The Cornell University Chorus, founded in 1920, is an entirely student-run organization and has gained a reputation as one of the nation’s outstanding treble choirs. Comprising fifty-four students drawn from every college and many academic majors, the Chorus performs a repertoire spanning eight centuries and over a dozen languages, ranging from masses and motets to spirituals, folksong, world music, jazz, and a variety of other classical and contemporary pieces. Since 2003, the Chorus has made a special point of commissioning new works from women composers, with the goal of expanding the contemporary repertoire for treble voices.
The Chorus maintains a national profile, collaborating with professional orchestras under the direction of Nadia Boulanger, Eugene Ormandy, Erich Leinsdorf, Michael Tilson Thomas, Julius Rudel, Karel Husa, Michel Galante, Leon Botstein, and Lanfranco Marcelletti, and performing on the stages of Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, the Philadelphia Academy of Music, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and many other fine venues. The Chorus has also been featured on nationwide broadcasts, including a special half hour on CBS radio and an appearance on PBS’s MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour. Recent collaborators include Anonymous 4, the Argento Chamber Ensemble, renowned world musician Samite of Uganda, and the Schola Cantorum of Oxford (UK). The Chorus often joins with their peer group, the Cornell University Glee Club, for the performance of major works, including the recent world premiere of Roberto Sierra’s Cantares at Carnegie Hall and a historic performance of Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion. They also perform regularly on Cornell’s campus, in their own concerts and at many of the university’s most significant events. In 2017, the Chorus hosted their first treble choir conference, welcoming over two hundred singers from six different colleges for a weekend-long exploration of music, leadership, and empowerment.
The ensemble has made numerous tours around North America, from New England and the Southeast to the Midwest, California, and Canada. International tours include trips to Taiwan in 1998 and Italy in 2005, and joint tours with the Glee Club to Venezuela in 2001, China in 2008, and Mexico and Guatemala in 2016. The Chorus also travels for competitions and festivals, including performances at Harvard for the Centennial Celebration of the Radcliffe Choral Society and the ACDA Eastern Conference in Pittsburgh in 2018.