10th and Final Season:  The extraordinary 10 year tenure of music director Julian Wachner was honored in grand style by The Washington Chorus with a spectacular gala in the entire nave of Washington National Cathedral.

by Patrick D. McCoy

There are certainly many galas on the DC arts scene with some of the most amazing venues in the city to choose from.   But The Washington Chorus took it to the next level as they honored music director Julian Wachner in the entire nave of Washington National Cathedral.  From the impressive lightening to the elegant place settings that lined the center of the cathedral it was truly an evening of opulence that was certainly well-deserved.

Photo © Tony Powell. 2017 Washington Chorus Ball. National Cathedral. May 2, 2017

Ardent supporters of The Washington Chorus packed the gala event themed “A Chorus Ball.”  The evening featured a cocktail reception, seated dinner and ended with a dance party.  It was an amazing journey down memory lane as Wachner was ‘roasted’ by friends including Executive Director Emerita Dianne Peterson,  the Honorable Jan Lodal and Elizabeth Lodal and longtime friend Beth Morrison.

A stunning evening certainly in gala fashion, music was at the core.  The composer Paola Prestini curated a special excerpt from her “Hubble Cantata” sung by members of the chorus with organist Janet Yieh, who was recently named among the 20 under 30 by The Diapason, a respected publication devoted to the pipe organ and sacred music.  In the midst of the celestial projections, the beautiful lighting and the grand space, the music was certainly transportive and ethereal in nature.

Executive Director Chase Maggiano set the stage in regards to Wachner’s role in the chorus’ present education initiatives that foster music in the public schools.  Those programs include the Junior Washington Chorus, the Side by Side program which allows a talented high school choir to perform alongside the choir on the stages of The Kennedy Center and the Music Center at Strathmore.  Most recently was The Washington Chorus’ partnering with DC Public Schools to form the DC Honors Chorus and to have an pivotal role in the choral music curriculum of DC  Public Schools.  A touching moment was when Maggiano invited all of those who teach or mentor to stand and be recognized.  In Wachner’s remarks of thanks and gratitude, he likened his own relationship with his singers in The Washington Chorus to a proud teacher, especially as he recalled his late teacher and friend Lukas Foss, with whom he enjoyed a similar relationship.

Julian Wachner will leave a rich choral legacy in the fabric of Washington. Innovative programming, creative performances and accessibility has all been hallmarks of his tenure.  So what’s next?  We eagerly await to see what’s next on the horizon for this brilliant Maestro.  But we also bid a bittersweet farewell in a few months to a breath of fresh air on the DC music scene.

Photo © Tony Powell-Members of The Washington Chorus honor their music director of 10 years Julian Wachner.


Final concerts include:

Sunday, May 14, 2017 performance of Orff’s “Carmina Burana” and Stravinsky’s “Oedipus Rex.” Click here to purchase tickets and more information.

Full performance of “The Hubble Cantata” Thursday, May 25, 7:30 p.m. at The Kennedy Center with opera star Nathan Gunn. Click here for more information and tickets.


–A native of Petersburg, Virginia, Patrick D. McCoy is a graduate of Virginia State University and Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, Virginia.  He has been an arts contributor for Examiner.com, CBS Washington, The Afro American Newspaper and most recently was the Performing Arts Columnist at Washington Life Magazine for four years. As a church musician, he currently serves as Organist/Choirmaster at Saint John’s Episcopal Church (Zion Parish) in Beltsville, Maryland.   Visit www.patrickdmccoy.com for all of your arts news and send press releases and ideas to patrickdmccoy@patrickdmccoy.com.