About Cambridge Community Chorus
The mission of Cambridge Community Chorus is to give people who love to sing an opportunity to rehearse and perform challenging choral works. Under the leadership of a professional music director, our non-audition chorus is dedicated to enriching our community through its performance of choral music, and to making participation and performances enjoyable and affordable for all.
Who We Are
For over 30 years, Cambridge Community Chorus has welcomed singers of all ages and backgrounds from Cambridge and beyond. Led by Music Director Dr. Pamela Mindell, the Chorus combines an open admission policy – no audition required! – with high musical standards and adventurous programming that has included world and North American premieres, as well as some of the greatest works in the choral repertoire.
Highlights of recent seasons include Karl Jenkins’ The Peacemakers, Howard Goodall’s Eternal Light, Brahms’s German Requiem, Mozart’s “Coronation” Mass, Bach’s Cantata 61, Ariel Ramirez’s Navidad Nuestra, Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Dona Nobis Pacem, Poulenc’s Gloria, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Cherubini’s Requiem in C minor, Felix Mendelssohn’s Elijah, and Handel’s Messiah. Recordings of selected performances are available on the Listen page.
The last live concert before the Covid-19 pandemic was a sold-out performance of Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concert on December 15, 2019, at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium. WGBH’s Eric Jackson, the Dean of Boston Jazz Radio, introduced the work, in which the Chorus joined standout soloists, a virtuoso tap dancer and the White Heat Swing Orchestra.
Our Music Director, Dr. Pamela Mindell
Pamela Mindell has been CCC’s Music Director since 2014. She has also served on the faculties of Smith College, College of the Holy Cross, and Clark University, conducting and teaching. Under her direction, the choirs traveled to Italy and Spain, as well as throughout the northeastern United States, singing in such venues as Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome and Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Her Holy Cross Chamber Singers performed Osvaldo Golijov’s Pasion segun San Marcos as part of the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center.
Prior to her college teaching, Dr. Mindell spent a year in Sydney, Australia, teaching, conducting, and singing professionally. As a soprano, she has sung with both The Boston Secession and Emmanuel Music, as well as in several recitals with mezzo-soprano Justina Golden.
In addition to her work with CCC, Dr. Mindell is Artistic Director of the Worcester Children’s Chorus, where she conducts the Bel Canto and Cantare ensembles. She has served as guest conductor and adjudicator in festivals throughout the Northeast, and has also served as Artistic Director for the Hotchkiss Summer Portals Vocal Chamber Program for high school students for ten years.
Dr. Mindell is a graduate of the Yale University School of Music, where she received her doctorate in Choral Conducting and studied with Marguerite Brooks and David Connell. She holds a master’s degree in Music Education from The Hartt School as well as a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Princeton University. She lives in Cambridge with her husband and two young daughters.
Fall 2023 Accompanist, Melanie Rucinski
CCC gives a warm welcome to new accompanist Melanie Rucinski, filling in this fall for our long-time accompanist Scott Nicholas. Melanie is a multitalented musician who has played with the Boston Children’s Chorus, Metropolitan Singers, North End Music and Performing Arts Center, Promenade Project, and ART Institute. She is also an experienced choral singer. She balances this with her work in education policy in the Harvard Kennedy School PhD program. We look forward to singing with her!
Melanie Rucinski is a freelance pianist based in the Boston area, where she has played regularly with the Boston Children’s Chorus, the North End Music and Performing Arts Center, Promenade Opera Project, and the A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theater Training. Melanie has worked with Opera on Tap and La Ti Do Cabaret in Washington, D.C., where she also played for the world premier of the comic opera Do Not Disturb at the 2016 Capital Fringe Festival. If you look closely, you can catch her playing piano at the middle school graduation in Defending Jacob on Apple TV. As an undergraduate, Melanie music directed productions of Next to Normal and The Last Five Years. A choral singer and erstwhile oboist, she cofounded and conducted the Lambda Singers chamber choir at Harvard College and played oboe with the Harvard Radcliffe Orchestra, Harvard College Opera Society, and Harvard Early Music Society. She currently sings in the Jameson Singers. Melanie is a Ph.D. candidate in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, where she studies education policy.
