In their 2018-2019 season, The Washington Chorus (TWC) welcomed a new Executive Director when they hired Stephen Marc Beaudoin. Producing The District chatted with Beaudoin about his background and connection to the arts, the many exciting things lined up this year for TWC, and what he expects to accomplish during his tenure.
Hailing from a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri, as the youngest of 4 kids in a working class family, Beaudoin describes his upbringing as one defined by helping others, advocating for justice, and - most importantly - full of music, which have deeply informed the values that drive his work to this day.
“Music was everywhere. Music was central to my life and my experience growing up,” Beaudoin said.
He went on to study voice at the New England Conservatory in Boston. In his career, he worked as a performer in opera and musical theatre and then for the last 17 years in nonprofit arts management, including as Executive Director of PHAME - an innovative Oregon nonprofit serving artists and musicians with intellectual disabilities - and most recently serving as Executive Director of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra. Beaudoin soon joined TWC as a chorus member, but when the opportunity arose to become an organization leader, he could not pass and applied to play a bigger role in what he described as “the most vibrant and lively vocal ensemble in the entire DC region.”
At one month in, he’s doing a lot of listening and learning, and keeping an eye on what The Washington Chorus ultimately needs most at this stage in its 58 year history: an urgent and compelling vision for the future.
“I hope we can take full advantage of DC as an incredible canvas for expression, for opportunity, for connection,” said Beaudoin. “I want us to develop our why and our vision for the future, then drive full speed into that. How can we be more representative of DC and the world? Who do we sing for, where do we sing, what do we sing? All of that must be intricately connected to our why.”
Looking ahead this season, TWC is holding their annual gala in the form of a St. Patrick’s Day concert and celebration on Sunday, March 17 at 3PM starting at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts followed by a dinner gathering and live auction at The Watergate Hotel.
“It will also be a celebration of Christopher Bell’s (TWC Artistic and Music Director) Irish heritage where we’re bringing the world to DC and DC to the world featuring Irish singers Zoe Conway and John McIntyre alongside a local Irish band and dancers. It is going to be an absolute can’t-miss celebration,” Beaudoin explained. Irish Ambassador to the United States Daniel Mulhall will also be in attendance.
After the gala, future plans include performing as part of a world premiere commission from the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) and The Kennedy Center titled “Arctica” by Lera Auerbach as part of the Direct Current Festival on March 30, 2019; performing Handel’s Messiah with the NSO in December 2019; and performing with and then collaborating on a live recording of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 - the Chorus’ first symphonic recording in 20 years - with the National Symphony in June of 2020, led by the NSO’s Maestro Gianandrea Noseda.
In addition to these and other concerts in the season ahead, Beaudoin says that TWC will continue to find ways to reach and engage more audiences throughout the DC region, through its own programs as well as in new and expanded partnerships.
“I believe that music is a fundamental right; a human right. And I believe the world is better when we sing together. Everyone has a voice that matters. And singing together is one of the most foundational, human expressions we have to create community and share our stories,” Beaudoin said.
With the next year full of so many unique performance opportunities, Beaudoin says he and the board, staff, and singers of TWC hope to make each opportunity a unique success, to spread the reputation and goodwill of the city’s only two-time Grammy award-winning chorus.