Stunning vocal range, flexibility, drama, and power are among the hallmarks of the 38-year-old San Francisco Girls Chorus, which is recognized as one of the world’s most widely known and respected vocal ensembles for youth. Under the direction of composer-performer Lisa Bielawa and conductor Valérie Sainte-Agathe, the SF Girls Chorus has achieved an incomparable sound that underscores the unique clarity and force of impeccably trained treble voices fused with expressiveness and drama. As a result, the Chorus vibrantly performs 1,000 years of choral masterworks from plainchant to the most challenging and nuanced contemporary works created expressly for them in programs that are as intelligently designed as they are enjoyable and revelatory to experience. A leading voice on the Bay Area and national music scenes, the Chorus has produced award-winning concerts, recordings and tours; empowered young women in music and other fields, enhanced and expanded the field of music for treble voices and set the international standard for the highest level of performance and education.
The San Francisco Girls Chorus’ level of training, performance, quality, range, and leadership in commissioning music for treble voices are lauded by musicians, critics, and audiences. The Chorus has been awarded the music industry’s highest honors including five GRAMMY Awards and recognition for programming and highest artistic standards from ASCAP, Chorus America and others.
Frequent collaborator, San Francisco Symphony Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas says, “The San Francisco Girls Chorus is a treasure. Their training, musicality, and vibrant spirit are evident whenever they perform. I have enjoyed our long association and look forward to many years of collaboration.”
The Chorus’ 30th Anniversary season, 2008-09, culminated in a performance in President Barack Obama’s swearing-in ceremony, and a debut concert at Alice Tully Hall at New York’s Lincoln Center. Subsequent seasons have featured tours to Cuba, Berlin, Nordic countries, the Oregon Bach Festival and Britt Festival in Ashland and Jacksonville, and others. The 2015-16 season will featured performances of Beethoven’s monumental Ninth Symphony, “Ode to Joy,” with Maestro Gustavo Dudamel, Venezuela’s celebrated Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, and other guest artists at UC Berkeley’s Greek Theatre. The Chorus ended its triumphant 2016-17 season with a performance with the New York Philharmonic's Biennial Festival of New Music, at Lincoln Center. This season, the Chorus will perform with KRONOS Quartet, and at the SHIFT Festival of New Music at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.
Founded in 1978, the San Francisco Girls Chorus quickly became 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 program, deemed “a model in the country for training girls’ voices” by the California Arts Council. The organization consists of a professional-level performance, recording, and touring ensemble; the four-level Chorus School training program; and a Preparatory Chorus for 5-7 year olds.
Honors and Awards
The San Francisco Girls Chorus has earned many honors, including the prestigious Margaret Hillis Award and two ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming in 1999, 2004, and 2011. The Chorus is invited annually to perform with musical organizations including San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Symphony, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and others. The Chorus has been honored to sing at many national and international venues, including the World Choral Symposium in Kyoto, Japan in 2005. SF Girls Chorus has been featured at the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Western Division Convention in Salt Lake City, and represented North America in the prestigious World Vision Children’s Choir Festival in Seoul, Korea, and in the Gateway to Music Festival at the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing.