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Our History & Philosophy

Our Chorus Mission

San Francisco Lyric Chorus is an auditioned, medium-sized, mixed-voice chorus that performs a diverse repertoire with an emphasis on classical choral music and rarely performed works. We are an inclusive and welcoming community of singers, committed to excellent musicianship and creative programming.

The Chorus' History

1st Season (1995-96)
Our début performance of French romantic choral music on October 8, 1995--Louis Vierne’s wonderful Solemn Mass, Gabriel Fauré’s Cantique de Jean Racine  and his serene Requiem.  It was a great success, with enthusiastic audience support!

In August, 1995, members of the San Francisco Lyric Chorus joined members of the Trinity Cathedral (Episcopal), San Jose, in performing the premiere of Brad Osness’ Lamentations, in an ecumenical service of remembrance for the victims of Hiroshima.

In December, 1995, we joined the San Francisco Choral Society in a spectacular Festival of Carols, conducted by our Music Director, Robert Gurney, and accompanied by brass and organ.  First Unitarian Church in San Francisco rang  with the sounds of Michael Praetorius’ In Dulci Jubilo  and Psallite,  Gabrieli’s O Magnum Mysterium  for double chorus, John Rutter’s What Sweeter Music, Franz Biebl’s Ave Maria, an Australian Christmas carol entitled The Three Drovers, a Shaker carol entitled O Shepherds, Aren’t You Happy?, finishing  with Craig Courtney’s Musicological Journey Through The Twelve Days Of Christmas.  The audience joined us in singing along with familiar carols.  Portions of the concert were televised on a local cable station.

At Easter, 1996, members of the San Francisco Lyric Chorus joined the Trinity  Episcopal Church Choir in a performance of Wayne Love’s Choral Introit for Easter  and William Harris’  masterpiece Faire Is The Heaven.   Our Spring, 1996 concert, Songs of Love and Spring, featured a wide variety of choral music:  Johannes Brahms’ Liebeslieder Waltzes, three settings of The Song of Solomon:  Healey Willan’s Rise Up, My Love, Patrick Hadley’s My Beloved Spake, and William Billings’ I Am The Rose of Sharon, as well as Maurice Duruflé’s Ubi Caritas, P.  D. Q. Bach’s Liebeslieder Polkas, Aaron Copland’s The Promise of Living  (from The Tender Land), Leonard Bernstein’s Make Our Garden Grow  (from Candide), madrigals, and other pieces.  On May 19, 1996, members of the San Francisco Lyric Chorus joined with members of the Trinity  Cathedral (Episcopal), San Jose, in a Choral Evensong, featuring the premiere of Brad Osness’  Magnificat  and Nunc Dimittis, as well as a performance of Franz Schubert’s German Mass

August 1996 brought a performance of Sacred Music of the 20th Century, centering on the Duruflé Requiem, Herbert Howells’ Te Deum  and Magnificat Collegium Regale, Charles Villiers Stanford’s Beati Quorum Via, and Herbert Górecki’s Totus Tuus

2d Season (1996-97)
In December, 1996,  the San Francisco Lyric Chorus presented A Winter Concert, which featured the Poulenc Gloria, and included performances of Ave Marias by Josquin des Pres, Tómas Luis de Victoria, and Igor Stravinsky, the Magnificat  by Arvo Pärt, as well as the West Coast premiere of Ohio composer Robert Witt’s Four Motets To the Blessed Virgin Mary.  The Victoria, an 8-part motet, and the Witt inaugurated The San Francisco Lyric Chorus Discovery Series  which encompasses compositions or composers who are not well known, but are exceptional and of special interest.

April 1997 brought a performance of The Music of Amy Beach (Mrs. H.H.A.), featuring her Grand Mass in E Flat Major, as well as the Panama Hymn, a work  which she wrote for the opening of the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, and Let This Mind Be In You, a choral anthem.  In Summer 1997, the San Francisco Lyric Chorus performed Mozart’s Requiem  and Ave Verum Corpus, as well as Schubert’s Mass in G.  

3d Season (1997-98)
The Winter Concert 1997 featured the compositions of San Francisco composer Kirke Mechem--Seven Joys of Christmas, Gloria from Three Motets, and the San Francisco premiere of Christmas, the Morn--as well as Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols.

In a program entitled Music Of Our Time, the San Francisco Lyric Chorus performed Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms for its Spring 1998 concert, as well as multiculural music from around the globe, including an Inuit song, the Shona Mass by Lee Kesselman, Stephen Hatfield’s Missa Brevis, the gospel song The Storm Is Passing Over, the spiritual Keep Your Lamps, and the folk song Shenandoah.  In Summer 1998, the San Francisco Lyric Chorus performed Brahms’ Requiem

4th Season (1998-99)
Fall, 1998  brought a concert entitled The English Sound, including Thomas Tallis’ Missa Puer Natus Est Nobis, Gregorio Allegri’s Miserere, Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols and The Blessed Son of God, Robert Parsons’ Ave Maria, Orlando Gibbons’ Hosanna to the Son of David, and Paul Manz’ E’en So Lord Jesus, Quickly Come.  At the end of December, the chorus also sang with Robert Gurney as he played the magnificent Skinner organ at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor.  Included on the program were a version of Von Himmel Hoch, with variations by Pachelbel, two pieces from the Fall concert, John Fenstermaker’s arrangement of What Child Is This, music for Channukah, several popular Christmas songs, and a rousing rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus from the Messiah.  

