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 Artistic Director Christopher Bell, The Washington Chorus (TWC), now in its 58th 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 180-voice Washington Chorus presents an annual subscription series at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, regularly performs at the invitation of the National Symphony Orchestra, and appears annually at the Music Center at Strathmore in Maryland and Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Virginia. In addition to its own programming, this season TWC performs Verdi’s Requiem with the NSO, Koyaanisqatsi with the Philip Glass Ensemble, and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the LA Phil conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.
TWC was the first major Washington area chorus to be founded independent of a church or college. In 1961 Hugh Hayward, a medical doctor and classically trained musician, founded the Oratorio Society of Montgomery County, which became known as the Oratorio Society of Washington, and is now celebrated under the name of The Washington Chorus. In 1971, Robert Shafer succeeded Hayward as music director, leading the chorus for more than three decades with great distinction, including two Grammy Awards. From 2008–2017 Julian Wachner led the organization, expanding its profile with education and innovation at the forefront of dynamic programming. In the fall of 2017 TWC welcomed Christopher Bell as its new Artistic Director, beginning a new era that has already met with critical and popular acclaim.
During his first season as Artistic Director of The Washington Chorus, Christopher Bell’s arrival is receiving the same critical and popular acclaim that has followed him throughout his international career. Mr. Bell is also the Chorus Director for the Chicago Grant Park Music Festival, which he joined in 2002, where he conducts choral and orchestral performances. He just ended a highly acclaimed eleven-year tenure as the Chorus Master of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus, preparing them for concerts with visiting national and international orchestras and conductors.
Maestro Bell's Chicago successes include Chorus America’s coveted Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence and glowing reviews from both critics and audiences alike. “It’s as if he has some magic dust he sprinkles on his singers that gives them this incredible precision,” wrote Andrew Patner of the Chicago Sun Times.
Bell was instrumental in the formation of the National Youth Choir of Scotland in 1996, serving as its Artistic Director ever since and performing at the BBC Proms, the Edinburgh International Festival, touring internationally, recording and broadcasting. He recently finished his 22nd season as Director of the RSNO Junior Chorus. Of his career in Scotland, Ken Walton of The Scotsman recently wrote “For almost a quarter of a century he has transformed the country’s musical youth... Everywhere you look in Scotland, there’s more than a bit of Bell influencing the singing health of the nation.”