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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

Vision

Inspiring love of choral music and lifelong learning.

Mission

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

About Pacific Chorale

Founded in 1968, Pacific Chorale is internationally recognized for exceptional artistic expression, stimulating American-focused programming, and influential education programs. Pacific 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, developing innovative new concepts in programming, and expanding the traditional concepts of choral repertoire and performance.

Pacific Chorale is comprised of 140 professional 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. Pacific Chorale has 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.

Education programs are central to Pacific Chorale’s vision of enriching and educating the community. Toward this aim, Pacific Chorale has produced innovative educational initiatives that 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 community members each summer in a free community performance; affordable, accessible Musicianship Classes for community singers; 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; a Young Composers Competition; Concert Previews that provide deeper insight into the repertoire that Pacific Chorale performs; and the Elliot and Kathleen Alexander Memorial Scholarship, awarded annually to an outstanding choral conducting student at California State University, Fullerton.

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. Pacific Chorale also appears on six recordings released by Pacific Symphony: 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, all conducted by Carl St.Clair.

Artistic Director Robert Istad

Dr. Robert Istad became the Artistic Director of Pacific Chorale in the 2017-2018 50th Season, after serving as our Assistant Conductor since 2004.

He has conducted Pacific Chorale and Pacific Symphony Orchestra in performance, and 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, Esa–Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Nicholas McGegan and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, as well as conductors Vasilly Sinaisky, Sir Andrew Davis, Bramwell Tovey, Thomas Wilkins, John Williams, Eugene Kohn, Steven Mercurio, Richard Kaufman, Eric Whitacre, William Lacey, Giancarlo Guerrero, Marin Alsop, George Fenton, Case Scaglione, Robert Moody, John Alexander, William Dehning, and David Lockington.

Istad also serves as Professor of Music and Director of Choral Studies at California State University, Fullerton where he conducts the University Singers and Women’s Choir in addition to teaching courses in conducting, advanced interpretation and literature. He and his singers were featured at the 2013 ACDA National Conference in Dallas, Texas and the 2012 ACDA Western Division Conference in Reno, Nevada. Istad’s University Singers 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 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 world-famous Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, Hungary.

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 President of the California Choral Directors Association, and is in demand as an adjudicator, guest conductor, speaker and clinician throughout the nation.

Board & Staff

Board of Directors

  • William Feaster
  • Robert Harryman
  • Mark Hoover
  • Valerie Imhof,
    Chair, Education*
  • Janice M. Johnson,
    Secretary*
  • Jan Landstrom
  • Christopher Lindley,
    Chair, Marketing*
  • Susan Lindley
  • Mary A. Lyons,
    Board Chair*
  • Sara McFerrin
  • Rick McNeil,
    Co-Chair, Development*
  • Marcia O’Hern
  • Elizabeth Pearson,
    President & CEO*
  • Karen Perrone
  • Tom Pridonoff,
    Vice-Chair of the Board*
  • Ryan Ratcliff,
    Artists’ Council Representative
  • Francine Scinto
  • Michael Vantrease,
    Chair, Finance*
  • Vina Williams,
    Co-Chair, Development – Planned Giving*
  • Charles Zhang

* Executive Committee member

Administration

  • Robert Istad,
    Artistic Director
  • Elizabeth Pearson,
    President & CEO
  • Molly Buzick Pontin,
    Vice-President, Education & Community Programs
  • Brian Sullivan,
    Director of Artistic Operations
  • Cristy Seyler,
    Director of Finance & Administration
  • Ryan McSweeney,
    Director of Marketing & Box Office
  • Barbara Lohman,
    Development Manager
  • Julian Leal,
    Marketing & Development Assistant, Concierge
  • Jason Pano,
    Operations & Library Assistant

Artistic Staff

  • Tarik O’Regan,
    Composer in Residence & Artistic Advisor
  • Nate Widelitz,
    Assistant Conductor
  • David Clemensen,
    D.M.A., Accompanist
  • Aram Barsamian,
    Personnel Manager, Assistant to the Artistic Director & Bass Section Leader
  • Kellee King,
    Soprano Section Leader
  • Jane Shim,
    Alto Section Leader
  • Nicholas Preston,
    Tenor Section Leader

Volunteer Administration

  • Tom Henley,
    Volunteer Librarian
  • Barbara Kingsbury,
    Historian
  • Ryan Ratcliff,
    Artists’ Council President
  • Bonnie Pridonoff,
    Grant Research Volunteer