The 33rd season of Down East Singers will begin Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. at Nativity Lutheran Church, 179 Old County Road. Registration is scheduled at 6:15 p.m., and new singers will be asked to have voice-placement checks with Anthony Antolini, artistic director.

Antolini, also director of the Bowdoin Chorus in Brunswick and the Lincoln Festival Chorus in Boothbay Harbor, has led Down East Singers since 1991. Jennifer McIvor will return for her third year as piano accompanist.

The group’s annual December concerts will have an all-Russian theme this semester. The St. Petersburg (Russia) Men’s Ensemble, a widely acclaimed quartet, will join Down East Singers at concerts Thursday, Dec. 6 at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Newcastle; and Sunday, Dec. 9 at the Camden Opera House. The program will feature Russian Christmas music, famous sacred pieces and folk music.

Antolini’s specialty is Russian choral music. He edits editions of Russian choral masterpieces for E.C. Schirmer and Paraclete Press, and these concerts will feature editions he has published over the past 20 years.

In addition to the December concerts, members of Down East Singers are invited to join with members of the Bowdoin Chorus and other singers to form the Rachmaninoff Choir, which will go on a November tour with performances of Rachmaninoff’s “All-Night Vigil” (also known as the “Vespers”) in Hartford, Conn., and Cambridge, Mass. The Rachmaninoff Choir performed in New York City in 2011; Lowell, Mass., and Dover, N.H., in 2010; and toured Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece in 2009.

The spring semester for Down East Singers will include a Memorial Day concert featuring Welsh composer Karl Jenkins’ 2005 Requiem, which combines elements of the Latin mass for the departed and Japanese haiku on the subject of death and eternity. The Jenkins Requiem is scored for full chorus, women’s chorus, orchestra and shakuhachi (Japanese flute).

Down East Singers’ usual membership is about 70, and residents from throughout the Midcoast participate. It is open to all community members and new singers are welcome. Sight-reading skills are desired but not required, as long as an ability to match pitch accurately is demonstrated. Singers are expected to work on their music at home between the weekly rehearsals. The membership fee is $50 per semester; high school students sing for free. For more information, call 236-8328 or visit

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401 or