The Ordering of Moses:
Concert Programme

R. Nathaniel Dett

Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943) completed The Ordering of Moses in 1937, having begun it as his MM thesis at the Eastman School of Music (1932), Rochester, NY. The oratorio’s rich, emotional orchestration offers a symbolist portrait of Moses from the burning bush up to his deliverance of the Israelites through the Red Sea.

Born and raised in the historic underground railroad community of Drummondville (now Niagara Falls), Ontario, Dett and his family moved subsequently across the Rainbow Bridge into Niagara Falls, NY. Ultimately, it was Rochester’s Clarissa Street neighborhood which Dett called home from the 1930s until his death. Dett fully immersed himself in Rochester, serving as president of its NAACP, forming choirs at the Clarissa St. YWCA, and directing music at Trinity Presbyterian (now Trinity Emmanuel) and Two Saints Episcopal churches. A mentor to Rochester’s William Warfield, Dett composed megahits such as “Listen to the Lambs,” which was known to thousands of Rochesterians. With his WHAM American Choir on national radio broadcast, Dett also lent his talents to high school students in the Inter-High Choir and set his piano piece, “Juba Dance,” for them.

As the first Black recipient of a Bachelor of Music in Piano & Composition (Oberlin, 1908), Dett was also the first Black graduate of the Eastman School (1932). He completed his four-volume collection of spirituals in Rochester, presenting important historical transcriptions alongside his own fusions of African and European idioms. Two piano suites during the Rochester years, Tropic Winter and 8 Bible Vignettes, evoke the abstraction of Scriabin. While The Ordering of Moses is Dett’s only orchestral piece known to survive today, he composed at least two symphonic pieces for CBS Radio and provided incidental music for Rochester’s 1934 Centennial Pageant.

Though Dett spent most of his adult life living and working in the US, he kept his relationship with Canada and his Canadian colleagues very much alive. O Holy Lord (1916) was written for his friend, Mr. Bruce Carey, and dedicated to the Elgar Choir (now the Bach-Elgar Choir) of Hamilton, ON of which he was the conductor. The text was drawn from “The Story of the Jubilee Singers” and first performed at a Field of Honour Memorial Service for Canadians fallen in battle. When Dett died in 1943 his body was returned to the land of his birth to be buried alongside his mother and his siblings in the Fairfield Cemetery, Niagara Falls, ON.

The Nathaniel Dett Chorale is delighted to join forces with the Roberts Wesleyan Chorale, and in particular the Rochester Oratorio Society and its Artistic Director, Eric Townell whose vision has been the driving force behind this cross-border collaboration, and the realisation with Jeannie Ma. Guerrero, of the new performance edition of The Ordering of Moses.



Friday, October 21, 2022, 8:00 PM
George Weston Recital Hall

The Nathaniel Dett Chorale and Orchestra
Brainerd Blyden-Taylor, Artistic Director
Christina Faye, Collaborative Pianist
Tanya Charles-Iveniuk, Concertmaster

The Rochester Oratorio Society Chorus
Eric Townell, Artistic Director

The Roberts Wesleyan Chorale
Adam Potter, Director


Welcome & Opening Remarks

Great God Almighty | arr. Stacey V. Gibbs (b. 1962)
The Roberts Wesleyan Chorale
Adam Potter, Conductor

O Holy Lord | R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943)
The Nathaniel Dett Chorale
Brainerd Blyden-Taylor, Conductor


The Ordering of Moses | R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943)
(New Performing Edition by Jeannie Ma. Guerrero, Ph.D.)

The Combined Choirs and the NDC Orchestra
Brainerd Blyden-Taylor, Conductor
Ineza Mugisha (Miriam)
Anika Venkatesh (The Voice of Israel)
Arieh Sacke (Moses)
Dérrell Woods (The Word)

 1. Go Down, Moses
2. Is it Not I, Jehovah
3. Orchestra Interlude
4. And When Moses Smote the Water
5. March of the Israelites Through the Red Sea
6. The Egyptians Pursue
7. Sing Ye To Jehovah

The Ordering of Moses

by R. Nathaniel Dett

An oratorio for soli, chorus and orchestra with text based on scripture and folklore composed and set to music by R. Nathaniel Dett.

Composer’s Note:

 “The Moses here depicted is not the Moses familiarised to us by the other arts; especially by the work of Michaelangelo, whose statue of the patriarch has become symbolic.

