Each season we present concerts in December, March and May. We premiere new compositions, perform unusual music from around the world, and sing the classics, representing a wide variety of musical periods and styles. Among our venues are St. Francis and First United Methodist churches in Sacramento and Harris Center in Folsom. Our five December concerts, in 2016 entitled Angels We Have Heard On High, reach more than 3,500 people and a sixth concert, full of fun favorites and surprises, is especially for young children. SMS performed Darmon Meader's arrangement of the National Anthem before the Sacramento King's game on 10 March. In 2017, concerts in March, entitled Love Heals: Songs of Hope in Trying Times included several commissions by composer Ken Medema. In May's concerts, entitled "How Do I Love Thee?", the choir explores the excitement, joys, thrills, heartbreaks and disappointments of romantic love. In June 2017, many our singers will travel to Seattle and Vancouver to tour 5 days with the Cascadian Chorale of Seattle.
In July 2016, we released a CD partially funded by a successful Kickstarter, entitled "Sing a New Song", featuring Sunrise Mass. This CD includes nearly every piece performed at our concerts in May 2016 and has already gone into a second pressing due to demand. In addition to a full string orchestra to accompany the choir, the CD includes multiple commissioned pieces to celebrate director Ralph Hughes' 30th year as director. Surveys returned following concerts suggest great enthusiasm for the music of SMS. Our concerts, especially in December, are a significant and meaningful part of the season for many listeners.
The Asya Pleskach Scholarship for Young Choral Singers is named after Asya Pleskach who sang with the Sacramento Master Singers during our 2001-2002 season when she was a senior in high school. Asya sang in Cordova High School's choral program. Her director, Marco Huerta, and her private vocal instructor, Tina Harris were also members of SMS. In February of 2003 Asya was killed in a car accident. Soon afterward, to honor her memory and her talent, we established this scholarship program. The Asya Pleskach Scholarship for Young Choral Singers is designed to support and encourage choral singers aged 14-22 from the greater Sacramento area. Each participant must be a current member of their school choir, church choir or community choir and show commitment to and leadership in the choral arts. Applications are made by videos submitted online; finalists move on to live interviews and auditions, and winners from three age categories are invited to perform at our concert.
Now in its 15th year, this scholarship program has awarded 70 young singers financial awards (approximately $21,000) as well as 35 hours of complimentary voice lessons. Between 2011 and 2012, the scholarship focused on singers in two age categories, 14-16 and 17-19. Another age category was added in 2013 to include young, college-age singers, aged 20-22. The very first winner ever of this scholarship in 2003, Ryan Murray previously of Sheldon High School, has gone on to conduct operas and orchestras, regionally and nationally. Also, he won the Vienna Philharmonic's Ansbacher Fellowship for Young Conductors to study there in Summer of 2014. Bethany Mamola, winner in 2006, was named to the Young Artist Program of Nightingale Opera Theatre of Hudson, Ohio in 2014. Soprano Yelena Dyachek, who placed 2nd in the 2008 Asya competition, won the prestigious Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in New York City in March, 2016.