New Orleans is known for many things including its architecture, cuisine, vibrant nightlife, and its distinct music tradition. The “Big Easy” has remained resilient in the face of defying odds. A large portion of the city is situated at or below sea level after all! Those organizations who thrive despite the odds are those who are able to adapt. Symphony Chorus of New Orleans is one of those organizations.
Symphony Chorus (then, known as New Orleans Symphony Chorus) was founded in 1981 by Larry Wyatt under the auspices of the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra. When the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra ceased operations in 1991 and re-emerged as the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, the Chorus reorganized as an entity separate from the orchestra and became known as Symphony Chorus of New Orleans. While the group specializes in the performance of choral-orchestral works, the 60-member volunteer community chorus performs numerous concerts each year under the direction of Steven Edwards that include a variety of popular, R&B, and jazz-based New Orleans music. The chorus has performed in Carnegie Hall twice, and in 2016 they travelled to Florence, Italy to perform with the Orchestra da Camera Fiorentina.
The stated mission of the chorus is “To make a difference in the lives of our singers, our audience, and our community through the power and beauty of choral singing.” To that end, the group premieres new works, hosts choral workshops that are open to the community and collaborates with Singers of United Lands (SOUL) to provide educational outreach to numerous elementary, middle, and high school students. The week-long residency has sent the SOUL Vocal Quartet to sing and do workshops in the Greater New Orleans Area’s public, private, and parochial schools, libraries, retirement communities, colleges, and universities. The week culminates in a festival concert featuring SOUL, SCNO, and area school and college choirs performing multi-cultural choral music that has included selections from 40 countries in 34 different languages over the last decade.