The Norddeutschen Rundfunk Chor (= NDR Chor; North German Radio Choir) was formed in May 1946 and is now one of the leading professional chamber choirs in Germany. Since its establishment in the NDR-Chor engages itself intensively not just with the classical and romantic repertoire, but also with contemporary music. The a-cappella-literature became an emphasis of the NDR Chor, particularly under the direction of Helmut Franz, and his successor Max Thurn. Later directors of choir such as Roland Bader, Horst Neumann, Robin Gritton and Hans-Christoph Rademann have continued this tradition. Since August 2008 its Artistic Director has been Philipp Ahmann.
The NDR Chor gives concerts and takes part in radio broadcasts, generally with the ensembles associated with North German Radio but also with other choruses and symphony orchestras attached to Germany’s public-service broadcasting companies. But, today more than ever, the focus of its work is music for unaccompanied voices extending from early music to the present day.
Since the start of the 2009-2010 season the NDR Chor has had its own series of subscription concerts as a regular feature of the musical life of Hamburg. It gives four concerts a year as part of this subscription series, each geared to a specific theme and showcasing the whole range of its repertory. Some of these concerts are given over to a cappella works, while others feature selected soloists and guest ensembles. In 2012 the sing-along project SINGING! opened in Hamburg under the musical direction of the conductor and composer Eric Whitacre. Since then hundreds of visiting singers have descended each year on Hamburg to work with the NDR Chor.
In addition to its concerts in Hamburg and in the transmission area covered by NDR, the NDR Chor also appears regularly at festivals such as the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, Hamburg International Music Festival, International Handel Festival in Göttingen, Lower Saxony Music Festival, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival, Usedom Music Festival, Rheingau Music Festival and Bachwoche Ansbach. Internationally, the chorus has performed at the Lucerne Festival, Festival Septembre Musical in Montreux, Prague Spring Festival, Lufthansa Festival of Baroque Music in London and Festival Anima Mundi in Pisa.
Additionally to its work with the NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg, the NDR Chor ia also a also constant partner of the NDR Radiophilharmonie. In addition come regular appearances with the NDR Bigband. Close co-operation with the two series "NDR Das Alte Werk" and "NDR das neue werk" emphasizes once again the stylistic variety of the NDR Chor. The NDR Chor also appears frequently with other distinguished ensembles such as the Accademia Bizantina, Concerto Köln, B’Rock Baroque Ensemble, Elbipolis Barockorchester Hamburg, Ensemble Resonanz, Philharmoniker Hamburg, Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amstrerdam and the London Symphony Orchestra. Among the renowned guest conductors with whom the NDR Chor has worked are Daniel Barenboim, Marcus Creed, Eric Ericson, Michael Gielen, Michael Gläser, Thomas Hengelbrock, Christopher Hogwood, Rupert Huber, Mariss Jansons, Paavo Järvi, Stephen Layton, Andris Nelsons, Sir Roger Norrington, and Esa-Pekka Salonen.
The NDR Chor is also committed to working with young people, a commitment that extends from family concerts to visiting schools and from workshops with students of singing to its participation in the NDR concert series “Podium of Youth”, the aim of which is to encourage the most talented young musicians.
Beside its work for the radio and television programmes of the NDR, numerous CD productions with music of Henry Purcell up to recordings with Giora Feidman document the stylistic range of the ensemble. With the recording of the complete a-cappella-works of Johannes Brahms, the NDR Chor achieved the French prize "Orphée d`or". Their CD with a-cappella works of A. Bruckner and Max Reger under the direction of Hans-Christoph Rademann, was particularly praised for the homogeneous sound of the choir. For the recording the NDR Chor received the "Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik" in February 2005.