Founded in 1942 as the Raleigh Oratorio Society, the North Carolina Master Chorale is committed to bringing the very finest in choral music performance to Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill audiences. Under the direction of Dr. Alfred E. Sturgis since 1993, the Chorale boasts a 170-voice Symphonic Chorus and a smaller, professional Chamber Choir whose size varies by project.
Hailed by critics as Raleigh’s premier choral ensemble, the Chorale primarily performs choral masterworks with orchestra. The NCMC Chamber Choir had its debut during the 1996-97 season and performs works ranging in style from the Renaissance to contemporary. Singers in both ensembles, many of whom are professional singers, conductors and music educators, are selected by audition from across Wake and neighboring counties.
In recent seasons, the Chorale has performed masterworks such as Ray's Gospel Mass, Rachmaninoff's Vespers, Haydn’s The Creation, and Berlioz' Requiem. In addition to these works, the Symphonic Choir has performed works such as Britten’s War Requiem, Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky, and William Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast with the North Carolina Symphony and Orff’s Carmina Burana and Handel's Messiah with the Carolina Ballet.
Members of the Chamber Choir along with Music Director Sturgis present the educational program Choral Music Through the Ages in public schools each year. Each season, the Master Chorale presents an annual holiday show, Joy of the Season, in Meymandi Concert Hall, and a Valentine's Day concert Romance in the Air at William Peace University.
In December 2006, the Master Chorale’s Joy of the Season was filmed for broadcast on UNC-TV. Airings of the concert on the network reached approximately 1.5 million people across North Carolina. Ten years later, thanks to a generous gift from one of our donors, the Chorale again recorded their holiday concert, which still airs each December on UNC-TV.
The organization was awarded the 1991 Raleigh Medal of Arts in recognition of its rich heritage and numerous artistic contributions to the community. In 1997, NCMC added a professional administrator, Executive Director Michelle Hile, to the staff. In 2015, the Board added an additional half-time staff position, Operations Manager Stephen Aber. In its 76th season, 2018-2019, the Board assessed staff roles and conducted a national search for a new Executive Director, ultimately hiring Christine Kastner, who began her new role on July 1, 2019.
Ms. Kastner's expertise, combined with the magnificent artistry of Maestro Sturgis and the unmatched artistry of the Chorale singers positions the organization for a bright and exciting future.