The Choralis Foundation was established by Artistic Director Gretchen Kuhrmann in 2000 to nurture a passion for choral music through excellent choral performances, professional development opportunities for young soloists and conductors, education and training for young choristers, and community outreach events. Nearly 130 singers perform across two ensembles: Choralis, an auditioned SATB chorus and Ēchos, a semi-professional chamber group. Choralis is committed to programming that includes not only the classical choral repertoire, but compositions of living composers and world music.
The Choralis Foundation was founded by Artistic Director Gretchen Kuhrmann in 2000 to nurture a passion for choral music by offering excellence in choral performance, educational outreach, and professional development opportunities. The organization sponsors two auditioned ensembles, offers education programs for both youth and adults, and is the creator and long-time sponsor of the Greater DC Area Choral Excellence (Ovation) Awards, which recognize excellence in the field of choral music across Metro DC. Choralis also sponsors an annual Young Artist Competition to support emerging vocal soloists, and offers a Conducting Fellowship to assist young conductors with broadening their experience.
Artistic Director Gretchen Kuhrmann is the founder and visionary of Choralis. A true advocate for choral music in all schools and communities, she has spent her career honing choral ensembles into musically sensitive performers and encouraging young singers to develop their skills.
The daughter of a diplomat, Ms. Kuhrmann has traveled and lived around the world, including an extended stay in Hamburg, Germany, where she spent her formative years. Before leaving Europe, she toured and performed with her own ensemble throughout Western Europe. In addition to being a sought-after conducting and choral clinician, Kuhrmann has shown great success with building choral organizations and is in demand as a speaker and consultant on the topic at choral conventions and workshops around the world.
Audiences and critics alike have recognized Choralis for its musical excellence. Ms. Kuhrmann’s detailed preparation and skillful conducting have earned Choralis ensembles acclaim throughout the United States and Europe. Critics observed “…Kuhrmann has trained this big group to sing with the delicacy and transparency of a chamber chorus, and it does this very well” and “…Conductor Gretchen Kuhrmann drew a clear and beautifully blended sound from the group, which was maintained when the music pulled down to only a handful of voices.” (The Washington Post)
In 2014, Choralis and the Choralis Cantus Primo youth choir were selected to be featured performing ensembles for the Chorus America national conference held in Washington, DC in June. Ensembles under Ms. Kuhrmann’s direction have also been selected to perform for both ACDA (American Choral Directors Association) and VMEA (Virginia Music Educators Association) conventions.
Ms. Kuhrmann also has prepared choruses for many notable U.S. and international conductors as well as numerous area diplomatic and political events. She is the Director of Music for Fairfax Presbyterian Church and holds performance degrees in conducting from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and George Mason University.
Associate Conductor and Keyboard Artist
Dr. Steven Seigart is a conductor, composer, organist, and music educator based in the Washington, D.C. area. Dr. Seigart holds degrees in choral conducting and organ performance from the University of Maryland, Boston University, and the Eastman School of Music. He specializes in organ improvisation, has been featured on NPR’s Pipedreams Live!, was a semifinalist in the National Competition in Organ Improvisation, and was the winner of the L. Cameron Johnson Memorial Organ Competition. He is an avid performer of music to accompany silent films, and recent screenings with live organ soundtracks have included The Phantom of the Opera (1925), Nosferatu (1922), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923), and The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928). On CD, his organ playing can be heard on Loft Record’s “Mendelssohn: Rarities.”
His dissertation on Choral Improvisation has been the basis of his compositional output and his career as a choral conductor, in embracing spontaneity and developing musical empathy to improve ensemble cohesiveness and choral sound. Dr. Seigart’s compositions are published by GIA publications, and have been heard in the US and abroad. He has had several commissions from choirs and instrumental ensembles across the country, and his anthem, “Rejoice in the Lord Always” was the winning submission for the Eighth International Anthem Competition (Worcester, MA). He also stays busy as an arranger and producer, having created live or virtual arrangements/productions for the Congressional Chorus (DC), Gaithersburg Chorus (MD), Simpson University (CA), Case Western Reserve (OH), Howell Academy (NJ), Langstaff Assembly (Toronto), and the Farmington Valley Chorale (CT).
As a conductor, Dr. Seigart has prepared choirs to sing with the National Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops, Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the Salzburg Choral Festival, founded both the Meeting House Festival Orchestra and the period-instrument Orchestra of St. Joseph, and served as conductor or chorusmaster with the Arezzo Opera Festival (Arezzo, Italy), Boston University Opera Institute, Opera Saratoga, Maryland Opera Studio, and Tanglewood Music Center. For the last two years he has served as associate conductor and principal accompanist for the Congressional Chorus.
As a music educator, Dr. Seigart regularly conducts choir festivals and workshops, including several recent youth choir festivals with Pueri Cantores, the official children’s choral organization of the Catholic Church. He has also served as the Professor and Director of Choirs at Manhattanville College, and has taught choral, general music, and musicianship at the Westminster Schools (Atlanta, GA), Saint Joseph’s School (Bronxville, NY), Boston University, and the University of Maryland.
He has held positions at the Church of St. Joseph (Bronxville, NY), Christ Church (Rochester, NY), St. Paul’s Cathedral (Syracuse, NY), and many others across the East Coast. He currently serves as Director of Music at the Old Presbyterian Meeting House in Alexandria, Virginia. Recent performances with the Meeting House Festival Choir and Orchestra’s Concerts with a Cause have included Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem, Haydn’s The Creation, Rutter’s Requiem, Will Todd’s Mass in Blue, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, and Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem. Dr. Seigart resides in Northern Virginia with his wife, soprano Suzanne Karpov, their son, Oliver, and dog, Schubert. More at stevenseigart.com.
Overview of Our Ensembles
The ensembles are: Choralis, a 110-person mixed-voice chorus with a paid professional core as well as High School Singing Scholars and Ēchos, a 20-member chamber ensemble drawn from the ranks of Choralis.
Lauded by reviewers for The Washington Post and other publications, Choralis annually presents a season of choral masterworks as well as works by contemporary composers and world music. Recent performances have included Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem, Handel’s Dixit Dominus, Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast, Verdi’s Requiem, and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, as well as the world premiere of Bob Chilcott’s Gloria.
Ēchos is known for exceptional musicality and artistry, with a sound described by The Washington Post as “…full-bodied and thrilling.” The ensemble performs a wide range of choral repertoire and styles each season.
Board of Directors and Officers
Gretchen Kuhrmann, Founder & Artistic Director
Ron Melampy, Chair
Genevieve Jordan, Vice Chair
Scott Carlson, Treasurer
Marti Olson, Secretary
Gosia Bochenek, Counsel
Capt. Dennis M. Egan (USCG Ret.)
Gisele Becker, Music Director, Emerita, Cantate Chamber Singers
William Carroll, Educational Consultant, Hinshaw Music
Bob Chilcott, Composer
Thomas Colohan, Artistic Director, Washington Master Chorale
Dennis Edelbrock, Founder/Director, The National Trumpet Competition
Stan Engebretson, Artistic Director, National Philharmonic Chorale
Anne Hodges, Director, Graduate Arts Administration Program, Florida State University
Jean Fritter Jawdat, Independent Arts Consultant
Donald McCullough, Composer and Conductor
Cecilia McDowall, Composer
Mark Ohnmacht, Performing Arts Consultant
Francis Pott, Composer
Robert Shafer, Artistic Director Emeritus, The City Choir of Washington
André Thomas, Associate Artist, London Symphony Orchestra
Scott Tucker, Artistic Director, Choral Arts Society of Washington
Val Withams, Choral Connections