Founded in1991 by Director Emeritus, Dewitt Tipton, the chorus was formed to complement the ASO season and to enhance the quality of cultural life in Asheville and Western North Carolina. That vision continues with powerful performances throughout the years. In performances with the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, the chorus has sung the Mozart Requiem, Poulenc Gloria, Vaughn Williams’ Five Mystical Songs, Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, Handel’s Alexander’s Feast, Holst’s The Planets, selections from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, and the monumental Requiem Mass by Verdi. In 2015, the Chorus performed as a part of the highly successful Asheville Amadeus Festival, with a Sing Along performance of Mozart’s Requiem at the St. Lawrence Basilica. It was a standing room only performance that was received with enthusiastic reviews by the community. The Sing Along tradition continued into the third Amadeus festival in March, 2019. Besides the concerts with the Asheville Symphony, the ASC creates and produces its own independent concerts. In recent performances, the Chorus has sung Schubert’s Mass in G, Duruflé’s Requiem, portions of Bach Mass in b minor, and Vivaldi’s Gloria, as well as more contemporary works such as Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna, Ola Gjeilo’s Sunrise Mass, John Rutter’s Mass of the Children (with the Asheville Symphony Children’s Chorus) and Stephen Paulus’s Heritage Songs, commissioned by the ASC.
Our first Messiah Sing Along was in December 2015, and has been an annual event. Asheville music lovers join us in singing the Christmas section of Handel’s Messiah, with a rousing Hallelujah Chorus as a finale. Members of the chorus have also sung carols for the Annual Tree Lighting at the Grove Arcade.
This tradition of musical excellence and meticulous preparation continues under the direction of Dr. Michael Lancaster, who began his association with the chorus in July 2011 as Guest Conductor. He assumed his duties as permanent Music Director and Conductor of the chorus in July 2012. John Bridges’ review of December 16, 2012, states: “... the large chorus responded to the many melismatic portions with clear and secure voices which were faithful to the period and which reflected solid preparation under the direction of Dr. Michael Lancaster.” Dr. Lancaster has continued to elevate the musicianship and sound of the chorus over the last six years.
In the fall of 2013, an exciting and unusual musical event occurred. The Asheville Symphony Chorus joined forces with the Asheville Choral Society to present the monumental Brahms EnDeutschesRequiem. There were two performances of this work, with Dr. Melodie Galloway, director of the Asheville Choral Society, directing one and Dr. Lancaster directing the second. In the spring of 2017, the two choruses again collaborated with a beautiful performance of Dan Forrest’s Requiem For the Living, and Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna. Members of the two ensembles then went on a tour of Prague, Brno, Vienna and Salzburg in May 2017.
On April 28, 2018 the Youth and Middle School Chorales of the Academy of Fine Arts at First Baptist Church perform ed prior to our presentation of Bach’s Missa Brevis from Mass in B minor. They joined us for the finale of the Mass. In October of 2019, the Academy of the Fine Arts at First Baptist Church chorales again joined us for a pre-concert presentaation and in our final selection.