Press Reviews

'It used to be that Russian choirs had the edge in recording material from that country, but New York's Clarion Choir has gotten the drop on them with a world premiere of music by Alexander Kastalsky. The sound, from New York's St. Jean Baptiste Roman Catholic Church, is all that could be desired.'
James Manheim, AllMusic

'The superb 28-member Clarion Choir was a revelation: Full-voiced, with rhythmic precision and articulation as clear as the orchestra’s, the ensemble easily switched gears from the sensual languor of “Endless pleasure, endless love” to the moving, oratorical statement of the opera’s dark lesson: “Nature to each allots his proper sphere / But that forsaken we like meteors err: / Toss’d through the void, by some rude shock we’re broke, / And all our boasted fire is lost in smoke.” ' (Carnegie Hall, April 14, 2019)
- The Wall Street Journal

'Who could fail to be knocked sideways by the balanced tones and glorious thrust of New York's Clarion Choir (so aptly named)' (Barbican, April 5, 2019)
- The Times of London

'Handel awards the chorus numbers of considerable profundity and musical complexity. Steven Fox’s stellar Clarion Choir—which included Beutel and Giebler and other notable local singers—made a deep impact.' (Carnegie Hall, April 14, 2019)
- Opera News

'...A Marvelous Semele...The English Concert, a superb period instrument orchestra whose annual spring visit to Carnegie is a must for Handel-lovers... were joined by the aptly named Clarion Choir (Steven Fox, artistic director) and six splendid soloists, all led by the conductor Harry Bicket...the choruses may be the glory of “Semele.” Act II — when it looks like Semele and Jupiter, in the form of a mortal man, are going to live in sensual bliss — ends with the sumptuous “Bless the glad earth.”' (Carnegie Hall, April 14, 2019)
- The New York Times

'The roles of the Priest (Act I) and Apollo (Act III) were taken confidently by Joseph Beutel and Brian Giebler respectively, members of the fabulous Clarion Choir whose intonation and diction were immaculate and who showed they could sing a fugue with light vigour as readily as they could conjure an expressive expanse of sustained and sensitive sound.' (Barbican, April 5, 2019)
- Opera Today

'the glory of this evening performance was the superlative singing of the Clarion Choir. Their homogeneity, clarity and accuracy is something to marvel.' (Barbican, April 5, 2019)
- I hear Voices (Opera Blog)

'Choruses were delivered with clarity and purpose by the glorious Clarion Choir (under Steven Fox’s excellent direction and training), while arias, loving, sensual, playful, and invariably florid, were superbly handled by the soloists...Mr Bicket kept The English Concert and Clarion Choir closely around him, allowing him the tight ensemble work he craved. The audience went wild with approval often, and granted a huge ovation at the end.' (Carnegie Hall, April 14, 2019)
- Bachtrack

'The orchestra (The English Concert ) and the choir (The Clarion Choir) follow the precise gestures of the conductor Harry Bicket and weave the sound of this drama full of musicality and nuances.' (Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, April 3, 2019)

'...the choir was excellent in each of its interventions: flexible ("Lucky omens" in Act I), playful ("Now Love that everlasting boy invites" in Act II) or, conversely, restrained and superb in the magnificent "O terror and astonishment" following the death of Semele (Act III).' (Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, April 3, 2019)

'The U.S. based Clarion Choir was a worthy partner to the English Concert with some really impressive variations in vocal light and shade and admirable attention to dynamic markings and diction. The rests in “Cease, cease,” “Hail! Cadmus, hail,” and “Happy, happy” were as sharp as Lady Macbeth’s pugnale. The bellicose “Avert these omens, all ye pow’rs” was immaculately sung with crystal clear articulation prevailing over the pounding timpani. “How engaging, how endearing” was especially charming and the alla hornpipe “Now Love that everlasting boy invites” had suitably adolescent ardor. The fugal “Bless the glad earth” chorus which concludes Act II had power, precision and panache. The Purcellian “Oh terror and astonishment” chorus, when Semele turns to cinders, was suitably frightening with a subterranean pianissimo low F-natural from basses at “lost in smoke.” The final polyphonic fugal “Happy, happy” chorus with hallelujah-esque rowdy timpani and raspy trombe was a worthy conclusion to an absolutely outstanding choral performance.' (Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, April 3, 2019)
- Opera Wire

‘[Die Zauberflöte] was a delight, on all fronts. Fox conducted surely, with tempos and casting that recalled René Jacobs’s Zauberflöte. The chorus sang well and the generously sized period orchestra played superbly. …Everyone was charming and idiomatic and appealing, suggesting what one might have heard back in the day at the Theater auf der Wieden. …A stylish, satisfying evening; may Clarion venture further into opera.’
- John Rockwell, Opera (UK)

‘the now sixty-year old Clarion Orchestra in its current incarnation, produced a fine reading under Steven Fox’s baton…Fox’s players achieved Mozartian gravitas and levity as needed.’
- David Shengold, Opera News

‘There’s a mystical quality, a whiff of incense, to Passion Week and, as the music ebbed and flowed, I was lulled into a wonderful, contemplative state. That was down also to the quality of the performance; expertly paced by the conductor Steven Fox, the singing was fluid and full of light and shade. Fresh from the St Petersburg and Moscow premieres, the Clarion Choir gave us its best Church Slavonic. After the encore, amid copious applause, one of the singers gave a cheery thumbs-up to someone in the audience. Well, a big thumbs-up from me too. ’
- Rebecca Franks, The Times (UK)

‘…the best example of cooperation between our countries. ’
- TV Rossiya 24 - Vesti (RU)

