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Chorus Singer Celebrates Acoustic Enhancements at Powell Hall

Since 1976, St. Louis Symphony Orchestra performances have been enhanced by the St. Louis Symphony Chorus—a group of singers that collaborates with the orchestra several times per season on choral-orchestral repertoire that spans genre and time. Alan Freed’s history with the Chorus began at its founding, when he auditioned for the inaugural director, Tom Peck, and also served as its first manager. Since then, Freed has had positions including volunteer singer, paid singer, assistant director, and interim director.


What hasn’t changed, he says, is the high artistic standards of the chorus.

Alan Freed, whose history with the St. Louis Symphony Chorus dates to its founding in 1976, is photographed in the Sun Theater at Grand Center Arts Academy, an interim rehearsal space as Powell Hall undergoes a transformational renovation project.

“Tom Peck built a really beautiful sounding instrument,” he said. “And I think the Chorus has maintained a very high level of artistry throughout its history.”


The first piece performed by the Chorus was Sergei Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky, which was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance. The Chorus’ high level of artistry has allowed the SLSO to pursue performances that place the human voice at the center of the program.


“We've done works from many periods and many different styles, and I think it has allowed the symphony to do pieces that otherwise they simply would not be able to have as part of the repertoire, because you need to have a chorus that functions on a very high artistic level,” Freed said.


The expansion and renovation of Powell Hall will provide a dedicated rehearsal space for the Chorus, allowing singers to gather without adding stress to the Emerson Concert Stage. Additionally, acoustic fortification and enhancements of the auditorium will strengthen the artistic integrity of each performance.


“A fine acoustic is an important piece of what we do,” Freed said. “You can see a play, for example, in a lot of different spaces, but when you're listening to an orchestra perform, the acoustics and the hall are part of the performance. I think we as a community are extraordinarily lucky to have Powell Hall, and its preservation will fortify its reputation as the best place to hear music in the region.”


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