At the time of this “ordering”, Moses was a shepherd, on a hillside, — undoubtedly a young man, — which explains the part being assigned to a Tenor voice.”


Text of the Oratorio:

All Israel’s children sorely sighed; And unto God they sorely cried.
All Israel’s children sighed And unto God they cried;
‘Neath Egypt’s king they hard were tried; By reason of their bondage.

CHORUS: By reason of their bondage, sorely.

O Lord, behold my affliction; My heart is turned within me;
A darkening cloud is Thy anger. Thy hand is hard against me.
My eyes and heart fall grieving; I walk alone in deep shadows.
Oppressed and sighted in her mourning. Zion sighted in her mourning. O Lord!


SOLOS: God looked on Israel and heard her children groaning.
He looked on her children groaning and had respect unto her.
God looked on Israel and had respect unto her.

ALL:  And had respect unto her.

CHORUS: God looked on Israel and heard her children groaning. Mercy, Lord!
He looked on her children groaning. Mercy, Lord!

And from a burning bush, flaming, God spake unto Moses.

Go down, Moses, Way down in Egypt’s Land; Tell Pharaoh: “Let my people go!”
Thou shalt lead thy people to the promised land.
Go down, Take thy rod in thy hand, Thou shalt lead thy people to the promised land.
For I have looked on Israel and have heard her children groaning,
And I have respect unto her. “Go down, Let my people go!”

Lord, who am I to go unto Pharaoh, and why should I lead children to Israel?
How shall they know Thou sendest me? What name shall I say unto them?
What signs or wonders show?
I am not eloquent, Have no gift of speech, Am slow of tongue!

CHORUS: And God spake unto Moses saying,

“Who hath made a man dumb?
Or who hath made his mouth speak?

BARITONE SOLO: Is it not I, Jehovah! Now therefore go!

CHORUS: Jehovah! God of your fathers?”
Now therefore go down, and I will be thy mouth;
I will instruct thee what thou shalt say. Now therefore go!

Go down, Moses, way down in Egypt’s land; Tell Pharaoh, Let my people go!
Thou shalt lead thy people to the promised land;
Go down, take thy rod in thy hand, Let my people go!
I’ve looked on Israel, and I’ve heard her children groaning,
And I have respect unto her. Let my people go!
“Now go, I will instruct thee, Go down, Moses! Let my people go!

And when Moses smote the water, The children all passed over,
When Moses smote the water, the sea gave way!

CHORUS: And when Moses smote the water, The children all passed over
When Moses smote the water, The sea gave way!
Rejoice, children, and be glad, The sea gave way!


BARITONE SOLO: And when they reached the other shore,
They sang a song of triumph o’er.

MOSES: I will praise Jehovah for he has triumphed gloriously,
The horse and his rider he has o’er thrown in the midst of the sea!
He is my God and I will praise Him; He has become the rock of my salvation.

CHORUS: O hallelujah, hallelujah! Hallelujah, Let us praise Jehovah! Praise the Lord!

BARITONE SOLO: Then did the women of Israel Gather with timbrels and dances;
And Miriam gifted with prophecy, Answered exhorting then, saying:

MIRIAM SOLO: Come, let us praise Jehovah, For his triumph is glorious,
The clouds and fire are his chariots, The winds and waves obey him;
Now all the armies of Pharaoh are sunk as stones in deep waters.
The deeps stood up as the mountains When thou didst blow Thy breath upon them!

CHORUS:  Hallelujah!

MOSES SOLO: Sing ye to Jehovah, for he has triumphed gloriously.

CHORUS: Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power;
Pharaoh’s hosts thou has cast in the depths of the sea!

MOSES SOLO: Sing ye praise to Jehovah; Sing ye!

CHORUS: He is King of Kings, He is Lord of Lords!
Praise Jehovah, Sing together, Praise Jehovah, Great God of our Fathers;
God the Great, I Am that, that I Am!
Hallelujah, God the Great, I Am that, that I Am!
Hallelujah, He is a Man of war. He is a Man of war, mighty is Jehovah,
Mighty in battle, He has overthrown his foes.
Hallelujah! Praise Jehovah, Hallelujah, Praise the Lord!
Mighty is Jehovah, Mighty in battle. No God doth wonders like Him.
O sing to Jehovah, Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord;
Sing to Jehovah, Praise the Lord. Great I Am, that I Am, Praise the Lord.
Hallelujah, Sing to Jehovah, Whose right hand is our salvation, O praise the Lord,
Sing unto Him who hath triumphed.

