Albany Pro Musica’s thirty-three year history is distinguished by tremendous artistic growth, expanding audiences and increasing national recognition for choral excellence. It is the premier choral group in the Capital Region, with approximately 65 singers in its core group and as many as 150 singers in its expanded APMasterworks chorus. The group is known for its large-scale choral orchestral works as well as its exceptional mastery of more intimate a cappella works.
The group began in 1981 when David Griggs-Janower and a group of Capital Region singers decided to form a chorus that rose to their expectations for performance and repertoire. Today the group enjoys a major presence in the area’s cultural scene. The singers, who come from several counties and nearby states, are auditioned volunteers who present professional-quality musical performances ranging from madrigals, masses and oratorios to contemporary works and music of other cultures. The group’s performance venues are as varied as its repertoire, from the chorus room at Albany High School to the acoustically perfect Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. As its profile has steadily increased, Pro Musica has attracted larger, more diverse audiences.
With each new year, the group strives to bring increasingly greater choral experiences to its audiences. The March 2006 concert “Voices of Light: The Passion of Joan of Arc,” was significant in the group’s effort to break out of the usual choral mold. The multi-media performance consisted of a 1928 silent film accompanied by Richard Einhorn’s score for chorus, orchestra and soloists. It was one of many “sold out” Pro Musica events.
Pro Musica also champions less-familiar works: In 1997 it presented the 20th century première of New York State composer George F. Bristow’s “Oratorio of Daniel.” In March 2002 the group performed Handel’s rarely-heard “Oratorio of Esther.” Pro Musica has also commissioned eight works from American composers and presented the world premiere of local composer Timothy Luby’s “Requiem: In the Shadow of the Rainbow.”
In addition to performing its own four-concert subscription series, Albany Pro Musica participates in civic and community musical events. These have ranged from the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception’s music series to the group’s regular collaborations with the Albany Symphony Orchestra. In the last several years, Pro Musica made appearances at one mayoral and two gubernatorial inaugurations, two September 11th interfaith prayer services, Price Chopper’s Fourth of July celebration at the Empire State Plaza and Judy Collins’ annual Christmas concert at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, to name just a few.
Albany Pro Musica has produced numerous recordings and was one of just 16 choirs selected from across the country to be included in the National Public Radio (NPR) first-ever CD “Christmas Around the Country” released in 2005. Pro Musica’s performances have been aired many times on local and national public radio, including “Performance Today,” “Sunday Oratorio,” “Morning Pro Musica” and Chorus America’s “The First Art.”
As it enters its second quarter century, Albany Pro Musica remains the region’s hallmark for ambitious, compelling choral projects. As the chorus has grown and taken on newer, bolder projects, so too have Capital Region audiences, who have come to expect more and more exposure to the incredible richness of the choral repertoire.