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Schola Cantorum on Hudson

Digital Contact
web address:
Performance spaces: Manhattan and Montclair, NJ

Schola Cantorum on Hudson Faculty/Staff Contact:
Dr. Deborah Simpkin King,
Founder/Artistic Director

Organization Mission
Global Cultural Impact, through--

  • Passionate musical experiences
  • Strong educational support for high performance expectations
  • Innovative programming designed to touch lives
  • Artistic leadership by pro-actively promoting new works and active composers

Short History

Schola Cantorum on Hudson was formed as an independent choral ensemble in the fall of 1995. Its members have been drawn together by a shared love of great choral music and by a dedication to the highest standard of performance of that repertoire. Beyond that, the group has come, increasingly, to live into the powerful experience of music as a tool for sharing and enhancing the human experience, and the belief that in doing so, a positive difference is made in the world.

When the group of singers that founded what became known as Schola Cantorum on Hudson (SCH) was originally seeking a name and a logo for this choral ensemble, much that the group would become could not possibly have been envisioned. Yet, one thing was clear: There were to be as few limitations as possible. "Schola Cantorum" (literally "school of singers") was the name by which the very first groups of singers were called, as early as the eighth century. The Hudson River remains a waterway that represents the New World. The underlay of the logo similarly captures this open-ended temporality in its progression from early notational styles to those of the post-modern era…and the rest is history; or, so the saying goes.

All that took place between the birth of a Jersey City independent chorus with lofty goals of quality singing in an area which was little marked by classical culture, and the international activity level seen today in this 'pro-am' ensemble (Chorus America designation) could fill a book. Now with dual home-base performance arenas in Manhattan and in Montclair, NJ, and prominent international experience to boot, the SCH of the 21st Century has--

  • expanded its mission, sphere of activity, performing membership, administrative structure, and number of performances and performing ensembles;
  • become pro-active on behalf of new music and active composers on an international scale; and
  • filled out its educational offerings to include five distinctive branches, all based on the notion of 'bridging' various stages in growth of musical involvement.

We are proud of the caliber of our singing, our diverse and unusual programming, our ever-expanding educational offerings, and special programs. We are happy with the 'organic' way in which our growth continues. Most of all, we are joyfully focused on a vision that is lofty and long-term; for it is the road to global cultural impact!

Musical Studies Offered
From its inception, education has been central to the mission of Schola Cantorum on Hudson. The same breath that blew life into the first SCH performance season also birthed its Siamese twin, in the form of education programs. At no point has the work been about 'pretty sounds today,' but rather about building 'bridges to impact long-term,' through skill development and meaningful experiences. Schola's Boards of Trustees, from the very beginning, embraced a vision that was long-range and broad-scale-a vision that meant bringing many along on the journey. That meant education; and it still does!

  • Choral Scholar Program: a bridge between a singer's high school years and his/her conservatory training for a career in music.
    Designed to provide pre-professional training and performance experience/opportunity for high school students with outstanding promise who intend to pursue a career in music. An SCH Choral Scholarship enables a student to participate as a full singing member of SCH (with cost of music included as part of the scholarship); and to receive partial tuition for private vocal instruction. SCH Choral Scholars receive written recommendations as they apply to conservatories and music schools; and, they and their families are guided through the complex process of conservatory auditions. Choral Scholars are selected through a competitive application process. Read about the effectiveness of the Program in achieving its objectives as demonstrated in the lives of several Choral Scholar alums.
  • Cantorum Young Singers Program: a bridge between active youthful choral involvement and adult, life-long choral singing.
    1. In 1999, SCH introduced the Cantorum Kids program, since renamed Cantorum Young Singers (CYS), to encourage young people's life-long involvement with singing. The program is designed to nurture musical and ensemble skills through collaborative experiences between school-age musicians, members of the community, and the SCH membership.
    2. SCH selects a school that demonstrates a lively, well-run choral program for year-long involvement in SCH's self-produced concert season. SCH's Artistic Director visits the school during the year to interact with students and their director and to prepare the CYS ensemble for the planned musical collaboration. The number and nature of shared events is arranged with the director of the adopted program. Repertoire is chosen collaboratively by SCH's Artistic Director and the CYS ensemble director. Applications for the CYS program are reviewed in the fall of each year for the following season. Click here to download an application.
    For a chronology of school programs that SCH has collaborated with through the CYS Music Education Outreach Program, click here.
  • Community Engagement Program: bridge between local Hudson County demographic and 'classical' choral element.
    Reflecting SCH's commitment to fostering a new generation of participants in music--both as performers and as enlightened audience members; focusing specifically on Hudson County. One aspect of this Program provides a free-admission, interactive, social-media-friendly
  • Conducting Scholar Program: bridge into young professional lives, post- conservatory training.
    Designed to provide post-graduate training and performance opportunities to young, aspiring conductors seeking to further develop their musical careers. This program places young musicians both on the podium and behind the scenes of SCH business operations. As Scholar, the selected conductor is offered an insider's view of choral pedagogy, conducting and rehearsal technique, repertoire selection and score study and analysis. Throughout his or her internship/apprenticeship, the scholar will also gain a basic understanding of working with a non-profit organization. Curriculum is developed mutually between SCH's Artistic Director and the Conducting Scholar, on the basis of the interests of each Scholar.
  • SCH InReach Program: designed around needs of SCH members, as bridge into continuing musical, personal, and professional growth.
    1. InReach Class: 6:40-7:20 most Mondays prior to rehearsal: group sectionals and voice class instruction; sessions on a specific topic such as solfege; individual sessions with Artistic Director
    2. Schola Sings Solo: performance/coaching growth & visibility opportunities for professionally trained SCH singers

