The Bay Choral Guild (= BCG) was originally founded in 1979 as the Baroque Choral Guild, under the leadership of Ken Hannaford, and soon thereafter, Robert Geary. In 1994, the Cantabile Youth Singers was founded, and BCG became an umbrella for both an adult chorus and a youth chorus. In 2005, finding the “Baroque” in our name to be insufficiently suggestive of the diversity of our programming, the organization decided to drop it, and took on the Cantabile name for the whole organization, with the adult chorus becoming “Cantabile Chorale”. In 2008, the adult and youth choruses parted ways, and the adult chorus took on its present name, “Bay Choral Guild”, a name we hope is evocative of our roots.
Baroque Choral Guild was founded by a group of singers who had formerly sung with Edwin (Ted) Flath's California Bach Society, founded about 1973. Disagreements about Flath's leadership led to a split, and a breakaway group founded Baroque Choral Guild, whose first conductor was Ken Hannaford. From its founding until 2006, the chorus rehearsed in both Berkeley and Palo Alto, and its membership included sizable groups from both locations. In 2006, the then Cantabile Chorale discontinued its Berkeley rehearsals, and a group of its singers from the Berkeley area who did not want to travel to Palo Alto regularly sought to form a new chorus in Berkeley. Under the leadership of Paul Flight, a new chorus, Chora Nova, was formed, and its membership included many of the former Cantabile singers.
Todat BCG is a 40-voice, auditioned chorus based in Palo Alto with singers from around the Bay Area. BCG's outstanding musical ensemble and rich repertoire are the foundation for innovative programs that bring works together in new and unusual ways. The concerts offer both audiences and singers the opportunity to enjoy fresh and exciting choral music experiences, and balance enjoyment of the music with new insight and understanding.
Sharing the joy of choral music with engaging, high quality performances and innovative programming of traditional and unusual works. BCG fills an important role in the music culture of the Bay Area, performing choral repertoire that span the 12th to the 21st centuries, drawn from a broad range of musical cultures and a wide variety of musical styles. In addition to well-known choral masterpieces, our concerts regularly include recently-discovered works by less familiar composers, works commissioned by BCG, and premieres of works by contemporary American and San Francisco Bay Area composers, including Sanford Dole, the Artistic Director.
Developed by Sanford Dole, BCG’s thoughtful, innovative programming inspires new insight and understanding of the music performed throughout the concert season. Programmes often include exciting and challenging stylistic counterpoint with the juxtaposition of works from eras perhaps hundreds of years apart, but which use the same text. These juxtapositions expose both singers and audiences to nuances of choral and cultural development over time and involve audiences as participants, not just observers.
BCG’s reputation for high-quality performances underscores the ensemble’s ability to execute on these vocal and stylistic challenges. Under the leadership of Sanford Dole, the group has developed the ability to perform demanding repertoire from Renaissance to Modern, in a wide variety of musical genres and languages.
BCG is funded in part by a grant from Arts Council Silicon Valley, in partnership with the County of Santa Clara and California Arts Council.
CD recordings made on of each concert for archives, and for sale. Current CD's available include “The Seasons of Christmas”, their first commercial recording, which is a selection of Renaissance and contemporary anthems. The other two CD’s are concert recordings: Sergei Rachmaninov: All-Night Vigil, and our highly praised December 2008 concert, “An Orthodox Christmas”.