Musical Poetry:  20th Century British and American choral settings was the theme of Spring 1999’s concert, and featured Benjamin Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, San Francisco premieres of Kirke Mechem’s Blessed Are They  and To Music, as well as his Blow Ye The Trumpet from his opera John Brown, Randall Thompson’s Alleluia and The Best of Rooms, and William Harris’ Faire is the Heaven.  In May, members of the chorus joined Music Director Robert Gurney at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor for a spring concert. 

In July, the Chorus joined the Trinity Episcopal Church Choir to celebrate the church’s 150th anniversary,  performing William Harris’ Faire is the Heaven, Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Antiphon from Five Mystical Songs, and Edward Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 (Land of Hope and Glory.)   

Summer 1999  featured Giuseppe Verdi’s Four Sacred Pieces, Columba aspexit  and O ignis spiritus  by Hildegard von Bingen, Gabriel Fauré’s Messe Basse, Francis Poulenc’s Quatre Petites Prières de Saint François d’Assise, and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs

5th Season (1999-2000)
Fall 1999’s program was entitled Concert Solennelle, a program of modern American and French music based on traditional liturgical texts:  Morten Lauridsen’s recently composed Lux Aeterna, Maurice Duruflé’s Quatre Motets sur des Thèmes Grégoriens, and Louis Vierne’s Messe Solennelle.  In addition, the chorus performed an additional November concert at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Ross, as part of that church’s concert series.  The program included Hildegard von Bingen’s Columba aspexit, Gabriel Fauré’s Messe Basse,  Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Antiphon from Five Mystical Songs, Maurice Duruflé’s Quatre Motets sur des Thèmes Grégoriens, the spiritual Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen, the O Nata Lux from Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna, and the Kyrie from the Vierne Messe Solennelle.

The San Francisco Lyric Chorus rang in the New Year 2000 and the millenium, joining Robert Gurney at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor for a January 2 concert, which included choruses from Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, Ralph Vaughan Williams’  Antiphon from Five MysticalSongs, the Kyrie from the Vierne Messe Solennelle,  and popular songs of the season. 

Spring 2000 brought a San Francisco and an Oakland performance of Modern English Masterpieces by three gifted composers:  John Ireland’s Greater Love Hath No Man, Herbert Howells Requiem, Magnificat Collegium Regale, and Te Deum Collegium Regale, and Benjamin Britten’s Hymn to St. Cecilia and Festival Te Deum.   

Summer 2000 brought our biggest summer yet--All American Music, including  Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and Missa Brevis; Charles Ives Psalm 67, Kirke Mechem’s Blow Ye The Trumpet, Aaron Copland’s Promise of Living and Simple Gifts; and four American hymns arranged by Alice Parker:  Hark, I Hear The Harps Eternal, Wondrous Love, Come Away To The Skies, and Saints Bound for Heaven.

6th Season (2000-2001)
Fall 2000  began with Renaissance classics--Tómas Luis de Victoria’s Requiem and eight part Ave Maria, as well as Claudio Monteverdi’s Mass for Four Voices.   The San Francisco Lyric Chorus ended the year 2000, joining Robert Gurney at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor for a December 31 concert, which included choruses from Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus and popular songs of the season. 

Spring 2001 featured The New Choral Sound--music from the end of the 20th century:  Arvo Pärt’s Cantate Domino and The Beatitudes; William Albright’s Chichester Mass; Javier Busto’s Salve Regina; John Tavener’s Hymn to the Mother of God ; Morten Lauridsen’s Dirait-on from Les Chansons des Roses and O Nata Lux from Lux Aeterna; David Conte’s The Waking; and Kirke Mechem’s Island in Space.  

Summer 2001 centered on two  popular favorites:  Mozart’s Mass in C Minor and Bach’s Magnificat.  In celebration of the year of our 5th anniversary, we splurged to engage the well-known Jubilate Baroque Orchestra and outstanding soloists Jennifer Ellis and Catherine Webster, sopranos, Scott Whitaker, tenor, and Tom Hart, bass, with our own singers, Barbara Greeno and Carol Mersey, performing the alto solos.

7th Season (2001-02)
Fall 2001’s concert, entitled The French Choral Tradition, brought Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Messe de minuit pour Noël, Jean Langlais’ Messe Solennelle, Francis Poulenc’s Hodie, Maurice Duruflé’s Ubi Caritas, and Olivier Messiaen’s O Sacrum Convivium.   Spring 2002  presented a concert devoted to the theme of Peace, with the Haydn Mass in Time of War and Vaughan Williams Dona Nobis Pacem.  Summer 2002 explored Choral Gems of the Romantic Era, including the Schubert Deutsche Messe, Mendelssohn Ave Maria, Bruckner Ave Maria, second movement of the Brahms Requiem, Bortniansky Cherubic Hymn No. 7, Rachmaninoff Bogoroditse Devo and Cherubic Hymn No. 8, Verdi Te Deum, Laudi alla Vergine Maria, and Sanctus from the Requiem.

8th Season (2002-03)
Fall 2002 brought Music of Thanksgiving and Harvest, including Bach’s Cantata 192 (Nun danket alle Gott), Bernstein's Choral Suite from Candide, Mechem's Give Thanks Unto the Lord,  Copland's The Promise of Living, Canadian composer Srul Irving Glick’s The Hour Has Come, and Alice Parker’s Wondrous Love, God is Seen, and  Invocation:Peace, an arrangement of an Omaha Indian prayer.  The end of December brought the chorus’ annual holiday pops concert at the Legion of Honor, including choruses from Die Fledermaus, Haro-no-uta, a Japanese New Year’s song, and holiday favorites.  In Spring 2003, the chorus performed Duruflé’s Requiem and the American premiere of a new edition of French Baroque composer André Campra’s Requiem.  Summer 2003 saw the presentation of choruses and arias (some never before presented)  from two operas by San Francisco composer Kirke Mechem--John Brown and The Newport Rivals.