MOSES & MIRIAM SOLOS: O praise ye, praise ye Jehovah, Praise His holy name!

CHORUS: Ah. He is King of kings and He is Lord of Lords;
Sing together, Praise Jehovah. Great God of our Fathers;
Praise the Great I Am, that I Am, Hallelujah, I that Am, Hallelujah,
King of kings and Lord of Lords Praise His holy name.
Mighty is Jehovah, Mighty in battle! He has triumphed o’er His foes.
O praise Him, Mighty in battle, No God doth wonders like him.
Praise the Lord, Sing to Jehovah, Great I Am, that I Am, Praise the Lord.
Hallelujah, Sing to Jehovah whose right hand is our salvation, Hallelujah.
Praise the Lord, Hallelujah! Praise the Great I Am.

MOSES SOLO: I will sing unto Jehovah, For he has triumphed gloriously.
Jehovah is my strength and my song. He is my God and I will praise Him.
Thou, Lord, in thy loving kindness
Hast led the people, whom Thou hast redeemed!
Jehovah shall reign forever!

MIRIAM SOLO: The horse and his rider he hath thrown into the sea,
And he is become my salvation. My father’s God and I will exalt Him.
Jehovah shall reign forever!


The multi-faceted vocalists of The Nathaniel Dett Chorale perform all styles and genres of music as appropriate to the traditions of Africa and its Diasporas. The Chorale’s mission is to build bridges of understanding, appreciation, and acceptance between communities of people through the medium of Afrocentric choral music.

Founder D. Brainerd Blyden-Taylor named The Nathaniel Dett Chorale after internationally-renowned African Canadian composer R. Nathaniel Dett (1882-1943) to draw attention to Dett’s legacy, to the breadth of Afrocentric choral music, and to be a professional choral ensemble where persons of African heritage can be well represented.  Currently in its 24th Season, The Nathaniel Dett Chorale was recently named Artist in Residence at The Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on Africa and its Diasporas at York University.

Brainerd Blyden-Taylor


Brainerd Blyden-Taylor is the Founder, Artistic Director and Conductor of The Nathaniel Dett Chorale, Canada’s first professional chamber choir dedicated to the creation, preservation, and performance of Afrocentric choral music of all genres. Mr. Blyden Taylor has worked extensively as an educator at the university, public school and community levels; and was awarded the degree Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) from York University, Toronto for his service to education. He is in demand as a guest conductor, clinician, adjudicator, and lecturer, both nationally and internationally. Mr. Blyden-Taylor is also an active and dedicated church musician.

The Nathaniel Dett Chorale


Anaïs Kelsey-Verdecchia
Kaisha Lee
Ineza Mugisha
Jewel Scott
Alison Ryan
Karen Weigold

Jenna Cowans
Alexandra Garrison
Sarah Mole
Ianjai Mounsey-Ndemo
Anika Venkatesh

Jacob Abrahamse
Nicholas Gough
Arieh Sacke
Tyrese Walters
Adam Wicks

Wade Bray
Martin Gomes
Andrew Gunpath
Jeremy Nasmith
Aidan Reimer
Dérrell Woods

NDC Orchestra


Tanya Charles-Iveniuk

Felipe Luzuriaga

Caleb Georges

Brenton Chan

Timothy Fitzgerald

Alheli Pimienta

Colin Maier

Aiko Oda

Zsofia Stefan

Courtney Prizrenac

Lorne Grossman

Jamie Drake

Christina Faye

NDC Patrons




Donald Clements
Charmaine & David Dimick
Barbara ‘Bunny’ Douglas
Alexandra Garrison
Gen Three Ltd.
George Goodwin
Patricia Harland
Stephen & Cheryl Holmes
Ellen Jaaku
Angela King
Stefan C. Laciak
Anne Layton & Jamie Isbister
Diana Massiah
Sarah & Mark Perry
Celeste Richards
Jackman Family Foundation
Janet Roscoe
Alison Rose
Rita Sanford
Ruth Schembri
Jennifer Singh
Conrad Thomas
Alex Thomson
Six anonymous donors
One anonymous Foundation

