Da Camera Singers, a group of musicians who are passionate about singing, perform sacred and secular music for lovers of the choral art in the Pioneer Valley. In addition to singing eclectic historical choral repertoire, we are committed to commissioning and premiering works of established and young composers. Our concerts are free and accessible to all, and special benefit concerts feature goodwill offerings that generously support other nonprofits in the community.
Da Camera Singers came into being in 1973 when several Amherst madrigal groups coalesced and invited Ann Kearns to become their director. They gave their first public performance in Buckley Recital Hall at Amherst College that year. Since then, Da Camera has been drawing talented singers from many towns throughout central and western Massachusetts.
With the passage of time, a number of directors, the longest-tenured being John Maggs, Gregory Hayes, and now Sheila Heffernon, have expanded the group’s range to include works from the nineteenth century to the present.
In recent years, it has been our custom to commission new works from local composers.
Sheila L. Heffernon is in her sixteenth season with Da Camera Singers. She began her musical training here in the Valley at Smith College, under the mentorship of Iva Dee Hiatt. After receiving her Masters in conducting at New England Conservatory she spent two years as the Associate Conductor at Princeton University and then migrated back north to become the director of choral music at Northfield Mount Hermon, where she has been teaching for thirty-nine years. Choirs under her direction have performed in Russia, China, Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan, South Africa, Austria, Germany, Canada and in St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome. Closer to home they have performed at the White House, the National Cathedral, Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, St. John the Divine in New York City and Wolf Trap in Virginia. Ms. Heffernon was the organist at St. Andrews in Turners Falls for twenty-one years and taught in the Music Education program for six years at the University of Massachusetts, where she did postgraduate work. Directing Da Camera is one of Heffernon’s great joys. In addition to the traditional choral repertoire she has a passion for bringing new choral music to life and is proud of Da Camera’s commitment to commissioning new works annually.