9th Season (2003-04)
Fall 2003 was another milestone as we explored Music for Chorus and Harp, featuring Benjamin Britten’s popular Ceremony of Carols, along with other works for harp:  two works by Minnesota composers:  Marjorie Ann Hess’ setting of Thomas Hardy’s The Oxen and Steven Heitzeg’s setting of e.e. cummings’ little tree, as well as the San Francisco premiere of William Hawley’s The Snow That Never Drifts, a setting of two poems by Emily Dickinson.  In addition, we performed the medieval carol Nova, Nova, William Walton’s All This Time, Arnold Bax’s difficult I Sing of a Maiden That is Makeless, John Wheeler’s Australian carol, The Three Drovers, and the irrepressible P.D.Q. Bach’s A Consort of Choral Christmas Carols.  The end of December always means the annual New Year’s concert at the Legion of Honor, in which the chorus performs selections from Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, as well as holiday favorites. 

Spring 2004 brought performances of Antonín Dvorák’s Mass in D, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of his death, and Zoltán Kodály’s Laudes Organi, his last published work.  In Summer 2004, we presented a concert of Calm and Passion,  featuring Charles Marie Widor’s Mass, Op. 36, Selections from Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s All Night VigilBlagoslovi, dushé moyá, Ghóspoda; Blazhén Muzh; Svéte Tíhiy  and Bogoróditse Dévo ; Rachmanininoff’s Bogoróditse Dévo and Cherubic Hymn No. 8, as well as Joseph Jongen’s Mass, Op. 130.

10th Season (2004-05)
Fall 2004  brought a challenging and interesting program of Choral Music of France, including Guillaume Dufay’s Gloria ad modum tubae; Josquin des Pres’ Ave Maria; Marc Antoine Charpentier’s In nativitatem Domini canticum, H314; Gabriel Fauré’s Messe Basse; César Franck’s Psaume 150; Francis Poulenc’s Hodie; Camille Saint-Saëns’ Calme des nuits, Les fleurs et les arbres, Des pas dans l’allée; Hector Berlioz’ L’adieu des bergers; and selections from Arthur Honegger’s Une cantate de Noël.   In Spring 2005, we sang Joseph Haydn’s beautiful Harmoniemesse  and Anton Bruckner’s rare and infrequently performed Mass No. 1 in D Minor.   In honor of our 10th anniversary year, our Summer 2005 concert featured the Brahms Requiem.

11th Season (2005-06)
During our 2005-2006 season, we celebrated our 10th anniversary year.  Our Fall 2005 season was titled An English Christmas, and featured the Thomas Tallis Missa puer natus est nobis and If ye love me, William Mathias’ Sir Christèmas, Gustav Holst’s Personent hodie, Benjamin Britten’s Hymn to the Virgin, and three works by Ralph Vaughan Williams : The blessed son of God, No sad thought his soul affright and his wonderful Fantasia on Christmas carols

Our Spring 2006 program was titled American Spiritual Landscapes, and featured Ernest Bloch’s Avodath Hakodesh (Sacred Service), as well as our first commissioned work--Illinois composer Lee Kesselman’s This Grand Show Is Eternal, settings of texts by naturalist John Muir.  In addition, we performed Charles Ives’ Sixty-Seventh Psalm, and two works by San Francisco composers:  Kirke Mechem’s Give Thanks Unto The Lord and Ludwig Altman’s Choral Meditation.  We concluded our anniversary year celebration in Summer 2006 with performances of Michael Haydn’s rarely performed Requiem and Ralph Vaughan Williams’  profound Dona Nobis Pacem.

12th Season (2006-07)
In Fall 2006, we performed a marvelous program of little known works by Mozart:  the Missa Solemnis, K. 337, Kyrie in D Minor, K. 341, and the beloved Ave Verum Corpus, K. 618.  We also performed a selection from the rich English anthem tradition:  William Byrd’s Sing Joyfully and Ave Verum Corpus; George Frideric Handel’s The King Shall Rejoice; Charles Villiers Stanford’s Beati Quorum Via; David Willcocks’ rarely performed arrangement of the medieval carol, Angelus Ad Virginem, Charles Wood’s Hail, Gladdening Light, and Gerald Finzi’s God Is Gone Up

Spring 2007 brought our program:  Kaleidoscope:  Different Cultures/Different Voices, in which we performed music from around the world:  Lee R. Kesselman’s Shona Mass and This Grand Show Is Eternal; Juan Pérez Bocanegra’s Hancpachap Cusicuinnin; Gaspar Fernandes’ Xicochi Xicochi Conetzintle and Tleicantimo Choquiliya; J. David Moore’s Annual Gaudia; Chen Yi’s Arirang and Sakura; Zhou Long’s Words of the Sun; Stephen Hatfield’s Nukapianguaq; James Mulholland’s My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose and Highland Mary; Josef Spivak’s Ma Navu, and Se Enkhbayar’s Naiman Sharag (Eight Chestnut Horses).  

In Summer 2007, we performed Amy Beach’s Grand Mass in E Flat Major, and two beautiful English Baroque works:  John Blow’s Begin the Song, 1684, his first ode for St. Cecilia’s Day, and  Henry Purcell’s Come Ye Sons of Art (minus the overture).

