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About the San Francisco Bay Area Chorus Directory
The San Francisco Bay Area Chorus Directory, compiled by Helene Whitson and Valerie Howard, with cover art by their mother, Rosabelle Howard, was first published in 1985, then revised in 1988 and 1992. Each edition of the Directory has been compiled and published by the editors as a public service to the choral community of the greater San Francisco Bay Area, and distributed below cost by mail order. Both the 2nd and 3rd editions were also available for sale at a relatively modest markup from Byron Hoyt Sheet Music, in San Francisco.

The Fourth Edition, published in 1999, lists 493 choral groups, from Carmel to Ukiah, and from San Francisco to Grass Valley. The compilers attempted to identify every choral group which either performs for the public or is open to participation by singers from the general public. This means that some church choirs are included, even though most were excluded. Each choral group was sent a questionnaire, and the compilers made a considerable effort to contact the choruses (repeatedly if necessary) in order to get back a very high percentage. The amount of information provided in each chorus description depends entirely on how much the responding chorus chose to provide. Some descriptions are very extensive; others, relatively brief.


The individual chorus descriptions include the conductor(s), other contact people, address and phone information, email, and websites. Then the descriptions provide

  • the date the chorus began
  • the purpose, or "mission"
  • a general description
  • the musical emphasis
  • the criteria for joining
  • the nature of any auditions required
  • amount of membership fees
  • standard concert dress required
  • number of chorus members
  • average number of concerts per year
  • other choral groups within the organization
  • the rehearsal schedule and locations
  • any festival programs
  • any sing-along programs
  • a discography of recordings
  • a bibliography of reviews and other articles
  • description of outstanding musical events in the group's history
  • and any additional information & comments the chorus wishes to provide
  • In addition, there are indexes by name of conductor, by type of chorus, by rehearsal day, and by reheasal city, so that you can quickly determine which groups perform your kind of music, which ones rehearse the day of the week you have free (if you are looking for a group to join), and which ones are located in your area.

    A new section in the Fourth Edition lists a number of ancillary resources, or adjunct services, which choruses may need to make use of. There is a list of local orchestras that perform with choruses, several "placement services" through which choruses may obtain soloists, a list of music stores and other vendors (both local and worldwide) from which choral scores may be purchased, a list of libraries in the area with reference sources, musical scores and recordings, information about copyright and obtaining performance rights, professional associations relevant to choral groups, and the begnd videos.Although the chorus descriptions vary in their fullness, depending on what each chorus chose to submit in filling our the questionnaire, the compilers welcomed the fullest listings, which provide citations to reviews and other articles, discographies and overviews of the chorus' history, outstanding musical events, concert tours, etc., since the Directory extent as a historical "snapshot" of choral singing at the time of each edition. Indeed, Helene Whitson has written a short preliminary version of a history of choral singing in San Francisco (San Francisco Bay Area Choral History), and included it in the Fourth Edition.

    In addition to producing the San Francisco Bay Area Chorus Directory, Helene Whitson (a professional archivist with 30 years' experience in the field), has for some years been saving materials documenting the history of choral singing in the Bay Area, including flyers, programs, newspaper and magazine articles and audio & video recordings. This is the core collection of the San Francisco Bay Area Choral Archive.

    For further information, contact Helene Whitson (510-849-4689),
    or hwhitson@choralarchive.org.

    This page is maintained by Bill Whitson mailto:bwhitson@choralarchive.org
    Last updated 11/8/03