‘A Magnificent Discovery. This recording…boasts marvellously committed fervent singing from the Clarion Choir under Steven Fox and deserves the widest possible dissemination.’
- Eric Levi, BBC Music Magazine

‘All of [Fox’s] solo singers have exemplary tone and diction, and the choir’s blend is creamy and devoid of rough edges. …The luscious uplifting Alleluias which round off the disc’s concluding “Let all mortal flesh” will surely encourage other choirs to tackle this newly restored masterpiece.’
- Malcolm Riley, Gramophone

‘Clarion's handsome voices and the maestro's Slavic sensibilities honor Steinberg's intentions with grand singing and total conviction.’
- Philip Greenfield, American Record Guide

‘Vaulting into Spine-Tingling Territory With a Rachmaninoff Rarity…The Clarion Choir’s performance, with 26 strong singers led by the group’s artistic director, Steven Fox, was indeed stunning.’
- James Oestreich, The New York Times

‘Maximilian Steinberg’s “Passion Week” arrived in New York on Tuesday evening in a stunning performance by the Clarion Choir, conducted by Steven Fox… The work is a treasure. The Clarion forces, who specialize in early music, have been expanding their range of late, and they did so decisively here. Happily, the Clarion version of the work is being recorded this week.’
- James Oestreich, The New York Times

‘An inspired interpretation…Mr. Fox revealed the drama in the score with vivid dynamic shadings. In “Blessed Is the Man,” the “Alleluias” unfolded with characterful contrast; first solemn, then impassioned, before concluding with an introverted whisper. Intonation and pacing were exemplary throughout the performance.’
- Vivien Schweitzer, The New York Times

‘The stellar early-music Clarion Ensemble’
- Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, The New York Times

‘Steven Fox, Clarion’s artistic director...conducted the beautifully rendered program...spirited, polished playing from the instrumentalists and a well-blended, joyous sound from the choir.'
- Vivien Schweitzer, The New York Times

‘Clarion’s esteemed director, Steven Fox’
- The New Yorker

‘An intelligently devised and lovingly offered concert...The extreme harmonies of Gesualdo’s “Moro, Lasso” showed off the singers’ assured sense of pitch and control, as they leaned into the difficult dissonances and allowed the resolutions to fall into place naturally. Under the direction of Steven Fox, the ensemble’s artistic director, tempos also took on a certain speechlike freedom that gave the text its rightful primacy and allowed the music to hover over key words.’
- Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, The New York Times

‘[Paul] Jacobs asked the superb Clarion Choir to perform [the Bach chorale settings] a capella before each organ setting. Skillfully led by Steven Fox, the choristers sang with purity of tone and ensemble precision.’
- Barbara Jepson, The Wall Street Journal

‘What can I say about Steven Fox that I haven’t said before? Adding to my last rave review, I can attest that having experienced his recent conducting with two different orchestras, where he achieved similar impressive results, there is no questioning his ability to draw out from musicians their best possible playing. Clearly, he has a tremendous rapport with his musicians, and this ability makes him a conductor to follow.’
- Stan Metzger, Seen and Heard International

‘Under its new music director, Clarion Music Society is re-emerging as an important force in early music. Young maestro Fox took over Clarion two years ago and seems poised to usher the ensemble into an exciting new era... Fox's conducting showed a sure feeling for the elegance and drama of the music.’
- George Loomis, Musical America

‘When Bach is performed well, as it was tonight, one could almost think, “Why bother with any other music?” …a performance as perfect as the one tonight had my mind racing... The repartee between the strings and the oboe d'amores, each group in respectful conversation, was new to me. I was mesmerized by the energy, enthusiasm, passion and attention to detail displayed here …I have seen Steven Fox several times, and I must say he outdid himself in this performance. His choice of tempo, his understanding of Bach and Baroque style, and his selection of seldom-heard repertory are unexcelled.’
- Stan Metzger, Seen and Heard International

‘Steven Fox, Clarion's artistic director, led judiciously paced performances; and the terrific chorus, which also furnished the vocal soloists, produced a clear, sturdy sound...’
- James Oestreich, The New York Times

‘Technique and tone in the long program were precise, articulate and strong, with Fox in control of dynamics. Cutoffs and grand pauses were a joy. ... [The musicians succeeded] in moving the sound quality into the forceful timbres and big low notes of Eastern Europe and the Orthodox Church.'
- Leslie Kandell, The Berkshire Eagle

‘…the Clarion Choir gave a pensive and mystical performance of the 30-minute “Rothko Chapel” …The calm, sensitive performance…conveyed the simplicity and directness of this wondrously restrained music. And the audience, which had listened with uncommon contemplativeness, gave the performers a long ovation.’
- Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times

‘…the music showed imaginative word painting and a rich sonority that one hardly expects to encounter in 18th-century music. Steven Fox conducted with precision and expression… The concert introduced me to composers I have missed and showed me new sides to composers I thought I knew.’
- David Moore, American Record Guide

‘Feldman’s Rothko Chapel… absolutely blew me away. From the four ovations it received, I think the rest of the audience felt similarly. Rothko Chapel became a religious experience …the ethereal voices of the Clarion Choir. …The piece’s unimaginably gentle sonorities were handled with tremendous care by Axiom, but it was the Clarion Choir’s accuracy and blend that transformed this performance into a transcendent experience.’
- Jake Cohen, Consequence of Sound

‘Fox and his choristers performed [Bach’s choral settings] artistically, their beautiful voices sounding out ideally...’
- Dennis Rooney, Musical America

‘…the Clarion Music Society, one of New York’s most important early music ensembles… Maestro Fox is emerging as one of New York City’s most promising young conductors. Keep your eyes peeled for him.’
- Kent Tritle, WQXR