Hailed by one reviewer as "the school's symbol of excellence," the Indian Springs School Concert Choir and smaller Chamber Choir perform across the country and around the world, delighting audiences of all ages and diverse backgrounds in cathedrals, universities, and arts centers from San Antonio, Chicago, and New York City to Beijing, Dijon, and Vienna, where they have performed with the Vienna Boys Choir.
The New York Times described the choir’s Lincoln Center debut as "a superb projection that would have done credit to any professional chorus." The choirs continue to garner critical praise for their sensitivity and "exciting, vibrant" singing. “The choir is disciplined, focused, and maturely expressive in a manner way beyond their young age,” says William Trafka, Music Director of St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York.
Led since 1980 by distinguished Music Director (and ISS alumnus) Dr. Tim Thomas '67, the groups sing an extraordinary range of choral music, including major Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and 20th-century works; Broadway tunes; Spirituals; arrangements of well-known pop hits; and traditional folk songs performed in up to 15 original languages.
About 120 students (more than 40% of the student body) participate in the Concert Choir, which tours domestically each spring. A third of Concert Choir members also take part in the Chamber Choir, which travels internationally.
“The singers in these choirs learn to re-create art with precision and passion,” says Dr. Thomas. “They learn about themselves when music becomes the passage to a profound universe of expression that goes beyond words. They learn to share this universe with listeners, intensifying their connection to the audience. They learn that they are not just individuals, but they are also part of a broader human family that shares this universe.”
The Chamber Choir's most recent international tour, part of the 2013 American Celebration of Music in Switzerland, included stops in Zurich, Interlaken, and Lucerne. Upon hearing a recording of the choir singing his setting of Ubi Caritas during the tour, composer Ola Gjeilo sent a personal note to the group: “Heartfelt thanks to the Indian Springs School Choir for their beautiful performance of my Ubi Caritas. I was touched by the passion and musicianship they expressed.” (Click video link at right to hear that performance.)
In addition to teaching discipline and broadening students’ musical tastes, the choirs also support the school’s emphasis on respecting the worth and dignity of every individual, says Dr. Thomas. “These qualities,” he says, “are powerfully reinforced by great music.”
Major works sung by the Indian Springs School Concert Choir with professional orchestras:
Bach: Mass in b minor
Bach: Cantata #4
Bach: Cantata #79
Handel: Coronation Anthem #4
Handel: Messiah, 5 choruses
Haydn: Te Deum
Beethoven: Choral Fantasy
Schubert: Mass in G
Stravinsky: Symphony of Psalms