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William Ferris Chorale

The William Ferris Chorale prides itself on the relationships it forges with composers, and for producing concerts of seldom-performed works that evoke the music and sound of our time.

William Ferris (1937-2000) was a lifelong champion of contemporary composers. He and the William Ferris Chorale, which he founded in 1971 with tenor John Vorrasi, have been acclaimed for their concerts of music by Dominick Argento, Samuel Barber, John Corigliano, William Mathias, John McCabe, Gian Carlo Menotti, Steven Paulus, Vincent Persichetti, Ned Rorem, William Schuman, Leo Sowerby, William Walton, and many, many others, often with the composers as honored guests. The Chorale has performed at the Aldeburgh Festival and the Spoleto Festival: USA and has given over 175 world, American, and Chicago premieres of important new literature.

A distinguished composer in his own right, Ferris’s music was commissioned and premiered by the Chicago and the Boston Symphony Orchestras. Among his compositions are two operas, numerous concerti, symphonic and chamber works, hundreds of choral works, and dozens of songs. Northwestern University houses his complete musical archive. Ferris’s sudden death, while conducting a rehearsal of the Verdi Requiem, shocked the music community. His was a unique and distinctive voice on the American music scene.