October 24, 2021 at 5 PM
Church of the Epiphany
Washington, DC

We open our season with a fall concert of a cappella and accompanied masterpieces of the choral tradition in celebration of our return to in-person music-making. The program includes strikingly beautiful new works from the Canadian choral tradition, including the Washington premieres of Timothy Corlis’s Gloria and Marjan Mozetich’s Flying Swans. The highlight of the program will be the World Premiere of D. J. Sparr’s The Art of Our Healers on texts by Filipino-American poet Janine Joseph, and co-commissioned in partnership with the Houston Grand Opera.  The co-commission honors all of the healthcare workers who continue to serve our society so valiantly. The concert will also feature Benjamin Britten’s masterpiece, Hymn to St Cecilia, as well as beautiful works by Virgil Thomson, Ēriks Ešenvalds, Imant Raminsh, and others.


December 11, 2021, at 7:30 PM
Church of the Epiphany
1317 G St. NW
Washington, DC

Don’t miss WMC’s annual holiday concert with seasonal choral classics, and rarely heard masterpieces, as well as caroling with timpani, brass, and organ, closing with Silent Night, sung by candlelight.


March 20, 2022 at 5 PM
Church of the Epiphany
Washington, DC

Don’t miss our long-anticipated program of works from the Hebraic tradition, including profound and radiant works from Jewish High Holiday liturgies, an exciting choral work by Chicago-based Israeli-American composer Osnat Netzer, T’filat Geshem (Prayer for Rain), Eric Whitacre’s Five Hebrew Love Songs, and the world premiere of Henry Dehlinger’s Kohelet (The Teacher). Kohelet is a passionate and thrilling new extended work for mixed chorus and chamber ensemble, jointly commissioned in collaboration with Santa Clara University and the Santa Clara Chorale. The premiere of Kohelet will feature guest conductor Scot Hanna-Weir, Metropolitan Opera soprano Danielle Talamantes and baritone Kerry Wilkerson.

Join us for a pre-concert Conversation at 4 PM with the composer, Henry Dehlinger, and Rabbi Elhanan ‘Sunny’ Schnitzer.

Scot Hanna-Weir, Guest Conductor

Danielle Talamantes, Soprano

Kerry Wilkerson, Baritone


Sunday, June 26, 2022

Our annual benefit with the Washington Master Chorale Chamber Singers!




Illumination Cover Image

Digital Streaming Event
October 30, 2020

The Washington Master Chorale opens its 11th season celebrating — with psalms and songs of love and compassion — the brilliant and soaring music of Baltic and Scandinavian composers: Latvian Ēriks Ešenvalds, Norwegian Ola Gjeilo, and Estonian Cyrillus Kreek.

With the mystical Northern Lights as a backdrop, our pilgrimage takes us from dark and uncertain times to a destination of enduring hope and beauty. We are reminded that fueling a spark of enlightenment is what will illuminate the world for us all.

Also presented are works by Anton Bruckner, William Harris, Herbert Howells, Morton Lauridsen and Alice Parker.

The streaming event featured a full virtual chorus as well as a socially distanced chamber choir performing in the Church of the Epiphany in Washington D.C.  WMC’s first event of the season was originally broadcast on October 30th, 2020.


Digital Streaming Event
Begins December 18, 2020 at 7 PM ET

Plan to enjoy an evening of glittering choral gems to ring in the Holiday Season, with works by Stephen Paulus, Javier Busto, Johannes Brahms, and others.

The figure of Mary from the ancient Christian tradition is one of the most mystical, complex, and influential figures in human history. From Magnificats to Ave Marias, her story has inspired thousands of years of poetry and some of the most beautiful music ever written. The program wonderfully combines these works with traditional carols and holiday favorites!

The streaming event featured a full virtual chorus as well as a socially distanced chamber choir performing in the Church of the Epiphany in Washington D.C.  WMC’s festive holiday event was originally broadcast on December 18th, 2020.


Digital Streaming Event
Begins May 21, 2021 at 7 PM ET

WMC concludes the season with a musical exploration of the composers’ craft, highlighting a cappella masterpieces of the 20th century.

The event features a stirring new work by Joshua Fishbein, Out of the Ashes of Holocaust. Fishbein’s composition is based on his family’s moving journey and deliverance from Nazi-occupied Greece to a backyard — decades later — in Baltimore, Maryland.

Also showcased, Ēriks Ešenvalds’s stunning work The Heavens’ Flock
and Lili Boulanger’s rarely heard masterpiece
Soir Sur La Plaine (Evening on the Plain).

WMC’s season finale event begins on May 21st, 2021 at 7PM Eastern and can be viewed on-demand through Monday, May 24th, 2021.


