Amateur Choruses in New York City

Friday, October 09, 2009

New York is home to many wonderful amateur and semi-professional choral groups whose enthusiasm and accomplishment are part of the city’s lifeblood yet whose work goes largely unheralded. Here are a few of the best.

1. Named for the patron saint of music, the St. Cecilia Chorus sings an array of musically challenging and inspiring works. This year is all about masses: Mozart, Hummel, Schubert and Bach are all on the docket.

2. The Young People’s Chorus of New York City offers children and teens from 7 to 18 years old an extraordinary musical education and performance opportunities in the city and around the world.

3. New York City may seem far from the Appalachians, but down-home singing is never closer than at the Lower East Side Shape Note Sing. The group meets monthly to explore this uniquely American a cappella style that dates from the 18th century.

4. The Collegiate Chorale  was founded by the late dean of American choral conductors, Robert Shaw. The group carries on his extraordinary legacy. Upcoming performances range from Handel’s Israel in Egypt to Ricky Ian Gordon’s new opera The Grapes of Wrath.

5. The New York City Gay Men’s Chorus  celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Its incredible work includes world premieres of music by John Corigliano, Ned Rorem, and William Bolcom.


More in:

Comments [8]

mark rubin from New York City

The Canterbury Choral Society, under the 60 year direction of the legendary Charles Dodsley Walker, is performing three to four main concerts a year and is renown for doing the Mahler 8th Symphony at Carnegie Hall. Truly one of the great New York City Chorus organizations

Oct. 19 2011 11:17 AM
Steven Lanser

The Dessoff Choirs is one of New York's leading aovcational choral organizations and I have been singing with this chorus for 21 years. Thanks for this article.

Dec. 16 2010 04:55 PM
Michael Meltzer

The Collegiate Chorale sound, under Dick Westenburg, shimmered like the strings of the NY Philharmonic. I never heard an amateur chorus sound like that, before or since.

Dec. 07 2010 11:14 AM
Marshall Taylor

The 17 year old Empire City Men's Chorus is NYC's only gay men's chorus that sings predominately classical music.Their upcoming concert on Dec. 13th at 157 Montague St. in Brooklyn Heights at the Church of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity at 4pm features works composed for the chorus and other gay choruses. Composers include Rorem, Hoiby, Paulus, Adamo, and Hurd. For more info go to:

Dec. 07 2009 09:30 AM
Grace Lee from New York, NY

Thanks for this article.

The New York Choral Society ( recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.

Oct. 30 2009 04:31 PM
Rachel from NYC

New York is also home to the Zamir Chorale, one of the premier Jewish choirs in the world. Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Zamir performs a variety of old and new Jewish music under the leadership of the incomparable Matthew Lazar.

Oct. 15 2009 11:09 AM

The Oratorio Society of New York ( is the second-oldest performing arts group in New York City. Andrew Carnegie served as President of the Society and built Carnegie Hall so that the group would have someplace to perform. This year marks the 136th annual performance of Handel's "Messiah", plus works by Mendelssohn, Britten, Vaughan Williams, and Cherubini.

Oct. 14 2009 01:32 PM
Megan from New York

The Collegiate Chorale was run for over 20 years by the late Robert Bass, who, more than anyone else, saw to maintaining Shaw's legacy while building the Chorale's reputation through opera.

Oct. 13 2009 02:30 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.

Follow WQXR 







About Top 5 @ 105

WQXR helps you make the most of the New York City’s classical music scene.

Our "Top 5 at 105 " features can't-miss experiences: the best concerts, books and films about music, places to eat before and after shows, and more.