Saturday, May 20, 2023 at 7:30 PM
Buckley Recital Hall, Amherst College

Herbert Howells Requiem and music by Gjeilo, Holst, Thompson, Whittacre and Tavener

About Illuminati

Illuminati Vocal Arts Ensemble was founded by Dr. Tony Thornton in the fall of 2013, with a mission to create a professional-caliber vocal arts ensemble with the heart and dedication of an amateur chorus. In spring of 2022, Dr. Thornton joined the faculty of Oklahoma State University. Now, in our ninth year, we are pleased to be under the interim direction of conductor Dr. Arianne Abela.

A unique chamber chorus, we draw our volunteer singers from throughout Massachusetts and beyond. We have received rave reviews from audiences and newspapers, and have earned the respect of area cultural institutions. We perform choral miniatures and masterworks from all periods and styles, and collaborates with other community/professional organizations.

“Performances at the level of Illuminati's give the listener a clear window into the composer's soul.” - Clifton Noble Jr, The Republican, Oct. 15, 2016

2022-3 Board of Directors
William Albritton,
Saxon Elliott,
Vice President
Shirley Griffin,
Manuel Andrade,
Past President
Anisa Schardl,
Dr. Arianne Abela,
Interim Artistic Director (ex officio)
Members at Large
Sarah MetcalfKatrina TurnerWillow Elise Volante (on leave)
American Prize for Choral Excellence

Third Place Winner, 2019-20 American Prize for Choral Excellence
a national juried choral competition

About Arianne Abela

Arianne Abela is Director of Choral Activities at Amherst College and is founder and artistic director of Kaleidoscope Vocal Ensemble, a renowned professional ensemble focused on early and new music with dedication to the intersection of racial, ethnic and gender diversity, and the intersection of arts and social justice. Kaleidoscope has performed as a headliner at ACDA, Podium in Canada, and other renowned festivals and conferences.

Abela has served on conducting faculty at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI, and is founder and of the Detroit Women's Chorus and Detroit Justice Choir, ensembles dedicated to social justice and community empowerment. Focusing her efforts on community building through song, Abela founded The House of Clouds and has worked closely with Musicians Take a Stand to organize over a dozen benefit concerts for charities and various causes across the country.

In the realm of opera, Abela has guest conducted opera productions with various Michigan-based opera companies including Detroit's OperaMODO, and serves as music director for Vancouver-based opera company, re:Naissance. Prior to her time in Detroit, Abela lived in Connecticut where she served on faculty at Wesleyan University, Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, The Westover School and Notre Dame High School in West Haven.

In 2012, Abela was featured conducting on NBC's Today Show and was a semi-finalist in Season 8 of America's Got Talent director of Connecticut-based 3 Penny Chorus and Orchestra. The ensemble later recorded for the soundtrack of the film Walk of Shame starring Elizabeth Banks.

Abela received her doctorate in conducting from the University of Michigan with Jerry Blackstone and Eugene Rogers, holds a master’s degree in choral conducting from Yale University with Marguerite Brooks, Jeffrey Douma, and Simon Carrington, and a bachelor of arts from Smith College. Abela sings professionally in ensembles across the United States and Canada such as Yale Choral Artists, sounding light, Etherea Vocal Ensemble, Arkora, and Audivi. Originally from the San Francisco bay area, she sang with the San Francisco Girls Chorus for many years.

About Sarah Ehle

Sarah Ehle received her Bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance from Wheaton College, and her Master’s degree in Collaborative Piano from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her experience includes working with choirs as well as collaborating with musicians of almost every instrument, working as rehearsal pianist for a student opera program, and playing for several student musical theatre revues.

Ms. Ehle is on staff at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she works with the UMass Chamber Choir and several studios. She also accompanies Suzuki group classes at the Northampton Community Music School, and has worked as a staff accompanist at the Hartt School of Music in Connecticut.

The Scythe and the Fountain

Anchored by Howells’ magnificent Requiem, Illuminati’s final concert of the season explores the music of British and American composers who sought a new approach to music through the study of earlier periods and/or folk traditions, as well as two fresh voices who have entered the choral canon from unexpected directions.

Featuring haunting melodies and pure, shimmering tones, this is music best heard in person; the choral sound on which we’ve built our reputation. For this concert we are honored to work with guest conductor Alexandra Ludwig.

October 15, 2022, 7:30 PM

Our Lady of the Valley, 33 Adams St, Easthampton

J.S. Bach, ‘Komm, Jesu, komm,’ BWV 229
J.S. Bach, ‘Jesu, meine Freude,’ BWV 227
Monteverdi, Missa ‘In illo tempore’ (selections)
Victoria, ‘O quam gloriosum’ and Missa ‘O quam gloriosum’

Note: face masks are required in the venue

February 11, 2023, 7:30 PM

Abbey Chapel, Mount Holyoke College
South Hadley

Lang, ‘the little match girl passion
Schütz, ‘Musikalische Exequien
world premiere by Brandon Waddles

Note: face masks are required in the venue.
This program is supported in part by a grant from the South Hadley Cultural Council, a local agency supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.

May 20, 2023, 7:30 PM

Buckley Recital Hall, Amherst College

Howells Requiem
Tavener, Song for Athene & O do not move
Thompson Odes of Horace
Whitacre 5 Hebrew Love Songs
Gjeilo Ave Generosa • Holst I Love My Love

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Amherst Cultural Council, a local agency supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.


Entrance into the ensemble is by audition only (see audition process below). Dr. Abela seeks singers with considerable choral experience. While perfect sight reading is not required, all singers must fully prepare repertoire before the first rehearsal. Illuminati makes music from the beginning.

Dr. Abela is building an ensemble with a beautiful, communicative sound: tall, warm, vibrant, and round vowels; a wide dynamic palette; an inner rhythmic drive; and in-tune and balanced resonance. In the soprano section she is looking for lyric, energized purity; in the alto section a rich, full sound; in the tenor section a lyric, high/forward, yet warm sound; and in the bass section a rich baritone sound with forward placement that is not overly dark.

If you are interested, please complete the form here and we will email you an audition confirmation with possible times when auditions reopen.

Audition Process:
The audition takes approximately ten minutes. Singers will be asked to prepare a simple one-minute piece of their choosing, and perform scales using a variety of articulations (legato, staccato, and marcato) and dynamics to demonstrate color, range, quality, and flexibility. A segment of the audition will emphasize sight-reading and tonal memory (with accompaniment).

If you have any questions, please email

Founding Donors


Sarah Boy
Greg Brown & Mary Hubbell
Bruce & Wendy Durfee
Chris Krueger & Jane Bryden
Annie Philips
Ellen Story

FIRELIGHT ($100-$249)

Stephen & Suzanna Adams
Joanne Bollinger
K.C. Conlan
Benjiman Durfee
Martha & Newton Frohlich
Paul Knaplund
Bruce & Alexandra Lyman
Rebecca Markarian
Moshe Wurgaft

STARLIGHT ($250-$499)

Robert & Silvia Brinkerhoff
Ronna & Neal Erickson
Sarah Metcalf
Edwin Wilfert

MOONLIGHT ($500-$999)

Philip Stoddard

AURORA BOREALIS ( $1000-$2499)

Manuel & Susan Andrade
Shirley Griffin
Rachel Peterson & Roger Bird


For inquiries, please email