A choir, also referred to as a chorus, is any vocal ensemble or group of people who sing. A choir typically consists of more than eight people and may be classified according to the types of music performed, the number of parts included, and whether the group consists of males, females, or both. A group of singers who perform a wide variety of complex musical literature is often referred to as a symphonic choir.
Many college universities with music programs have a symphonic choir, and many have performed internationally. A symphonic choir usually consists of a selective group of singers ranging in number and acquiring their parts in the choir by audition. Generally, for a chorus to be defined as a symphonic choir, it must perform pieces that consist of several movements in three or more parts.
A symphonic choir may be accompanied by a full orchestra or may perform without musical accompaniment. Because of the vast array of musical compositions performed by a symphonic choir, members usually possess very strict voice qualities. Members of a symphonic choir are able to read sheet music by sight, maintain vocal tone and pitch, and blend their voices with the entire group to create one large musical sound rather than many individual ones.
Like a symphonic orchestra, a symphonic choir is led by a conductor. The members of a symphonic choir are generally placed according to vocal range, just as an orchestra is arranged into different sections of instruments. Students who audition for a symphonic choir in college usually earn credits, and the experience is treated as a class. Performances by a symphonic choir include public performances and competition. The Westminster Symphonic Choir is an example of a symphonic choir comprised of students attending Rider University’s Westminster Choir College. They perform with nationally known symphonic orchestras and have recorded performances with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.