Coro de Cámara traces its beginnings to a small group of madrigal singers originally formed by Los Alamos Choral Society director Jacob Evans. The Los Alamos Madrigal Singers performed at a variety of local venues in succeeding years until Steve Coggeshall became the director of the group under its new name, Los Alamos Chamber Ensemble, in 1985. The repertoire of the ensemble was broadened to include chamber choral works from the Renaissance to contemporary music and several major works by American composers including Mass in D by early composer John Knowles Paine and In the Beginning by Aaron Copland.
LA Madrigal Singers (1982-1984)
LA Chamber Ensemble (1985-1989)
Coro de Cámara (1989-present)
In the fall of 1988, Rebecca Rollett became the director and the name Coro de Cámara (Spanish for chamber chorus) was adopted in 1989. With the addition of choral members from Santa Fe, the group began performing each concert in both cities. A major work was performed each season often including a small chamber orchestra. Apprentices from the Santa Fe Opera were recruited as soloists for oratorios such as Jepthe and Abraham and Isaac. Two major highlights were the performances of Orff’s Carmina Burana in 1994 at the Santuario de Guadalupe in Santa Fe, and Mozart’s Requiem the following year in Santa Fe and Los Alamos.
Douglas “Dusty” Fisher became Coro’s next director in 1995 and in his second year he initiated the tradition of a midwinter madrigal dinner, which continued for many years. In 1997 the group performed the 17th century Polychoral Mass in D by Ignacio de Jerusalem.
Coro de Cámara spent the next five seasons, 1998-2003, under the direction of Cora Harms, an educator and musician in Santa Fe. Ms. Harms continued Coro’s traditions of chamber music and madrigal dinners and also initiated invitations to high school students from Santa Fe and Los Alamos to join them. Highlights of the five seasons under Ms. Harms include a combined Christmas concert with the St. John’s College Chamber Choir, Haydn’s Mass in Time of War, and Messe de Minuit pour Nöel by Charpentier.
In 2003, director Catherine Robinson took the helm and expanded Coro de Cámara’s repertoire further during her 8-year tenure. Each concert repertoire was based on a theme such as jazz and gospel arrangements of Christmas carols or opera and musical selections from Hayden to Sondheim. Titles such as “Let the River Run: A Choral Concert of Folk Songs & Spirituals” or “…And now for something completely different: Irreverent and Unpredictable Pairings” demonstrate the breadth of Ms. Robinson’s creative programming. Her special attention to vocal seatings of the singers produced an exceptional blend. As she said, “A discerning audience can tell when a choir sounds good. They may not know why, but believe me, they can hear it. I think audiences would be amazed at how much work goes in to a performance.”
In 2011 and 2012, Coro welcomed guest conductors Karen Marrolli, Steven Paxton, and Joe Cox.
The next Artistic Director was Andrew Alegria, who served from Spring 2013 to Spring 2014. His first concert with Coro de Cámara, “The American Sound,” included works by Charles Ives, Aaron Copland, Moses Hogan among others, and featured Samuel Barber’s Agnus Dei, a vocal arrangement of Adagio for Strings. He also directed a Christmas program featuring a variety of carols in 2013 and a 2014 spring concert called “War and Peace: A Concert of Musical Contrasts,” which featured Rejoice in the Lamb by Britten and Missa in tempore belli by Haydn.
Nylea Butler-Moore became Coro’s Artistic Director in the summer of 2014. Her first concert with the chorus celebrates the 25-year history of the ensemble, featuring repertoire “snapshots” highlighting Coro de Cámara’s rich musical heritage. The second concert, “’S Wonderful, ’S Marvelous,” embraced the genius of George and Ira Gershwin through music, dance, video, and narration. The third and final concert of the season, “A Little Night Music,” offered compositions incorporating the powerful images of the night, featuring Ola Gjeilo’s stirring “Dark Night of the Soul” for chorus, piano, and string quartet.