13th Season (2007-08)
Our 2007-2008 Season began in Fall 2007 with our joyous program Magnificat!, which featured Francis Poulenc’s Gloria, as well as Magnificats by Francesco Durante, Franz Schubert, Herbert Howells and Arvo Pärt.  We also sang Herbert Howells’ rarely performed Hymn for St. Cecilia

In Spring 2008, we presented An American Sampler, featuring a variety of American music:  Assistant Conductor Robert Adams; It Will Be Summer--Eventually; Samuel Barber’s The Monk And His Cat; Alfred Marcus Cagle’s Soar Away; Sheldon Curry’s arrangement of Down To The River To Pray; Emma Lou Diemer’s Three Madrigals; Daniel Gawthrop’s Close Now Thine Eyes; Irving Fine’s Lobster Quadrille and Father William from Alice in Wonderland; Lukas Foss’ Cool Prayers from The Prairie; Jeremiah Ingalls’ Northfield;  J. David Moore’s How Can I Keep From Singing; Stephen Sametz’s I Have Had Singing, Randall Thompson’s The Last Words of David; Virgil Thomson’s Four Southern Hymns:  My Shepherd Will Supply My Need, Morning Star, Greenfields, Death ‘Tis A Melancholy Day; Eric Whitacre’s Sleep, and the wordless Shaker composition, Mother Ann’s Song

Summer 2008 brought another blockbuster program:  Te Deum!  We featured George Friderick Handel’s Te Deum in A Major, Joseph Haydn’s lovely Te Deum in C, Benjamin Britten’s Festival Te Deum, and Antonin Dvorák’s dramatic Te Deum.

14th Season (2008-09)

In Fall 2008, we celebrated the restoration of the Trinity Episcopal Church E.M. Skinner organ, performing the Britten Festival Te Deum and selections from the Louis Vierne Messe Solenelle with The Trinity Choir.  Our Fall program included the entire Vierne Messe Solenelle, as well as Heinrich Schutz’ Hodie Christus Natus Est; Michael Praetorius’ In Dulci Jubilo and Psallite, Robert Pearsall’s In Dulci Jubilo; Javier Busto’s Ave Maria and Ave Maria Gratia Plena, Virgil Thomson’s O My Deir Hert, Ned Rorem’s While All Things Were In Quiet Silence, William Bolcom’s Carol, John Rutter’s Shepherd’s Pipe Carol, and Randol Bass’ Gloria.

In Spring 2009, we performed a wonderful program of classical choral music from Brazil and Canada.  Our featured work was the Requiem by the remarkable Afro-Brazilian composer José Maurício Nunes Garcia, 1767-1830.  Grandson of slaves, he is known as the Brazilian Mozart.  His Requiem is reminiscent of Mozart’s great work, but with a Romantic twist.

We also presented modern and contemporary choral music from Canada.  Healey Willan’s Rise Up, My Love and O Sing Unto The Lord A New Song, are beautiful anthems by the father of Canadian choral music.  Stephen Chatman’s Song and Music and Remember are lyrical settings of poems by Dante and Christina Rossetti.  His Gloria is an energetic, rhythmic contrast.  Latvian immigrant Imant Raminsh’s Ave Verum Corpus is an exquisite work in the Eastern Orthodox tradition.  Ruth Watson Henderson’s Sing All Ye Joyful is a delightful setting of text from Tolkien’s The Hobbit.  Srul irving Glick’s What I Have Learned Is This is a movement from his memorial to Leonard Bernstein.  His composition, The Hour Has Come, is the last movement of a six-part work with that title, expressing the urgent need for love in caring for the earth and the environment.

In Summer 2009, the San Francisco Lyric Chorus presented a concert of choral gems by Mozart, Schubert, and Mendelssohn.  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s beautiful Vesperae Solennes de Confessore, K 339, showcases his ability to compose music of transcendent melody, as well as music of vibrant energy and complexity.  Franz Schubert’s Mass in G is pure lyrical Schubert, quiet and gentle in some places, stirring and majestic in others.

We celebrated Felix Mendelssohn’s 200th birthday with several familiar and beloved selections, as well as two compositions that are rarely performed.  Lift Thine Eyes, written for treble voices, and He Watching Over Israel from the oratorio, Elijah, are flowing and melodic choral classics.  Say Where Is He Born and There Shall A Star From Jacob, from the unfinished oratorio, Christus, also demonstrate Mendelssohn’s wonderful sense of melody.  His five-part Kyrie in D Minor, written when he was 16, is a soaring and somewhat dark work that pays homage to Johann Sebastian Bach.  Beati Mortui (Blessed Are The Dead) is an ethereal work for tenors and basses.

15th Season (2009-10)
In Fall 2009, we welcomed our new Music Director, Dr. Robert Train Adams.  We celebrated the Christmas season with What Sweeter Music:  Selections from BBC Music Magazine’s 50 most important Christmas carols and works, as chosen by major English and American choral conductors.  The works included the anonymous 15th century carol Ther Is No Rose; John Joubert’s There Is No Rose; Michael Praetorius’ Es Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen; Boris Ord’s  Adam Lay Ybounden;  John Rutter ‘s Il Est Né Le Divin Enfant; Robert Pearsall’s In Dulci Jubilo; Tomás Luis de Victoria’s O Magnum Mysterium; Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck’s  Hodie ; Harold Darke ‘s, In The Bleak Midwinter; John Tavener’s The Lamb; Benjamin Britten’s This Little Babe from the Ceremony of Carols;   Francis Poulenc Quatre Motets Pour le Temps de Noël; John Gardner’s Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day; John Rutter’s What Sweeter Music, and the world premiere of Robert Train Adams’ Christmas Fantasy, incorporating It Came Upon The Midnight Clear; The First Nowell; Hark, The Herald Angels Sing; and Silent Night.