Digital Streaming Event
June 25, 2020

A  celebration of summer’s arrival showcasing the spectacular music of renowned composers Brahms, Fauré, Finzi, Hundley, Massenet, Ian Gordon, and Lori Laitman

On February 28, 2010, the Washington Master Chorale stepped onto the risers at The National Presbyterian Church for the first time and presented a program of 20th century choral works based on themes of transition and transformation. As embarked on our 10th season, we note with pride that we have remained true to our mission to: advance American choral excellence through vocal artistry, contribute to the choral canon through the commissioning of leading composers and present choral works in the context of their culture and time. Our 2019-2020 season featured the hallmarks of what has made us one of Washington’s premier ensembles: a generous mix of pieces the Chorale has made its own by masters of the choral form including Samuel Barber, Moses Hogan, Alice Parker, and Ralph Vaughan Williams, rediscovered repertoire, and new works by Henry Dehlinger and David Conte that are destined to become choral classics.

The Promise of Living

Barn, Photo by DIane Kresh

The Church of the Epiphany, Washington, DC
October 27, 2019 at 5 PM

The Washington Master Chorale opened its 10th season as a performing ensemble with a rich program of American vocal music. Joined by guest vocalists Marlissa Hudson and Kevin Johnson, and keyboard artist Jonathan King, the concert featured African American spirituals, choral art songs, and well-crafted arrangements of early folk songs and hymns, including works by Samuel Barber, H.T. Burleigh, Aaron Copland, William Dawson, Moses Hogan, Alice Parker, Stephen Paulus, Kevin Siegfried, and more. A highlight of the concert was the world premiere of a new choral cycle by composer Henry Dehlinger based on the poetry of James Joyce. Chorale favorites Laura Choi Stuart, Spencer Adamson, and Zsolt Balogh are also featured soloists on the program. A pre-concert discussion on African American spirituals in the classical repertoire featured Dr. Lourin Plant, professor of vocal music at Rowan University and Stanley J. Thurston, founding director of the Heritage Signature Chorale. Maestro Colohan moderated program. Photo credit: Diane Kresh.

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Christmas with the Chorale

Angel on a Barn, Photo by Diane Kresh

The Church of the Epiphany, Washington, DC
December 22, 2019 at 5 PM

Our December program reprised our favorite songs of the season, time-burnished gems sure to put you in the holiday spirit. The concert rang out the old, rang in the new, closing with a contemplative candlelight rendering of “Silent Night.” Trumpets, merry organ, high spirits, and bright voices – yours and ours – all joined as one for a delightful and joyful afternoon. Photo credit: Diane Kresh.

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Poetry Into Song

Elizabeth Bishop

The Church of the Epiphany, Washington, D.C.
April 19, 2020 – Postponed due to COVID-19

Please note: This program will be rescheduled.

The conclusion of our 10th season was to end with a landmark event, the world premiere of The Unknown Sea, by renowned composer David Conte. Featuring mezzo soprano Lena Seikaly, SATB chorus, piano, and chamber orchestra, the piece is based on the texts of preeminent American poet Elizabeth Bishop. Bishop is one of the most celebrated poets of the 20th Century. A “poet’s poet,” she was the Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (a position now known as the nation’s Poet Laureate), a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner, and a gifted teacher. Conte will attend the premiere and participate in a pre-concert conversation led by former Poet Laureate of California, Dana Gioia. Gioia was both a student of Bishop and the moderator at the Chorale’s inaugural concert in February 2010. The Unknown Sea will be paired with Ralph Vaughan Williams’s masterful cantata, Dona Nobis Pacem based on Walt Whitman’s poems and texts from the Bible, and re-orchestrated by British composer and conductor Jonathan Rathbone. Photo credit: Elizabeth Bishop, Brazil 1954. Archives and Special Collections, Vassar College Library (Reference #3.454).

Pre-concert discussion:
Poet Dana Gioia, former NEA chairman and student of Elizabeth Bishop, will lead a conversation and Q&A with composer David Conte, friends, colleagues, and scholars.

