Lyric Opera of Chicago Chorus Master Donald Nally to leave company following 2010-11 season - Lyric Opera of Chicago

Lyric Opera of Chicago Chorus Master Donald Nally to leave company following 2010-11 season

Press Release Letterhead
For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lyric Opera of Chicago Chorus Master Donald Nally
to leave company following 2010-11 season


William Mason, general director of Lyric Opera of Chicago, has announced that Donald Nally, chorus master since the 2007-08 season, will leave the company following the 2010-11 season.

Nally is leaving Lyric Opera in order to concentrate fully on his choral conducting. He is conductor of The Crossing, a professional chamber choir in Philadelphia that performs new music exclusively. He is also music director of VAE, Cincinnati’s Vocal Arts Ensemble, a professional choral ensemble that performs new music as well as classic choral works.

 “It has been a terribly difficult decision to make – to leave this great company – but at this point in my life I feel compelled to concentrate on non-operatic choral conducting and new music, which are my passions,” Nally says. “My work with The Crossing allows me to program and conduct, aspects that are not part of my work in opera, and to work with new music, including commissioning many pieces, which is a primary interest in my musical activities.

“It is a great honor to serve as Lyric’s chorus master, and I look forward to this season’s exceptional new productions and revivals,” Nally continues. “I greatly enjoy working with the Lyric Opera Chorus, and with my other wonderful Lyric colleagues. Opera has been a major presence in my musical life, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be part of the artistry and teamwork of the Lyric Opera ‘family.’”

“Donald Nally has done an exceptional job at Lyric, and there have been many high points in his tenure,” Mason says. “In his debut season Donald excelled in preparing the Lyric Opera Chorus for the considerable challenges of Doctor Atomic, and the following year  he conducted Lyric’s first-ever choral concert, ‘Holly and Ivy,’ in addition to the regular season’s offerings. In 2009-10 Donald prepared the chorus magnificently for the company premiere of The Damnation of Faust. We know that he’ll give his all in his final season at Lyric, and wish him the best in the next chapter of his career.”

Mason said that the company will begin looking for its next chorus master immediately.

The Crossing won the 2009 ASCAP/Chorus America Award for Adventuresome Programming. It is the only choral ensemble funded for the 2010-11 season by the prestigious Philadelphia Music Project (funded by the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage).  The Crossing’s commissioned premieres this summer featured 2008 Pulitzer-Prize winning composer David Lang setting music inspired by Pulitzer-Prize laureate Philip Levine.  Next summer’s commissions will include Gabriel Jackson, Ēriks Ešenvalds, Kamran Ince, and Kile Smith. The Crossing will make its second recording this summer, featuring the new works created for the 2009 “Month of Moderns at The Crossing” – music of David Shapiro, Kile Smith, Kirsten Broberg, and Erhard Karkoschka. That recording will be released by PARMA/Navona Records. Philadelphia Inquirer music critic David Patrick Stearns has called The Crossing “Philadelphia’s best chorus.” The ensemble has upcoming collaborations with the acclaimed Baroque ensemble Tempesta di Mare, as well as with Network for New Music in Philadelphia. The Crossing will produce a third recording in late December that will include two new works by David Lang, written for the recording.  

In June Scarecrow Press published Nally’s book Conversations with Joseph Flummerfelt: Thoughts on Conducting, Music, and Musicians, with an introduction by Kurt Masur.

Prior to his tenure at Lyric Opera, Nally was chorus master for Welsh National Opera for three years. He conducted the WNO chorus and orchestra in the major cities of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. In 2006-07 he guest-conducted London’s renowned Philharmonia Chorus and was chorus master for a massed-choir performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with four Welsh choruses, Sinfonia Cymru, and soloists including bass-baritone Bryn Terfel. 

From 1992 through 2003, Nally was chorus master at the Opera Company of Philadelphia and choirmaster at Saint Mark’s Church, Philadelphia. He was artistic director of the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia for four seasons, during which it received America’s highest award in choral music, Chorus America’s 2002 Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence.

Nally served as chorus master for the Spoleto festivals of Italy and the U.S. (1989-91), and served as director of choruses at the Italian Spoleto Festival from 1993-98 and again in 2001 and 2007.


Lyric’s previous chorus masters have been Donald Palumbo (1991-2007), Philip Morehead (1986-91), Giulio Favario (1977-86), Robert Page (1978, Paradise Lost), Douglas Robinson (1976), Herbert Handt (1975), Michael Lepore (1954-74), and John Halloran (1954, “calling card” performances, Don Giovanni).

 The Howard A. Stotler Chorus Master Endowed Chair