Chicago Chamber Choir Appoints Conductor Doreen Rao As new Artistic Director

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Acclaimed conductor takes the helm at Chicago Chamber Choir

The Chicago Chamber Choir ( has appointed the acclaimed conductor and master teacher, Doreen Rao, as the group’s new artistic director. Rao will accept the baton from Timm Adams, who served as the ensemble’s artistic director for 14 years. Adams and Rao will share the podium for the group’s spring concert series in April.

"I'm proud to be back in the ‘City of Big Shoulders’ and beautiful voices, particularly the beautiful voices of our city’s Chicago Chamber Choir,” said Rao. Internationally recognized for her work as a choral conductor and music educator, Rao recently served as the director of choral programs at the University of Toronto where she directed the International Bach Festival with Bach conductor and scholar Helmuth Rilling and founded the University’s Centre for Advanced Studies in Choral Music as the Elmer Iseler Chair in Conducting.

Prior to her tenure at the University of Toronto, Rao worked with the Chicago Symphony Chorus and Orchestra, leading the Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus (now Anima Young Singers) to four Grammy Award-winning recordings. Her choirs performed regularly with Sir George Solti, Claudio Abbado and James Levine. Rao’s commitment to young choirs is credited with helping change the landscape of choral music in America.

Rao returned to her hometown of Chicago just as the Chicago Chamber Choir embarked on a new leadership search following Adams’ decision to step-down after a long tenure with the group. To achieve a successful transition, Rao and Adams will co-conduct the Chicago Chamber Choir’s 2015 spring concert series, “Much Ado About Shakespeare: Shakespeare in Song,” when Adams will officially pass the baton.

“I’m thrilled to inherit this inspired choir from Timm Adams,” said Rao. “Timm has built an incredibly professional group here in Chicago and I look forward to the growth and opportunities that lie ahead.”

Rao holds a Ph.D. in Music Education from Northwestern University and was mentored by Margaret Hills and Robert Shaw. She has deep ties to Chicago's musical culture, having served as assistant conductor, Chicago Symphony Chorus and in numerous other leadership roles with choral groups in the greater Chicago-area. She has received accolades and awards for her longstanding commitment to musical education, especially her focus on choral inclusion, diversity, and social responsibility. Rao teaches, lectures, and conducts worldwide.

Chicago Chamber Choir, a 40-voice choral ensemble, has performed in Chicago since 1996, and was established under its current name and leadership in 2000. "I’m so immensely proud of what Chicago Chamber Choir has become, the reputation we’ve built, the thousands of people our music has touched, and the artistic growth we’ve achieved,” said Adams. “I’m also confident in the legacy that I’ve helped to build for this organization and the artistic vision that has been fiercely supported by our board, our singers, and our audience. I can’t wait to see the amazing things that are in store for Chicago Chamber Choir under its new artistic director!”

Chicago Chamber Choir's 2015 spring concert, "Much Ado About Shakespeare: Shakespeare in Song" will be jointly conducted by Adams and Rao. According to Rao, the performance will be “A marvelous mosaic of American contemporary and British choral music.” The concerts will feature music of Leonard Bernstein, Chicago composers Augusta Reed Thomas and Wayland Rogers, Benjamin Britten opera scenes and George Shearing’s Music to Hear with Jazz Trio. The choir will host an art exhibition and intermission party sponsored by Chicago Artists Interpret Shakespeare.

Rao will make her formal debut with the Chicago Chamber Choir next season. The Choir’s 2015-2016 season will be announced in April.

Performances for the spring concert series are as follows:

Chicago Chamber Choir Spring Concerts
"Much Ado About Shakespeare: Shakespeare in Song"

Saturday, April 18
7:30 PM
St. Clement Catholic Church
624 W Deming Place (Lincoln Park)
Chicago, Illinois 60614

Sunday, April 19
3:00 PM
Our Lady of the Brook Parish
3700 Dundee Road
Northbrook, Illinois 60062

About Chicago Chamber Choir

Founded in 1996, Chicago Chamber Choir is an approximately 40-voice volunteer choir that explores classical, traditional, and contemporary vocal music from all around the world. The Choir actively seeks to bring choral music into spaces and communities traditionally underserved by fine arts institutions, including inner city schools, retirement centers, homeless shelters, and hospitals.

Chicago Chamber Choir offers three major concerts each year, as well as dozens of private and charitable performances all across Chicago and the Midwest. The group is available for private hire at weddings, corporate events, and other special occasions.

Media Contact:
Virginia V. Mann

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