Spring 2010 brought a concert of secular music with the theme Music Expresses, taken from a Victor Hugo quotation.  The works included Music Director Robert Train Adams' setting of Music Expresses; Ralph Vaughan Williams'  Serenade to Music, Springtime of the Year, and Dark Eyed Sailor; Gerald Finzi's My Spirit Sang All Day, I Praise The Tender Flower, and Haste On, My Joys!; jazz pianist George Shearing's Music to Hear (settings of Shakespeare songs); Matthew Harris's Shakespeare Songs, Book I; Gustav Holst's  I Love My Love; Jonathan Quick's arrangement of  Loch Lomond; Halsey Stevens's Like As The Culver; Robert Pearsall's Lay A Garland, and J. David Moore's Searching for Lambs.

Summer 2010 brought both the beloved and the unfamiliar, as we performed Duruflé’s peaceful and passionate Requiem, as well as 17-year-old Felix Mendelssohn’s exciting double chorus, 12-movement Te Deum.  Young Mendelssohn pays homage to a number of composers and styles in this rarely performed work, including Handel, Mozart, and the Venetian double chorus music of Giovanni Gabrieli.

16th Season (2010-11)
Fall 2010 was the first time the San Francisco Lyric Chorus worked with brass.  Our Christmas Music for Chorus, Brass, and Organ was a huge success.  Our concert included:  Guillaume Dufay Gloria Ad Modem Tubae, Heinrich Schütz  Hodie Christus Natus Est, SWV 315 and Jauchzet dem Herren, Giovanni Gabrieli  Hodie Christus Natus Est and In Ecclesiis, Joaquin Nin-Culmell La Virgen Lava Pañales, Gerònimo González  Serenissima Una Noche, Juan Vasquez En La Fuente Del Rosel, Tomás Luis de Victoria O Magnum Mysterium and selections from the O Magnum Mysterium Mass: Kyrie, Sanctus, Benedictus, Agnus Dei, Daniel Pinkham Christmas Cantata, and the ever popular Robert Train Adams Christmas Fantasy.  We were accompanied by organ and brass quartet on some of the selections.

Spring 2011 was a very special concert entitled Voices of Immigration: Stories From Our Chorus Members, Expressed Through Music.  In Fall 2010, we asked those choristers who wanted, to submit stories about themselves and/or their families coming to America, whether currently or in the past.  A number of choristers did so, including some whose families came in the 17th century, some whose families had to leave various countries and go to other countries during World War II, and some who are recent immigrants.  We selected music inspired by those stories.  We also printed the stories and poems in our program, and several choristers read from those stories.  The chorus sang: William Byrd  All As A Sea, Antonín Dvorák  Songs of Nature, Gabriel Fauré  Madrigal, Heinrich Isaac Innsbruck, Ich Muss Dich Lassen, Salamone Rossi Al Naharot Bavel, Robert De Cormier, arr. Dortn, Dortn, Stephen Hatfield, arr. Mayn Rue Platz and Take A Step, Ernst Toch Geographical Fugue, J. David Moore, arr. How Can I Keep From Singing, Donald Patriquin, arr.  Ah! Si Mon Moine Voulait Danser and J’Entends le Moulin, Dale Warland, arr. Boyo Balu, and Janika Vandervelde Cançao de Embalar.  A double quartet sang The Leaving of Liverpool, and soloists sang Dr. E.G. Villanueva (text) and Belen Manuel (music) Pilipinas Ang Bayan Ko , Fried de Metz Herman, transl. Wie Gat Er Naar Amerika Varen? and  John F. Poole No Irish Need Apply.  We were accompanied on some selections by piano, percussion, and violin.

Summer 2011 brought American Music.  Our program, entitled An American Summer:  The Old Testament in the New World, included: Aaron Copland In the Beginning, Randall Thompson The Peaceable Kingdom, and a selection of spirituals: William Dawson Ezekiel Saw De Wheel, Stacey V. Gibbs Way Over In Beulah Land, Jester Hairston Elijah Rock, Moses Hogan The Battle of Jericho, Undine Moore Daniel, Daniel, Servant of the Lord, and André Thomas Swing Down, Chariot.

17th Season (2011-12)
Fall 2011 turned romantic.  Our featured composition was the beautiful Saint-Säens Christmas Oratorio.  We continued with three very different spirituals:  André Thomas' African Noel, William Dawson's Mary Had A Baby, and Robert De Cormier's arrangement of The Virgin Mary Had A Baby Boy.  The Thomas and De Cormier are very rhythmic, while the Dawson is tender and soulful.  We also sang the work of the fabulous young contemporary Norwegian composer, Ola Gjeilo, performing three of his works: Prelude, Spotless Rose (Det Hev Ei Rose Sprunge), and The Ground.  We concluded with our favorite holiday work, composed just for us by our Music Director, Robert Train Adams, the delightful Christmas Fantasy.   

In Spring 2012, Founding Music Director Robert Gurney returned as Music Director.  In our program, Modern American Voices, we performed poetry set by three American composers.  We began with four of Aaron Copland's Old American Songs:  The Boatmen's Dance, Little Horses, Long Time Ago, and Golden Willow Tree.  These poems and ballads were the work of  anonymous poets.  Our featured work was New York composer John Corigliano's setting of Dylan Thomas' gorgeous Fern Hill.  We followed that with three different compositions by the noted contemporary composer Eric Whitacre:  Animal Crackers 1, in which he sets three light verses by the American humorist Ogden Nash; Five Hebrew Love Songs, settings of poems by his wife, the operatic soprano Hila Plitmann; and Water Night, an a cappella setting of a poem by the Mexican poet, Octavio Paz.  We concluded with Aaron Copland's The Promise of Living from his opera, The Tender Land.  The performances were accompanied by piano and string quartet.

