HISTORY OF THE CHOIR
The Carolina Concert Choir began in 1979 as the Carolina Chamber Singers, a madrigal group of 12 voices. The group was under the direction of Dr. Robert Barrow, retired head of the Music Department at Williams College. From 1980 to 1996, the choir was directed by Beverly Ward, dean of the Western North Carolina chapter of the Guild of Organists. The group performed classical and contemporary pieces, some composed by Ward. For the next six years, now renamed the Carolina Concert Choir, the group was led by several guest conductors. In 2002, Bradford Gee was hired as Artistic Director/Conductor. He led the Choir until 2013. Under his aegis, the Choir performed at the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2009.
In 2013, Professor Lawrence Doebler became the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Choir. He had a rich and varied career as a choral conductor, teacher, clinician and organizer. He holds degrees from Oberlin Conservatory and Washington University. He first taught and conducted at Smith College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Then, throughout his 35 years at Ithaca College, in addition to concert performances there, he led the Ithaca College Choral Union and Symphony Orchestra in concerts at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and other major venues. During his five years with the Carolina Concert Choir, Professor Doebler led us with performances providing an eclectic repertoire of classical, popular, and unique compositions such as Carmina Burana. He took the choir to perform the Mozart Requiem at Carnegie Hall during May 2018.
Since August 2018, the Carolina Concert Choir is led by our present Artistic Director and Conductor, Dr. Michael Lancaster. The choir is comprised of the highly capable voices of auditioned singers from Hendersonville, Asheville, Brevard and upstate South Carolina. Our repertoire continues with a varied mix from classical choral and symphonic literature and lighter fare, including many contemporary favorites at our concerts. Dr. Lancaster took members of the choir to London to perform Dan Forrest’s LUX along with other choirs from across the world. At our Spring 2024 Concert we will perform Schubert’s Mass in G Major and Ola Gjeilo’s Sunrise Mass. Members of the choir will also perform the Sunrise Mass in Cuernavaca, Mexico in June with other choirs from that area. The Carolina Concert Choir is proud to take its place along with Flat Rock Playhouse, the Hendersonville Symphony Orchestra and local arts organizations in enriching the cultural environment of our community.
MEET THE TEAM
Conductor and Artistic Director
Dr. Lancaster received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree (Choral Music) from the University of Southern California. He has extensive academic experience including serving as Director of Choral Activities at Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC, Associate Professor of Choral and Vocal Music at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY, and Director of Choral Activities at Central Missouri State University (now University of Central Missouri), Warrensburg, MO. As a professional chorister/soloist himself, Dr. Lancaster has sung under the direction of many outstanding conductors, most notably Robert Shaw, at the Robert Shaw Institute of Music for many summers in southern France. He also performed in the Robert Shaw Choral Institute at Carnegie Hall. He has also performed under Hellmuth Rilling at the Oregon Bach Festival.
Dr. Lancaster previously served as Music Director of the Asheville Symphony Chorus and the Asheville Symphony Chamber Chorus. In April 2016 he conducted the Asheville Symphony Orchestra & Chorus in a performance of Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass of the Masterwork Series. During his tenure at the Carolina Concert Choir, he has directed concerts featuring the Chichester Psalms by Leonard Berstein, the Lord Nelson Mass by Franz Joesph Haydn, Carols and Lullabies by Conrad Susa, Memorial by Rene’ Clausen, Prayers and Remembrances by Stephen Paulus, LUX by Dan Forrest, and Illuminare by Elaine Hagenberg. He is also Director of Worship and Music at the First Presbyterian Church of Highlands, Highlands, NC, where he conducts the Chancel Choir and the Sacred Sounds Bell Choir.