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, and Erb remained involved with the Chorus as a member of the tenor section. The repertoire for its volunteer membership, selected by audition, has included most of the standard repertoire for chorus and orchestra: Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, St. John Passion, and Mass in BMinor, 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. In 2001, just after the 9/11 attacks, the Symphony’s orchestra and chorus joined in an emotional performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.
Recent 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 and a performance with the Richmond Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. For its 40th anniversary in May 2011, the Chorus recreated its inaugural performance, presenting Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis. For its 50th anniversary the Chorus performed Haydn’s Creation with the Richmond Symphony.
The Richmond Symphony Chorus is an active volunteer chorus whose work is directly supported by and aligned with the Richmond Symphony and as such performs regularly with the orchestra and Music Director Valentina Peleggi as well as solo concerts. Anthony Blake Clark has been the Interim Director of the Chorus since August 2022. More information about current events and socials can be found on the Chorus’ website here.
The Richmond Symphony Chorus rehearses weekly on Tuesday evenings at Epiphany Lutheran Church