August 2012 brought a very special opportunity as we collaborated with the Finger Lakes (New York) Choral Festival, conducted by Adrian G. Horn; the Redwood Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Eric Kujawsky, and 140 singers from over 30 local choruses as well as 60 more singers from New York in a performance of the Berlioz Requiem in San Francisco's Davies Symphony Hall.  San Francisco Lyric Chorus Music Director Robert Gurney directed the San Francisco rehearsals and the San Francisco Lyric Chorus handled the local publicity.  Eric Kujawsky conducted the Requiem as well as the "Fanfare" from Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra,  Lyric Chorus Music Director Robert Gurney conducted the combined groups in the Shepherd's Farewell from Berlioz's L'Enfance du Christ, and Adrian Horn conducted the groups in the Final Chorus from Boito's opera Mefistofele.  Instrumental works on the program included Mendelssohn's Hebrides Overture, conducted by Eric Townell, Music Director of the Rochester (NY) Oratorio Society.

18th Season (2012-13)
Our Fall 2012 presentation, The Joy of Christmas:  A Celebration for Chorus and Harp, sparkled with the festiveness of the season.  Our two major works—Benjamin Britten’s wonderful A Ceremony of Carols and Kirke Mechem’s delightful Seven Joys of Christmas, as well as Marjorie Hess’s pensive setting of Thomas Hardy’s poem, The Oxen, were accompanied by the celestial sounds of the harp.  We also sang a number of wonderful a cappella compositions:  Bob Chilcott’s serene Shepherd’s Carol and powerful God So Loved The World; Robert H. Young’s beloved There Is No Rose Of Such Virtue, Peter Wishart’s joyous Alleluya, A New Work Is Come On Hand, and Kirke Mechem’s triumphant Gloria from his Three Motets.  Our Chamber Chorus sang Boris Ord’s lovely Adam Lay Ybounden and Benjamin Britten’s Hymn To The Virgin from the organ lofts of our performance sites.

Spring 2013 brought Music of Eastern and Central Europe--wonderfully expressive, lyrical,  sacred and secular music with an Eastern European flavor.  Leos Janácek's Six Moravian Choruses are a choral setting of six of Antonín Dvorak's sparkling love songs for two voices and piano.  We sang a variety of gorgeous works from the Russian liturgy:  Sergei Rachmaninoff's Bogoroditse Devo, Dmitri Bortniansky's Cherubic Hymn, No. 7, Alexander Gretchaninoff's Our Father and Nunc Dimittis, Nicolai Kedrov, Sr.,'s Otche Nash, and an Easter composition, Angel Vopiyashe (The Angel Cried), attributed to Modest Mussorgsky.  We also sang Canadian composer Sid Robinovitch's Prayer Before Sleep, the final movement of his Talmud Suite, as well as Franz Schubert's melodic and lyrical Mass No. 2 in G.

Lyric Choristers spent Summer 2013 in learning and performing one of the most beloved of the choral masterpieces--Johannes Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem

19th Season (2013-14)
The Fall of 2013 brought British holiday delights--From British Shores...Christmas Across the Pond: A Gift Basket of Less Familiar Choral Works. We wished happy 100th birthday to Benjamin Britten, performing his Jubilate Deos in C and E Flat, as well as the theme from his choral variations, A Boy Was Born. We celebrated St. Cecilia's birthday with Herbert Howells' Hymn for St. Cecilia. We paid homage to the English Renaissance with Robert Parsons' exquisite Ave Maria, and celebrated 19th century Victorian holiday time with Robert Lucas Pearsall's Caput Apri Defero and In Dulci Jubilo. Brian Kelly kept our attention with his Latin-rhythmed Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in C. Compositions by two contemporary composers--Philip Stopford's Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day, Lully, Lulla, Lullay, and Wexford Carol, and Will Todd's Christus Est Stella, The Christ Child, and None Other Lamb--were show stoppers. We couldn't miss with Peter Warlock's Benedicamus Domino, Adam Lay Ybounden, Tyrley, Trylow, Balulalow, and The Sycamore Tree. We wished all a happy holiday season with William Walton's All This Time and What Cheer?.

Spring 2014 had us look homeward with I Hear America Singing. We honored William Billings, the father of American choral music, by singing his patriotic song, Chester, his delightful I Am The Rose of Sharon, and his hymn for mariners, Euroclydon. We sang Harmonious Herbst, composer Alice Parker's arrangement of compositions by the American Moravian composer, Johannes Herbst. We sang the original drinking song that is the background of The Star Spangled Banner--John Stafford Smith's Anacreontick Song. We shared two of the most poignant songs of the Civil War--Lorena and Tenting on the Old Camp Ground. We battled the evils of liquor with Ralph Hunter's arrangement of Four Temperance Songs. And, we explored the creativity of contemporary American composers, singing Daniel Gawthrop's Night, Sleep, Death and the Stars (a setting of Walt Whitman text), Stephen Paulus' Afternoon on a Hill (text by Edna St. Vincent Millay) and The Day is Done (text by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow), as well as three wonderful pieces by Eric Whitacre: The Seal Lullaby (text by Rudyard Kipling), This Marriage (text by Rumi) and little tree (text by e.e. cummings).

In Summer 2014, Lyric Choristers sang the beautiful Duruflé Requiem, as well as the dramatic and exciting Mass by 20th century Belgian composer Joseph Jongen.

