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 our off-season, the musicians can be found across the country performing with major orchestras, teaching at numerous universities and appearing frequently on concert stages across the country. Some organizations represented by Grant Park Orchestra musicians include the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Metropolitan Opera, the Washington National Opera, Colorado, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Milwaukee, New Mexico, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Richmond, San Antonio, Seattle, Indianapolis, Omaha, North Carolina, Tuscon and Utah Symphonies, as well as the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Grant Park Chorus

The Grant Park Chorus

Composed of more than 100 members, the 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.

Winners of the 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.

Orchestra and Chorus Roster

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