Schola Cantorum on Hudson (SCH) is the critically-acclaimed 35-voice mixed Pro-Am ensemble which is the core of the SCH organization. Singing membership is a mix of recent college and conservatory graduates, well-qualified amateurs, and seasoned professionals, each of whom is selected by audition and interview. SCH presents three primary concert series each season, each of which is performed at least twice-once in Manhattan, once in New Jersey. Repertoire represents a wide variety of musical styles, encompassing Mediaeval through newly-commissioned works, a cappella and orchestral repertoire, and through its annual Ethnic Celebration Series, music of many nations. Many SCH singers are active professional or amateur soloists, and all soloists for SCH concerts are drawn from within membership. Independent preparation of musical material is an expectation of SCH members.

Schola Repertory Singers (SRS) is a chamber ensemble of 16 to 20 voices selected from within the SCH membership on the basis of more extensive audition in sight singing, alternative intonations, and vocal flexibility. Singers participating in SRS are those interested in the challenge of additional, and often more intricate, musical material. This group has premiered a number of highly challenging compositions. Preparation is almost entirely independent, as rehearsal time is quite limited. SRS makes some repertoire contribution to most SCH concerts, and also takes on additional performing opportunities outside of the SCH season, and in a variety of locations. Most of Schola's Repertory Singers are professionally trained.

The Schola Sings Solo (SSS) cast of singers is the group of professionally trained singers from within SCH membership interested in solo recital presentation. The cast develops a traveling show each season, which is a uniquely blended review of arias, art songs, and show tunes. Emerging out of SCH's member InReach Program, SSS is designed to market and showcase SCH's professional voices, and to nurture skill in presentation, offering its cast coaching in dramatic skills. Cast size is flexible, based on ability and interest in this additional unique realm of activity; typically eight to ten singers.

Principal Faculty
Dr. Deborah Simpkin King, Artistic Director. Dr. King is a choral and vocal performer and educator, working primarily in the northern New Jersey/Manhattan area. As Founder and Artistic Director of the performing and educational organization, Schola Cantorum on Hudson (founded 1995), she is known for creative programming and the premiering of new choral compositions. Her choral work is very favorably reviewed. She is the alto in the professional vocal quartet, Chantez! and Director of Music at First Presbyterian Church, in Ramsey, NJ. Prior to accepting the call in Ramsey, she served for twelve years as Director of Music at St. John's Episcopal Church in Montclair, and built a fully-volunteer choir known for its stylistic flexibility and passion in support of worship. Dr. King is former Director of Choral Studies at Caldwell College and maintains an independent voice studio in the Glen Ridge/Bloomfield/East Orange area.

Extended faculty include SCH's Conducting Scholar and several member conductors, all of whom contribute to member InReach offerings; additionally, SSS Director/coach.

We are involved with 'awarding' vetted approval of new choral works through our PROJECT : ENCORE™. We feel it as a deep honor every time a composer writes for us, unsolicited. Being sought out by the NJSO to perform with them on a number of occasions is quite humbling.

In the News
Click on the following links for reviews and other distinctions.
Melting Pot Program

Concert Schedule
For a complete schedule, go to
Below are highlights:

10 & 11 September 2011 - 9/11
Remembering and healing in honor of all those victimized in the tragedy.

3 and 4 December 2011
Focus will be on the Isaiah 35 prophecy: "The eyes of the blind shall be opened, the ears of the deaf unstopped; the lame shall leap as the hart; the tongue of the dumb shall sing."

10 and 11 March 2012
'Healing' as a type of 'inner rebirth' through human suffering is our approach to Season 17's 'theme concert.'

20 and 21 May 2012
As our Ethnic-Series offering, SCH looks at cultures whose very character is fundamentally defined by healing in-part derived through music.

Here is an interview with three of our Choral Scholars, describing the program.
Audio Examples