Our Accompanist, Scott Nicholas
Based in Boston, Scott is an accomplished pianist known as much for exceptional sensitivity to the performers he accompanies as for his technique.
With a repertoire spanning classical and musical theater, Scott has appeared throughout the U.S. and internationally in solo and chamber performances and has accompanied such preeminent singers as Nancy Armstrong, Robert Honeysucker, and Jessica Cooper. In addition, he has served as the rehearsal and performance pianist for the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, the Borromeo String Quartet, the US Airforce Clarinet Ensemble, Longwood Opera, the Minnesota Opera, the Boston Secession, the Concord Women’s Chorus, Boston Lyric Opera’s outreach programs and the Leontyne Price Vocal Arts Competition, among others.
Scott has recorded several works by Graham Gordon Ramsay, most recently “Six Piano Preludes,” part of a collection of solo instrumental works from Albany Records (2013). He has also recorded frequently with E.C. Schirmer’s Philovox Ensemble and performed on WGBH-FM and WBUR-FM in Boston.
An experienced music director, he has served in that capacity for several organizations including the New England Conservatory Opera Workshop, Central Square Theater, Franklin Performing Arts Company, Suffolk University, and Emerson College.
Scott’s affiliations with Suffolk University and Emerson College extend to teaching. He’s on the faculty at Emerson and is a master lecturer at Suffolk, where he teaches piano and coaches opera and music theater. He’s also a faculty member at Encore Music Academy, offering instruction in piano, theory, and vocal coaching.
He holds a B.A. in music education from The College of New Jersey and an M.M. in accompanying/coaching from the New England Conservatory, where he studied with and was inspired by Margo Garrett.
The CCC Board of Directors
Board Members 2023-2024
Megan Kemp, President
Surya Reis, Vice President
Luc Aalmans, Treasurer
Susan Meurling, Clerk
Past CCC Presidents
Rena Leib (1990-1996)
Penny Peters (1996-2001)
Paul Raila (2001-2006)
Janet Rustow (2006-2009)
Jim Hickey (2009-2011)
Heather Tuttle (2011-2012)
John Winslow (2012-2016)
Cambridge Community Chorus takes the “Community” in its name seriously. Chorus singers enrich the musical life of Cambridge throughout the year, participating in the city’s annual Holocaust Commemoration, seasonal holiday sings, and one-off events that bring the community together in times of celebration and trouble. On April 21, 2013, the Chorus was honored to be a part of the “One Community | One Voice” benefit concert to honor and support those affected by the Boston Marathon bombing.
Community performances have taken singers to unusual venues, including Mt. Auburn Cemetery, for the “Glimpse Beyond” celebration, and the DCR Steriti Memorial Ice Rink in Boston’s North End, as part of the “fairground attractions” before Boston Lyric Opera’s production of Pagliacci in September/October 2019. CCC singers have also performed at the Boom Town Festival in East Cambridge, and the Joyful Noise gospel concert at Sanders Theatre.
In 2010, the Chorus started its own annual public Messiah sing. And every December, small groups of singers visit senior and homeless facilities to bring seasonal cheer with holiday songs. In December 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic prevented in-person visiting, CCC singers recorded themselves singing a program of seasonal favorites, so that residents could play the digital compilation in their own rooms.
Cambridge Community Chorus values its long tradition of collaboration with other local musical organizations. In 2014, the Chorus performed Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Boston Civic Symphony and a concert setting of Tosca with the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra.
On April 10, 2016, CCC sponsored the Cambridge Choral Festival at Harvard Memorial Church. Guest choruses included Cambridge Rindge and Latin School Vocal Ensemble, Harvard-Radcliffe Chorus, Cantare Singers division of Boston City Singers. The program featured over 200 singers, ages ten to 85, in “Golden Slippers” by Clifton J. Noble, Jr., a piece commissioned in celebration of CCC’s 25th Anniversary.
