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Who We Are

We inspire our community through artistry and innovation in choral
performances and education programs.

Core Values

  • Artistry
  • Commitment
  • Inspiring Curiosity
  • Innovation
  • Community


Inspiring love of choral music and lifelong learning.


We inspire our community through artistry and innovation in choral performances and education programs.

About Pacific Chorale

Founded in 1968 by Dr. Maurice Allard, Pacific Chorale is internationally recognized for exceptional artistic expression, stimulating American-focused programming, and influential education programs. Under the artistic direction of Robert Istad, the Chorale presents a substantial performance season of its own at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Orange County, California, and is sought regularly to perform with the nation’s leading symphonies. Pacific Chorale has infused an Old World art form with California’s hallmark innovation and cultural independence, expanding the traditional concepts of choral repertoire and performance.

Pacific Chorale is comprised of 200 staff and volunteer singers. In addition to its long-standing partnership with Pacific Symphony, the Chorale has performed with such renowned American ensembles as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, the National Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and Musica Angelica. Other noted collaborations within the Southern California community include the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Long Beach Symphony, Pasadena Symphony, and Riverside Symphony.

During the remarkable 45-year tenure (1972-2017) of Artistic Director Emeritus John Alexander, the Chorale toured extensively in Europe, South America and Asia, performing in London, Paris, Vienna, Budapest, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Russia, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing and Hong Kong, and collaborating with the London Symphony, the Munich Symphony, L’Orchestre Lamoureux and L’Orchestre de St-Louis-en-l’Île of Paris, the National Orchestra of Belgium, the China National Symphony, the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, the Estonian National Symphony, and the Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional of Argentina. In 2018, Pacific Chorale traveled to New York City to join Pacific Symphony in making their Carnegie Hall debut, performing The Passion of Ramakrishna as part of composer Philip Glass’s 80th birthday celebration.

Education programs are central to the Chorale’s vision of inspiring love of choral music and lifelong learning. Pacific Chorale’s innovative educational initiatives have opened the door to the art of choral music and the magic of the creative process for thousands of students and adults annually, including: a Choral Academy for elementary school students modeled on the El Sistema movement; a Choral Camp presented in association with California State University, Fullerton providing high school students with training in music theory and vocal production; a Choral Festival uniting 400 singers each summer in a free community performance; Intro to the Arts and Passage to the Arts, partnerships with local social service organizations and high school choral directors that allow students, at-risk youth, and low-income families to attend Pacific Chorale performances free of charge; competitions and master classes to nurture the talent of young composers; and Concert Previews that provide deeper insight into the Chorale’s performance repertoire.

Pacific Chorale has received numerous awards from Chorus America, the service organization for North American choral groups, including the prestigious “Margaret Hillis Achievement Award for Choral Excellence,” the first national “Educational Outreach Award,” the 2005 ASCAP Chorus America Alice Parker Award for adventurous programming, and the 2015 “Education and Community Engagement Award.”

Pacific Chorale can be heard on numerous recordings, including American Voices, a collection of American choral works; Songs of Eternity by James F. Hopkins and Voices by Stephen Paulus, featuring Pacific Symphony; a holiday recording, Christmas Time Is Here, on the Gothic Records label; a live concert recording of Sergei Rachmaninov’s Vespers; the world premiere recording of Frank Ticheli’s The Shore for chorus and orchestra; and the world premiere recording of Jake Heggie’s choral opera The Radio Hour, all conducted by John Alexander. Pacific Chorale also appears on six recordings released by Pacific Symphony and conducted by Carl St.Clair: Elliot Goldenthal’s Fire, Water, Paper: A Vietnam Oratorio; Richard Danielpour’s An American Requiem; Philip Glass’s The Passion of Ramakrishna; Michael Daugherty’s Mount Rushmore; Richard Danielpour’s Toward a Season of Peace; and William Bolcom’s Prometheus with pianist Jeffrey Biegel. In 2019, Pacific Chorale recorded Mahler’s Symphony No. 8—performed live with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Gustavo Dudamel—for Deutsche Grammophon, and music by Composer-in-Residence Tarik O’Regan conducted by Robert Istad for Yarlung Records.

