The Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, celebrating its 83rd season in 2019-2020, is proud to be one of the nation’s most established and dynamic musical institutions. Among the most active symphonic choruses in the United States, this organization reaches more than 25,000 persons each season through performances and education/community engagement programs. The 180 volunteer singers demonstrate the Choir’s commitment to musical excellence through their talent and dedication during each 11-month season. The Indianapolis Symphonic Choir is led by a professional staff and governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. Founded in 1937 at the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s request to perform the great choral-orchestral repertoire, the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir continues to be the choral partner of the ISO. In 2018, the Choir joined the ISO at The Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.) for SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras. In 2015, the Symphonic Choir commissioned and premiered Mohammed Fairouz’s oratorio Zabur, which was released internationally by Naxos Records (2016) and also featured the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Indianapolis Children’s Choir. The Choir’s newest recording, also released by Naxos in 2019, is Festival of Carols featuring Grammy Award-winning artist Sylvia McNair and the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra.
In addition to collaborative performances with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Symphonic Choir presents its own performances, educational initiatives, and events each season. Regular features include the Sacred Masterworks concert series which includes large-scale choral-orchestral performances that are complemented by an array of educational events. Recent repertoire featured on that series includes Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms, Britten’s War Requiem, Bach’s Mass in B minor and St. John Passion, Berlioz’s Grande Messe des Morts (Requiem), Mendelssohn’s Elijah and others. The Symphonic Choir also produces the ever-popular annual holiday favorite Festival of Carols which features the Choir in performance with orchestra, and special guests at The Warren Performing Arts Center and The Palladium at The Center for The Performing Arts. 2019 marks the 29th anniversary of this musical holiday tradition and features soprano Michele McConnell with special guest, national gospel recording artist, Rodnie Bryant & friends. National television broadcasts, regional radio broadcasts, and recordings of Festival of Carols are available as well. The Symphonic Choir is committed to providing world-class educational experiences to persons of all ages throughout the community. The Choir is now in its ninth year as the official choral partner of the Indianapolis Public Schools through the Harmony of Voices initiative, providing teacher training, educational resources, mobile performance experiences, masterclasses with world-class guest artists, and subsidized tickets for students, their family, and teachers alike. The Spotlight Choir series unites area middle and high school choirs with the Symphonic Choir in a side-by-side rehearsal and performance opportunity, providing intergenerational learning experiences. Other educational initiatives include In-Choir-ing Minds, a lecture-performance featuring a choral masterwork; the Choral Colloquium, which provides scholarly exploration and discussion via the Choir’s Scholar-in-Residence; Roundtables for choir directors from area schools, universities, congregations, and community ensembles; and student conducting workshops. Additionally, the Choir recognizes that persons of all ages deserve access to the arts and Timeless in Song serves the Circle City’s senior population through mobile performances, transportation assistance, and subsidized concert tickets. The Symphonic Choir was pleased to partner with the Indianapolis Public Schools to re-imagine and resurrect the All-City Honor Choir in 2014, serving students from all eight IPS high schools. Commissioning new works is critical to the Choir’s mission, and recent years have seen numerous commissioned works added to the body of choral repertoire. In 2009, the organization launched the international Christmas Carol Commission Competition, which encourages emerging composers to write high-quality choral music. The Symphonic Choir led a three-year city-wide commissioning consortium which culminated with the April 2015 performance of a new oratorio titled Zabur by noted composer Mohammed Fairouz, including its release on the Naxos recording label and a performance at Carnegie Hall in 2016. Through the Choir’s Recording Fund, the organization frequently releases audio recordings including the complete, two-disc recording of Mendelssohn’s Elijah, “From East to West: A Festival of Carols,” “The Very Best of Festival of Carols,” and the Mohammed Fairouz oratorio Zabur on the Naxos label. Discography is available through this website and on iTunes. The Choir was featured at the Super Bowl XLVI half time performance with Madonna and is heard on Sirius-XM Radio.
Throughout its history spanning more than three-quarters of a century, the Symphonic Choir has been served by leaders in the choral art, including music directors Elmer Steffen, Don Neuen, Charles Webb, John W. Williams, and Robert Porco, and has given performances around the world. The Symphonic Choir is under the artistic direction of Dr. Eric Stark and is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and in residence at Butler University’s Jordan College of the Arts, Indianapolis.