“It was among the best ‘Hallelujah’ choruses I’ve heard”


About the Providence Singers

Our mission

The Providence Singers presents choral performances of distinction to connect singers, listeners, performers, and composers in creative exploration of the choral art. It performs diverse choral works to preserve the choral tradition and extends that tradition by commissioning and performing new compositions. Through its concerts and recordings, and by fostering the musical growth of its membership and young singers, it sparks creative connections that nurture lifelong choral singing and civic engagement.

Our vision

The Providence Singers champions choral singing, innovation and public engagement. It will be a cultural resource that offers performances of consistently high artistic achievement, educational programs that expand enjoyment and participation, and recordings that bring choral music to wider audiences.

Our values

We value and strive for excellence in all our artistic and organizational endeavors.

We value dynamic and responsive engagement with our audience, singers, other arts organizations, and members of our community.

We value education of our singers, audience, and youth singers.

We value expanding the choral art form through performance and commissions of new choral music, and by identifying new ways to engage our community in choral music.

Our musical leadership

Christine Noel was appointed artistic director in 2013, succeeding Betsy Burleigh. Noel is director of choral activities at Clark University. She is also the founding director of the Rhode Island Children’s Chorus. She holds a Master of Music and a Doctor of Musical Arts from Boston University.

Michael Galib began serving as assistant conductor in the 2013-14 season. An honors graduate in composition from the New England Conservatory, Galib is music director at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of South County, serves as pianist with the Rhode Island Children’s Chorus and at the French School of Middlebury College, and maintains a private piano studio in Portsmouth.

John Black serves as the Providence Singers rehearsal pianist and performs in concert when programming includes piano or organ. He is organist and director of music and choirs at Greenwood Community Church, Presbyterian, in Warwick and organist at St. Mark’s Church in Jamestown. Black, a member of the American Choral Directors Association, is responsible for six choirs at Greenwood, from a pre-K to second grade children’s ensemble to adult chancel and concert choirs. He is also staff accompanist for the Rhode Island Children’s Chorus.

Paulette LaParle became music director of the Junior Providence Singers at the start of the 2012-13 season. A specialist in choral conducting and music education for high school students, LaParle was the choral arts instructor at Barrington High School for more than 30 years and has conducted the University Chorus at the University of Rhode Island.

Recent musical history

During 10 seasons, from 1996-97 through to 2005-06, Julian Wachner set the Providence Singers on a path to unprecedented achievements in repertoire, musical growth, audience development, critical acclaim and artistic collaboration. Guest appearances with jazz legend Dave Brubeck at the Newport Jazz Festival and in Lincoln Center, subscription concerts with the Rhode Island Philharmonic and the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, and appearances with the Boston Landmarks Orchestra, Newport Baroque Orchestra and other organizations have marked the Providence Singers’ growing reputation throughout the region.

In 2003-04, the Providence Singers expanded its programs to include an educational program for high school students. Founded collaboratively with the Music School of the Rhode Island Philharmonic, the Junior Providence Singers is now a 12-week intensive choral training and performance program administered by the Providence Singers at the Philharmonic’s Carter Center for Music Education.

Andrew Clark, who had been the associate conductor of the Providence Singers, succeeded Wachner for the 2006-07 season and led the Singers through 2010-11. Those five seasons were marked by artistic growth that brought choral music to an ever-wider audience. Under Clark’s leadership, the Singers produced their first three commercial recordings (released on the BMOP/sound label), hosted one of seven U.S. choral festivals funded by the National Endowment for the Arts (2005), and commissioned a number of new works, including the inaugural commission of the Wachner Fund for New Music. Clark, who was the founding music director of the Junior Providence Singers, worked to expand the Singers’ programs of choral education.

The Providence Singers takes the lead in bringing new choral works to the Rhode Island community. In 1998, the Providence Singers commissioned and premièred Wachner’s Sometimes I Feel Alive (selected as first prize winner in the 2000 Boston Choral Consortium Composition Competition and in the 2001 Cambridge Madrigal Singers Competition); offered the world première of Providence composer Elaine Bearer’s Magdalene Passion in 1999; commissioned and premièred a major new choral/orchestral work, Proud Music of the Storm, by Carlyle Sharpe on November 3, 2001; commissioned and premièred Trevor Weston’s Ma’at Musings in 2005; premièred Dave Brubeck’s The Commandments in 2005; and in 2006 premièred Julian Wachner’s Jubilate Deo (commissioned by Patricia Fuller, Singers Board Chair), for triple chorus and children’s choir a cappella. The first Wachner Fund commission, Tarik O’Regan’s Where All Is Buried, received its première in November 2009.

