Above: Steve Budman photo, with thanks to Robert W. Cross and the Virginia Arts Festival / Robin Hixon Theater.
ABOUT THE VIRGINIA CHORALE
The Virginia Chorale is the premier professional vocal ensemble in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Founded thirty-eight years ago, the ensemble has grown from a community-based early music chorus to today's dynamic group of professional singers, performing repertoire ranging from the Middle Ages to the music of today.
Education is an important initiative of the Chorale, which offers opportunities for both youth and adults to learn more about the choral art, including free outreach performances in the community and school programs. The Young Singers Project, now in its twenty-first year, is a community favorite, matching talented high school singers from around the region with professional mentors in rehearsal and performance settings.
The Chorale has a strong history of participation in community events and collaborations with other area arts organizations. The ensemble has performed at Norfolk's City Hall and Harbor Park and at other community gatherings, including an anniversary celebration of WHRO Public Radio & Television. It has collaborated with the Virginia Ballet Theatre, Todd Rosenlieb Dance, the Chrysler Museum of Art, and local visual artists Tye Bernick and Linda Gissen. The Chorale worked with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra to produce and present the Virginia Festival of American Voices, a celebration of American choral music, and with the VSO, Norfolk Festevents, and the Virginia Stage Company to present An Enchanted Evening: The Music of Rodgers & Hammerstein at Town Point Park. The ensemble has been engaged by the Virginia Arts Festival to perform with artists such as Garrison Keillor, the Mark Morris Dance Group, Petula Clark, the Dance Theatre of Harlem and the VSO, and with the Festival's John Duffy Institute for New Opera in its world premiere production of Kristin Kuster's KEPT: a ghost story, and most recently in Bernstein at 100, where the Chorale performed Bernstein's Chichester Psalms. In 2013 the Virginia Chorale was honored to perform for the NATO Diamond Ball and to collaborate with the Sentara Music & Medicine Center.
Explore the following timeline that spotlights many of the important moments in the Chorale's musical journey.
Norfolk Pro Musica, a volunteer chorale specializing in Baroque and Renaissance repertoire, is founded by Donald J. McCullough and presents its first concert. Riu, riu, chiu is the first work performed.
Name changed to Virginia Pro Musica
Performances in Norwich, UK, as part of a sister city program.
The transition from volunteer to paid professional singers is made.
Name changed to the McCullough Chorale.
Performance at the national convention of the Association of Anglican Church Musicians.
Adolphus Hailstork: Choral Works is released on the Albany/Troy label.
Name changed to the Virginia Chorale.
Performance at the Southeastern Division conference of the American Choral Directors Association.
Founder Donald J. McCullough accepts a new position with the Master Chorale of Washington, D.C., leading singers and board members to launch a nationwide joint music director search with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.
Robert Shoup is introduced as the Chorale's second music director; his first concert features an all-Romantic program of Brahms and Schubert.
National radio broadcast of performances with Dale Warland on NPR's Performance Today.
Heavenly Light, featuring holiday favorites, is released.
National composition contest is launched, drawing entries from eight states; the winner was Moments by Roanoke's Joseph Blaha.
The Young Singers Project is featured in nationally televised concerts with Petula Clark, Lou Rawls, and Richard Carpenter.
Artists-in-Residence Quartet established with soprano Virginia Vail, alto Lisa Relaford Coston, tenor Reggie Barnes, and bass Steve Kelley.
That We May Sing is released, featuring live concert recordings.
Performance as featured artists in Garrison Keillor's holiday show at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk.
Performance of Handel's L'allegro, il penseroso ed il moderato with the internationally-acclaimed Mark Morris Dance Group as part of the Virginia Arts Festival.
The Chorale records the choral component of an international motion picture release, a Polish re-make of the 1950s classic Quo Vadis.
American Legacies Series introduced as a result of research conducted at the Library of Congress by composer Libby Larsen and music director Robert Shoup.
Los Angeles composer Peter Rutenberg visits Norfolk for rehearsals and performances of his Ballad of the Buffalo Skinners in the Chorale's first concert performance at Monticello Arcade in downtown Norfolk.
New York composer Richard Einhorn attends rehearsals and performances of Voices of Light / The Passion of Joan of Arc at Norfolk's Chrysler Hall, a collaboration with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and the Virginia Arts Festival, featuring the 1928 silent film by Carl Dreyer.
The Young Singers Project joins the Virginia Symphony Orchestra & Chorus for a live telecast of Mendelssohn's Elijah under the baton of music director Robert Shoup.
