For 65 years The New York Choral Society has celebrated the power and joy of choral music through wide-ranging repertory, innovative collaborations and exceptional artistry. Our mission is guided by our commitment to explore well-known choral works, rarely heard compositions, and newer, culturally significant choral works.
Our chorus is founded by Martin D. Josman with 12 singers. Membership grows quickly and we begin performing choral classics and premieres of new choral works at New York’s Philharmonic Hall (now David Geffen Hall). In 1960, we launch Summer Sings, our annual participatory performances of choral music open to the public and that feature prominent choral conductors and emerging soloists from the New York area.
Acclaimed arranger and conductor Robert De Cormier joins as Music Director. During his tenure, our chorus grows to over 150 singers and sees new commissions* world premieres*, recordings* and international tours*.
Beginning in 1981 and through 1988, we appear annually at A Holiday Celebration with Peter, Paul and Mary at Carnegie Hall. This popular, distinctly American program of holiday and folk music favorites is recorded in 1989 and broadcast annually on PBS.
Notable performances during this period include Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem; Handel’s Israel in Egypt; Mendelssohn’s Elijah; Verdi’s Requiem and Quattro Pezzi Sacri; Bloch’s Sacred Service; Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms and Britten’s Voices for Today. Our recording of Kodaly’s Missa Brevis and Vaughan Williams’ Mass in G minor is nominated for a Grammy Award in 1985. We commission and premiere new works including Robert De Cormier’s Four Sonnets to Orpheus, Legacy and Shout for Joy; Morton Gould’s Quotations; Paul Alan Levi’s Mark Twain Suite; and William Mayer’s Spring and Yes Forever.
Music Director John Daly Goodwin continues to expand our repertoire of classics, premieres and performances of new works. We begin our annual appearances at the renowned Richard Tucker Music Foundation Gala in 1993. We perform regularly with the Opera Orchestra of New York* under the direction of noted conductor Eve Queler. In 2000, we begin frequent in-concert appearances with Andrea Bocelli.
In 1988, we perform at New York City Ballet’s International Music Festival-Opening Night Gala conducted by Leonard Bernstein. Other guest appearances include the 1998 Grammy Awards with Aretha Franklin at Radio City Music Hall and seven performances of John Adams’ Harmonium and Orff’s Carmina Burana with American Ballet Theater at the Metropolitan Opera House in 2003. Other notable performances include Mahler’s 8th Symphony with Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia, The Delaware Symphony and the American Boy Choir at Avery Fisher Hall and Philadelphia’s Academy of Music; Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis at Carnegie Hall, the New York premieres of Philip Glass’ Itaipu at Brooklyn Academy of Music under the direction of Dennis Russell Davies, and Henryk Górecki’s Beatus Vir at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. In 2008, we travel to Beijing to perform at the Olympic Cultural Festival.
New commissions include Stephen Paulus’ Whitman’s New York, Joelle Wallach’s Toward a Time of Renewal and Paul Alan Levi’s Dayenu, A Passover Oratorio. We release our recording of Randall Thompson’s Frostiana and Testament of Freedom.
David Hayes joins as Music Director in 2012. Under his visionary leadership our chorus expands its artistic mission to include performances and premieres of important works of the 20th and 21st centuries * in addition to well-known works by composers of the 18th and 19th centuries. We present the New York premieres of Jennifer Hidgon’s The Singing Rooms with acclaimed violinist Jennifer Koh in 2014, James McMillan’s St. Luke Passion with The Brooklyn Youth Chorus in 2017, and Frank Ticheli’s The Shore in 2018 and Until Forever Fades Away in 2019. We continue to explore compelling well known choral works with performances of Bach’s Mass in B minor, Mendelssohn’s St. Paul, Berlioz’ L’enfance du Christ and Holst’s Hymn of Jesus.
Our commitment to innovation and collaboration brings many exciting performances of choral music. In 2015, the Mannes Orchestra, The New School of the Performing Arts and the Young People’s Chorus of New York City join us for a performance of John Adams’ On the Transmigration of Souls and Hindemith’s When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d. That year, we also collaborate with Berlin-based CHEAP Collective and visual artist Vaginal Davis in a radical reinterpretation of Mozart’s The Magic Flute at 80 WSE Gallery. Our collaborations with visual artists include Gordon Hall’s Brothers and Sisters at David Zwirner Gallery in 2018 and Honeggar’s Le Roi David at Central Synagogue in 2019 with artist Brendan Fernandes.
Beginning in 2018, our chorus launches a new operational and programming framework to challenge our organization to be more inclusive, collaborative, and intentional was we reimagine the experience of choral music. This framework, rooted inartistic excellence with a commitment to experimentation and welcoming more and diverse perspectives, has been essential to expanding our relationships with audiences and creators alike. Recent collaborations with choreographers, musicians, and artists include performances and productions with Catalyst Quartet, Francesca Harper, Rev. Joyce McDonald, Danielle Russo Performance Project, Porte Mande, David Thomson, Marjani Forté-Saunders, Claudia Schreier, and Saya Woolfalk. We also partner with several advocacy organizations including The Angel Band Project and Legacies of War to lend our voices to issues important to our community.
In 2020 when in-person productions were not possible, we launched Our Voices a series of digital multidisciplinary productions of a cappella choral works that provide audiences with a new way to discover choral music. Our Voices features a unique collaborative approach with each production co-created with a contemporary artist or choreographer who is given complete freedom to create a visual response to the music.
We returned to in-person performance in April 2022 with Love in Action, a concert of choral works of eight contemporary American composers offered in appreciation of New York’s front line and essential workers. Members of NYC’s Local 2507 EMT union, World Central Kitchen, and several health care workers joined us onstage throughout the program to reflect on their experiences during the pandemic.
Our 2022- 2023 season features a historic staging of Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts. Our chorus is joined by The New School Studio Orchestra, artist James Little and Mercedes Ellington reprising her role as Narrator.