San Francisco Bay Area Chorus Directory




To our choral friends, both old and new:


We present to you the fourth edition of The San Francisco Bay Area Chorus Directory.  This edition lists 500+ choruses, covering a geographical area from Monterey to Mendocino, San Francisco to Sacramento and beyond.  It has been our delight and pleasure for the last 13 years to discover the choral riches of the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, to meet, correspond, or speak with many of you as we search for the numbers of singing groups in our area.  We are amazed at the continuing variety and growth of choral organizations in our community.  Choral music flourishes in the Bay Area!  And, those connected with choral organizations--the singers, music directors, and others--all express the great joy and satisfaction which choral music can bring.  In times of enjoyment and happiness or strife and trouble, we can gather together with our singing companions and lose ourselves in the beauty of choral music.


The San Francisco Bay Area Chorus Directory is compiled and underwritten by the editors as a public service to the choral music community of the greater San Francisco Bay Area.  We are not affiliated with any organization, and there is no charge for being listed.  We created the work in order to help singers learn more about the variety of choruses available, to assist conductors and music directors in becoming more aware of the exciting and diverse Bay Area choral environment, and to aid interested members of the general public in learning more about our metropolitan choral groups.  Most of all, we compiled the directory because we wanted to bring together the community of singers and conductors, so that we can learn about each other and share in the special pleasure and unique experience of choral music.  We have found that our directory is used by many different people--prospective singers, conductors, musicians, teachers, and soloists.  We often receive inquiries from singers and other musicians newly arrived in the Bay Area who want to join a chorus or work with choruses, and we try to match them with the types of choruses they seek.


We selected our original group of choruses from those listed as performing groups in various Bay Area newspapers, as well as speaking with choral directors, contact persons, singers, and others interested in choral music, and continue those methods with each new edition.  We find that often those we speak with know of other choruses which are not necessarily listed in the newspapers or in local directories as performing groups.  We call additional contact persons as we learn of new choruses.  We send a questionnaire to or speak with representatives of each chorus listed, and then transcribe or paraphrase the information provided as accurately as we can.  Information about the groups, therefore, is that provided by the respondents.  Our network of groups, singers, and friends has grown ever wider as we begin to search for as many different choruses as possible.  Although there are some exceptions, we generally have limited the listings to choruses which either perform for or are open to the public, thereby excluding most school, church and private/organizational choruses.


As we look back at the 20th century, we note the incredible continuing growth, development and variety of local choruses.  Choral activities assumed important religious, artistic, and recreational roles in 19th century Bay Area communities, as well as in the 20th century.  Those roles have not diminished over time, but increased tenfold!  Choruses bring our communities together in unique ways.  People become life-long friends, companions, partners, and families through meeting in choruses.  Choristers and other members of their choral families--music directors, accompanists, management staff, volunteers, others--share with each other the beauty of music, and the joys and sorrows of life and death. Where the first edition of our book, published in 1985, contained 140 choruses, this edition contains over 500!  Through searching our choral database, we have found that since the late 1950s there has been an incredible increase in the creation of new local choruses.


As we look forward to a new century AND the millenium, we note that many choral organizations are being influenced by the 20th century’s electronic communication revolution.  Since the 1992 edition of the Directory, many choruses have acquired e-mail, and have developed websites.   Approximately 100 choruses have websites and 165 have e-mail.  Choruses use electronic communication within their organizations, among Board members or chorus members as a whole, as well as using it to share information with the outside world.  Choral boards can e-mail agendas or minutes to members instantly, and choruses can advertise audition or concert information on various listservs.  Many choruses have developed websites, in which they can inform prospective members and the general public of who they are and what they are doing.  Electronic communication allows them to share their activities instantly all over the globe, not only textually, but also in audio and moving formats.  Choral conductors and singers can communicate through various listservs, asking questions and exchanging information.


We also note the increasing scarcity of community resources which choruses need to survive.  Public and private funding is tenuous at best, and demand for those resources is greater than the supply.  We need to come together to make the general public aware of the contributions made by choruses as unique community assets, just as we need proper and affordable rehearsal and performance spaces specifically for choral music.


Bay Area choral activities are an important part of our community’s history and culture, and they should be documented.  There are several local archives/libraries which contain historical materials about local choruses, including San Francisco’s Performing Arts Library and Museum and the San Francisco Public Library, as well as the Berkeley and Oakland Public Libraries.  Because we are singers and felt the need for a center organized and devoted specifically to choral music, a place where we could find out about our local choruses and their histories, a place where we could be connected to others who sing and/or work actively with choral music, a place where we could find recordings of choral works both familiar and unusual, and a place where we could find reference materials about composers, choral compositions, local choral conductors, etc., we are in the process of creating the San Francisco Bay Area Choral Archive.  This entity exists to provide an active collection and reference service for the choral community, a service which will provide both current and historical information relating to choral activity in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as reference service concerning choral music.  Activities of the Archive will include the following: 

Each edition of the Directory takes well over a year to compile, and this edition was no exception.  We realize that some of the information may have changed by the time of publication.  Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to confirm all information prior to publication.  We therefore would appreciate being kept up-to-date with changes in the various choruses, so that we can produce future editions more quickly.  In addition, if you know of performing choruses not listed in this directory, please let us know.


To be able to sing in a chorus is a great privilege.  We wish you all great joy in exploring the choral riches of the greater San Francisco Bay Area.


Helene Whitson & Valerie Howard

August 1999


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