The San Luis Obispo Master Chorale is dedicated to presenting major works for chorus and orchestra through public performances and educational programs, enriching the performers, audience, and community.
A Short HIstory
San Luis Obispo Master Chorale
The San Luis Obispo Master Chorale enjoys a membership of 100 members. Thomas Davies has been conducting the Chorale for nearly 40 years, and his wife, Susan, continues as the group’s accompanist. The ensemble rehearses weekly, and membership, by audition, is open to all. Currently, members come from Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.
San Luis Master Chorale established as “Cuesta Master Chorale”
Honored to perform at the American Choral Directors Association Western Division Convention
Tour of Spain
Toured Spain with the Russian Radio and Television Orchestra
Welcome Home to the PAC
Dedication of Forbes Pipe Organ
Featured choir for the Dedication Concert for the Forbes Pipe Organ
Obtained Nonprofit Status
Became an independent 501(c)3 corporation
Performed a new work featuring the miraculous story of Tubman and the Underground Railroad
Handel’s Messiah & Holiday Selections
First post-pandemic performance at the PAC
DOWNBEAT – FROM THE BEGINNING
In the summer of 1984, Dr. Ernest Cementina, Dean of Humanities at Cuesta College, invited Dr. Thomas Davies to start a community choir that would be offered to San Luis Obispo residents as a part of Cuesta College’s performance opportunities. After much deliberation and many discussions with Cuesta College, the Cuesta Master Chorale was formed in the fall of 1984. Its unique niche within the performing ensemble community would be that of a choir that would perform works for chorus and orchestra.
CRESCENDO – A GRADUAL INCREASE
Starting with 40 members in the ensemble, the Chorale grew steadily over its first 12 years in both the number of choir members and the difficulty of the works performed. Performances were held all over San Luis Obispo County from Cambria, Morro Bay, and Atascadero to Los Osos, Arroyo Grande, and Pismo Beach, as well as various locations in San Luis Obispo and on the campus at Cuesta College.
In 1990, the choir was honored with a performance at the American Choral Directors Association Western Division Convention held in Fresno, California. During the summer of 1992, the choir toured Spain with the Russian Radio and Television Orchestra, giving performances throughout the country.
ROOT – A NEW HOME
Beginning in the fall of 1996, the Performing Arts Center San Luis Obispo became the “home” of the Master Chorale. The choir joined with members of the San Luis Obispo Symphony, SLO Mozart Festival Orchestra, and The SLO Vocal Arts Ensemble during the opening performance in the Performing Arts Center in September 1996. It was the featured choir for the Dedication Concert for the Forbes Pipe Organ in June of 2007.
CHORUS + ORCHESTRA – THE MUSICAL PULSE
Now the San Luis Obispo Master Chorale, this energetic ensemble has performed over 150 works from its inception in 1984. Well-known composers such as J. S. Bach, Handel, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Brahms, Verdi, Poulenc, Orff, and Benjamin Britten are programmed alongside contemporary offerings by Dave Brubeck, Leonard Bernstein, John Rutter, Arvo Pärt, Igor Stravinsky, Lou Harrison, and Phillip Glass. Local composers have also been featured, including works by Antonio Barata, Meredith Brammeier, Gary Eister, and Earle Blakeslee.
FEATURE – A NEW WORK
On May 20, 2018, a new work titled “The Journey of Harriet Tubman” was featured. Composed by Bakersfield resident Ron Kean, this work told the miraculous story of Tubman and the Underground Railroad. Kean used the music of African Spirituals and a moving video produced by his daughter, Hannah, to tell this incredible story.
Goals + aspirations
Perform concerts of the highest artistic quality through its members’ musical growth and development.
Connect with the community to expand our diverse, appreciative and loyal audience and to educate younger singers about the art and opportunity of choral ensemble singing.
Ensure sustainability of the chorale into the future.