Chorus Background

Arkansas Chamber Singers was organized by Barbara Abramoff Levy in 1979 when then Gov. Bill Clinton brought her husband to Arkansas to serve on his staff and she wanted to get involved in something musical, in keeping with her background. During her first season, in April 1980, a fundraiser (Montage) was held at the Governor’s Mansion. Since 1980 the ensemble has commissioned works by noted composers Stephen Paulus, David Dickau, and Gwyneth Walker, among others. During Bill Clinton's presidential years, the Arkansas Chamber Singers sang during both inaugural celebrations for President Bill Clinton. The choir has also performed with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, presenting many of the most important choral/orchestra masterworks. 

Continuing on these traditions, the Arkansas Chamber Singers present a yearly subscription series at several venues in Little Rock and around the state. A new holiday tradition began in 2012 with the ACS singing a free concert series at the Arkansas Old State House Museum on the Arkansas River. This August (2024) marks the 45th anniversary of the Arkansas Chamber Singers.

Timeline Highlights

1981 - Dr. Rosella Duerksen takes the position as conductor of the Arkansas Chamber Singers

April 1981 - a program - Musical Frolic – was held at the Arkansas Territorial Restoration, with the singers in period costume. That same year, in May, Chamber Singers put on a concert as part of Riverfest.

May 1983 - concert – America Sings! – was performed at the Old State House.

December 1983 and December 1984 - sang with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra in Amahl & The Night Visitors.

January 1984 - sang with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra in performances of the Verdi Requiem

February 1985 - performed Bach Magnificat with ASO

June 1987 - gave guest performance at the American Guild of Organists Convention held in Little Rock.

Also in 1987 - Chamber Singers formed the chorus at Wildwood in two presentations of Mozart’s The Magic Flute.

December 1992 - performed at the Inauguration of Gov. Jim Guy Tucker

January 1993 - performed in Washington at the Presidential Inaugural Dinner at the Washington Hilton Hotel for President-Elect Bill Clinton.

1995 - Dr. John Yarrington takes the position as conductor of the Arkansas Chamber Singers.

1999 - Professor John Erwin is appointed as Artistic Director and Conductor of the Arkansas Chamber Singers.

For 20th Anniversary, in March 1999, performed a commissioned work – The Golden Harp – by Gwyneth Walker.

March 2004 – performed as the chorus with Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s presentation of Music Man in their Pop Series.

December of 2004 - Chamber Singers participated with the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff Vesper Choir and the University of Central Arkansas Choirs in "A Holiday Music Gala", a recorded concert presentation by Arkansas Educational Television Network at Reynolds Performance Hall on the University of Central Arkansas campus.

April 2005 – performed in the chorus of Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's presentation of Exodus composed by maestro, David Itkin

December 2007 – University of Central Arkansas Concert Choir joined the Chamber Singers to form a choir of 110 voices for two powerful performances of Handel's Messiah.

December 2012 - Old State House holiday concert tradition began

May 2013 - ACS presented the Mozart Requiem.

March 2014 - Arkansas Chamber Singers performed at the Southwestern Division ACDA Conference, under the direction of John Erwin. Click here to see a performance of In My Dreams by Paul Mealor from the SWACDA conference.

2014 - performed Verdi Requiem and the Haydn Theresien Mass with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.

2024 - Dr. Lorissa Mason was appointed Artistic Director and Conductor of the Arkansas Chamber Singers.

Archival Books

1979 - 1992

1992 - 1999

1999 - 2004