Learn More About the Composer

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2018-2019 Season

The Earth and I

The Earth and I

The National Presbyterian Church
October 28, 2018 at 5 PM

In the fall of 2013, the Washington Master Chorale released its first recording, “The Earth and I: New American Choral Music,” an exploration of humankind’s relationship with nature which drew its inspiration from a trio of “word paintings” by acclaimed composer Lori Laitman from texts by Emily Dickinson. On the fifth anniversary of that release, we reprise the themes and much of the content of “The Earth and I” to perform works by contemporary North American (Effinger, Finney, Chatman, Laitman, Lauridsen, Mechem) and classical Spanish (De Falla, Granados, Morera) composers. The program selections mine fertile ground: from works that contemplate the cosmos, the elements, aging and spirituality, to one that considers the fate of a fly. New additions to the choral canon, from composers Allison McIntosh (“The True Knowledge”) and Wendy Griffiths (“Stroking the Swan,” “The Fly,” and “The Noise of Water”), will receive world and local premieres, respectively. The centerpiece of the concert is a performance of Spanish composer and pianist Enrique Granados’s rarely-heard, Neo-romantic masterpiece, “Cant de les estrelles” (“Song of the stars”), inspired by the poetry of German Heinrich Heine. Composed for chorus and organ accompanying a virtuosic piano part, the piece was premiered to much acclaim on March 11, 1911 with the composer himself at the keyboard. It was instantly lauded as one of Granados’s finest compositions and unlike his other, more nationalistic works. In spite of its auspicious beginning, however, the piece languished for close to 100 years, mired in squabbles between the publisher and extended family who maintained the rights after Granados’s sudden and tragic death in 1916 when the passenger ferry he and his wife were aboard was torpedoed by a German U-boat. Granados had a profound influence on another Spanish composer represented on today’s program, Manuel de Falla. And finally, lest you think that songs about nature and humankind are inherently serious and philosophical, Artistic Director Thomas Colohan has written two delightful nonsense pieces (“The Cat and the Fiddle” and “There was a Young Woman”) for your (and our) amusement.

A pre-concert discussion with American pianist and Granados expert Douglas Riva and Artistic Director Thomas Colohan will take place at 4:00pm and is free and open to the public.

Learn More About Douglas Riva

Learn More About the Composers

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Birth Dance! Christmas with the Chorale

Birth Dance!The Church of the Epiphany
December 20, 2018 at 7:30 PM
December 23, 2018 at 5 PM

Strike the harp and join the chorus for two rousing concerts of seasonal classics performed by the Washington Master Chorale, one of Washington’s premier choral ensembles. The tuneful mix of time honored carols, hymns and anthems hail from America, England, France and Spain. Audiences will be treated to the works of Gustav Holst (“Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence,” and Personent Hodie”), Ronald Center (“There is No Rose,” and “Wither’s Rocking Hymn”), James MacMillan (“O Radiant Dawn,”), J. David Moore (“Annua Gaudia,”), Joseph Flummerfelt (“What is this Lovely Fragrance”) and Joaquin Nin-Culmel (“Fum Fum Fum,” and “La virgen lava panales”). Especially noteworthy will be the Chorale’s performance of American composer Joseph Turrin’s glorious “Magnificat.” Turrin’s “And Crimson Roses Once Again Be Fair,” set to poetry by World War I-era writers, received its world premiere in November in a concert performed by the Chorale in collaboration with the New Orchestra of Washington.
Don’t forget to do your vocal warm-ups before arriving at the Church so you can join the Chorale in the annual, carol sing-along. Brass, percussion and the merry organ – “Birth Dance” is a concert not be missed and will put you and yours in the holiday mood.

A mix of time-honored English, French and Spanish carols, hymns and anthems accompanied by brass, percussion and the merry organ. A spirited audience sing-along with Maestro Colohan will put you in a holiday mood.

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Paris to London

Paris to London

The National Presbyterian Church
March 3, 2019 5 PM

The 2018-19 season closes with a musical journey between two capitals of western music, Paris and London. Our journey begins in Paris with excerpts from Maurice Duruflé’s luminous Requiem, Op. 9, and works by several of his contemporaries and successors including Louis Vierne, Pierre Villette, and Francis Poulenc. For the second half of the program, we travel to London to present selections from Ralph Vaughan Williams’s rousing In Windsor Forest based on Shakespeare’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor” with music from his opera, Sir John in Love and works by his composition teacher Charles Wood. A highlight of the concert will be the second performance of Washington, DC native and Juilliard student Alistair Coleman’s “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” text by British Poet William Wordsworth. Composed for chorus, piano and string quartet, the piece was premiered at Strathmore Hall during Mr. Coleman’s tenure as Composer-in-Residence of the National Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorale for their 2017-18 season.

For this concert, the Chorale will be joined by the Children’s Chorus of Washington under the artistic direction of Margaret Nomura Clark.

A pre-concert discussion with composer Alistair Coleman and Artistic Director Thomas Colohan will take place at 4:00pm and is free and open to the public.

Learn More About the Featured Artists

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Washington Master Chorale will be featured in the U.S. premiere of Sardanapalo as part of the Library of Congress Concert Series. It is exceptionally rare that we have the opportunity to hear a previously unknown work by a major composer. Scholar and pianist David Trippett has reconstructed one act of an opera composed by Franz Liszt that the composer abandoned in 1852.
April 27, 2019 at 2 PM (Library of Congress)

In addition to our standard season, the Chorale joined the New Orchestra of Washington (NOW) and Music Viva (NY) in two concerts commemorating the end of World War I. The concerts featured works by Ravel, Holst, Radiohead, and a new work by American composer, Joseph Turrin on texts by WWI poets.
November 10, 2018 at 5 PM (Washington, DC)
November 11, 2018 at 5 PM (NYC)

“And Crimson Roses Once Again Be Fair” by Joseph Turrin
Learn more and listen to the performance

2017-2018 Season

“Art is the great democrat, calling forth genius from every sector of society.”
– John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States, November 29, 1962.

