The Dale Warland Singers final concert on May 30, 2004, concluded 32 years of concerts, tours, radio broadcasts, and critically acclaimed recordings. The Dale Warland Singers were recognized as one of the world’s foremost a cappella choral ensembles. The 40-voice professional choir was based in Minneapolis/St. Paul.
Besides its pristine and peerless signature sound, the Dale Warland Singers is also renowned for rejuvenating the choral genre. The ensemble commissioned an astounding 270 works in 32 years – more than any other classical musical organization in the country.
In total, more than 150 notable composers have worked with the DWS, including Grammy-winners Dominick Argento and Libby Larsen, Stephen Paulus, Carol Barnett, Aaron Jay Kernis, George Shearing, Dave Brubeck, Peter Schickele, Alice Parker, Kirke Mechem, Mary Ellen Childs, Augusta Read Thomas, Jennifer Higdon, Janika Vandervelde, Bernard Rands, Emma Lou Diemer, Brent Michael Davids, Frank Ferko and Eric Whitacre.
In its final season alone, DWS premiered 16 new works by 14 American composers – eight of whom live in the Twin Cities. The Dale Warland Singers annual Choral Ventures™ Program, created in 1987, has awarded over $162,000 in commissions to 60 talented emerging composers from all over the USA.
In 1992, the Dale Warland Singers became the first-ever recipient of the Margaret Hillis Achievement Award for Choral Excellence. The group’s extraordinary efforts on behalf of composers and new music resulted in ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming in 1992, 1993, 1996, and 1999.
In addition to offering an annual subscription season in the Twin Cities, the Dale Warland Singers toured throughout the United States and abroad. In 1990, the ensemble traveled to Stockholm and Helsinki to represent North America at the Second World Symposium on Choral Music. In July, 2002, the DWS made its debut at the Ravinia Festival (Chicago), and performed at the American Society of Harpists National Conference and the Sixth World Symposium on Choral Music, both held in the Twin Cities. In 2003, the Singers performed again with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir during a tour of the western United States. Its Spring 2004 concerts in Ohio, Florida and West Virginia received rave reviews.
The Dale Warland Singers regularly collaborated with many other Twin Cities arts organizations including the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies and the James Sewell Ballet. The choir worked under the batons of the late Robert Shaw, Hugh Wolff, Edo de Waart, Leonard Slatkin, Bobby McFerrin, David Zinman, Roger Norrington and James Conlon, to name a few.
The ensemble also appeared on Garrison Keillor’s original A Prairie Home Companion and has been featured on Public Radio International’s Saint Paul Sunday. The annual Echoes of Christmas and Cathedral Classics broadcasts reached listeners nationwide. Some of these performances are available online archived through Minnesota Public Radio.
The final recording of the Dale Warland Singers Lux Aurumque was released in March 2007. The Singers released Harvest Home: Songs from the Heart in September 2005. This recording debuted at number 11 on the Classical Billboard charts in December. Reincarnations, a recording of American choral classics, was debuted at their final concert (2004). In 2003, the ensemble released its first “live” recording, Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, as well as the Grammy nominated Walden Pond, containing three major choral works written by Pulitzer-Prize winning composer, Dominick Argento. Christmas With the Dale Warland Singers, which the Seattle Times described as “impeccable, full of vibrant life and blended like a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Grande Dame,” was released in 2002.
These recordings join some 24 other Dale Warland Singers recordings including Bernstein and Britten, which contains Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, along with Stephen Paulus’ Pilgrims’ Hymn and movements from Albright’s Chichester Mass. Another favorite, Blue Wheat, is a collection of American folk music. Also among the Singers’ lauded releases is December Stillness, which BBC Music Magazine gave its highest rating for performance and sound, calling it, “… splendid, melting stuff.” The South Jersey’s Courier-Post called the 1994 release of Cathedral Classics, “an unmatched musical experience,” and The Oregonian stated simply, “peerless.” Earlier recordings by the Singers include, Fancie, A Rose in Winter, Christmas Echoes, Vols. 1 and II, Carols for Christmas, Choral Currents, as well as 13 others.
Recordings of the Dale Warland Singers can be found at www.gothicrecords.com and www.americanchoral.com