Los Angeles Master Chorale
The Los Angeles Master Chorale, hailed as the “the finest-by-far major chorus in America” by the Los Angeles Times, is a vibrant cultural treasure. Hailed for its powerful performances, technical precision, and artistic daring, the Chorale is led by Grant Gershon, Kiki& David Gindler Artistic Director; Associate Artistic Director Jenny Wong; and Interim President & CEO Terry Knowles. Its Swan Family Artist-in-Residence is Reena Esmail.
Created by legendary conductor Roger Wagner in 1964, the Chorale is a founding resident company of the Los Angeles Music Center and choir-in-residence at Walt Disney Concert Hall. The fully professional choir is a diverse and vocally dynamic group that reaches over 175,000 people a year through its concert series at Walt Disney Concert Hall, its international touring of innovative works, and its performances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and others.
In 2022, the Chorale won a Best Choral Performance GRAMMY Award for the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s Deutsche Grammophon recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 (with the National Children’s Chorus, Los Angeles Children’s Choir, and Pacific Chorale). Other recordings include The Sacred Veil by Eric Whitacre (Signum Records) and national anthems / the little match girl passion by David Lang (Cantaloupe Records). The Chorale is featured on the soundtracks of many major motion pictures, including Disney’s Jungle Cruise and the Star Wars films The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker.
Throughout 2018, 2019, and 2022, the Chorale toured its production of Lagrime di San Pietro. Directed by Peter Sellars, it earned rave reviews across the globe. Süddeutsche Zeitung called the 2019 Salzburg Festival performance “painfully beautiful,” while the Sydney Morning Herald praised Lagrime di San Pietro as “stunning...Their voices soared to the heavens.” After the Chorale performed in London,The Stage called the work a “balm for the soul.”
Committed to increasing representation in the choral repertoire, the Chorale announced in2020 that it will reserve at least 50 percent of each future season for works by composers from historically excluded groups. This commitment to inclusion runs through the entire organization, which recently ratified a five-year plan to improve representation at the staff and board levels, to build a more diverse roster of singers, and to reach a wider audience.
The Chorale’s education programs include Voices Within residencies, which encourage students to write and perform their own songs, and an expansive Oratorio Project for high school students. The Chorale also presents an annual High School Choir Festival, which brings teenagers from around Los Angeles to perform in Walt Disney Concert Hall. In May 2019, the High School Choir Festival celebrated 30 years as one of the longest-running and widest-reaching arts education programs in Southern California. The Chorale returned to Grand Park last July for the first time in three years to host Big Sing 2022, the cherished group-sing event enjoyed by people throughout Los Angeles.
Grant Gershon, Kiki & David Gindler Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Master Chorale, has been hailed for his adventurous and bold artistic leadership, and for eliciting technically precise and expressive performances from musicians.
Gershon is committed to increasing representation in the chorale repertoire, and in 2020 he announced that the Chorale will reserve at least 50 percent of each season for works by composers from historically excluded groups in classical music. For his career-spanning leadership in the field of choral music, Gershon received Chorus America’s 2022 Korn Founders Award. He was named Outstanding Alumnus of the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music in 2002 and received the school’s Alumni Merit Award in 2017.
In July 2019, Gershon and the Chorale opened the famed Salzburg Festival with Lagrime di San Pietro, directed by Peter Sellars. The Salzburg performances received standing ovations and rave reviews by such outlets such as Süddeutsche Zeitung, which called Lagrime “painfully beautiful.”
Gershon’s discography includes a GRAMMY-winning Best Choral Performance for Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, “Symphony of a Thousand”; GRAMMY-nominated recordings of Sweeney Todd (New York Philharmonic Special Editions) and Ligeti’s Grand Macabre (Sony Classical); and commercial recordings with the Chorale that include Glass-Salonen (RCM), You Are (Variations) (Nonesuch), Daniel Variations (Nonesuch), A Good Understanding (Decca), Misere (Decca), and the national anthems (Cantaloupe Music). He has also led the Chorale in performances for several major motion picture soundtracks, including — at the request of composer John Williams — Star Wars: The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker.
As resident conductor of the Los Angeles Opera, Gershon conducted the West Coast premiere of Philip Glass’ Satyagraha in November 2019. He made his acclaimed debut with the company with La Traviata in 2009 and subsequently conducted Il Postino, Madama Butterfly, Carmen, Florencia en el Amazonas, Wonderful Town,The Tales of Hoffmann, and The Pearl Fishers. In 2017, he made his San Francisco Opera debut conducting the world premiere of John Adams’s Girls of the Golden West, directed by Peter Sellars, who also wrote the libretto. He made his Dutch National Opera debut with the same opera in March 2019.
In New York, Gershon has appeared at Carnegie Hall and at the historic Trinity Wall Street, and has performed on the Great Performers series at Lincoln Center and the Making Music series at Zankel Hall. Other major appearances include performances at the Ravinia, Aspen, Edinburgh, Helsinki, Salzburg, and Vienna festivals; the South American premiere of the Los Angeles Opera’s production of Il Postino in Chile; and performances with the Baltimore Symphony and the Coro e Orchestra del Teatro Regio di Torino in Turin, Italy. He has worked closely with numerous conductors, including Claudio Abbado, Pierre Boulez, James Conlon, Gustavo Dudamel, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Simon Rattle, and his mentor, Esa-Pekka Salonen.
Peter Sellars has gained international renown for his groundbreaking and transformative interpretations of classics, advocacy of twentiethcentury and contemporary music, and collaborative projects with an extraordinary range of creative and performing artists.
He has staged operas at the Dutch National Opera, English National opera, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Opéra National de Paris, Salzburg Festival, and San Francisco Opera, among others. Sellars has collaborated on the creation of many works with composer John Adams, including Nixon in China, the Death of Klinghoffer, El Niño, Doctor Atomic, The Gospel According to the Other Mary, and Girls of the Golden West. Inspired by the compositions of Kaija Saariaho, he has guided the creation of productions of her work (L’Amour de loin, Adriana Mater, Only the Sound Remains) that have expanded the repertoire of modern opera.
In 2022, Sellars created a staging of the Roman de Fauvel at the Théâtre du Châtelet in collaboration with Benjamin Bagby, founder of the Sequentia Ensemble. Also in 2022, he staged composer Tyshawn Sorey’s Monochromatic Light (Afterlife), featuring artwork by Julie Mehretu, for the Park Avenue Armory in New York. A revival of Sellars’ acclaimed production of Tristan und Isolde, with videography by artist Bill Viola, was presented at the Opéra National de Paris in early 2023.
Orlando di Lasso’s Lagrime di San Pietro, Sellars’ widely extolled collaboration with the Los Angeles Master Chorale, has toured extensively.
Sellars is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of World Arts and Cultures at UCLA and a resident curator of the Telluride Film Festival. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, the Erasmus Prize for contributions to European culture, and the Gish Prize, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has been awarded the prestigious Polar Music Prize and been named Artist of the Year by Musical America. In the fall of 2021, he was honored with the EBU-IMZ Lifetime Achievement Award for his body of opera video recordings.