The Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus

Grant Park Orchestra

The Grant Park Orchestra

The Grant Park Orchestra was formed in 1944 when the Chicago Park District assembled a single resident orchestra under the direction of Principal Conductor Nikolai Malko to perform at the Grant Park Music Festival (which began in 1935 and featured a series of visiting orchestras). Since then, other prestigious conductors have held the position, including Irwin Hoffman, Leonard Slatkin, David Zinman, Zdnek Macal and Hugh Wolff. In 2000, Carlos Kalmar was named the Festival’s Principal Conductor.

Today, the Grant Park Orchestra draws its musicians from different orchestras and musical institutions throughout the United States. Each summer, all of the orchestra members gather in Millennium Park for a ten-week long season consisting of intensive rehearsals and performances. During the year, the musicians can be found across the country performing with major orchestras, teaching at numerous universities and appearing frequently in concert stages across the country. Some organizations represented by Grant Park Orchestra musicians include the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Metropolitan Opera, the Buffalo, Colorado, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Milwaukee, New Mexico, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Richmond, San Antonio, Seattle, and Utah Symphonies. The Grant Park Orchestra was nominated for a Grammy award in 2004 for its recording entitled Robert Kurka: Symphonic Works

Grant Park Chorus

The Grant Park Chorus

The 100+ member Grant Park Chorus was formed in 1962 by Thomas Peck, who led the group until his death in 1994. His protégé, Michael Cullen, then led the chorus until 1997, after which a series of guest conductors worked with the ensemble until 2002 when an international search identified current chorus director, Christopher Bell. In addition to providing artistic leadership to the Grant Park Chorus, Christopher Bell is also founder of the Apprentice Chorale, which features some of the most talented young vocalists from DePaul and Roosevelt Universities.

Winners of the 2006 Margaret Hillis Award for artistic excellence, the Grant Park Chorus is a fully professional ensemble and the majority of the vocalists reside in Illinois. In addition to frequent solo appearances and teaching careers, members of the Grant Park Chorus perform with ensembles such as Chicago a cappella, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Chicago Symphony Chorus. In 2012, the Chorus released Songs of Smaller Creatures and Other American Choral Works, a recording of a cappella music to commemorate its 50th anniversary.

Orchestra and Chorus Roster


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