20th Season (2014-2015)

Fall 2014 brought special music for the holidays. Holiday Light and Love featured the delightful Messe de Minuit pour Noël by French Baroque composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier. Norman Dello Joio's The Holy Infant's Lullaby and Conrad Susa's Three Mystical Carols brought contemporary sounds to Christmas text settings. Christmas time also is about light and love. The Chorus sang settings of O Nata Lux by 16th century English composer Thomas Tallis and contemporary American composer Morten Lauridsen. We also sang 20th century French composer Maurice Duruflé's and contemporary Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo's settings of the beloved text about love and charity, Ubi Caritas.

April 2015 brought the first concert of our 20th anniversary year.  Our Spring 2015 concert was called Looking Back: American Music Highlights from Our First 20 Years.  Chorus members selected their favorite works from our 20 years of repertoire, and Music Director Robert Gurney fashioned a beautiful program from those selections:  Aaron Copland's The Boatmen's Dance and The Golden Willow Tree; Alice Parker's Hark, I Hear The Harps Eternal and Wondrous Love; Walter Kittredge's moving Civil War song, Tenting On The Old Campground; J. David Moore's arrangement of How Can I Keep From Singing?; two of Ralph Hunter's temperance song arrangements--Sparkling Water and Sign Tonight; Irving Fine's The Lobster Quadrille and Father Williamfrom Alice in Wonderland; Kirke Mechem's beautiful Blow Ye The Trumpet; David Conte's haunting The Waking; James Erb's ethereal arrangement of Shenandoah; Eric Whitacre's Water Night and Animal Crackers; and Stephen Paulus' Afternoon on a Hill.

Summer 2015 featured an incredibly special set of concerts.  We continued celebrating our 20th anniversary, as well as celebrating the 100th anniversaries of San Francisco's 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition and Mission Dolores Basilica, in a concert titled Return To The Promised Land: Classical Choral Music of the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition.  That concert featured selections from classical choral works popular in the 1915 San Francisco Bay Area:  And The Glory Of The Lord and Hallelujah Chorus from Georg Frideric Handel's MessiahAwake The Harp and The Heavens Are Telling from Joseph Haydn's CreationLift Thine Eyes and He, Watching Over Israel from Fellix Mendelssohn's ElijahWie Lieblich Sind Deine Wohnungen from Johannes Brahms' Requiem; the Pilgrim's Chorus from Richard Wagner's opera, Tannhäuser, and two very special compositions, American composer Amy Beach's anthem, the Panama Hymn, composed for the opening of the PPIE, and the first performance in the U.S. of Camille Saint-Saëns' oratorio, The Promised Land, since 1915's PPIE.  Saint-Saëns conducted the American premiere and sole American performance of his oratorio on June 27, 1915, in the PPIE's Festival Hall.  The work was performed in Paris in 1916, and then all the orchestral parts were lost.  It was not performed again until 2001, in a performance by the BBC Orchestra and Chorus of Wales, conducted by Richard Hickox, as well as two performances by a French group in Paris in 2005.  We were unable to find the instrumental parts we needed, but located Saint-Saëns' original full-score manuscript in Yale University's Beinecke Library.  The Library had digitized it, so we were able to engage a young composer to create the parts we needed from that manuscript, letting Bay Area residents hear a live performance of that work for the first time since 1915.

21st Season (2015-2016)

Our Fall 2015 concert continued the celebration of our 20th anniversary with chorister-selected holiday favorites in a concert entitled Looking Back: Holiday Highlights from Our First 20 Years.  Our concert included Kirke Mechem's sparkling Gloria, from his Three Motets; David Willcocks' delightful arrangement of Angelus Ad Virginem; the lovely Shepherd's Farewell from Hector Berlioz' L'Enfance du Christ; Marjorie Hess's pensive setting of Thomas Hardy's poem, The Oxen; Igor Stravinsky's beautiful Ave Maria; Basque composer Javier Busto's lush setting of Ave Maria, as well as his Salve Regina for women's voices; William Bolcom and Joan Morris' Carol, a setting of a text from Kenneth Graham's Wind in the Willows; Frank Ahrold's setting of the first verse of Edgar Allan Poe's poem, The Bells; Hal Hopson's arrangement of the Shaker hymn, O Shepherds, Aren't You Happy; Australian composer William James' carol, The Three Drovers; Bob Chilcott's ethereal Shepherd's Carol; John Rutter's lyrical What Sweeter Music, and wonderful settings by Steven Heitzeg and Eric Whitacre of e.e. cummings' poem, little tree.

Our Spring 2016 concert, Let All The World Sing!, included two works that we had not performed since our first concert in October 1995, the serene Fauré Requiem and Fauré's beautiful setting of a morning prayer, the Cantique de Jean Racine.  In addition, we presented Benjamin Britten's dramatic Festival Te Deum and Ralph Vaughan Williams' lyrical settings of English poet George Herbert's mystical poems, Five Mystical Songs.

Summer 2016's concert, the sounds of war... the pleas for peace brought the performances of two masterpieces for our time: Joseph Haydn's stirring Mass in Time of War and Ralph Vaughan Williams' profound Dona Nobis Pacem, complete with soloists, string quintet, organ, and timpani.

22nd Season (2016-2017)

Fall 2016 was fun!  Brush Up Your Shakespeare: Four Centuries of Songs & Sonnets commemorated the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death.  We sang wonderful Shakespeare texts set by his contemporaries to our contemporaries, including Robert Jones' Farewell, Dear Love; J. David Moore's beautiful setting of Fear No More The Heat Of The Sun, set to a Philip Rosseter melody; two selections from Henry Purcell's The Fairy Queen--Hail! Great Parent and They Shall Be Happy, both from masques Purcell created to be performed within A Midsummer Night's Dream; Felix Mendelssohn's Ye Spotted Snakes from A Midsummer Night's Dream;  Jaakko Mäntyjärvi's Four Shakespeare Songs; and George Shearing's Songs and Sonnets from Shakespeare.  We couldn't let the holiday season pass without celebrating the 70th anniversary of Mel Tormé's and Robert Well's Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire.  And, we treated our audiences to a short course in music history with Craig Courtney's A Musicological Journey Through The Twelve Days of Christmas.  We gave our first encore in our 21 years of performing.  What could it have been?  Why, Cole Porter's Brush Up Your Shakespeare!, of course!

