Diverse performances and local partnerships to spread arts awareness

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY — The San Luis Obispo Master Chorale announced its 2023-24 season, featuring three diverse concerts of choral masterworks conducted by Thomas Davies at the Performing Arts Center San Luis Obispo, plus free educational community presentations.

The season’s programming begins with the Nov. 19 concert, “Chants Encounter.” This performance features Estonian-born composer Arvo Pärt’s Te Deum and W. A. Mozart’s Mass in C-minor. Pärt utilizes the beauty of chant mixed with bell-like chords (tintinnabulation) to create a dramatic rendering of the fourth century prayer. Mozart’s Mass, a wedding gift for his wife, Constanza, is influenced by the choral works of Bach and Handel, as well as 18th-century opera. “Chants Encounter” will also include Mozart’s concert aria, Per questa bella mano, for baritone and double-bass. Concert soloists include sopranos Alba Franco-Cancél and Amy Goymerac, tenor Jon Lee Keenan, baritone Joel Balzun, and Ken Hustad, double-bass.

The San Luis Obispo Master Chorale’s presentation of “Holiday Festival” on Dec. 16, is a family holiday tradition that includes an audience singalong of holiday favorites, including the “Hallelujah Chorus” of Handel’s Messiah and traditional carols and arrangements for chorus, organ, and orchestra, plus a guest appearance from Los Angeles’s Westwood Brass. Attendees will experience the magic of the Forbes Pipe Organ, played by Cal Poly organist Paul Woodring.


The season’s final concert on April 21, 2024, features an a cappella performance of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil (Vespers). His signature choral work, this piece has become a fixture in choral repertoire, standing as the crowning achievement of the “Golden Age” of Russian Orthodox sacred choral music. Much of the melodic material was drawn from ancient unison chants surrounded by the addition of three to 10 vocal lines. A dynamically diverse work, members of the San Luis Obispo Master Chorale will be spread out all over the Performing Arts Center stage.

The San Luis Obispo Master Chorale also hosts “Beyond the Notes,” a lecture series for the community that accompanies the Chorale’s November and April concerts. The educational events offer an in-depth look at pieces being performed and the background and history behind the music, including the opportunity to meet and learn from a noted expert on the subject, an enhanced understanding of the context of the music, an increased appreciation for the music and live performance, and spreading awareness about the arts.

The November lecturer has been confirmed as Dr. Andrew D. Shenton, professor of music at Boston University. Dr. Vladimir Morosan, founder and president of Musica Russica, a publishing company specializing in the publication and dissemination of Orthodox choral music, will present in April 2024. More details about these presentations will become available at slomasterchorale.org.

All concerts will be given in Harold Miossi Hall at the Performing Arts Center San Luis Obispo on the Cal Poly campus. Tickets are available for purchase at pacslo.org or by calling the PAC box office at (805) 756-4849. Season ticket packages are available.

About the San Luis Obispo Master Chorale

The San Luis Obispo Master Chorale (originally known as Cuesta Master Chorale) is an auditioned ensemble that specializes in the performance of large masterworks for choir and orchestra. Members of the ensemble come from throughout San Luis Obispo County. Thomas Davies, musical director and conductor, has led the performances since the fall of 1984.