The mission of The Washington Chorus is to preserve and advance the art of choral singing and share the experience of the transforming power of choral music. TWC does this by performing at the highest artistic level in the nation's capital and before diverse national and international audiences, and by nurturing the next generation of choral singers.
Under the direction of Christopher Bell, The Washington Chorus (TWC), now in its 57th season, is one of the foremost symphonic choruses in the nation. Noted for the superb artistry of its performances and recordings of the entire range of the choral repertoire, TWC is widely recognized as a cultural leader in the nation’s capital.
A three-time nominated and two-time Grammy Award winner, the 200-voice Washington Chorus presents an annual subscription series at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, regularly performs at the invitation of the National Symphony Orchestra, and is frequently featured in other venues such as the Music Center at Strathmore in Maryland and Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Virginia.
TWC has the distinction of being the first major Washington area chorus to be founded independent of a church or college. Hugh Hayward—a medical doctor, NIH research scientist, and classically trained musician—founded the chorus in 1961 as the Oratorio Society of Montgomery County. This ensemble, which became known as the Oratorio Society of Washington, is now celebrated under the name of The Washington Chorus. In 1971, Robert Shafer succeeded Hugh Hayward as music director, and he led the chorus for more than three decades with great distinction, including Grammy Awards in 1996 and 2000.
Christopher Bell was educated at Edinburgh University and held his first post as Associate Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Since then, he has worked as conductor with many of the major orchestras in the UK and Ireland, including the Royal Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National, BBC Scottish Symphony, Ulster Orchestra, Scottish Chamber, City of London Sinfonia London Concert, RTE National Symphony, RTE Concert and the Bournemouth Symphony. He was Principal Guest Conductor of the State Orchestra of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia from 1998 – 2000, Chorus Master of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra between 1989 and 2002, and was the first Artistic Director of the Edinburgh Royal Choral Union.
In 1988 he made his debut with the Ulster Orchestra in performances of Handel’s Messiah and since then has appeared regularly with them conducting concerts all over Northern Ireland from Coleraine and Derry to Armagh, Omagh and Eniskillen. In 2009 he was appointed the Ulster Orchestra’s first Associate Conductor.
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