Through our commitment to excellence, Chorus Austin creates passionate musical experiences that inspire community.
A rich tradition of great choral music and modern musical innovations mark Chorus Austin, a non-profit community-based organization dedicated to bringing great choral works to Austin and the Central Texas area under the guidance of Artistic Director Ryan Heller. Within the Chorus Austin umbrella are its two ensembles: the 180-voice Symphonic Chorus and the carefully matched 40-voice Chamber Ensemble. Both groups offer a distinctive concert experience for both audience and singers.
We strive to create passionate musical experiences that inspire community by:
• Performing choral concerts and musical programs of professional quality;
• Providing artistic development opportunities to its members and the community;
• Bringing choral music to new audiences through outreach and education programs; and
• Initiating creative programming and introducing audiences to otherwise inaccessible music.
A distinct part of the Chorus Austin history is encouraging new music. The group has commissioned a variety of new works, including the award-winning The Unutterable by internationally respected composer Robert Kyr. During the 2015-2016 season, Chorus Austin premiered two commissioned works: On a Winter’s Eve by West Coast composer Karen Thomas, and The Contemplations of Hafiz, a major, multi-movement composition for chorus, orchestra and soloists by acclaimed composer Donald Grantham. In 2014, Chorus Austin initiated its Young Composers Competition, showcasing works by rising young artists
Founded in 1965 as the Austin Civic Chorus as part of Austin’s City Parks and Recreation Department, “for all Austin-area residents who like to sing,” the Symphonic Chorus has become an award-winning group specializing in large-scale masterworks with professional orchestras and soloists. The Symphonic Chorus, which includes up to 180 amateur and professional singers selected by audition, offers a cross-section of some of the best vocal talent and musical passion in Central Texas.
The Symphonic Chorus provides a strong concert season, including two major programs, its annual Sing-It-Yourself Messiah, and the wildly popular “On a Winter’s Eve” concert in December. The chorus has performed with the Austin Symphony Orchestra and the Georgetown Festival of Arts
Intimate sounds and exquisite blend mark our Chamber Ensemble. The carefully selected 32-member chamber chorus performs smaller choral works ranging in style from early Renaissance music to contemporary pieces, accompanied or a cappella. Ensemble members have extensive choral backgrounds, the majority of whom are professional musicians. The Chamber Ensemble offers three performances a season and combines with the Symphonic Chorus for “On a Winter’s Eve” and other concerts throughout the year.
The Chamber Ensemble has performed on the stages of the Texas Choral Directors Association convention and sang at the famed International Festival Institute at Round Top, Texas. Founded in 1985 as the Austin Handel-Haydn Society, the group joined with Austin Civic Chorus under the umbrella of Chorus Austin in 1999.
Awards and Recognition
Among the awards and honors are:
- 2015: Nominated for 5 awards by the Austin Critics’ Table including Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy, the Southwest Voices concert and two of Chorus Austin’s featured soloists: Bass Gil Zilkha for “Oseh Shalom” as part of Southwest Voices concert and pianist Carla McElhaney for Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy.
- 2014: Winner of the national Chorus America/ASCAP Alice Parker Award for programming recently composed music.
- 2012: Named one of the Top 10 Classical Musical Treasures of 2011 by Robert Faires of the Austin Chronicle for its performance of Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle.
- 2010: National finalist, The American Prize, for a concert featuring Luigi Cherubini’s Requiem in C Minor, Loris Chobanian’s Kaddish for a Young Artist and the premiere of Chorus Austin Artistic Director Ryan Heller’s choral arrangement of El Moley Rachamin
- 2008: Nominated for Austin Critics’ Table award for the world premiere of John-Michael Cooper’s edition of Mendelssohn’s St. Paul.
- 2006: Austin Critics’ Table “Outstanding Symphonic Concert” award, shared with the Austin Symphony, for the performance of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13, Babi Yar.
- 2003: Austin Critics’ Table “Outstanding Choral Concert” award for the concert, “The Mighty Russians.”