The National Endowment for the Arts selected the Providence Singers to host one of seven American Masterpieces Choral Festivals in 2007. This included a weekend of choral music and workshops. As part of that weekend, the Singers and their guest choral organizations presented the world premières of three newly commissioned works.

The Arts and Business Council of Rhode Island honored the Providence Singers with its 2008 Jabez Gorham Award which recognizes outstanding arts/cultural organizations in Rhode Island for unwavering commitment to excellence, significant impact in the community, and successful organizational development.

The Providence Singers’ first CD recording, Lukas Foss: The Prairie, was released in 2008 on the BMOP/sound label. The second CD, also on the BMOP/sound label — Dominick Argento: Jonah and the Whale — was released in February 2010.

Our emerging organization

Beginning in the late 1990s, the Singers entered a period of explosive growth. Already there had been successful collaborations in Boston and enthusiastic critical notice. Talented choral singers were seeking auditions in greater numbers, and the group had begun to expand from 75 voices toward its current membership of almost 120. Audiences doubled; the budget doubled, then doubled again.

In January 2000, as part of its investment in Rhode Island’s non-profit leadership, the Rhode Island Foundation awarded Providence Singers President Allison McMillan a 12-month fellowship to study choral groups that had made the transition from small amateur associations to performing arts organizations of regional or national significance. The Singers also became a member of Chorus America, the national association for choruses and choral leadership, and sought additional information from national associations designed to support non-profit organizations.

A year later, in January 2001, the Providence Singers Board began its first strategic planning process that culminated in the completion and approval of the organization’s first strategic plan in May 2001. This plan laid out a vision of the Singers as a choral organization dedicated to performance excellence. In August 2001, the Singers hired McMillan as its first executive director. At its annual meeting in June 2002, the membership of the Providence Singers adopted new bylaws effective July 1, 2002.

A second strategic plan adopted in 2005 sought to consolidate artistic gains by giving the organization a more effective administrative structure to support the artistic vision. In 2005 the Board authorized rental of an administrative office and additional administrative staff. The office and rehearsals moved to the Rhode Island Philharmonic Carter Center for Music Education in East Providence in 2008.

The third strategic plan, approved in November 2008, enhanced choral excellence and leadership provided the Board governance, fundraising, and administrative capacity to sustain the artistic vision and programs.


The Providence Singers is governed by a Board of Trustees consisting of as many as 18 trustees who serve staggered three-year terms. In addition, the artistic director and executive director serve as non-voting ex officio members of the Board.

The Board of Trustees is responsible for the strategic direction, planning, and financial health of the organization and for assuring that the Providence Singers fulfills its musical and artistic mission.


The executive director serves as chief executive officer of the organization and leads a managing committee that is responsible for the day-to-day management of the group during the year. The committee consists of staff and volunteer leaders who are responsible for various elements of the concert season. The 2009-10 committee includes:

  • MJ Daly, executive director
  • Heather Bryant, communications director
  • Kathleen Gannon, chorus manager
  • Dianne Sass, scores librarian
  • Mark Nickel, Web editor

A very brief history

Three directors
Three conductors
Julian Wachner, Charles Fassett, and Andrew Clark celebrated the Singers’ success at the June 2008 gala.

In the beginning, the Providence Singers was a group of approximately 60 auditioned voices advertising its programs as “little-known works by well-known composers and well-known works by little-known composers.” The group provided satisfaction and enjoyment for singers and audience in small spaces throughout the East Side of Providence with occasional forays into small spaces outside the city.

The Providence Singers was officially established in 1971-72 by Robert Molison, then director of the Brown University Chorus, and Glenn Giuttari and John Duffy, graduate students at Brown. Molison served as artistic director the first two seasons. In the fall of 1973, Charles Fassett, a Wheaton College professor and chorus director, became artistic director and, with accompanist William MacPherson, led the Singers for 22 seasons, establishing it as a permanent part of the Providence musical community.

Fassett retired in 1995 and Julian Wachner was appointed artistic director for the 1996-97 season. After Wachner’s ten-year association with the Singers, years marked by increasing artistic excellence and critical and popular acclaim for the group, Andrew Clark became artistic director for 2006-07 season. After five years with the Singers, Clark was appointed director of choral activities at Harvard University.

In the summer of 2011, the Providence Singers appointed Betsy Burleigh as its fifth artistic director. A graduate of Indiana University (Bachelor of Music Education with distinction, vocal concentration), Burleigh earned graduate degrees in choral conducting at the New England Conservatory of Music (Master of Music with distinction) and Indiana University (Doctor of Music). In 2012, Burleigh accepted a tenured appointment to the music faculty at Indiana University, with leave to complete the concert seasons of the Providence Singers and Chorus pro Musica in Boston.

Christine Noel was appointed the Singers’ sixth artistic director, beginning with the 2013-14 season.