During the 2017-18 season, the Chorale commemorated a trio of centenaries: the births of composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein and President John F. Kennedy, and the entry of the United States into World War I. Through a new choral commission, concert programming and special events, the Washington Master Chorale’s season of “remembrance” will encourage our audiences to reflect upon the man who was, arguably one of the most important composers of our times, a president whose commitment to the arts remains unparalleled and a war, so devastating, it was to be the war to end all wars.

Youthful Indulgence: Early Masses of Mozart and Martin

Youthful Indulgence: Early Masses of Mozart and Martin

The National Presbyterian Church
October 29, 2017 at 5 PM

The Washington Master Chorale opens its 2017-2018 season with a celebration of early works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1757-1791) and Swiss composer, Frank Martin (1890-1974). While the works have in common a relative immaturity given the ages of the composers, they could not be more different stylistically. Mozart’s Missa Brevis in C major, KV 258 for chorus and chamber orchestra, one of three set in C Major he composed in November and December 1776, is lively, bright and buoyant. By contrast, Martin’s a cappella Mass for Double Chorus is a deeply personal work that the composer kept hidden for 40 years. Sober, modal, influenced by Gregorian plainsong, the Mass was composed in 1922 except the “Agnus Dei” movement which was added in 1926. After its premiere in November 1963 by Franz Brunnert and the Bugenhagen Kantorei of Hamburg, Martin explained why the Mass had remained unseen and unheard for 40 years: “I considered it to be a matter between God and myself,” he wrote. “I felt then that an expression of religious feelings should remain secret and removed from public opinion.”

Also on the program, Mozart’s “Regina Coeli,” KV 276, for soloists, chorus and chamber orchestra. An antiphon in honor of the Virgin Mary, it is the last of three settings of this text by Mozart.

New Joy! Christmas with the Chorale

New Joy! Christmas With the ChoraleThe Church of the Epiphany
December 3, 2017 at 5 PM
December 21, 2017 at 7:30 PM

The holiday season will be celebrated by a pair of holiday concerts, December 3rd and 21st presented at the historic Church of the Epiphany in Washington, DC.  Concert goers can look forward to hearing the seldom performed Lauda per la Natività del Signore by Italian neo-classical composer Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936). A cantata for soloists, instrumental ensemble and chorus, Respighi’s pastoral reading of the birth of Christ combines modern harmonies and instrumentation with late-renaissance and early baroque idioms to produce a work that evokes both the mystery and joy of the nativity.

A mix of time-honored carols, hymns and anthems and a spirited audience sing-along with Maestro Colohan will put you in a holiday mood.

Learn More About the Soloists


American Voices: Celebrating the Legacy of Leonard Bernstein

Bernstein at 100

The National Presbyterian Church
March 4, 2018 5 PM

The Washington Master Chorale is among 14 arts organizations partnering with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in honoring the legacy of Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990), Leonard Bernstein at 100. Longtime Washingtonians will remember Bernstein and his relationship to the Kennedy White House, an unprecedented time in modern political history when art and culture took their rightful places at the vanguard of American life. The Chorale will perform Bernstein’s Missa Brevis, a 1988 work based on incidental music he composed for the 1955 Broadway production of “The Lark” starring Julie Harris. In honor of the occasion, the Chorale will perform the world premiere of “To the Thawing Wind” by award winning composer and rising star Joshua Fishbein, from a poem by Robert Frost (1874-1963). Washingtonians will further recall Frost’s recitation of his poem “The Gift Outright,” a history of America in 16 lines of blank verse, at the blustery cold Kennedy Inaugural. A singer and pianist, Fishbein composes vocal and instrumental music and is a Teaching Fellow and PhD candidate (A.B.D.) in Music Composition at UCLA.

The rest of the program is a celebration of American voices in words and music. Noted sopranos Angeli Ferrette and Marlissa Hudson will join the Chorale in a spirited musical journey moving from early American hymns, through iconic works by Aaron Copland, Moses Hogan, Alice Parker, Stephen Paulus and Randall Thompson among others.

A pre-concert lecture on Bernstein and his association with the Kennedy White House will be held at 4pm and is free and open to the public.

Learn More About the Featured Artists

2016-2017 Season

Hail, Gladdening Light: Choral Works from the British Isles

Hail Gladdening Light (featured image)On Sunday, October 30, 2016 at the Church of the Epiphany, the chorale presented a program of sacred and secular works from the British Isles featuring Herbert Howells’ impressionistic Requiem, written in 1932.  Originally intended for Boris Ord and the choir of King’s College, King’s never received it, and the piece languished until it was released for performance in 1980, three years before Howells’ death.  The women’s voices were spotlighted in several works written by Howells’ close friend Gustav Holst, among them the Rigveda.  Indian Sanskrit hymns translated by Holst himself, the Rigveda were likely written between c.1500–1200 BC. The men soloed on Benjamin Britten’s dramatic “Ballad of Lady Barnard and Little Musgrave,” a tale of love and murder that dates to the seventeenth century and was collected by scholar James Francis Child.  Other composers on the program included Ralph Vaughan Williams, Charles Wood, James MacMillan, C. Kenneth Turner, and Thomas Tallis.

