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    Paul Hill Chorale

    Emmy-winning choral group founded by Paul Hill in 1967 and based in Washington, D.C.  They debuted at the National Cathedral with a performance of Jesu, meine Freude by Johann Sebastian Bach.  In 1971, they joined forces with the Choral Arts Society to help christen the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with “A Free Song”, composed by William Schuman. 

     

    It was the first of hundreds of performances they would give in that hallowed venue.  They started a perennial Christmas tradition there with the Messiah Sing Along, which culminated with the audience taking part in the “Hallelujah Chorus”.  Their success led to the establishment of an offshoot ensemble, The Washington Singers.

     

    The Paul Hill Chorale also served as a guest chorus with the National Symphony Orchestra on a number of occasions, which led to collaborations with conductors such as Antal Dorati, Dmitri Kabalevsky, Erich Kunzel, Neville Marriner, Howard Mitchell, Mstislav Rostropovich, Julius Rudel, and Leonard Slatkin.

     

    Other artists and groups with whom they worked included Victor Borge, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, the Joffrey Ballet, Garrison Keillor, the Pacific Northwest Ballet, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Christopher Plummer, the Richmond Symphony, the Royal Ballet, Peter Schickele (a.k.a. P.D.Q. Bach), Danny Thomas, the Washington Opera, and Julian Lloyd Webber.

     

    Paul Hill was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in the 1990s and presided over his last Messiah Sing Along in December 1993.  In attendance were President Bill Clinton, First Lady Hillary Clinton, and their daughter, Chelsea.  Two thousand and seven hundred voices were raised in his final “Hallelujah Chorus”.

     

    Recordings on which the chorale appeared comprise Gian Carlo Menotti:  The Unicorn, the Gorgon, and the Manticore, A Paul Hill Chorale Christmas, Russia!, Unequaled Praise, and Vivaldi:  Beatus Vir.  They even issued The Paul Hill Chorale Cookbook in 1987. 

     

    In 1996, they served up the world premiere of “Pied Beauty” by Mark Amado, with poetry by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

     

    Donald McCullough took over the reins in 1997 after Paul Hill was too ill to conduct.  On 27th September 1999, Paul passed away.

     

    After his death, the group was renamed the Master Chorale of Washington and enjoyed twelve successful years before dissolving in 2009.  Their last performance took place at Kennedy Center on 17th May 2009 and consisted of Carmina Burana by Carl Orff and Frostiana by Randall Thompson.

     

    In 2011, the National Master Chorale, which consisted of many alumni of the Master Chorale of Washington, changed their name to the Washington Master Chorale.

     

    Paul Hill Chorale recordings

    O Come All Ye Faithful (Frederick Oakeley/John Francis Wade)

    Arranger – Jackson Berkey

    Conductor – Paul Hill

    Organist – Sondra Proctor

    National Capital Brass and Percussion Ensemble

     

    Sources:

    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Master_Chorale_of_Washington
    2. http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Paul_Hill_Chorale_cookbook.html?id=N-0VHQAACAAJ
    3. http://www.spectrummagazine.org/files/archive/archive21-25/23-4branson2.pdf
    4. http://www.amazon.com/Russia-Paul-Chorale-Peter-Tchaikovsky/dp/B000X46WCI
    5. http://www.amazon.com/Paul-Hill-Chorale-Christmas/dp/B0000057YL
    6. http://www.markadamo.com/choral-music/
    7. http://www.nytimes.com/1999/09/29/arts/paul-hill-65-founder-of-washington-chorus.html
    8. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1999-10-05/news/9910050107_1_mr-hill-ensembles-national-cathedral
    9. http://www.marquisclassics.com/83107_viva.aspx
    10. http://www.washingtonmasterchorale.org/news/master-chorale-returns-to-washington/
    11. http://www.ebay.com/itm/9w-PAUL-HILL-CHORALE-UNICORN-GORGON-LP-M-GF-/390317356959
    12. http://restoreachild.org/aboutdg/?lang=en

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     



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