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The Rochester Oratorio Society (est. 1945) annually presents 2-6 performances of stimulating and gratifying music for chorus and orchestra. Guest conductors such as Leonard Bernstein, Erich Leinsdorf, David Zinman, Uri Segal, and Christopher Seaman have led its concerts. At present, the ROS seeks to illuminate provocative intersections between music and society by programming music to commemorate events such as the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln’s birth, and the NY Women’s Suffrage Centennial. We also support youth, under-resourced persons, emerging artists, and local organizations through our many outreach activities. Multimedia performances interweaving visual art, spoken word, and dance are a hallmark of our seasons. The Rochester Oratorio Society melds high artistry with intense community engagement. It has premiered works locally such as Berlioz’s Requiem and Britten’s War Requiem and is best known for its performances of Handel’s Messiah. The ROS has toured in Italy, the UK, Eastern Europe, and China, where they were the keynote ensemble at the 9th International Cultural Festival preceding the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Our music formed a feature episode of WXXI’s televised “Voices” series. We have maintained a lengthy relationship with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and we collaborate with the region’s finest vocalists, instrumentalists, ensembles and artists. ROS supports composers locally and abroad by commissioning and premiering new music. It brings music well outside the concert hall, traveling to colleges, libraries, schools, and even street corners. Our educational program, Exploratorio!, will grow new musicians from under-served schools to complement our support for early-career vocalists through the nationally acclaimed Rochester International Vocal Competition, presented annually by ROS since 2007.


Eric Townell

Eric Townell became the third music director of the Rochester Oratorio Society in 2006. An international award-winning conductor of opera, choral and orchestral repertoire, Eric has been a frequent guest conductor for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. He has led professional productions nationwide and internationally for the past three decades. Eric previously held artistic posts in Milwaukee, Madison and Stevens Point, Wisconsin, and served as Artistic Director of Rochester Lyric Opera for four seasons. Eric is concurrently Artistic Director of the Finger Lakes Choral Festival. He is the host of “In the Spotlight,” produced and distributed statewide by Penfield Television.

The ROS Chorus

Tania Beghini
Laurel Buckwalter
Karen Crummins
Karen Dey
Amy Ewell
Paulette Gissendanner
Lilith Hart
Cora Jackson
Katie Kovacs
Vicky Wadsworth
Denise Yarborough

Donna Budgeon
Jane Capellupo
Jenifer Cheney
Mary Ellen Coleman
Carol Elliott
Sarah Engel
Kathy Green
Barbara Hellwig
Jenny Horn
Carole Huther
Sue Lione
Dottie Needler
Molly Sanchez
Monica Tyne
Patricia Van Dussen
Susan Woodhouse

John Buckwalter
Chuck Meyer


Tim Coleman
Scott Griswald
Chris Haller
Harry Hellwig
Steve Smith
Rob White


The Roberts Chorale is the premier vocal ensemble of Roberts Wesleyan University in Rochester, New York, devoted to the study and performance of high-quality choral music from diverse styles, musical eras, languages, and cultures. Bonded by a passion for compelling musical performance and a desire for meaningful Christian fellowship, the Chorale is an ensemble of talented singer-artists who combine their gifts to cultivate excellence in choral singing, affirming the ensemble’s mission statement to “express ourselves humbly and honestly through song” and “find joy in all we do.”

The Chorale took its first international tour and released its first recordings on LP under director Gregory Goida. During the 33-year tenure of his successor, Robert Shewan, the Chorale released multiple recordings on the Albany label and performed frequently with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. The proud heritage of choral singing at Roberts Wesleyan College (now University) was further fostered by subsequent Chorale directors Nelson Hill, Stephen Caracciolo, Jeffery McGhee, Jamie Spillane, and David Chin. Under its current director, Adam Potter, the Chorale continues to serve the college and community through frequent on- and off-campus performances, recording projects, collaborations with the Roberts Wesleyan College–Community Orchestra, joint concerts with other ensembles in the region, biennial domestic performance tours, quadrennial international performance tours, and innovative programming and partnerships.

The Chorale’s recent repertoire has included Choral Fantasy (Beethoven), Polovetsian Dance & Chorus (Borodin), Et in Terra Pax (Finzi), Messiah and “Zadok the Priest” (Handel), Mass in C (Mozart), Fantasia on Christmas Carols (Vaughan Williams), The Ordering of Moses (Dett), and the New York State premiere of LUX: The Dawn from On High (Forrest). In addition to major works and classical music, the Chorale delights in inviting its audiences into a spirit of worship through the singing of new music, well-crafted hymn settings, music from the Global South, gospel music, and spirituals.

