Women of Pacific Chorale — Robert Istad, artistic director
Pacific Chorale is comprised of 200 staff and volunteer singers. In addition to its long-standing partnership with Pacific Symphony, the Chorale has performed with such renowned American ensembles as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the National Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and Musica Angelica. Other noted collaborations within the Southern California community include the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Long Beach Symphony, Pasadena Symphony, and Riverside Symphony.
During the remarkable 45-year tenure (1972-2017) of Artistic Director Emeritus John Alexander, the Chorale toured extensively in Europe, South America and Asia, performing in London, Paris, Vienna, Budapest, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Russia, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing and Hong Kong, and collaborating with the London Symphony, the Munich Symphony, L’Orchestre Lamoureux and L’Orchestre de St-Louis-en-l’Île of Paris, the National Orchestra of Belgium, the China National Symphony, the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, the Estonian National Symphony, and the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional of Argentina. In 2018, Pacific Chorale traveled to New York City to join Pacific Symphony in making their Carnegie Hall debut, performing The Passion of Ramakrishna as part of composer Philip Glass’s 80th birthday celebration.
Education programs are central to the Chorale’s vision of inspiring love of choral music and lifelong learning. Pacific Chorale’s innovative educational initiatives have opened the door to the art of choral music and the magic of the creative process for thousands of students and adults annually, including: a Choral Academy for elementary school students modeled on the El Sistema movement; a Choral Camp presented in association with California State University, Fullerton providing high school students with training in music theory and vocal production; a Choral Festival uniting 400 singers each summer in a free community performance; Intro to the Arts and Passage to the Arts, partnerships with local social service organizations and high school choral directors that allow students, at-risk youth, and low-income families to attend Pacific Chorale performances free of charge; competitions and master classes to nurture the talent of young composers; and Concert Previews that provide deeper insight into the Chorale’s performance repertoire.
Pacific Chorale has received numerous awards from Chorus America, the service organization for North American choral groups, including the prestigious “Margaret Hillis Achievement Award for Choral Excellence,” the first national “Educational Outreach Award,” the 2005 ASCAP Chorus America Alice Parker Award for adventurous programming, and the 2015 “Education and Community Engagement Award.”
Pacific Chorale can be heard on numerous recordings, including American Voices, a collection of American choral works; Songs of Eternity by James F. Hopkins and Voices by Stephen Paulus, featuring Pacific Symphony; a holiday recording, Christmas Time Is Here, on the Gothic Records label; a live concert recording of Sergei Rachmaninov’s Vespers; the world premiere recording of Frank Ticheli’s The Shore for chorus and orchestra; and the world premiere recording of Jake Heggie’s choral opera The Radio Hour, all conducted by John Alexander. Pacific Chorale also appears on six recordings released by Pacific Symphony and conducted by Carl St.Clair: Elliot Goldenthal’s Fire, Water, Paper: A Vietnam Oratorio; Richard Danielpour’s An American Requiem; Philip Glass’s The Passion of Ramakrishna; Michael Daugherty’s Mount Rushmore; Richard Danielpour’s Toward a Season of Peace; and William Bolcom’s Prometheus with pianist Jeffrey Biegel. In 2019, Pacific Chorale recorded Mahler’s Symphony No. 8—performed live with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel—for Deutsche Grammophon, and music by Composer-in-Residence Tarik O’Regan conducted by Robert Istad for Yarlung Records.