Chapel Choir

The Duke Chapel Choir is the largest and most visible music group in the Chapel. Made up of auditioned Duke students and members of the Durham community, the Chapel Choir is a regular part of worship on Sundays throughout the academic year. The choir also presents Handel’s Messiah each December, and another major work in the spring. Led by interim director Philip Cave, the choir is one of the largest and most celebrated of its kind in the country.

The Chapel Choir, along with the Schola Cantorum, sings anthems and leads the congregation in hymns in the Sunday worship services and various other Chapel services. It also presents two major concerts with professional orchestra each year. The choir’s annual performances of Handel’s Messiah, a tradition since 1932, pack the Chapel each December. The Spring Oratorio concerts feature other major choral works, from Bach to modern masterpieces.

Hear the Chapel Choir perform the Mozart Requiem, Rachmaninoff's All-Night Vigil, or any of several other works, such as Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” from Messiah Hubert Parry's "I Was Glad", or John Rutter's “God Be In My Head” (The Chapel Choir's signature choral benediction), by visiting the Chapel Music iTunes page.

The Chapel Choir has performed at such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and Washington National Cathedral. It has also toured internationally in Poland, the Czech Republic, China, Spain, Austria, Greece, Turkey, as well as a tour of England that culminated in a performance of Handel’s Messiah at London’s St. Martin-in-the-Fields, with members of the English Festival Orchestra.

In addition to its critically praised performances of Messiah, the Chapel Choir has performed many other major choral works with professional orchestra. In recent seasons, its repertoire has included:

  • MacMillan's St. Luke Passion
  • Bach’s St. Matthew Passion
  • Duruflé’s Requiem
  • Lauridsen’s Lux Æterna
  • Fanshawe’s African Sanctus
  • Mozart’s Requiem
  • Tchaikovsky’s Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom
  • Poulenc’s Gloria
  • Vaughan Williams’ Dona nobis pacem.

The Schola Cantorum, a 36-voice chamber choir from within the Chapel Choir, sings occasional anthems in the Sunday services. Rehearsals are scheduled as needed, and the repertoire consists largely of Renaissance motets.