There are documents from the eighteenth century that mention choral performances taking place at Harvard University, but a formal constitution of the Harvard University Choir didn't appear until 1834. In 1862, noted American composer John Knowles Paine was engaged as the first university organist and choirmaster. Up until his appointment, many of the young members of the choir had merely joined in order to sit in the relatively unsupervisedRead more gallery of the chapel during the Sunday morning services at the Memorial Church. This all changed as Paine organized the group into a choir capable of professional-level performances. Eighteen of the best singers sing for the daily Morning Prayer services at the Appleton Chapel and, on special occasions, volunteer members of the Festival Choir join this group. In 1910, Archibald T. Davison created the tradition of the annual Carol Service, in which the women of Radcliffe College are invited to participate. John R. Ferris, choirmaster from 1958 to 1990, won acclaim for his performances of sacred choral literature in which women enhanced the previously all-male group. In 1990, noted choral and orchestral conductor and scholar Dr. Murray Forbes Somerville was appointed the sixth university organist and choirmaster and curator of the university organs. He created a new direction for the choir through tours that have gained it popular and critical recognition for its excellence, musical intelligence, and fresh energy. To date, the choir has appeared at Westminster Abbey, the Rheingau Festival in Wiesbaden, the Musica Sacra Festival in Nuremberg, the Boston Early Music Festival, at Tanglewood with the Boston Camerata (with whom it has also recorded), and the Piccolo Spoleto Festival. The choir has also given the U.S. premiere of professor Christoph Wolff's new edition of Bach's Mass in B minor (1997 Harvard's Arts First Festival) and the first performance of the Kyrie and Gloria by Daniel Roihl. The choir's repertoire is wide-ranging and covers music from the medieval through the modern period. Read less
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