Comfort and Joy: Christmas with the Washington Master Chorale

Comfort and Joy (December 2016)On Sunday, December 18, 2016 at the historic Church of the Epiphany, the Washington Master Chorale presented a tasty blend of seasonal treats as we drove away the dark and prepared to usher in a promising new year. There were carols, motets, and hymns by Chorale favorites – Lauridsen, Vaughan Williams, Jacques, Tavener, MacMillan, Pärt, Purcell, Mendelssohn, Willcocks, and more. Of special interest was the Chorale’s performance of two carols by little known, post-WWII Scottish composer Ronald Center (1913-1973). An intensely shy man who lived with his wife, soprano Evelyn Morrison Center, in the rural town of Huntly, Center taught piano to local school children, directed the church choir and played the organ. He rarely allowed his music to be played and at the time of his death in 1973, many of his compositions remained unpublished. Thankfully, we have his Three Nativity Carols, two of which, “There is no Rose” and “Wither’s Rocking Hymn” were performed by the Chorale. In tribute to the late J. Reilly Lewis, the Chorale joined with other Washington-area choruses in honoring the man and his music and performed “Lobet Den Herrn Alle Heiden” by Johann Sebastian Bach. Trumpets, merry organ, high spirits, and bright voices – yours and ours – a joyful afternoon!

Time and Memory

Time and Memory (March 2017)On Sunday March 5, 2017 at the National Presbyterian Church, the Washington Master Chorale presented a meditation on the themes of nostalgia, love, and immortality expressed in both poetry and music. The centerpiece of the concert was the world premiere of Ruminations—a work for soloists, chorus, and chamber ensemble by Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Jennifer Higdon. Ruminations is based on the poetry of thirteenth-century Persian mystic and poet Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī.  The concert will also featured John Corigliano’s Fern Hill, Dylan Thomas’s poetic evocation of his childhood in Wales; Tarik O’Regan’s Triptych, a memento mori for chorus and strings; and Imant Raminsh’s Songs of Lights, based on Native American texts. There was a 4:00 p.m. pre-concert conversation with Maestro Colohan and Dr. Higdon on the art of bringing poetry to life through music.

2015-2016 Season

Somewhere I Have Never Traveled: New Directions in American Choral Music

Julian Wachner, composer

Julian Wachner, composer

On Sunday, October 18 at The National Presbyterian Church, the Washington Master Chorale performed “Modern Romantics,” pairing Morten Lauridsen’s choral cycle Les Chansons Des Roses based on texts of Rainer Maria Rilke with the world premiere of a new work by composer and conductor Julian Wachner. Song selections examined the shift from Romanticism to Modernism through musical settings of Rilke, Christina Rossetti and others, and revealed the connections among poetry, fine art and music.

The program opened with settings of ancient love songs “Song of Solomon” or “Song of Songs” from the Hebrew scriptures and Wachner’s “Arise My Love” for organ and chorus.  Excerpts from his Rilke Songs and Jennifer Higdon’s stunning setting of e.e. cummings’s “somewhere i have never traveled” followed.  The chorus closed the first half with Morten Lauridsen’s choral cycle “Les Chansons des Roses.”  The second half  featured settings of love poetry by Samuel Barber and Norman Dello Joio, and concluded with the premiere of the new work by Julian Wachner, a 10-15 minute multi movement choral work drawn from the secular texts of Christina Rossetti and modeled on Francis Poulenc’s chamber instrumental works.

Composer, Russell Nadel

Composer, Russell Nadel

On Sunday, December 20 at The Church of the Epiphany, we ushered in the holiday season with “Noel! Noel!” — a delightful program of seasonal classics, both old and new — including works by Heitzeg, Willan, Mathias, Rheinberger, Vaughan Williams, Howells, Lauridsen, Mechem, Paulus, Poulenc, etc.  A highlight of the program was the world premiere of a new choral work by Russell Nadel on a text by Sara Teasdale.  Nadel’s compositions have been premiered by a number of notable groups, including the distinguished Vancouver Chamber Choir. A spirited audience sing along with Maestro Colohan and the Chorale rounded out the festive afternoon.

On Sunday, March 6 at The National Presbyterian Church, the Chorale presented “Song of the Beloved,” featuring Gabriel Fauré’s moving Requiem, Op. 48 in its elegant original chamber orchestra instrumentation, along with the world premiere of Song of the Beloved, a choral cantata for soprano and tenor soloists, chorus, and strings, by renowned composer Robert Kyr.

