Music, Artistry, Community

Community Chorus

Enriching the lives of singers through concerts and community events. Handel's Messiah and other works are presented throughout the season.

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Bel Canto

An evening of sumptuous music, food and ambiance with American Soprano Julianne Baird. Trump National Golf Club, Sunday, October 5, 2014 5-8pm

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Musikgarten

Musical programs that meet the developmental, musical and social needs of very young children. Free preview classes on September 13th.

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Music in the Somerset Hills: Education, Artistry, and Community Through Music

The mission of Music in the Somerset Hills is to provide musical experiences of the highest quality to those who live and work in the Somerset Hills and the surrounding communities.

Board of Trustees

Stephen Sands, Artistic Director
Matthew LaPine, Director of Education
Brian Harlow, Church Concert Series Director and Principal Keyboardist
Richard Somerset-Ward, President of the Board
Cathy Pane, Treasurer
Joan Seigle, Chair of Development
Alison Davidson, Chair of Communications
Katharine Baer, Administrator

Luthien Brackett, Betsy Johnston, Pamela Nardone, Kristin Sands, Andrea Skerratt, Bill Skerratt, Ria Zazzarino

Artistic Staff Biographies

sands photo

A GRAMMY-nominated “crystalline tenor” (Backstage) who was praised by the New York Times as “a tenor with a focused, powerful tone“ who sings with “subtlety” and “poignancy“, Stephen Sandsis highly sought after as a soloist, conductor, music educator and ensemble member by some of the most prestigious institutions and conductors in the United States.  Mr. Sands holds his Bachelors and Masters degrees from Westminster Choir College.  He is a founding member and Executive Director of the internationally award-winning Antioch Chamber Ensemble, widely regarded as one of the finest professional vocal ensembles in the country.

As an Artistic Director, Stephen has successfully raised funds from both individual and institutional sources for Music in the Somerset Hills, an organization dedicated to music education and performance in northern New Jersey.  He has had the pleasure of coordinating international performing tours, producing commercial recordings, and staging many self-directed performances. In 2012, Stephen raised funds for, produced, conducted and performed in a production of Handel’s opera Semele and Handel’s Messiah.

In addition to a successful career as a musician and conductor, Stephen is also a respected music educator.  He has taught choral music to thousands of students in grades 3-12 in the Somerset Hills School District for more than 16 years.  Stephen is also the founder and Artistic Director of Music in the Somerset Hills and the Somerset Hills Community Chorus, which celebrates its fifth season in 2014-2015.  A highlight of this season includes a performance of Bach’s St. John Passion with baroque orchestra and world-class soloists, including Julianne Baird and Dann Coakwell.

Stephen has been heard as the Evangelist and tenor soloist in numerous performances of Bach’s sacred oratorios, most recently with the Trinity Choir and Baroque Orchestra in the St. John Passion of J.S. Bach.  As an ensemble member, Stephen sings with the Carmel Bach Festival Chorale, Vox Vocal Ensemble, Aoede ConsortTENETClarion Music SocietyPomerium, and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street under the direction of Julian Wachner.  His extensive discography includes the recent releases of a CD of Bach Motets and the Complete Haydn Masses with the Choir of Trinity Wall Street. Recent releases include tenor solos in the Grammy nominated recording of Handel’s Israel and Egypt with the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, and a CD of Mannerist Motets of the Renaissance with PomeriumStephenSands.net

lapine photoMatthew J. LaPine is an active performer, educator, conductor, and composer in central New Jersey. He received the designation Master of Music in Choral Conducting and Music Education from Westminster Choir College of Rider University, where he studied voice and graduated with distinction. He also received his Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Westminster, studying voice and piano, graduating summa cum laude, and winning the Sophomore Piano Competition. As a conductor, Mr. LaPine has been the graduate assistant with Westminster Williamson Voices and Westminster Schola Cantorum (under the supervision and direction of the acclaimed James Jordan), rehearsal assistant for the Westminster Jubilee Singers (under the direction of J. Donald Dumpson), and he has led rehearsals and soloed with the Westminster Symphonic Choir. He has studied piano with Lillian Livingston, Francis McGuigan, and Ann Marie Nowak; voice with Marvin Keenze and Sonia Funk-Olin; and music theory and composition with Jay Kawarsky, Barton Bartle, and Anthony Kosar.

