, it was greeted with critical acclaim. “The sound of church bells, the drone of aircraft, and finally the stifling silence of the camps add discreet detail to a score whose respectful understatement is its greatest strength,” wrote The Times of London. “It’s almost impossible to hear without tears,” added The Guardian. The soprano soloist, who embodies Anne’s voice, is Sonya Headlam, an acclaimed Jamaican-American singer who is a frequent collaborator with contemporary composers. Pianist James Lubrano, clarinetist Benjamin Fingland, violinist Elizabeth Fayette, and cellist Gerall Hieser make up the chamber ensemble. Conducting duties will be shared between Maestri Sands and LaPine.

Tickets for students are free and general admission is $25. There is also a VIP ticket option which includes priority seating and a special experience tailored to the concert. For tickets and more information, visit

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