The Memphis Symphony Chorus is an integral part of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra family. In 1965, Maestro Vincent De Frank decided to present the orchestra’s first Pops Concert and needed a chorus. He enlisted local musician Sara Beth Causey to send out notice and thirty singers responded. Today the chorus is 130 members strong, performing under the direction of Maestro Mei-Ann Chen and Dr. Lawrence Edwards. This group of dedicated volunteer vocalists celebrated their 45th anniversary during the 2010-11 season.
In a perfect collaboration of orchestral and vocal musicians, the chorus has performed major works across the entire spectrum of classical choral music, opera choruses, and concert pops repertoire. The Memphis Symphony Orchestra’s Masterworks concerts have included the chorus recently in performances of Handel's The Creation, the Berlioz Requiem, Elijah, J.S. Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Missa Solemnis, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Handel’s Messiah, Mahler’s Second and Eighth Symphonies, Orff’s Carmina Burana, and the Requiems of Mozart, Verdi, and Brahms. The chorus also performs each year with the orchestra in the Holiday Pops concert and other swingin’ and rockin’ Pops Concerts, including the music of John Williams, Disney tunes, and other popular composers. The chorus often participates in the annual Martin Luther King tribute concert, which allows them the opportunity to sing together with choral groups from local high schools and universities. Outreach through occasional regional performances in conjunction with the orchestra rounds out the annual schedule.
The orchestra and chorus perform in the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Memphis. This hall has been created with acoustical excellence and features the choral sound to perfection.
Chorus membership grows through a twice-yearly audition process supervised by Dr. Edwards. Being a professional vocalist is not a prerequisite for acceptance; however, one must have in equal proportion vocal skill, a love for great choral music, and the time and energy to devote to a weekly rehearsal schedule. Each new season for the chorus begins in the late summer and lasts through their final performance, usually in May.
Be sure to check out the rest of the website for information about the chorus audition schedule or to purchase tickets for performances, or you may contact the Memphis Symphony Orchestra office at (901) 537-2510.
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