Robert Istad

Artistic Director Robert Istad

Robert Istad is Artistic Director of Pacific Chorale. Mr. Istad regularly conducts the Chorale independently as well as in collaboration with Pacific Symphony Orchestra and Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra. Pacific Chorale under his leadership can be heard on two recent recordings: “Ecstasies Above: The Music of Tarik O’Regan” on Yarlung Records (2020), and the forthcoming “Mahler’s Eighth Symphony” with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Gustavo Dudamel on Deutsche Grammophon.

Istad has served as a guest conductor for Yarlung Records, Berkshire Choral International, and Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, among others. He has prepared choruses for a number of America’s finest conductors and orchestras, including: Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Carl St.Clair and the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, as well as conductors Esa–Pekka Salonen, John Mauceri, Keith Lockhart, Nicholas McGegan, Vasilly Sinaisky, Sir Andrew Davis, Bramwell Tovey, John Williams, Eugene Kohn, Giancarlo Guerrero, Marin Alsop, George Fenton, and Robert Moody.

Istad is also Professor of Music and Director of Choral Studies at California State University, Fullerton. He was recognized as CSUF’s 2016 Outstanding Professor of the Year. At CSU Fullerton, Istad conducts the University Singers and manages a large graduate conducting program in addition to teaching courses in conducting, performance practice and literature. Recently, he and the University Singers performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony Orchestra, Andrea Bocelli, Kathleen Battle, recorded albums with Yarlung Records and with composer John Williams and Sony Classical.

He and his singers performed a concert of Tarik O’Regan’s music for Distinguished Concerts International New York at Carnegie Hall in November 2015. They have performed at numerous regional and national ACDA conferences including the 2018 ACDA Western Division Conference and 2013 ACDA National Conference in Dallas, Texas. They also performed for the 2013 National Collegiate Choral Organization National Conference in Charleston, SC. Istad and the CSUF University Singers have performed all over the world, including a 2017 performance in Russia’s famous Glinka Cappella, a 2015 residency and performances in Paris, France, engagements at the 2012 Ottobeuren Festival of Music in Germany, the 2012 Eingen Festival of music in Germany, a 2010 performance for UNESCO in Pisa, Italy, and in 2008 at the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary.

Istad is former Artistic Director of Long Beach Camerata Singers and Long Beach Bach Festival. Under his leadership, Long Beach Camerata Singers became recognized as one of the leading arts organizations of the Long Beach Performing Arts Center, created a performing partnership with Long Beach Symphony Orchestra and Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra, as well as performed with Pacific Symphony Orchestra, and Long Beach Opera.

Istad received his Bachelor of Arts degree in music from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois, his Master of Music degree in choral conducting from California State University, Fullerton and his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in choral music at the University of Southern California. He studied conducting with Dr. William Dehning, John Alexander and Dr. Jon Hurty.

Istad is Vice-President of the California Choral Director’s Association, on the Executive Board of Directors of Chorus America, serves as Dean of Chorus America’s Academy for Conductors, and is in demand as an adjudicator, guest conductor, speaker and clinician throughout the nation.

Board & Staff

Board of Directors

  • Andrew Brown,
    President & CEO*
  • David Bunker, Chair, Innovations*
  • Christopher Lindley,
    Chair, Marketing*
  • Susan Lindley, Chair, Education*
  • Mary A. Lyons,
    Chair, Development*
  • Rick McNeil
  • Marcia O’Hern, Secretary*
  • Thomas A. Pridonoff,
    Immediate Past Board Chair*
  • Stephane Quinn
  • Ryan Ratcliff,
    Artists’ Council Representative
  • Craig Springer, Board Chair*
  • Michael Vantrease,
  • Amanda Whiting
  • Charles Zhang,
    Chair, Nominating*

* Executive Committee member


  • Robert Istad,
    Artistic Director
  • Andrew Brown,
    President & CEO
  • Molly Buzick Pontin,
    Vice President, Director of Education & Community Programs
  • Abby Manaye,
  • Ryan McSweeney,
    Director of Patron Services
  • Alex Nelson,
    Director of Artistic Production
  • Natalie Hunter,
    Interim Director of Marketing

Artistic Staff

  • Kibsaim Escarcega,
    Interim Assistant Conductor
  • David Clemensen, D.M.A.,
  • Rebecca Hasquet,
    Soprano Section Leader
  • Jane Shim,
    Alto Section Leader
  • Nicholas Preston,
    Tenor Section Leader
  • Brianna Harley Adams,
    Teaching Artist

Volunteer Administration

  • Barbara Kingsbury,
  • Ryan Ratcliff,
    Artists’ Council President