Stunning range, flexibility, drama, and power are among the hallmarks of the 40-year-old San Francisco Girls Chorus’s Premier Ensemble, recognized as one of the world’s leading youth vocal ensembles. Led by Artistic Director Valérie Sainte-Agathe, the Premier Ensemble has achieved an incomparable sound that underscores the unique clarity and force of impeccably trained treble voices.
During the 2018-2019 Season, the Premier Ensemble will present a four-program Bay Area subscription series, with performances at Herbst Theatre, Davies Symphony Hall, the San Francisco Conservatory, Mission Dolores Basilica, and First Congregational Church, Berkeley. These performances will feature choral music spanning more than 800 years, and will include world premiere performances of new works by Aviya Kopelman, Fred Frith, and Richard Danielpour. The Premier Ensemble will also be featured in performances of Stravinsky’s Persephone with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony and in a joint concert with Denmark’s leading girls chorus, the Copenhagen Girls Choir. In July 2019, the Premier Ensemble will embark on a 10-day European tour, with performances in and around London and Paris.
Recent concert highlights include debut performances in February 2018 at Carnegie Hall with Philip Glass and at leading New York new music venue, Le Poisson Rouge; June 2018 performances of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas with Voices of Music for the Berkeley Festival & Exhibition; performances in consecutive seasons with the Kronos Quartet for the ensemble’s KRONOS FESTIVAL at SFJAZZ; an April 2017 debut performance at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with The Knights for SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras; a June 2016 appearance at the NYPHIL BIENNIAL festival at New York’s Lincoln Center; tours to the Nordic countries, Germany, Japan, and Cuba; and the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama.
Praised by Gramophone Magazine as a “remarkable tapestry of teenage voices,” SFGC has been a champion of the music of its time since its founding, having commissioned more than three dozen works by leading composers including Philip Glass, Richard Danielpour, Aaron Jay Kernis, Gabriel Kahane, Augusta Read Thomas, Lisa Bielawa, and Chen Yi. In August 2017, the Premier Ensemble returned to the recording studio with the Kronos Quartet to record works by nine living composers, including Philip Glass, Lisa Bielawa, John Zorn, and Gabriel Kahane, for its album, Final Answer, which was released on the Orange Mountain Music label in February 2018 to critical acclaim.
The Premier Ensemble has been recipient of numerous music industry awards, including five GRAMMY Awards, four ASCAP/Chorus America Awards for Adventurous Programming, and the Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence from Chorus America. Additionally, the Ensemble was voted Best Choral Group in the Bay Area in 2017 by the readers of San Francisco Classical Voice; and its June 2018 performances of Dido and Aeneas with Voices of Music was voted Best Opera Performance, Best Choral Performance, and Best Early Music/Baroque Performance of the 2017-2018 Bay Area concert season, also by readers of San Francisco Classical Voice.
The Premier Ensemble performs exclusively in concert outfits created for it by Yuka Uehara, Creative Director for San Francisco fashion brand, Tokyo Gamine.
In addition to its Premier Ensemble, SFGC is renowned as a regional center for choral music education and performance for girls and young women ages 5-18. Hundreds of singers from 46 Bay Area cities participate in this internationally-recognized six-level Chorus School, called “a model in the country for training girls’ voices” by the California Arts Council.