Orpheonist and Charity Children’s Singing Festival: 1st

Event Information

Cooper Institute

Manager / Director:
Charles Jerome Hopkins

Theodore Thomas [see also Thomas Orchestra]
Charles Jerome Hopkins

Price: $1; $2

Event Type:

Performance Forces:
Instrumental, Vocal

Record Information


Last Updated:
13 January 2013

Performance Date(s) and Time(s)

01 Jun 1866, 1:00 PM

Program Details

Because of the fire at the Academy of Music, the June 1 concert was moved to the Cooper Union, which, because of its smaller capacity, required that the concert be given twice, on June 1 and June 2. Although the AN in the NYH of 06/01/66 states that the New York Harmonic Society will participate, that organization is not mentioned in any other announcements nor in any reviews. Because the event was given twice, the soloists did not participate in both concerts. Goldbeck, for example, played on June 2, but not on June 1 when Mills played. Hopkins orchestral works and Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus probably were performed at both concerts. A third performance was given on June 4.

Performers and/or Works Performed

Composer(s): Handel
Participants:  Harmonic Glee Club
Composer(s): Hopkins
Composer(s): Hopkins
Composer(s): Liszt
Participants:  Sebastian Bach Mills


Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 27 May 1866.

“This mammoth singing festival, in which hundreds of the Orpheon scholars, Charity children, and male choristers will take part . . . under the direction of Mr. C. Jerome Hopkins, who has spent months in teaching the children to take part in this most interesting exhibition. The joint committees, ladies and gentlemen, comprise hundreds of the most wealthy and influential of our people, which alone should insure complete success to the undertaking. We trust that the general public will also come forward for the surplus realized by this festival will be devoted to the benefit of the children who take part in it.”

Advertisement: New York Herald, 27 May 1866, 7.

“June 1 and 2.”

Advertisement: New York Herald, 29 May 1866, 7.

“Yonkers people, Staten Island people, Brooklyn people, and others living out of the city should not forget.”

Announcement: New-York Daily Tribune, 31 May 1866.

An “interesting festival.”

Announcement: New York Sun, 31 May 1866.

 “The great spring-tide singing jubilee of the Orpheonists and Charity Children, from New York, Brooklyn and Staten Island combined, with grand orchestra will take place on Friday and Saturday afternoons at 1 o’clock, in the large hall of the Cooper Union.  This will be the first time that such colossal performances of choral music with orchestra have taken place in this country, and they will undoubtedly surpass any similar efforts of the kind ever attempted here.  The burning of the Academy of Music will render it necessary to repeat the performance twice at this hall, thus giving subscribers and others their option as to which day to attend the jubilee.  All previously issued tickets bearing the date June 1st will also be taken on June 2nd, and holders of box tickets for the Academy of Music will not be entitled to four admissions on each box ticket presented at the door.  The jubilee will combine the attractions of sacred oratory, piano performance, operatic singing, a philharmonic concert, singing of solos by choir boys, and of chorus alla capella (or without accompaniment), with Handel’s immortal Hallelujah Chorus, rendered with a grandeur of dynamic effect which, in point of numerical strength or performers, has never yet been done before.  These monster performances are to test the feasibility of establishing such a fathering every Spring in New York (as is now done in London under the dome of St’ Paul’s Cathedral), the proceeds to be divined between the Orphan Asylum and the Orpheon Free Choral Schools, with the attendants of which last, the scheme originated.  An array of artistic talent rarely gathered together on one occasion will assist the Orpheonists and the occasion has been anticipated by many, who purchased tickets some time ago.  Those who would secure seats for either day, should get their tickets without delay.”

Announcement: New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung und Herold, 31 May 1866.

Claims that over 300 children will sing.

Announcement: New York Herald, 01 June 1866, 4.

“It promises to be an interesting affair.”

Advertisement: New-York Times, 01 June 1866.
Announcement: New-York Times, 01 June 1866, 4.

Hopkins “has been at infinite pains to establish free schools of music, and almost unaided has succeeded in teaching many hundred youngsters, who to-day take part in his festival.”

Review: New-York Times, 02 June 1866, 4.