For our Spring 2017 concert, Celebrate! Choral Masterpieces from Central Europe, we explored the works of two Central European masters--Antonín Dvorák and Zoltán Kodály.  We experienced the joy of Dvorák in his delightful, folk-music inspired Six Moravian Songs, arranged for four voices by Leos Janacék.  We continued Dvorák's folk-music inspired exuberance in his celebratory 1892 Te Deum.  We concluded our program with Zoltán Kodály's profound 1944-1945 Missa Brevis, subtitled tempore belli, i.e., in time of war, a work of resilience and hope created during a time of absolute horror--the late 1944-early 1945 50-day World War II Siege of Budapest.

Our Summer 2017 program, Summer of Light: The Transcendental Choral Music of Verdi, Whitacre, Gjeilo and Esenvalds featured the dramatic Giuseppi Verdi Four Sacred Pieces, Eric Whitacre’s mystical Sainte-Chapelle, lyrical Glow, and ethereal Lux Nova, as well as Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo’s haunting Northern Lights and melodic The Ground, from his Sunrise Mass.  The chorus also performed Latvian composer Eriks Esenvald’s magical Stars, complete with choristers accompanying on tuned water-filled wine glasses!

23rd Season (2017-2018)

Our Fall 2017 program, What Cheer?: Mostly Modern Takes on the Holiday Season, put us in the mood for the holiday season, as we sang the ever popular Gloria by Francis Poulenc and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols.  We also sang several smaller jewels, including Vaughan Williams’ delightful Wassail Song, the beautiful Franz Biebl Ave Maria, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s ethereal Bogoroditse Devo from his All Night Vigil, William Walton’s joyous What Cheer?, and Stephen Jackson’s wonderful arrangement of the French carol Noël Nouvelet.

Spring 2018 brought a concert of beautiful music and gorgeous poetry in Between Earth and Sky: Songs of Nature and Humanity.  Our featured work was Benjamin Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, set to the poetry of Christopher Smart.  We also sang Britten’s Spring Carol from his beloved Ceremony of Carols.  We continued our exploration of works by the contemporary composer triumvirate, Ola Gjeilo, Eriks Esenvalds, and Eric Whitacre, performing Gjeilo’s Tundra for women’s voices, and Across The Vast Eternal Sky, Esenvald’s The Cloud, set to the poetry of Sara Teasdale, and My Song, with words by Rabindranath Tagore, as well as Whitacre’s gentle Seal Lullaby, set to the poetry of Rudyard Kipling.  In addition we sang Ralph Vaughan Williams’ wistful Linden Lea, Charles Villiers Stanford’s Chillingham and The Blue Bird, two pastoral settings of poetry by Mary Coleridge, Z. Randall Stroope’s In Time of Silver Rain, with poetry by Langston Hughes and The Pasture, Stroope’s setting of the beloved Robert Frost poem.  We concluded with Norman Dello Joio’s exuberant A Jubilant Song, based on a poem by Walt Whitman.

In Summer 2018, our theme was Song of the Universal.  Our featured composition was John Corigliano’s incredible Fern Hill, his setting of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas’s reminiscences of his childhood visit to his aunt’s farm, and his musings on is own life.  We turned to Eric Whitacre and his thoughts on love as we sang his Five Hebrew Love Songs, set to poems by his wife, Hila Plitmann, and This Marriage, with words by the poet Rumi.  We also sang two longer works by Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo, Luminous Night of the Soul, and Song of the Universal, with text of the latter selected from Walt Whitman.

24th season (2018-2019)

Our Fall 2018 concert, Magnificat, brought music appropriate for the season.  We performed exciting Magnificats by four different composers:  Herbert Howells' Magnificat Collegium Regale, Arvo Pärt's Magnificat, George Dyson's Magnificat in D, and Bryan Kelly's Magnificat in C.  In addition, we performed Robert Lucas Pearsall's gentle In Dulci Jubilo, Will Todd's beautiful Christus Est Stella and The Christ Child, and three of Philip Stopford's gorgeous works for the season:  Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day, Lully, Lulla, Lullay, and Ave Maria.  We also sang a wonderful discovery, Fr. Chrysogonous Waddell's Rosa Mystica, and concluded with Randol Alan Bass's dramatic Gloria

Our Spring 2019 concert, Masterpieces of 20th Century Impressionism, presented the works of two impressionist masters, the French Romantic composer Maurice Duruflé and his English contemporary, Herbert Howells.  We sang the beloved Duruflé Requiem, as well as his exquisite motet, Ubi Caritas and his serene prayer, Notre Père.  Herbert Howells' compositions are impressionistic with some rumblings towards modernism.  A Hymn for St. Cecilia has text by Ursula Vaughan Williams, poet and second wife of Ralph Vaughan Williams.  Howells' 1941 anthem, Like As The Hart, gives a sense of jazz and the blues.  His stirring and dramatic Te Deum Collegium Regale, composed for King's College,  was the beginning of a revolution in Anglican church music composition.

Summer 2019 brought the incomparable Johannes Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem in an intimate version with piano accompaniment.


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2006 San Francisco Lyric Chorus