Pacific Chorale and Artistic Director Robert Istad made history when they won the 2022 Grammy Award for “Choral Performance” during the 64th Annual Grammy Awards presented in Las Vegas, Nevada. It is the first Grammy Award for Istad and the renowned choir, which is the resident chorus at Segerstrom Center for the Arts and is now the first Orange County-based classical music organization ever to win a Grammy in any category.
Pacific Chorale – along with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, National Children’s Chorus and eight outstanding soloists all under the baton of conductor Gustavo Dudamel – won the Grammy for its performance on the recording of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 in E-flat Major, “Symphony of a Thousand.” Jointly accepting the award at the ceremony were Istad, for Pacific Chorale; Los Angeles Master Chorale Music Director Grant Gershon; Los Angeles Children’s Chorus Artistic Director Fernando Malvar-Ruiz; and National Children’s Chorus Artistic Director Luke McEndarfer.
The recording, which featured soloists Leah Crocetto, Mihoko Fujimura, Ryan McKinny, Erin Morley, Tamara Mumford, Simon O’Neill, Morris Robinson and Tamara Wilson, also garnered a Grammy nomination for Best Engineered Album, Classical.
“I feel so incredibly honored to receive the Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance,” says Istad. “We were nominated with many other incredible artists. When they announced our names, I leapt out of my seat with joy! I cannot describe the way that experience feels: total elation! I’ve dedicated my entire life to bringing people together in harmony; lifting up singers to achieve their very best is my great passion. I am so happy the Recording Academy heard our soulful singing shining through in our recording. It is the many singers who performed with their entire souls that make this recording so special, and the Grammy Award is really dedicated to all of them. In some way, this Grammy recognizes the very special artistic and spiritual bond I share with our singers.”
Isad also notes, “Pacific Chorale’s amazing artistry would not be possible without our incredible support team, which was intimately involved with the creation of this concert and album, including CEO Andrew Brown, Vice President Molly Pontin and Director of Artistic Production Alex Nelson, among so many others. Our Board of Directors has also been superbly supportive, and our major donors have been absolute angels, including Phil and Mary Lyons, Charlie and Ling Zheng, and Lenora Meister, as are the hundreds of others who lift up our singers.”
Citing Pacific Chorale’s exceptional artistic foundation, Istad adds, “Artistic Director Emeritus John Alexander imagined this dream decades ago during his long and fruitful 45-year tenure. His hard work and dedication to artistic excellence paved the way for today’s successes and tomorrow’s artistic triumphs. His example is a beacon of inspiration to me, and his unwavering support is one of my biggest inspirations. Pacific Chorale would not be where it is today without him.”
Pacific Chorale concludes its 2021-22 season with a concert, conducted by Istad, showcasing the choir’s remarkable stylistic range and exceptional musical artistry on Saturday, May 7, 2022, 5 pm, at the Reneé and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa. The chorus performs Ralph Vaughan Williams’ masterwork Dona Nobis Pacem; the world premiere of The Quickening, a new choral fanfare by Grammy-nominated former Pacific Chorale Composer-in-Residence Tarik O’Regan, with lyrics by Orange County-based poet and activist Marcus Omari; the West Coast premiere of Frank Ticheli’s Until Forever Fades Away; Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw’s playful Music in Common Time for choir and orchestra; and Jake Runestad’s exuberant setting of Whitman’s “Proud Music of the Storm.” For information on Pacific Chorale and concert tickets, visit www.pacificchorale.org or call 714-662-2345.
PACIFIC CHORALE is an Orange County “treasure” with a “fresh viewpoint” that “can sing anything you put in front of it, with polish, poise and tonal splendor” (Orange County Register). Hailed for delivering “thrilling entertainment” (Voice of OC), choir is noted for its artistic innovation and commitment to expanding the choral repertoire. It has given world, U.S., and West Coast premieres of more than 35 works, including numerous commissions, by such lauded composers as John Adams, Jake Heggie, James Hopkins, David Lang, Morten Lauridsen, Ravel, Tarik O’Regan, Karen Thomas, Frank Ticheli, András Gábor Virágh, and Eric Whitacre. Among other artistic highlights, Pacific Chorale’s “The Wayfaring Project,” a stunning original concert film conceived and conducted by Istad and produced during the pandemic, was picked up by PBS SoCal and KCET and will be streamed through December 1, 2024 on pbssocal.org, kcet.org and the PBS ap, reaching audiences across the Southland and around the globe.
In addition to presenting its own concert series each season, Pacific Chorale enjoys a long-standing partnership with Pacific Symphony, with whom the choir made its highly anticipated Carnegie Hall debut in 2018. The chorus also regularly appears with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and has performed with such leading orchestras as the Boston Symphony, National Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, and Musica Angelica, among others. Pacific Chorale has garnered international acclaim as well, having toured extensively to more than 19 countries in Europe, South America, and Asia, and through collaborations with the London Symphony, Munich Symphony, L’Orchestre Lamoureux and L’Orchestre de St-Louis-en-l’Île of Paris, National Orchestra of Belgium, China National Symphony, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Estonian National Symphony, and Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional of Argentina, among others.
Deeply committed to making choral music accessible to people of all ages, the organization, which has a discography of 14 self-produced recordings and an extensive collection of exceptional free digital offerings, places a significant emphasis on choral music education, providing after-school vocal programs for elementary school students, a choral summer camp for high school students, and an annual community-wide singing event at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. www.pacificchorale.org
ROBERT ISTAD, who “fashions fluent and sumptuous readings” (Voice of OC) with his “phenomenal” artistry (Los Angeles Times), was appointed Pacific Chorale’s Artistic Director in 2017. Under his leadership, the chorus continues to expand its reputation for excellence for delivering fresh, thought-provoking interpretations of beloved masterworks, rarely performed gems and newly commissioned pieces. His artistic impact can be heard on two recent recordings featuring Pacific Chorale: the Grammy Award-winning “Mahler’s Eighth Symphony” with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gustavo Dudamel on Deutsche Grammophon (2021), for which he prepared the chorus, and “All Things Common: The Music of Tarik O’Regan,” which he conducted, on Yarlung Records (2020). Istad has also prepared choruses for such renowned conductors as Esa-Pekka Salonen, John Williams, John Mauceri, Keith Lockhart, Nicholas McGegan, Vasilly Sinaisky, Sir Andrew Davis, Bramwell Tovey, Carl St.Clair, Eugene Kohn, Giancarlo Guerrero, Marin Alsop, George Fenton, and Robert Moody. He regularly conducts and collaborates with Pacific Symphony, Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra, Sony Classical Records, Yarlung Records, Berkshire Choral International, and Long Beach Symphony Orchestra. An esteemed educator, Istad is Professor of Music and Director of Choral Studies at California State University, Fullerton, where he was recognized as CSUF’s 2016 Outstanding Professor of the Year. He conducts the University Singers and manages a large graduate conducting program, in addition to teaching courses on conducting and performance practice. Istad, who is on the Executive Board of Directors of Chorus America and serves as Dean of Chorus America’s Conducting Academy, is in demand as guest conductor, lecturer, and clinician.