The Master Chorale of Washington Will Cease Operations in May

A decline in the value of investments is forcing the Chorale to cease operations in May.
A decline in the value of investments is forcing the Chorale to cease operations in May. (By Scott Suchman)

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By Anne Midgette
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 20, 2009

The Master Chorale of Washington, one of the city's largest choruses, announced yesterday that it will cease operations in May.

In a statement, the chairman of the chorus's board, Virginia Austin Schubert, said that the economic downturn had claimed a substantial portion of the chorus's investments -- necessary financial reserves, given that ticket sales and contributions had failed to cover the group's operating expenses for the past three years.

By shutting down at the end of this season, "we're trying to end . . . in a way that avoids bankruptcy," the chorus's music director, Donald McCullough, said yesterday.

The Master Chorale was one of four choruses in Washington with a budget of over $1 million. Last year, it ran a deficit of at least $200,000, McCullough said. After the stock market fell, the chorus's members -- numbering 120 volunteers and around 24 professional singers for any given concert -- contributed $40,000 in December to try to keep it afloat, McCullough said.

The Master Chorale, founded in 1967 as the Paul Hill Chorale, performed at the opening of the Kennedy Center in 1971 and has been one of several choruses that appears with the National Symphony Orchestra, with which it will perform one last time April 9-11 in presenting Brahms's "Ein Deutsches Requiem."

The group's final concert will take place on May 17, when it will go out with a bang by performing Orff's "Carmina Burana."


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