The Chorale's first regular performance series on the Peninsula is introduced with concerts in Newport News and Williamsburg and the Virginia Chorale Peninsula Guild, a volunteer team led by Martha Elton, is created to generate enthusiasm and support for the Chorale in Peninsula communities.
Introduction of a new multimedia component in three of the season's four concerts, with large screen projections integrated into the musical performance. The initial presentation included images of stained glass and other artwork from Trinity Episcopal Church in Portsmouth as well as images from the printed scores and translations of the texts.
Collaborative grant received with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Chorale's first major NEA grant award and one of only seven given to choruses across the United States.
Wake Forest University Composer-in-Residence Dan Locklair commissioned to compose Stirring the Silence, celebrating music director Robert Shoup's tenth anniversary season with the Chorale.
Singers from the Young Singers Project join Virginia Beach's Symphonicity for performances of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9.
The Chorale collaborates with the Virginia Stage Company, Virginia Symphony Orchestra, and Norfolk FestEvents to present An Enchanted Evening: The Music of Rodgers & Hammerstein at Town Point Park.
Charles "Chuck" J. Woodward is announced as the Interim Artistic Director for the Chorale's 2011-12 season.
The "interim" is dropped from Chuck Woodward's title, making him the Chorale's Artistic Director beginning in the 2012-13 season.
The Chorale has its first performance for the Arts at Abingdon concert series at Gloucester's Abingdon Episcopal Church.
The Chorale celebrates its thirtieth anniversary season (2013-14) with the addition of a fifth program to the subscription series.
Signature Chorale is presented for the Chorale's first performance on the Sundays at Four program in Smithfield, at Christ Episcopal Church.
Collaboration with Sentara's new Music & Medicine Center in performances for patients, doctors, and staff at hospitals in Norfolk and Virginia Beach.
A Season of Joy, recorded live at the Chorale's second Arts at Abingdon appearance, is broadcast on WHRO 90.3 FM.
The Young Singers Project celebrates its 15th anniversary year under the direction of guest director Dr. Lauren Fowler-Calisto, associate professor and director of choral studies at Christopher Newport University.
Regional premiere performances of Joby Talbot's landmark 2005 a cappella work, Path of Miracles. This marks the Chorale's first collaboration with local stage director Jeffrey Gallo.
Performances of Poulenc's Gloria with the Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, a collaboration with the Virginia Arts Festival and DTH's first ever performance of this work with live orchestra and chorus.
The Chorale has its first performance at the historic Hungars Episcopal Church on the Eastern Shore - a special presentation of Hope, Faith, Life, Love, featuring Herbert Howells' Requiem.
Regional premiere performances of David Lang's 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning work, The Little Match Girl Passion (alongside two of J.S. Bach's motets, BWV 227 & 230). The Chorale again works with Jeffrey Gallo and, for the first time, actress Caroline Rigby.
The Chorale presents Handel's oratorio Messiah in a version inspired by the work's 1742 Dublin premiere, at historic pitch and accompanied by a chamber orchestra of period intruments.
The Young Singers Project, in its 18th year and under the direction of guest conductor Dr. Bryson Mortensen, is filmed - from auditions to performance and beyond - by WHRO Public TV and made into a documentary film to be broadcast locally, streamed online, and made available to National Public Television for national broadcast.
The Chorale presents Rachmaninoff's All-Night Vigil in its entirety to close its 33rd season.
Tenors and basses from the Chorale, as well as Artistic Director Chuck Woodward, are engaged by the Virginia Arts Festival as the chorus and music preparer (respectively) for the first world premiere opera to be produced by the John Duffy Institute for New Opera, Kristin Kuster's KEPT: a ghost story, with tenor William Burden, conductor JoAnn Falletta, and stage director Mary Birnbaum.
The Chorale performs Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra under JoAnn Falletta in celebration of Bernstein's 100th birthday.
The Chorale brings its Great American Songbook program to Hungars Church on the Eastern Shore.
Commissioned and performed the world premiere of John DIxon's Night Songs.
The Chorale performs for the first time in Richmond, Virginia, bringing Joby Talbot's Path of Miracles to St. James's Episcopal Church.
Holds the Chorale's first composition competition to honor the Virginia Chorale's thirty-fifth anniversary season. The competition is open to female composers and the winner is Laurel Christensen with her pieceI Saw a Star. The Chorale debuted I Saw a Star on May 9, 2019 at the Susan S. Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center, Virginia Wesleyan University.
Although the 2019-2020 season was cut short in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Virginia Chorale continued to offer choral performances online through YouTube and Facebook with its Virtual VC program.
The Virginia Chorale returned to live performing on October 3, 2021, with Spirit of the Renaissance at St. Pauls Catholic Church in Portsmouth, VA.