The Yale Alumni Chorus Foundation, Inc. is a member-based charitable foundation, born of the joy of singing and deeply committed to the idea that music can make the world a better place. We love to sing together, and our domestic and international activities strive to change lives for the better. We are, in a very practical sense, "Ambassadors of Song". Our Chorus often performs without charge to our performance and community service partners, and we often contribute ticket receipts to support local charities or musical interests, our Gift of Song to the communities we visit.
In 1997, the Yale Alumni Chorus was formed under the leadership of Mark Dollhopf to undertake a tour to perform classical music with some of the leading symphony orchestras in China. That initial two-week tour, involving a chorus of some 180 singers from 30 U.S. states and nine other countries, was an unprecedented success in many human dimensions. For many of us, it was life changing and rejuvenating in itself. And, from our shared experiences, we began to understand the power of musically-based intercultural exchange.
In 2001, the Chorus undertook a second major international tour, this time to Russia, Wales, and England to celebrate Yale's Tercentennial. We sang concerts in St. Petersburg with the Kirov Orchestra at the Mariinsky Theatre, and in Moscow with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra at the Moscow Conservatory. We performed the honorary opening concert at the 55th Annual International Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales. And we presented a concert with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Our continued involvement in service activities made the tour distinctive. In St. Petersburg, for example, we hosted a wonderfully festive dinner with the outstanding Smolny Cathedral Choir, which was suffering financially in post-Soviet Russia. In Wales, we honored Yale founder Elihu Yale at his gravesite in the town of Wrexham, and then produced a memorable Fourth of July or "Interdependence Day" Picnic on the church grounds for all the people of Wrexham.
Operating now under the auspices of the Yale Alumni Chorus Foundation, the Chorus visited Moscow once again in early April 2003. We were invited by the Russian Administration to become the first U.S. chorus to appear in the State Kremlin Palace, performing "Russian Patriotic Songs of the Great War" with international opera star Dmitri Hvorostovsky and the Philharmonia of Russia under the baton of Constantine Orbelian. This moving event was broadcast to a Russian television audience of 98 million. Later, to complete the international collaboration, we joined the Philharmonia of Russia in October 2003 to celebrate the Centennial of Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian with concerts at Carnegie Hall and Yale University.
In the summer of 2004, the Chorus undertook the Gift of Song Tour to Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, where we performed with major symphony orchestras in major concert venues in Salvador and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, in Buenos Aires, and in Santiago. In the course of this tour, we founded and funded a vibrantly-successful youth chorus in Rio's Cidade de Deus, the notorious City of God shantytown depicted in the Oscar-nominated film of the same name. This chorus provides ongoing productive opportunities to children at risk in one of the most challenging communities on the outskirts of Rio. Later, in La Plata, Argentina, the Foundation sponsored a choral festival of eight Argentine choruses that trace their origins back to a Yale Glee Club tour in 1941 undertaken at the request of the U.S. Department of State. And in Chile, the Foundation provided Spanish-language teaching resources for public school music teachers throughout the country and sponsored a singing exchange with many school choirs from Santiago.
The chorus has since traveled to the UK in 2006; to the Netherlands in 2006 for a collaboration with Valery Gergiev and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra in a performance of Beethoven Symphony #9 and Schönberg Survivor from Warsaw; to South Africa in 2007, where performances helped to support the work of the Simon Estes Music High School, the Eastern Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Ubuntu Education Fund; to Mexico and Guatelama in 2009; to Cuba in 2010; to Turkey, Georgia, and Armenia in 2011, where our performance with the Yale Glee Club and Tekfen Philharmonic Orchestra helped to celebrate the Glee Club’s 150th anniversary; and to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in 2013.
The Foundation is involved in service related activity within the U.S. as well. We have sponsored a youth chorus at the extraordinary Amistad Academy, a charter school in New Haven, Connecticut, and have funded a music appreciation program at the O'Gorman Center, an inner city education facility for young children in Harlem, New York. Together with the Yale Glee Club, Yale School of Music, and the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, we helped launch the first Yale International Choral Festival in 2012.