As we celebrate the approach of our 50th anniversary, we reflect on our past and look towards the future.
The Richmond Symphony Chorus is an award-winning, auditioned, all-volunteer ensemble of 150 members from the Richmond region. They perform regularly with the Richmond Symphony, Richmond Ballet, and in stand-alone performances around the community. The chorus members, ages 16-85, are a diverse group – teachers, medical professionals, attorneys, business leaders, students – all sharing a love of choral singing.
James Erb founded the Richmond Symphony Chorus in 1971 to perform Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis under the baton of renowned conductor Robert Shaw. Erb, a professor at the University of Richmond and a scholar of Renaissance music, led the group for 36 years. Erin Freeman became director in 2007 and has led its singers in performances in Richmond, Wintergreen, Carnegie Hall, and Paris, France. (See Dr. Freeman’s profile in the program.)
Repertoire ranges from classical masterworks to pops favorites. Annual performance of Handel’s Messiah and Let It Snow Christmas Pops are highlights of the Symphony season. In 2018, the chorus was featured in the Grammy-nominated recording of the premier performance of Children of Adam by American composer Mason Bates and Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem. Spring of 2019 found the Chorus moving from the Carpenter Theater stage to backstage to the lobby in a rousing performance of Bizet’s Carmen with soloist Denyce Graves, while Fall included performances under the direction of celebrated conductors Marin Alsop and George Manahan.
So what is the Chorus doing during the coming months of social distancing and masks? We’re singing, of course! Our members are attending virtual rehearsals from their home offices, guest bedrooms, dining rooms, and family rooms! Look for some virtual performances from us later this season, with each singer’s voice combined with many others into a single video recording. We look forward to physically gathering and singing together as soon as we can safely do so.
(If you’re interested in auditioning for the Chorus, please visit www.rschorus.com/auditions.) The Richmond Symphony Chorus rehearses weekly on Tuesday evenings at Dominion Energy Center, 612 East Grace Street in Richmond.