The Duke Vespers Ensemble is an active chamber choir based at Duke University Chapel in Durham, North Carolina. Consisting of approximately twenty members from the Duke and Durham communities, the choir is directed by Brian A. Schmidt, Assistant Conductor and Administrative Coordinator for Chapel Music. The Vespers Ensemble specializes in Renaissance and early Baroque choral works, including pieces by Tomás Luis de Victoria, Dietrich Buxtehude, and William Byrd. This early music repertoire is complemented by 19th century and modern works in a similar style by composers such as Herbert Howells, Knut Nystedt, and Arvo Pärt.
The group leads worship services every Thursday of the academic year at 5:15 pm. This 45-minute candlelight service consists of scripture readings, prayers, and sacred music, and is held in the intimate setting of the chancel. The Vespers Ensemble also participates in special services throughout the year, including a popular All-Hallows Eve Service, which is held in almost total darkness. All services are available online for live streaming and archived viewing at Duke University Chapel.
The Vespers Ensemble also performs several concerts during the academic year, alone and with Cappella Baroque, the newly-formed professional Baroque orchestra founded by Dr. Schmidt. Recent concerts include a collaborative presentation with the department of Art, Art History, and Visual Studies, featuring the music and art of the Sistine Chapel, a collaborative art commission with Robyn Sand Anderson, and an appearance at Boston Early Music Festival in June of 2013.
Katie Murchison Ross