The Minnesota Chorale has served as the Minnesota Orchestra’s principal chorus since 2004 and is now in its 28th season under the leadership of Kathy Saltzman Romey. Founded in 1972, the Chorale is Minnesota’s preeminent symphonic chorus, with a roster of over 200 singers. Best known for its work with the two major orchestras of the Twin Cities, the ensemble is equally dedicated to programs that build and enrich community. A seasoned artistic partner, the Chorale continues to explore new artistic directions and collaborative opportunities, while earning the highest critical acclaim for its work on the concert stage. In 2018, members of the Chorale traveled to South Africa to perform alongside the Minnesota Orchestra in its historic concerts in Soweto and Johannesburg.
The Minnesota Chorale first appeared with the Minnesota Orchestra in a 1972 performance of Gian Carlo Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, conducted by Henry Charles Smith. Since then, the Chorale has collaborated regularly with the Orchestra in such masterworks as Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, George Frideric Handel’s Messiah and Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem, and in presenting great modern works including Michael Tippett’s A Child of our Time, Aaron Jay Kernis’ Garden of Light and Leonard Bernstein’s Mass. In 2002, the Orchestra and the Chorale premiered Sir John Tavener’s Ikon of Eros and recorded it on the Reference label. The Chorale is featured on the Orchestra’s 2006 BIS recording of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, a performance which drew critical acclaim and a Grammy nomination for Best Orchestral Performance, and on the 2008 CD release of Stephen Paulus’ oratorio To Be Certain of the Dawn, recorded by then-Music Director Osmo Vänskä and the Orchestra on the BIS label. The Chorale is also featured on the Orchestra’s disc of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, which was recorded in 2017 and released in 2019.
During the 2021-22 season, the Chorale partnered three times with the Orchestra, including concerts of Joel Thompson’s Seven Last Words of the Unarmed, Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and Mahler's Eighth Symphony. The Chorale features prominently again in the 2022-23 season with presentations of Joseph Haydn’s The Creation and the world premiere of brea(d)th, a major commissioned work by Carlos Simon with libretto by Marc Bamuthi Joseph. In November 2022, the Women of the Minnesota Chorale took the stage in Gustav Mahler’s Third Symphony, marking the conclusion of the Orchestra’s multi-year initiative under Osmo Vänskä, the Orchestra’s previous music director who is now conductor laureate, to perform and record all ten of Mahler’s symphonies.
Now comprising ensembles for singers from ages 8 to 80-plus, the Minnesota Chorale is a multi-generational umbrella organization. Among the Chorale’s independent initiatives are its nationally-recognized Bridges community engagement program, the Minneapolis Youth Chorus and Prelude Children’s Choir for students in Minneapolis public schools, the Voices of Experience choir for older adults, the Side by Side program for high school tenors and basses, InChoir open rehearsals and the Emerging Conductor training program in collaboration with the University of Minnesota. In October 2021, the Chorale launched an ongoing partnership with the Twin Cities ensemble Border CrosSing to present a concert series designed to reimagine and expand the traditional canon of chorale music. National guest conductors of color are invited for a residency to lead singers from the two choirs in programming by composers whose music has historically been under-represented on the concert stage.
Highlights of the Minnesota Chorale’s performance history include three seasons as chorus-in-residence at the Aspen Music Festival, concerts in Mexico City with the Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Mexico, recordings of Haydn’s The Creation and The Seasons with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, representing the United States at the America Cantat III international chorale festival in Venezuela, premiering and recording Janika Vandervelde’s Adventures of the Black Dot, a landmark chorale storybook for children, and premiering Ah Nagasaki: Ashes Into Light by composer Robert Kyr and librettist Kazuaki Tanahashi with choirs from Japan.