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Edinburgh Festival Chorus

The Edinburgh Festival Chorus gives voice to the International Festival’s choral programme.

Each year, singers from across Scotland come together to perform cornerstone works of the classical repertoire with some of the world’s greatest soloists, conductors and orchestras. 

For over fifty years, The Edinburgh Festival Chorus has been the backbone of the International Festival’s choral programme.

Over that time, its singers have had the opportunity to perform alongside the likes of Leonard Bernstein and the London Symphony Orchestra, Marin Alsop and the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, and Herbert von Karajan’s Berlin Philharmonic.

In 2018, the Chorus performs Mahler's Eighth Symphony, known as the 'Symphony of a Thousand', alongside the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Daniel Harding; Vaughan Williams's A Sea Symphony with the BBC Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Ravel's lavish Daphnis et Chloé with City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and Dvořák's monumental Requiem with Bamberger Symphoniker.

How do I Join?

The Edinburgh Festival Chorus is a world-class amateur choir - as such, an audition is required to join.  We will expect you to be able to read music and sing to a high standard.

To arrange an audition, email our Chorus Manager Gemma Wallbanks (gemma.wallbanks@eif.co.uk).

The Audition

The audition will last approximately ten minutes and is conducted before the Chorus Director and an accompanist. It will consist of a song/aria of your choice and a choral excerpt accompanied by our pianist. There will also be vocalising exercises to assess your vocal range and a short piece of sight reading.

What do I have to prepare?

A classical song or aria of your choice with piano accompaniment. Folksongs, unaccompanied songs, songs from musicals, or songs in Gaelic are not suitable for this audition.

We will provide the accompanist but please bring copies of your music for them and the Chorus Director.

For the choral excerpt, please prepare all of your vocal part for one of the following:

Brahms Requiem Movement IV; Handel Messiah And he shall purify; Verdi Requiem Libera me; or Mozart Requiem Kyrie (excerpts are available on request).

Being Part of the Chorus

The Edinburgh Festival Chorus is a group of 130 singers drawn from all walks of life. Not just another amateur choir, they delight in having the opportunity to work with the very best conductors and orchestras from around the world. The Chorus wouldn’t be what it is today without their passion and dedication.

What kind of time commitment do I need to make?

The Edinburgh Festival Chorus rehearses every Tuesday evening from 7.00-9.30pm  throughout the year. 

There are also rehearsal weekends in November, March, May and July and you will need to be available during the International Festival, 3-27 August 2018, for concerts and associated rehearsals.

I'm not sure if I have enough time!

If full membership is not possible, we also have an Augmenters List for singers who would still like to be involved. As an Augmenter, you are invited to join the Chorus for a particular work and its related rehearsals.  

Augmenting is a fantastic opportunity to be involved if you haven’t the time to fully commit to the Chorus.

If you are interested in becoming an augmenter, please email gemma.wallbanks@eif.co.uk

Beyond the International Festival

The Edinburgh Festival Chorus primarily performs at the International Festival but additional performances may occur. The Chorus have previously taken part in Edinburgh’s Christmas Street of Light in 2016, and recently performed Haydn’s The Creation with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Thomas Dausgaard in May 2017.

A Little History...

The Edinburgh Festival Chorus was founded in 1965, and made its debut with the Scottish National Orchestra for the Opening Concert, performing Mahler's monumental Symphony No. 8. Since then, it has been at the heart of the International Festival, performing annually with internationally renowned orchestras, soloists and conductors.

The Chorus has performed virtually all the great standard works of the 19th and 20th centuries, continuously broadening its repertoire under the Festival Director’s programming.  

Chorus Director - Christopher Bell

Christopher Bell was appointed Chorus Director of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus in October 2007. He is also currently Chorus Director of the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago and of the RSNO Junior Chorus and has been Artistic Director of the National Youth Choir of Scotland since its formation in 1996. The Open University awarded him an Honorary Masters Degree for Services to the Arts in 2009 and in 2013 Chorus America awarded him the Michael Korn Founders Award for the Development of the Professional Choral Art. 

50 Years of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus

A book has been published to tell the story of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus’s colourful history, and to give audiences a glimpse into today’s Chorus. 

Copies of 50 years of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus can be bought online, at The Hub or at the Usher Hall for £5.

If you have sung with the Chorus over the past 50 years, you can have one for free! Please email gemma.wallbanks@eif.co.uk for more info.

The Harmonium Project 

The Harmonium Project was the International Festival’s first outdoor opening event and marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Edinburgh Festival Chorus.

Created by 59 Productions, the event combined a recording of John Adams’s mesmerising choral work Harmonium – performed by the Chorus - with a series of spectacular animations, projected onto the outside of the Usher Hall.

The Chorus members worked with the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Design Informatics, and examined the effects singing has on both the performer and the listener. The results formed part of the final projected visuals – placing the chorus at the centre of this unique work.