Dessoff Choirs, the
- Mark A. Boyle
American choral ensembles. In 1930, the Dessoff Choirs were established in New York by Margarete Dessoff with the assistance of Angela Diller. Between 1924 and 1929, the two women founded the Adesdi Chorus, a women’s ensemble; the A Cappella Singers, a mixed choir; and the Vecchi Singers, a smaller chamber group, all rehearsing at the Institute for Music, now the Juilliard School. The 1930 union of these ensembles resulted in the plural name, the Dessoff Choirs. Performances of rarely heard choral works, old and new, marked Dessoff’s early days under Margarete Dessoff and continued through the 32-year tenure (1936–68) of Swiss conductor Paul Boepple. Concerts often featured the work of a single composer, such as Guillaume Du Fay, Josquin des Prez, Orlande de Lassus, and Vecchi. For its day, such repertoire was pioneering and contributed to the revival of early music. As it became out of fashion for large choirs to perform Renaissance works, the Dessoff Choirs focused on its parallel mission: championing underperformed or newly composed works. Frank Martin’s ...