Frederick A. Binkholder
About the Capitol Hill Chorale
The mission of the Capitol Hill Chorale is to provide an inspiring musical experience for its members and thereby for its audiences in a welcoming environment, supported by close ties with the Capitol Hill community.
Camaraderie , community spirit, and commitment to musical excellence characterize the Capitol Hill Chorale. Members bring diverse musical experiences and backgrounds to the group, but they share a love of choral music.
The chorale is an 90-voice ensemble that performs a wide range of a cappella and accompanied music, including works from the classic choral literature, commissioned works, and folk, jazz, and popular-song literature. Major performances have included Rachmaninov’s “All Night Vigil,” Bach’s “St. John’s Passion,” Mozart’s C-minor Mass, Brahms’s German Requiem, and Gretchaninov’s “All Night Vigil.”
In 1999, following an intensive search, the chorale selected Frederick Binkholder as its artistic director. A St. Louis native, Fred came to Washington from Atlanta, where he was on the choral faculty of Georgia State University and artistic director of two a cappella ensembles, Atlanta Tapestry and Schola Cantorum, both dedicated to the authentic performance of Renaissance music. Fred’s leadership and inspiration have brought the chorale to new levels of excellence. His program selection, musicality, and leadership, during rehearsals and at performances, create a context for making beautiful music, but also provide the opportunity for members of the chorale simply to have fun!
The Capitol Hill Chorale strives for a professionalism that gratifies long-time members and attracts new ones. “I wanted to challenge myself musically,” said tenor Jim Travis, who lives on Capitol Hill. Like many members, Jim has an extensive musical background, having performed with orchestras and choruses since junior high school. Alto Marian Connelly has been with the group for ten years. The retired Forest Service officer likes the chorale’s diverse repertoire and the “challenge to improve vocal performance and learn new music.”
At the same time, the chorale is a close-knit community. “There is a sense of family among the members,” says soprano Susan Leidich. “We all work hard together toward a common goal, and as a result of practicing and performing together a bond is formed.” Of Ginny Gano, the administrative director for the chorale, bass Frederick Young says “Ginny’s den-mothering is a big part of creating the sense of community that I (and others) find so attractive about singing with this group.”
The Capitol Hill Chorale was launched in 1993 by amateur musician and long-time Capitol Hill resident Parker Jayne, with James Turk as its first musical director. The new ensemble was to be “rooted in the Capitol Hill residential community, even though open to singers from the entire metropolitan area,” Parker says. The chorale joined several other affiliate organizations that are part of the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (CHAW), the community arts-education and outreach program founded in 1972 and now located at 7th and G streets, SE. It presented its first concert on Friday, December 11, 1993, at the Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church.
Members audition to join the chorale. Rehearsals are 7:30 to 10:00 p.m., Tuesday nights during the season, at the Church of the Reformation, 222 East Capitol Street, N.E., across the street from the Folger Shakespeare Library. The chorale performs three concerts a year, in December, March, and June, at one of the Capitol Hill churches.
Members of the chorale pay an annual membership fee and the cost of their music, and help by selling tickets for each concert. Friends and family make up a large portion of Capitol Hill Chorale audiences. Many members also make tax-deductible donations to the chorale and contribute their time and expertise by serving on the chorale’s governing committee or participating in fund-raising activities, such as the annual spaghetti supper. The chorale is working to build an endowment fund (for commissioning works and hiring musicians) and welcomes contributions from business and corporate sponsors, private citizens, and funding agencies and foundations.
CHC is administered by an 11-member Governing Committee, including members elected from within the Chorale and volunteer members from the greater Hill community. The Governing Committee meets once a month during the regular season. Committee members chair smaller committees for fundraising, public relations, logistics, library, ticketing, and other administrative needs. The executive board, elected from within the Committee, consists of the President, Treasurer, and Secretary. The Committee President acts as the Chorale's representative on the CHAW board.
Experience the joy of singing! Join the Capitol Hill Chorale for all three wonderful concerts in this year’s season, or better still become a member of the chorale and sing along with us.