James Erb organized the all-volunteer Richmond Symphony Chorus in 1971 for a December performance of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, under guest conductor Robert Shaw. For 36 years, Erb continued to direct and build the Chorus to reflect the Symphony’s high standards. Erin Freeman assumed leadership of the Chorus at the start of its 2007–08 season. The repertoire for its selected volunteer membership has included most of the standard repertoire for chorus and orchestra: Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, St. John Passion and Mass in B Minor, Haydn’s Creation, Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 and Choral Fantasy, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Requiem settings by Mozart, Brahms, Verdi and Faure, Mahler’s Symphony No.2, Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony and all of Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe. Over the years they have also sung shorter choral-orchestral works by Handel, Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Bruckner, Delius, Debussy, Barber, Britten, Richard Strauss, Vaughan Williams, Stravinsky, Olivier Messiaen and Luigi Dallapiccola. Special projects have included a performance and recording of Mahler Symphony No. 8 with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, under the direction of JoAnn Falletta, a performance with the Richmond Symphony in the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and a re-creation of the Chorus’s inaugural performance of Missa Solemnis, under the direction of Erin Freeman.
On April 28th and in honor of its 45th anniversary, the Chorus will present an all-choral concert in tribute to its founder, James Erb, at Second Baptist Church.