If you want great choral music, Washington is the place to go, with its half-dozen or more massive symphonic choruses and plentiful supply of chamber ensembles. And they all come equipped with splendid orchestras. Founded in 2009, the Washington Master Chorale gave a first-rate performance — including a world premiere by Donald McCullough — at the National Presbyterian Church on Sunday. Over 60 voices strong, the WMC adds another dimension to the choral scene with a group fitting in between the grand and small-sized chamber groups.
The WMC focused on some lovely 20th-century works set to texts by such well-known poets as Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. Besides McCullough, the composers included Daniel Pinkham, Cecil Effinger, Ross Lee Finney, Samuel Barber, Adolphus Hailstork and Stephen Chatman. Throughout the program, the chorus responded to director Thomas Colohan’s exacting gestures, intonation was superbly stable — even in unaccompanied works — while all the sections paid close attention to each other in nearly perfect ensemble. The single flaw was imprecise, fuzzy diction, even though all the texts were in English.