Adam Potter

Adam Potter is Director of Choral Activities and Associate Professor of Music at Roberts Wesleyan University in Rochester. At RWU, he conducts The Roberts Chorale, Coro di Voci Treble Choir, and Redhawk Voices Tenor–Bass Chorus, administers the college choral program, mentors choral music education majors, and teaches coursework in conducting, vocal music methods, and music education. He earned a Ph.D. in choral conducting and music education from the Florida State University College of Music. He is also an active church musician, currently at Rochester Christian Reformed Church. During the summers, he conducts choirs and teaches voice and music theory at the Csehy Summer School of Music in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. Dr. Potter is a sought-after guest conductor and clinician for honor choirs, choral-orchestral performances, and high schools and colleges, as well as an active adjudicator of choral performance festivals. He has also been a guest lecturer at the Kenya Conservatoire of Music and a guest artist with the Nairobi Chamber Chorus in conjunction with the AVoice4Peace worldwide peace awareness project. His research interests include sight-singing pedagogy, voice building in the choral rehearsal, and applications of the servant-leadership model to conducting music ensembles. He is an active member of the American Choral Directors Association and is also a member of Pi Kappa Lambda, the American honor society for musicians.

The Roberts Chorale


Victoria Ann Heffner ’26
BS Music Therapy
Somerset, N.J.

Murphy McDermott ’25
BS Vocal Performance
Appleton, N.Y.

Ruth Haldeman Metzler ’22
BS Choral Music Education
Carthage, N.Y.

Emily Sylvester ’24 †
BS Choral Music Education
Rochester, N.Y.


Lauryn Beyer ’26
BS Music Therapy
Hilton, N.Y.

Maria C. Foti ’23
BS Choral Music Education
Oswego, N.Y.

Cecilia Guerra ’25
BS Vocal Performance
Portland, Maine

Lauren Zielinski ’24 ‡
BS Choral Music Education
Hamburg, N.Y.


Tonia Demosthene ’25
BS Music Therapy
Stony Point, N.Y.

Emma Lutz ’24 †
BS Choral Music Education
Hamburg, N.Y.

Carrie Ribbing ’23
BS Nursing
West Henrietta, N.Y.

Mya Rodwell ’24
BA Psychology
Rochester, N.Y.

Lanee Turner ’26
BS Instrumental Music Education
Lakeland, Fla.


AnnaMae Humbert ’24
BS Nursing
North Rose, N.Y.

Ruth Michel ’24 ‡
BS Choral Music Education
Lansdale, Pa.

Isabelle Grace Nokland ’24
BS Nursing
Montgomery, N.Y.

Amethyst Gabriella Scherer ’24
BS Music Therapy
Panama City, Fla.


Jackson Doran ’25
BS Nursing
Lockport, N.Y.

John “Jack” Mitchell ’25 †
BS Instrumental Music Education
Rochester, N.Y.

Garrett Whitmeyer ’23
BS Cross-Disciplinary Studies
Canastota, N.Y.


Shawn Drumma ’24
BS Nursing
Perry, N.Y.

Jack Fecik ’26 ‡
BS Piano Performance
Penfield, N.Y.

Christoffer R. Snel ’23
BS Forensic Science
Afton, N.Y.


Nicholas V. Lopez ’24 †
BS Choral Music Education
Syracuse, N.Y.

Arturo Durah Mejia ’26
BS Early Childhood Education
Bronx, N.Y.

Jacob Mellott ’26
BS Choral Music Education
Spencerport, N.Y.

Dante Mergenthaler ’25
BS Adolescent History Education
Herkimer, N.Y.

Jacob Z. Rychlicki ’24
BS Physical Education
Caledonia, N.Y.


David Douglass ’26
BA Psychology
Cheektowaga, N.Y

Ethan Kane ’22
BA Music (Guitar)
Greece, N.Y.

Abe Selby ’25
BA Communication
Freeland, Pa.

William Shiner ’26
RIT Dual Enrollment (Mechanical Engineering)
Pittsburgh, Pa.

Peter Trim ’23 ‡
BS Euphonium Performance
Lodi, N.Y.

† Section Leader
‡ Assistant Section Leader