The Sacramento Master Singers (SMS) is a group of 50 singers, ages 18 and older, from the greater Sacramento area who are dedicated to the advancement of choral music.
Established in 1982, the group is known for its commitment to delight, challenge, and inspire audiences with seasons programmed to include premieres, classics, and a wide variety of musical periods and styles.
SMS offers profound thanks to the numerous guest directors who have conducted the choir. These include Joseph Jennings, Perla Warren, Moses Hogan, Maria Guinand, Oscar Escalada, Brian Stratton, Alice Parker, and Vance George. We are also grateful to the numerous individuals and ensembles with whom we have had the opportunity to collaborate. These include the Boston Pops, Sacramento Philharmonic, Sacramento Youth Symphony, Lynn Stevens and the Sacramento Children’s Chorus, James Wheatley and Celebration Arts, Linda Goodrich and the Sacramento Black Art of Dance, Sacramento Opera, Gershwin expert and pianist Richard Glazier, the Folsom Symphony, and Celtic music duo Men of Worth.
SMS has performed many area premieres such as the Robert D. Levin completion of the Mozart Requiem and the Alfred Schnittke Requiem. We have commissioned and performed new works such as Elements by David O, If Music Be the Food of Love by Clifford Shockney, and How Can I Keep From Singing? by Larry Shackley. We often contract with instrumentalists to provide additional accompaniment, including such outstanding performers as Grammy award winning Native American flutist Mary Youngblood.
SMS plays a leadership role in bringing high-quality choral music to area youth through outreach programs, collaboration with college choirs, scholarships for young singers, and children’s holiday concerts. The Sacramento Master Singers was one of three North American choirs selected to perform at the international choral festival America Cantat in Venezuela. We have toured the Carolinas and participated as the headliner choir in the Maui Choral Festival. SMS was the only community choir invited to perform at the American Choral Directors Association 2012 convention in Reno, Nevada. We remain committed to advancing the art and lifting the soul.
Dr. Ralph Edward Hughes has served as Conductor of the Sacramento Master Singers since 1986. His leadership during this period has generated increased recognition for the group’s high performance standards, innovative programming and interest in serving the community. This growth is evidenced by the numerous invitations extended to these singers to perform and by the tremendous increase in audience. Dr. Hughes’ direction has helped fulfill the community’s need for a professional-caliber chamber choir.
Ralph Hughes received his Bachelor’s Degree and teaching credential from California State University, Sacramento in 1983. He taught music and drama for seven years at Bella Vista High School in Fair Oaks and, since 1990, he has taught choir, voice and piano at American River College. He was awarded his Master’s Degree in Choral Conducting from CSUS in December 1992 and his Doctoral Degree in Conducting in 2002 from the University of South Carolina.
In recent years, Dr. Hughes has focused on extending the Master Singers’ impact on the community through an emphasis on multi-cultural music and programming designed to stimulate interest among the area’s young people. Regular participation in the World Symposium on Choral Music has introduced him to the world’s leading choral directors and composers of choral music, and he has responded by programming many exciting new works. These activities have exposed the singers and the Sacramento community to several West Coast or American premieres of important new works. In addition, the reputation he and the Master Singers have developed for high quality programs and performances culminated with the invitation to join choirs from all over the world at the prestigious America Cantat choral festival in Venezuela. The Sacramento Master Singers were one of only three groups from the United States in attendance.
Ralph Hughes is a member of the California Music Educators Association, the American Choral Director’s Association, and the International Federation for Choral Music. In 1995, he was recognized as “Outstanding Music Educator of the Year” by the California Music Educators Association Capitol Section.
Mary Ann Gieszelmann, The Sacramento Choral Calendar
Barbara Zettel grew up in a large, musically gifted family in Wisconsin and moved West over 35 years ago. Choral singing has been an integral part of her life. She has been a cantor, choir director, organist and church soloist. She played violin during high school and early college years. For the last 25 years, Barbara's musical focus was vocal performance, mostly as an avocation. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music-Vocal Performance. Her singing career has included community college and church choirs. The most memorable achievements are the 14 years with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus with many recordings, and three of the Grammies that SFS earned. Barbara also performed over the years with San Francisco Choral Artists and the Sanford Dole Ensemble. She has always been an enthusiastic choral singer, and in every ensemble, volunteered her time and skills, from section leader, to committee posts, to performing in special small ensemble programs.
After moving to Sacramento, Barbara sang with CSUS University Chorus, was a Kendrick Ensemble soloist with the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra for Bernstein's West Side Story Suites and found her niche a few years ago with the Sacramento Master Singers. She now is an avid supporter and volunteer for SMS and is honored to share her breadth of choral experiences as a member of the Artistic Advisory Board. In her day job, Barbara is a family law paralegal.
Lynn Stevens began her choral music career while a student at the University of Southern California. She sang professionally and toured internationally with the Ray Coniff Singers, singing in concert with the Norman Luboff Choir, and later performed and recorded with the Carpenters.
Lynn received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music from the University of Southern California and began her teaching career in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Following a move back to her hometown of Sacramento, Lynn taught for 25 years in local elementary and middle schools.
While undertaking more advanced studies at California State University, Sacramento, Lynn founded the Sacramento Children’s Chorus and received her master’s degree in choral conducting. In addition to her responsibilities as Artistic Director and Conductor with the Sacramento Children's Chorus, Lynn teaches in the music education department at California State University, Sacramento.
It was a special treat that both the Sacramento Master Singers and the Sacramento Children's Chorus were chosen to sing at the 2012 American Choral Directors Association Western Division Conference. Go Sacramento choirs!
James Wheatley retired after 36 years of state government service. His idea of retirement, however, would exhaust most of us. James is currently both the President and Artistic Director of Celebration Arts. In addition to overall responsibility for the performing arts programs, he teaches dance, choreographs, composes music and directs the Celebration Chorale and is an integral leader of Celebration Arts’ children and teen programs.
James is also an actor and has appeared in major roles in a number of community theater productions. His credits include I’m Not Rappaport, Lilies of the Field, The Blood Knot, Lost in the Stars, Ragtime and numerous others. As a director he has been at the helm for many local productions including Ain’t Misbehavin, Eden, and Is the Color of Mississippi Mud. James has also composed music for several plays and wrote both book and music for the musicals We’re on Our Way and Stable in the Back.
James is active as an Arts advocate serving on several arts organization boards. Additionally, he has worked on committees and task groups for the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission. He serves as a volunteer consultant and advisor to many arts groups and individual artists. SMS has been fortunate to have James as not only an Artistic Advisory Board Member, but also a collaborative artist. He has choreographed for and danced in several concerts.
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