Mr. LaPine is the Choral Director at Bernards High School, where his choral ensembles have received national acclaim and have performed in various locations along the East Coast, most recently at the Roper Performing Arts Center in Norfolk, VA and the Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. He is also the Director of Male Ensembles with the New Jersey Youth Chorus, directing the Young Men’s Ensemble and the newly established Boys’ Ensemble.  Mr. LaPine is Director of Education for Music in the Somerset Hills, a community organization whose mission is to provide musical experiences of the highest quality to those who live and work in the Somerset Hills and the surrounding communities. He is Director of Early Childhood Music Camps at Westminster Conservatory of Music and is a veteran member of the dynamic teaching team for Westminster Choir College’s Middle School Piano Camp where he has created and teaches the Eurhythmics, Plus! classes. Additionally, Mr. LaPine sings for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen (NJ) where he is a soloist, section leader, and guest conductor with the Festival and Chamber Choirs.

Mr. LaPine has been published in multiple works. He contributed the chapter “Prognosticating the Choral Ensemble’s Ear” to The Choral Rehearsal: Volume One, and the chapter “Schenkerian Analysis as an Analytical Tool for the Choral Conductor” in Inward Bound – The Choral Rehearsal: Volume Two; both books are authored by James Jordan and published by GIA. He is featured as a contributing author to Teaching Music Through Performance in Choir: Volume 2, as well as Teaching Music Through Performance in Middle School Choir, both published by GIA. Additionally, Mr. LaPine created an edition of Brahms’ Fest- und Gedenksprüche, which features a scholarly edition of the work with a complete Harmonic Immersion SolfegeTM analysis. It will be available as part of the Evoking Sound Choral Series, published by GIA. Further, Mr. LaPine coordinated and prepared Westminster Williamson Voices in the recording of multiple tracks for the Teaching Music Through Performance in Choir, Resource Recordings CD.

Mr. LaPine is a member of the National Association for Music Education, New Jersey Music Educators Association, American Choral Directors Association, and the New Jersey chapter of ACDA.

harlow photoBrian Preston Harlow, director of the Church Music Concert Series and accompanist of the Somerset Hills Community Chorus, holds the degrees of Doctor of Musical Arts, Master of Musical Arts and Master of Music from Yale University School of Music, as well as the Bachelor of Music degree with High Distinction from Indiana University School of Music. His teachers include Martin Jean, Marilyn Keiser and Thomas Murray, organ; Gerre Hancock, William Porter and Jeffery Brillhart, improvisation; and Richard Rephann, harpsichord. From the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, he received the Robert Baker Scholarship and the Faculty Prize for exemplifying the ideals of the Institute. From Indiana University he received the Austin Caswell Award and a Distinguished Alumni Service Award Scholarship; he was also named a member of the Honors Division and an Arthur R. Metz Scholar.

Mr. Harlow is active as a recitalist, accompanist, choir director, teacher and composer in the greater New York City area. In addition to serving as the Church Concert Series Director for Music in the Somerset Hills, he is Organist and Choirmaster of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Gladstone, New Jersey, Choral Accompanist for the Somerset Hills School District, and organ accompanist for the Rutgers University Chorus, Newark Campus. Previous positions have included St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown, NJ, and Assistant positions at Saint James’ Church, Madison Avenue in NYC, Trinity Church on the Green in New Haven, CT and Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue in NYC.

Mr. Harlow has given a number of recitals in the United States and England. He also performs regularly in organ duet recitals and with other instrumentalists. He is the recipient of two awards from the American Guild of Organists: the award for the highest grades on the Associate exam and the S. Lewis Elmer Award for the highest grade on an upper level exam. Mr. Harlow is a member of the executive board of the Metropolitan New Jersey chapter of the American Guild of Organists, and Instrumental Music Reviewer for the Journal of The Association of Anglican Musicians. Mr. Harlow has recorded for Koch International Classics and BKM Associates.