In 1951, a group of Charlotte singers, under the direction of Earl F. Berg, founded the Oratorio Singers of Charlotte (= OSC). The founding members envisioned a group that would perform great choral masterpieces, especially large-scale choral-orchestral works. The first concert, held at Myers Park United Methodist Church, was a production of George Frideric Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus. The performance included 68 singers and was sponsored by the local chapter of the American Guild of Organists.
Earl F. Berg served as Music Director until 1960 followed by Donald Plott from 1961 until 1981. Mary Nell Saunders served as Music Director from 1981 until 1993, during which time she founded both the Charlotte Youth Oratorio Singers and the Oratorio Chamber Chorus.
At the conclusion of the 1992-1993 Season, the Boards of the Oratorio Singers of Charlotte and the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra merged the two organizations. The combined organizations are now able to produce large-scale choral works previously beyond the scope of either individual group.
Hugh F. Floyd served as the first Director of OSC in its new capacity as the official chorus of the Charlotte Symphony from 1993 to 1995. David Tang served as Director from 1996 to 2004. With the opening of the 2004-2005 Season, Scott Allen Jarrett began his tenure as the Music Director of the Oratorio Singers of Charlotte.
Composed of more than 130 volunteer singers, many of who hold graduate degrees in music, the Oratorio Singers of Charlotte performs with the Charlotte Symphony several times a year. The 2013-2014 season's main choral repertoire includes Verdi's Requiem, J.S. Bach's St. Matthew Passion (BWV 244), and G.F. Handel's Messiah.
There are currently two official choruses of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra. Together, the Oratorio Main Chorus and Chamber Chorus comprise the Oratorio Singers of Charlotte (OSC). The OSC performs great choral music to the highest standards. Through these efforts, the OSC seeks to foster appreciation of and support for choral music as an art form. In addition, OSC provides education and training in choral music of all types to young persons and adults in the Charlotte/Mecklenburg region.
OSC holds memberships in the Charlotte Arts and Science Council, American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) and Chorus America. Throughout its history, OSC has received funding and grant support from numerous national, state, and local organizations, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Arts and Science Council Fund Drive, Grassroots Arts Program of the NC Arts Council, and the Music Division of the NC Arts Council.
The OSC Main Chorus is composed of approximately 150 singers, many of whom hold graduate degrees in music. Membership is by audition with the OSC Conducting Staff. The Main Chorus performs with the Charlotte Symphony several times a year in a variety of venues and occasionally a cappella.
Oratorio Chamber Chorus
The Oratorio Chamber Chorus, founded in 1981, is recognized as one of the premier chamber choruses in the Southeast. Members are selected through competitive auditions by the OSC Conducting Staff. This select group of 24 of Charlotte’s finest singers has performed in a variety of venues including: Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC; Jazz Charlotte with Dave Brubeck at Spirit Square; and the Donald Plott Memorial Concert at Davidson College with Zubin Mehta conducting.
To promote and build the Oratorio Singers of Charlotte as a recognized, best-in-class organization. We will collaborate with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra to further our shared vision for Charlotte as a center for world-class music. We achieve musical excellence through a talented membership, a recognizable presence in the community, acknowledged quality and strong audience demand for the Oratorio of Singers of Charlotte experience.