In April 2021, CCC sponsored a live performance of Fauré’s Requiem in collaboration with Opera on Tap (Boston), the Harvard/Radcliffe Chorus, Kathryn and Bryce Denney of The Driveway Choir and former Interim Director Dr. Michael C. Pfitzer, conducted by Dr. Pfitzer and Dr. Mindell. Safely isolated in their cars in a Cambridge parking lot, soloists and choral singers using wireless microphones were able to sing together live for the first time in months, and the resulting recording will be shared widely with members of our community.
Past CCC Directors
Music Director, 1990-2008
William Thomas (1950-2013) inspired generations of musicians of all ages and backgrounds. For three decades he was a major figure in the Boston area music scene, as director of music performance at Phillips Academy in Andover; music director of
Cambridge Community Chorus; and artistic director for Project STEP, a Boston-based program that brings classical music to gifted students of color. He was a notable champion of African and African American classical music, musicians, and performance.
Thomas was the first music director of the Cambridge Community Chorus, founded in 1990 by former Cambridge Mayor Ken Reeves, and directed its first performance of Handel’s Messiah, which became an annual tradition for the group under his leadership. With unfailing humor and uncompromising musicianship, Thomas transformed the Chorus from a band of enthusiastic but unpolished singers to a group capable of presenting major works in the choral repertoire. These included Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Bach’s St. John Passion, Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, a fully-staged version of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, and the North American premiere of Misa Tango by Argentinian composer Luis Bacalov. In 2006, the Chorus commissioned a new piece by Bacalov, Cantos para Nuestros Tiempos (The Cambridge Psalms), performed at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre on May 21, 2006.
When Thomas retired to Kentucky in 2008, failing health did not deter him from taking on a new challenge: saving the historic First African Baptist Church, built in 1856 in Lexington by enslaved and freed African Americans. He formed The First African Foundation (FAF) to buy and renovate the building and transform it into a cultural center celebrating the lives of African Americans in the Bluegrass.
William Thomas’s love of good food and good fellowship are as much a part of his legacy as his passion for music. “William was our founding music director and inspirational leader, and we will always hold him in our hearts,” says former Cambridge Community Chorus President John Winslow.
Music Director, 2008-2013
Jamie Kirsch was the Music Director of Cambridge Community Chorus from 2008 until 2013. In 2013 he became the Music Director for Chorus Pro Musica in Boston. He is also Director of Choral Activities at Tufts University, where he conducts the Tufts Concert Choir, Chamber Singers, and teaches music theory.
From 2009 to 2011 he was Director of Children’s Choruses at New England Conservatory, and from 2006 to 2008 he served on the faculty of the Blair School of Music at Vanderbilt University, where he was Interim Director of Choral Activities (2007-2008).
Kirsch completed the Doctor of Music degree in Choral Conducting from Indiana University in May 2008. He also holds degrees from the Yale School of Music and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His principal teachers were Jan Harrington (Indiana), John Poole (Indiana), Marguerite Brooks (Yale), and Susan Klebanow (UNC).
A native of Merrick, NY, Kirsch lives in Medford with his wife, Dr. Diana Lemly, their daughter Amelia, and their wheaten terrier, Madigan.
Music Director (interim), 2013-2014
Dr. Michael Pfitzer led CCC in its 2013-2014 season as Interim Music Director, including two performances with chorus and orchestra and collaborations with the Boston Civic Symphony and the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra.
Currently, Mike is Lecturer in Music and Director of Choral Studies at University at Albany, State University of New York.
Mike is an advocate for creating strong communities through music. He has conducted a number of community choirs in the metro Boston area, including the Harvard Summer Chorus, the Harvard-Radcliffe Chorus, the Wakefield Choral Society, and Voices of Metrowest.
Mike previously taught at Harvard University, Boston University, Framingham State University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and led international performances in Cuba, Romania, and Brazil.
Mike received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Boston University, where he studied conducting with Dr. Miguel Ángel Felipe and Dr. Scott Jarrett. He earned a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studied with Beverly Taylor, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and History from Tufts University, where he studied with Dr. Andrew Clark.
More information about Mike can be found on his website, michaelpfitzer.com.