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Founded by Nick Page in 1989 and named for the Mystic River and Nick’s love of all things mystical, the Mystic Chorale began as a small group of singers performing the Missa Luba, accompanied by African drumming at Earthwatch in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The packed house stayed to dance and celebrate long after the singing ended.
The first Annual Spring Gospel Jubilee happened in 1990, which celebrated African American and White Gospel traditions. This evolved into our annual Winter Gospel season.
In the fall of 1990, the Mystic performed music from Eastern Europe – the first of many concerts exploring music from different cultures, including Latin American, Celtic, Israeli, and South African.
For the next ten years, Nick led three or four concert seasons a year, which explored a rich variety of themes each Fall. Every spring nearly 200 singers joined the Chorale for the annual Gospel Jubilee, which often included music by Duke Ellington and at least one song by Dr. Ysaye Maria Barnwell, one of Nick’s primary inspirations for his power sings and Mystic Chorale programs.
Mystic was incorporated in 1999, a Board of Directors was formed and Nick was officially designated as founder and artistic director.
In the fall of 1999, Dr. Phillip Woods guest directed Mystic Gospel. The stage at Cary Hall in Lexington, Massachusetts was packed with 250 singers and over 1,200 in the audience. The concert theme was “What a Time!” and it was that and more.
Mystic celebrated its 10th Anniversary in the Spring of 2000 at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge. Nick led the chorale along with special guests Phillip Woods and Linda Brown San Martin. The concert opened to a sold-out house with “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, the African American National Anthem.
Linda Brown San Martin joined the Chorale in 2001 to lead the Mystic Winter Gospel season that year and the following two years.
Nick led summer tour groups from 2002 to 2004. On a trip to the Black Forest region of Germany and Switzerland, one memorable concert was performed in a former German synagogue that had been destroyed on Kristallnacht. Other countries visited have included Quebec City, Ireland and Costa Rica. Mystic also performed in New Jersey at a choral festival hosted by the Teaneck Community Chorus.
Jonathan Singleton became part of the Mystic family in 2005 and has been leading the Winter Mystic Gospel season ever since. Jonathan’s concerts are perennial favorites with singers and audiences alike. Jonathan occasionally joins the fall and spring seasons as band leader.
Mystic has celebrated its fifteenth and twentieth anniversaries. For its twenty-fifth anniversary, it ran its first major fund-raising campaign which exceeded a goal of $25,000.
Mystic has been privileged to perform with many special guests. In addition to those mentioned above, others have included Jane Sapp, Dr. Ysaye Maria Barnwell, The Silver Leaf Gospel Singers, Regie Gibson, Bill Staines, Jim Scott, Billy Novick and Donnell Patterson.
Mystic has presented concerts with other chorales, including The Dundee Voices of Joy from South Africa, Zamir Chorale, The Boston Children’s Chorus, The Boston City Singers, The Twelfth Baptist Church Gospel Ensemble and the Family Folk Chorale. The touring group has sung with The Kilkenny Gospel Choir in Ireland, The Mozart Chorale in Costa Rica and several choirs in Germany.
One of the chief ways the folk world remains distinct from the pop industry is its abiding belief that music is not a product, but a language, a commonly owned heritage. That is certainly what Nick Page and his remarkable Mystic Chorale are all about … the sound is infectious, as the music spreads, like some merry contagion, from soloist to chorus to audience, until the only star in the hall is the timeless joy of a shared song.
Scott Alarik, Boston Globe.