Robert Kyr, Composer

Robert Kyr, Composer

Kyr’s commission was made possible by a generous gift from the Fetzer Institute whose work reflects a belief in the transformative power of love and forgiveness. Texts were drawn from such disparate sources as Sappho, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Sir Philip Sidney, Vietnamese poet Thich Nhat Hanh, East Indian Rabindranath Tagore, and others.

Robert Kyr’s music has been performed widely around the world and he has been commissioned by numerous ensembles, including Chanticleer, Cantus (Minneapolis), San Francisco Symphony Chorus, New England Philharmonic, Conspirare, Oregon Symphony, Yale Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Chamber Symphony), and the Moscow State Chamber Choir (Russia) among others.


2014-2015 Season

On October 5, 2014, we opened our 5th season with a tribute to the celebrated American composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein. Appearing as special guests on the program were the Children’s Chorus of Washington and NPR’s Nina Totenberg.

Leonard Bernstein“A Choral Tribute to Leonard Berstein” included both beloved and rarely heard choral works by Bernstein, including his 1946 Hashkiveinu for chorus and organ, the French and Latin Choruses from The Lark with narration by Ms. Totenberg, and his 1989 Missa Brevis, based on those choruses. We also presented excerpts from Candide and his Mass of 1971.  In this our anniversary year, we marked the 50th Anniversary of the Chichester Psalms, Bernstein’s 1965 choral masterpiece in the setting for organ, harp, and percussion.

A pre-concert discussion was held at 3:00pm, moderated by Mark Eden Horowitz, Senior Music Specialist and Curator of the Leonard Bernstein Collection at the Library of Congress. He was joined by Norman Scribner, Founder and Artistic Conductor Emeritus of the Choral Arts Society of Washington; Michael Slon, Director of Choral Programs at the University of Virginia; and, Alicia Kopfstein-Penk, Author of “Leonard Bernstein and his Young People’s Concerts.”  Reproductions of holdings from the Library’s extensive Leonard Bernstein Collection were on display, including facsimiles of original manuscripts, photographs, and letters. The concert was reviewed by Anne Midgette of The Washington Post on October 6 <read the review online>

Christmas ConcertDecember 11-13, 2014, marked the Chorale’s first appearance with the National Symphony as part of its Holiday Pops Concerts.  Mentioned in the DC Metro Theater Arts review — “The best combination came early, when the haunting vocals of Schubert’s Ave Maria (provided by the third component of the performance, the Washington Master Chorale) were paired with aerialist Christine van Loo’s triumphant silks choreography.” <read the review online>

On December 14 and 22, 2014, the Chorale presented its winter concerts at the historic National City Christian Church. “Peace and Grace” explored the relationship between peace within oneself and the pursuit of peace in the global community. The concerts featured Kirke Mechem’s moving anthem to global peace Island in Space and the world premiere of a new Gloria by composer Scott Humburg. The programs also included time-honored carols and anthems including Franz Biebl’s Ave Maria, selections from Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Hodie and other seasonal works.

On February 19-21, 2015, the Chorale made its second appearance with the National Symphony in Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé, conducted by Matthias Pintscher.  The Chorale’s performance was singled out in The Washington Post review by Anne Midgette — “Deserving of praise was the Washington Master Chorale, which was only founded in 2010 and which mustered a warm sound in the choral parts that helped unify this piece and make it a highlight of the evening.” <read the review online>

Rachmaninoff VespersOn March 8 and 15, 2015, we marked the 100th Anniversary of the world premiere of the Sergei Rachmaninoff’s All Night Vigil, Op. 37 in a program entitled, “Rachmaninoff Vespers at 100.”  The Chorale performed this luminous and spiritual sixty-five minute without intermission. A pre-concert conversation took place between Maestro Colohan and Peter Jermihov, an internationally recognized specialist in Russian music and Orthodox liturgical music prior to the March 8 concert.

2013-2014 Season

The 2013-2014 concert season will begin on October 20 with a contemplative program featuring the Mass in G Minor by Ralph Vaughan Williams, along with a pioneering American masterpiece of the 20th century, Charles Ives’ Psalm 90 for organ and chorus. “Wisdom and Eternity” will also include excerpts from Heitor Villa-Lobos’ rarely performed Bendita Sabedoria, a six-movement suite for a cappella chorus, as well as Vaughan Williams’ own magnificent Psalm 90.

In December the Chorale will present works for winter and the holidays, including Poulenc’s hauntingly beautiful Soir de Neige, written in 1944, and Herbert Howells’ brilliant carol-anthem Long, Long Ago, written in 1950. “A Winter’s Night” will also feature debut performances by the Chorale’s new assistant conductors, Rachel Carlson and C. Paul Heins, our annual carol sing-along, and the world premiere of a new six-movement Christmas work for harp and chorus by composer and conductor Donald McCullough.

