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Cleveland Orchestra Chorus (Choir)

Founded 1st time: 1920-1921 - Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Founded 2nd time (as: Cleveland Philharmonic Chorus): 1931 - Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Founded 3rd time: 1952 - Cleveland, Ohio, USA

The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and Blossom Festival Chorus
Robert Porco, Director ; Betsy Burleigh, Assistant Director

The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus (= TCOC) is one of the few professionally-trained, all-volunteer choruses sponsored by an American orchestra. In addition to performing with the Orchestra in four to six concert weekends each season and for the annual Christmas concerts at Severance Hall, TCOC has appeared with the Orchestra on tour in New York, Boston, London, and Brussels, on television, and in numerous recordings. The Chorus has also performed in recent years with the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra each summer and has toured twice on its own to Belgium, Luxembourg, Holland, and Germany. TCOC special appearances during the Orchestra's 75th Anniversary Season in 1993-94 included the Birthday Concert in December 1993 (performing L.v. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the Orchestra and Music Director Christoph von Dohnányi) and Opening Day ceremonies for Cleveland's new Jacobs Field ballpark in April 1994 (performing "The Star-Spangled Banner" with members of the Orchestra's brass and percussion sections).

TCOC members hail from nearly 50 area communities, some traveling for weekly rehearsals from as far away as Youngstown, Wooster, and Orrville. The 175 members donate approximately 40,000 hours annually in rehearsal and performance time. Additionally, through a variety of development efforts, they have raised the funds needed for touring. Members range in age from 18 to 75, and at least half-a-dozen singers have been members for over 35 years.

Today's TCOC was first formed in 1952 at the request of Music Director George Szell. Its origins, however, can be traced nearly as far back as The Cleveland Orchestra itself. As early as the Orchestra's third season in 1920-21, founding manager Adella Prentiss Hughes issued an invitation for Clevelanders to join a Cleveland Orchestra Chorus. It lasted less than a year, with subsequent Orchestra performances of choral works enlisting the participation of choruses from local churches and colleges. Soon after Severance Hall opened in 1931, a second Cleveland Orchestra choral ensemble was established. Known as the Cleveland Philharmonic Chorus, it flourished for nearly a decade and provided the choral forces for the many staged operas presented under Music Director Artur Rodzinski's direction. After its founding in 1952, TCOC quickly proved its artistic worth. In 1956, Szell invited Robert Shaw to join the Cleveland Orchestra's conducting staff as associate conductor and chorus conductor, further solidifying the Chorus' reputation for quality.

When Blossom Music Center opened as the Cleveland Orchestra's summer home in 1968, a newly-created Blossom Festival Chorus sang for the inaugural concert. Comprised of members of TCOC and a group of regular "summer" singers from northeastern Ohio, the ensemble participates in several concerts each season at Blossom, joins forces with the winter chorus for appearances at Chautauqua, and often performs with the Orchestra during the annual free Fourth of July concert in downtown Cleveland.

The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus
Betsy Burleigh, Director; Michael Seredick, Assistant Director

In 1991, The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus was founded to help raise awareness of choral music-making in the schools of northeastern Ohio and to encourage more students to continue their choral activities through college and into adulthood. The 115 members of the Youth Chorus are in grades 9 to 12 and each year represent some 40 schools and communities. Like their colleagues in the Youth Orchestra, they are chosen through auditions. Betsy Burleigh serves as director of the Youth Chorus.

The Youth Chorus has performed with the Youth Orchestra and The Cleveland Orchestra at Severance Hall and several schools in northeastern Ohio. In addition, women of the Youth Chorus have participated in performances at the annual summer Blossom Festival and with TCOC at Severance Hall. Initial funding for the Youth Chorus was provided by the W.O. Frohring Foundation, the Edward and Ruth Wilk of Foundation, and the Sears Family Foundation, with ongoing support provided by the Wilkof Foundation.

The Cleveland Orchestra Children's Chorus
Ann Usher, Director

Created in 1967, The Cleveland Orchestra Children's Chorus consists of young singers currently in grades 5-8. The group regularly participates in the annual Christmas concerts as well as other symphonic works requiring a children's chorus. Under the direction of Ann Usher, the 70 singers maintain a high standard of performance. A number of Children's Chorus graduates have continued their association with The Cleveland Orchestra as members of the Youth Chorus or Youth Orchestra, and a few have returned as adult members of TCOC.


Source: The Cleveland Orchestra Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (February 2005)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Pablo Casals


BWV 244 [Not Yet Released]

Robert Shaw


BWV 244

Links to other Sites

The Cleveland Orchestra Choruses (Official Website)


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Explanation | Acronyms | Missing Biographies | The Sad Corner


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Last update: Tuesday, May 30, 2017 04:47