About

Mission & History

Mission

The Nashville Symphony Chorus is dedicated to enriching the Greater Nashville community through high-quality performances of works from a vast and ever-growing body of choral literature.


History

The Nashville Symphony Chorus was formed by Nashville Symphony conductor Willis Page in 1963 to sing Handel’s Messiah. Prior to this, the Symphony had relied on the Nashville Choral Society, the Peabody College Choir and the Vanderbilt Choir when performing works for orchestra and chorus. By 1965, the 90-member Nashville Symphony Chorus was averaging three performances with the Nashville Symphony each season. For several years, the Nashville Symphony Chorus also participated in an annual holiday celebration, which combined the voices of the Nashville Symphony Chorus, the Vanderbilt Choir and the Fisk Jubilee Singers. These holiday concerts, featuring members of the Nashville Symphony, were held at Benton Chapel at Vanderbilt University and at Fisk University.

In January 1974, the Nashville Symphony Board recognized the Nashville Symphony Chorus as the official “vocal arm of the Nashville Symphony.”

Since its beginnings, the Nashville Symphony Chorus has grown to more than 200 members and is comprised of all volunteers. Today, the Chorus is a first-rate ensemble thanks to the leadership of the following directors over the past six decades:

Willis Page (1963-1965)
Charles Nelson (1965-1968)
Scott Withrow (1968-1982): Created the Nashville Symphony Chamber Chorus for performances independent of the Symphony
Sandra Willets (1982-1987)
Dr. Raphael Bundage (1987-1991): Established the Southern Bach Festival & the Middle Tennessee Mozart Festival
Dr. David Cassel (1991-1994): Increased the core membership to 100 members
Dr. Tom Mitchell (1994-1997) 
David W. Hayes (1997): Led a tour to Russia and Germany in the summer of 1997
Dr. George Mabry (1997-2011): Led the Chorus on seven recordings, including Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, and the GRAMMY-nominated recording of Ravel’s L’Enfant et les sortilèges
Kelly Corcoran (2013-present): Launching an education initiative to share the joys of music learning with choral students in Middle Tennessee, and leading the Chorus in a performance of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony at the Cincinatti May Festival