William Baker Festival Singers
“It’s hard to know where to begin praising this chorus’ performance…What came across Thursday night above all was the great warmth in this chorus’ singing. It was almost like hearing a family.” - The Kansas City Star
"The William Baker Festival Singers performed an English version of the German Requiem with a brilliance and sensitivity that spoke to all, both present and past."- KC Metropolis
William O. Baker, DMA, Music Director & Conductor
Christine Freeman, MME, Associate Music Director & Senior Vocal Coach
Jamea Sale, MME, Education Director for Institute of Healthy Singing
Eric Newlin, 2016-2017 Student Intern
The William Baker Festival Singers is a 50-voice semi-professional chorale specializing in sacred short form classical works and spirituals, along with masterworks for chorus and orchestra performed annually with members of the Kansas City Symphony. Tracing its history to the original Festival Singers created by William Baker in Atlanta in 1985, the present ensemble in Kansas City was founded in October 1998 and is now in its 20th concert season.
The Festival Singers have toured domestically across the South, Midwest and Northeast, including performances in New York City, Chicago, Princeton, Des Moines, Omaha, St. Louis, New Orleans, Atlanta, Austin, and San Antonio. Upcoming tours will include Oklahoma and the Washington, DC region. The Festival Singers choruses have produced a total of 23 nationally released recordings, and have appeared on numerous local and national radio programs including The First Art, The Sounds of Majesty, and Performance Today. The chorus has been featured in hour-long holiday specials on Radio Bach and the Kansas City CBS-affiliate KCTV, in addition to numerous performances broadcasts on Kansas Public Radio.
Recent masterworks performances have included Bach: St. Matthew Passion and Mass in B minor, and Ernest Bloch: Avodath Hakodesh (Sacred Service) which, at the time, were the first performances of the works by Kansas City artists in decades. Other recent performances have included the Requiems of John Rutter, Gabriel Fauré, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Johannes: Brahms, the Midwest premier of William Dreyfoos’: Songs of the Holocaust, Zoltan Kodaly’s: Laudes Organi, Bethoven: Symphony No. 9, Mozart’s Coronation Mass, and Regina Coeli, Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem, and many others.
2013 Durufle: Introit et Kyrie from “Requiem” in Helzberg Hall - YouTube
2014 Brahms: Movement II from “A German Requiem” - YouTube
2015 Elder: Ballade to the Moon - YouTube
2017 Dello Joio: To St. Cecilia - YouTube
2017 Composer in Residence Ed Frazier Davis O Magnum Mysterium - YouTube
2017 R. Douglas Helvering My Song is Love Unknown - YouTube
Membership in the William Baker Festival Singers is by competitive audition. Auditions are heard in August and January of each year, or as vacancies in the chorus occur.