The Chorale returns to The National Presbyterian Church on March 2, 2014, presenting “Perpetual Light,a meditation on death and eternity. Thematically, all works presented are connected by the comforting notion of a peaceable afterlife of eternal rest. Yet the music and texts can be also be understood secularly as timeless connections between music and humanity. The centerpiece of the concert is Maurice Duruflé’s 1948 masterpiece, Requiem Op. 9, featuring organist, Paul Skevington and mezzo-soprano soloists, Melissa Kornacki.

In June 2014, the Washington Master Chorale will be a featured performing ensemble for Voices of Our Nation — a week-long celebration of America’s choral tradition.

“Given the high level of quality of choruses to choose from in Washington and Chorus America’s rigorous standards, it is an honor to be selected as a featured ensemble for the 2014 conference. We look forward to sharing our passion for choral art with our friends and colleagues in the profession,” said Thomas Colohan, WMC’s Artistic Director.

During this festival — a partnership between Chorus America and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts—the Chorale will additionally perform in the “kick-off” event on June 9 (which will be held at a variety of venues throughout the city) and the festival’s culminating concert on June 14.

2012-2013 Season

“… music is a spiritual food for which there is no substitute…” — Zoltán Kodály

We began our fourth season with a moving tribute to moral courage exemplified by Zoltán Kodály’s sublime masterpiece Missa Brevis, for organ and chorus. Zoltán Kodály was not only a great Hungarian composer and educator, he was also a courageous public figure of the 20th century. Indeed, courage and spiritual nourishment are at the core of his 1944 masterpiece Missa Brevis, composed for chorus and organ while he was in hiding with his Jewish wife during the Nazi occupation of Hungary in WWII. The piece was premiered in the cloakroom of the Budapest Opera House during the Russian bombardment of Nazi positions in Budapest in February of 1945. In the midst of the Holocaust, the 60 year-old Kodály sought comfort in a choral form rooted in a spiritual meal. The notion of the liturgy as a meal lies at the heart of both the Western Roman Mass and the Eastern Liturgy of St John Chrysostom. And both liturgies have their ritual roots in the Jewish tradition of the Passover meal.

The Mystical Supper: Sacred Food amid Spiritual Famine will be performed on Sunday, October 14, 2012 at 4pm in the magnificent nave of The National Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC. In addition to Kodály’s stirring masterpiece, the Chorale will perform a cappella motets from the Russian Orthodox tradition, including works by Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Gretchaninoff, and others. To contextualize this profound, compassionate and ultimately exultant music, a pre-concert moderated panel discussion of music scholars and historians is planned.

The Chorale will “drive the cold winter away” with a seasonal blend of reverence and merriment in two performances of Noel! Noel! The concerts will feature Stephen Paulus’s Nativity Carols, ancient carol texts set for oboe, harp, and chorus, as well as Steve Heitzig’s hauntingly evocative little tree from a text by e.e cummings. The program will include several holiday favorites and audiences can lift their voices in song with a spirited sing-along led by Maestro Colohan. The first performance of Noel! Noel! will be presented on December 16 at 4pm in the beautiful acoustic of Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church. The program will be repeated on December 23rd at 4pm in the exquisite surroundings of one of Washington’s architectural masterpieces – John Russell Pope’s National City Christian Church.

Our season will conclude on March 3, 2013 at 4pm with a return to The National Presbyterian Church. The Splendid Silent Sun, taken from a text by poet Walt Whitman, will explore the contrasting and transcendent themes of light and dark, finite and infinite, nature and man as seen through the eyes of some of America’s most celebrated poets and composers. The centerpiece will be the premiere of an exciting new work by composer and conductor Donald McCullough, commissioned by the WMC in partnership with Words&Music, Inc., a Virginia-based vocal chamber music ensemble. Other featured composers will include Daniel Pinkham, Cecil Effinger and Adolphus Hailstork.

We hope you will join us for a season of unforgettable performances that promises to affect both the head and the heart.

2011-2012 Season

We began our third season with great excitement, reaching into the treasure trove of American repertoire, as we prepared for a day in celebration of the glory of the human voice with choral great, Alice Parker. On October 2, 2011, at 1:30pm, we offered a unique opportunity to “learn from the master” as we presented a Choral Workshop with Alice Parker. Leading up the to concert, Till the Vaults of Heaven Ring, at 5:00pm, Parker will also led a Community Sing for all ticket holders. The concert featured classic compositions original arrangements and by Parker, as well as arrangements created with her long time collaborator Robert Shaw. The program also included works of Ron Nelson and Moses Hogan, as well as newer arrangements by rising composer Kevin Siegfried.

On December 18 at 4:00pm, we presented our first winter holiday concert, The Pleasure of the Fleeting Year, in the beautiful acoustic of Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Maryland. The concert featured the world premiere of Lori Laitman’s choral cycle “The Earth and I,” on poetry by Emily Dickinson. The program also included winter songs, rare and beautiful carol arrangements, and traditional holiday favorites.