“A number of boys and girls—probably 250 in all—took part in, and gave éclat yesterday afternoon to, Mr. Jerome Hopkins’ first ‘Spring-tide Singing Festival.’ These represent, inadequately we are informed, the labor of five years of enthusiastic devotion to choir singing, or at least to that branch of it which the young folk can represent. Mr. Hopkins says in one of many circulars, ‘I have myself, in person, visited three asylums weekly since January 1; have been present at Orpheon meetings in New-York four times, and in Brooklyn and on Staten Island once each week, and have scored every note (of the music to be sung by our chorus) for full orchestra, having transposed the entire ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ one note lower to suite the children’s voices. This has been done without expense to the asylums, I having had the pleasure of paying the bills myself, supplying music, &c., besides being responsible for about $1,500 or $2,000 for the approaching festival.’ The festival referred to is the one of which we are now speaking. We are sorry to say that the attendance was poor. The capacious cellar of the Cooper Institute was not more than half filled.

            “Mr. Hopkins is working, we hope, in a good cause. It is very necessary to have children taught music, very proper that even older people should have the opportunity of knowing the pleasure that may be drawn from that simple source. But in what Mr. Hopkins has done so far we see Mr. Hopkins conspicuously. He has worked undoubtedly for the Orpheons, but he has worked unquestionably for the young man. We need not say that that young man is Mr. Hopkins. In the concert yesterday three of Mr. Hopkins’ compositions were performed. The number was not excessive. Heretofore we have had four or five. But where a gentleman makes a merit of his services to art he ought at least to sink himself, even if suspicion be the only weapon that may be used against him. Mr. Hopkins’ criticism of critics (and he has indulged in many) have been characterized by every quality which a practiced writer would have tried to avoid in any sort of altercation. By the lowness of his expressions, the meanness of his argument, the stupidity of his average range of thought, he has, long ago, placed himself beyond the pale of common courtesy. Yet, people seeing his energy, and admiring his enthusiasm, have thought that there might be something in the man. They have waited for the fruition which is not yet, but which perhaps may come.  They will wait long; for the man who educates himself by decrying others is never likely to conquer opinion or lead the van.

            “These remarks would be inappropriate if they had not been provoked by the many silly circulars on the subject of this festival which Mr. Hopkins has issued. We are sorry to add that they are justified also by the failure of the festival itself. The attendance yesterday was as mediocre as the performance. The children which Mr. Hopkins parades before us have not been taught to sing. They shout more or less unanimously, and Mr. Hopkins makes a noise with his bâton on the substance nearest to him with a vain desire to bring them to time.

            “The artists who protected this unfortunate attempt were Signora Boschetti, Signor Orlandi and Mr. Theodore Thomas.  The orchestra was conducted by Mr. Theodore Thomas. Its duties consisted mainly in playing Mr. Hopkins’ compositions. The overture called ‘Manhood’ has merit. It is clear and distinct in idea, but decidedly tedious in treatment.”

Review: New York Herald, 02 June 1866, 5.

            “Mr. Jerome Hopkins’ grand Orpheonist festival came off yesterday afternoon at the Cooper Union. . . . The choruses were in general well sung, and the orchestra, under the able direction of Mr. Theodore Thomas, admirable.  The hall is evidently constructed in defiance of all acoustic principles, and the effect of the choruses and orchestral parts was consequently not as it should be.  The soloists, instrumental and vocal, fared even worse. Mr. Mills, in his rendering of one of Liszt’s dashing pieces, seemed to be multiplied into a dozen pianists, or rather the tones of the piano reached the ear in disjointed measures, reechoed from each of the mocking nooks and corners of the hall.

            Signora Boschetti and Signor Orlandini sang under the like unfavorable auspices, and, therefore, they disarm criticism. The want of proportion between the height and length of the hall will ever render it unfit for musical performances. The juvenile choristers showed good training, and a fair knowledge of music. We object, however, to the ruthless mutilation of the Hallelujah Chorus in the arrangement of it at the Orpheons’ festival yesterday. If the choristers cannot sing the fugues in this chorus it is better to give it up at once. It is only a sad burlesque of Handel’s great work. Some of Mr. Hopkins’ orchestral works, as played yesterday, showed some merit. One, the overture ‘Manhood,’ displayed genius—erratic, to be sure, but genuine. The festival was attended by a fair sized audience.”