In the Spring, we celebrated small masterpieces of the French choral tradition with, The Ravishing Hour, returning to The National Presbyterian Church on March 18 at 4:00pm, and at St. Luke Catholic Church in McLean, Virginia on April 22 at 4:00pm. The concerts highlighted well known and rarely heard gems of the impressionist and modern repertoire, including Lili Boulanger’s “Soir Sur La Plaine” and excerpts from Maurice Duruflé’s Quatre Motets sur des thèmes grégoriens. The programs also featured art songs by Debussy and appearances by guest artist Paul Skevington who accompaned the Chorale in dramatic works for organ and chorus.

Join us as we explore these rich traditions and pay tribute to the choral ancestry that has influenced and shaped the American music we love today.

2010-2011 Season

American choral music today is deeply rooted in both the choral traditions of Europe and in music of colonial America. In particular the German Romantic choral tradition and the English Choral Revival of the late 19th century played strong roles in shaping the consciousness of American choral art.

Romantic Classics: Mendelssohn, Bruckner, Brahms

The German choral tradition was first brought to the United States by the waves of German immigrants who began coming to America in the first half of the 19th century. These groups established singing societies in major cities throughout the United States, and they sang a variety of choral music from part songs to classical masterworks. Democratic ideals were embedded in these societies in both Germany and America, and these guiding principles continue to animate independent American choruses to this day.

We celebrated this legacy October 24th at The National Presbyterian Church in Washington and October 31st at Saint Luke Catholic Church in McLean, Virginia, as we reveled in the lush choral motets and part-songs of Rheinberger, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Bruckner, and Brahms, as well as a complete performance of Brahms’s spirited Zigeunerlieder.

British Masterpieces: Jewels from the English Choral Revival

The European choral tradition most linguistically close to our own with a concert of English choral masterpieces. English church music experienced a remarkable revival in the latter half of the 19th century. This revival extended to the United States via the Episcopal Church, the primary source of Anglican Church music in this country. The excellence and rigor of the choral training received in this tradition has been transferred through organists, choirmasters, and choristers for nearly two centuries, and it has informed choral excellence at the highest levels of music making throughout the United States.

On March 20, we paid tribute to this great tradition with a program at The National Presbyterian Church, comprised of some of the most treasured and timeless choral works of Holst, Stanford, and others, as well as lesser-known but equally exquisite secular works by the beloved English masters Benjamin Britten and Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Inaugural Season: Mid-Century Modern

We launched our inaugural season with a program of remarkably beautiful middle and late 20th-century choral works in two fine examples of mid-century architecture, The National Presbyterian Church and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The sense and spirit of this music and these venues are intimately intertwined, and they are the perfect places to begin our endeavor. The second half of the 20th-century saw a great blossoming of choral music in America, from the emergence of the great choral singing schools and the appearance of graduate choral conducting programs to the overall rise in choral excellence and the founding of major professional choral groups and associations.

While we as a chorus will sing music from many backgrounds, in light of our mission of advancing American choral excellence our first two appearances will be devoted principally to American choral music. We have invited distinguished American composer Morten Lauridsen to join us for our inaugural concert to highlight both his excellent contribution to the choral art, as well as our commitment to the creation of new choral music.

As with our current season, future seasons will feature concerts in architecturally-significant settings that are historically and culturally linked to the repertoire on each program. As we explore the many beautiful concert spaces throughout the city, The National Presbyterian Church will continue to serve as our home venue.

Winter Into Spring: Choral Music for a Time of Transition

On February 28, 2010, the Washington Master Chorale presented a 20th-century program of choral works on themes of transition and transformation. The music touched on notions of both metaphoric and literal winter and spring, and the transition between the two. The program included selections from Poulenc’s Quatre Motets pour un temps de Penitence, Hindemith’s Six Chansons, as well as the music of Pablo Casals and distinguished American composers Aaron Copland, Morten Lauridsen, Adolphus Hailstork, Ross Lee Finney, and Kirke Mechem.

There was a particular emphasis on Morten Lauridsen’s remarkable early works, which are distinct in style from his later, better-known output. Alongside his first choral cycle, Mid-Winter Songs, we presented his solo vocal cycle, A Winter Come. We were honored to have Mr. Lauridsen with us for our inaugural concert.

Choral Workshop with Morten Lauridsen

Prior to the inaugural concert, distinguished composer and 2007 National Medal of Arts recipient Morten Lauridsen led an interactive workshop exploring his most well-known compositions. Singers and conductors of all levels and voice parts were in attendance while Lauridsen shared his insights on composing and singing, and discuss the inspirations behind six of his most beloved works:

  • Dirait-On and Contre Qui, Rose from Les Chansons des Roses
  • Se Per Havervi, Oime from Madrigali
  • Agnus Dei from Lux Aeterna
  • Sure on this Shining Night from Nocturnes
  • O Magnum Mysterium