About Us

Atlanta Schola Cantorum is an 18-24 voice acapella choir specializing in the performance of sacred choral music of the 16th century Renaissance, notably the works of Praetorius, Josquin des Prez, Palestrina, Victoria, Tallis, and Byrd. This focus on Renaissance polyphony sets Atlanta Schola Cantorum apart from other Atlanta choirs.

A Long Tradition

Atlanta Schola Cantorum was founded in 1974 as part of Kelly’s Seed & Feed Theatre, and is the oldest independent choir is its kind in the Atlanta area. In the 1970s, Schola presented the first local performances of 12th-century mystic and composer Hildegard von Bingen’s Ordo Virtutum and provided the original casts for The Play of Herod. Schola specializes in the performance of sacred choral music of the 16th century Renaissance, notably the works of Josquin des Prez, Palestrina, Victoria, Tallis, and Byrd, as well as rarely heard medieval chants and songs. While Schola’s repertoire also includes music from other time periods, this focus on Renaissance polyphony sets Schola apart from other Atlanta choirs.

During the European Renaissance, “the world was an extremely wretched and dangerous place,” according to music critic Pierre Ruhe (December 2009, Atlanta Journal Constitution). Yet, he notes, “perhaps as a call to an otherworldly paradise, sacred church music was an escape of extraordinary, timeless beauty.”

Atlanta Schola Cantorum strives to present authentic, engaging performances of this timeless but little-known music. Describing a May 2006 Schola performance, Ruhe wrote, “The music is exhilarating, sweet, agonizing and intensely poignant.… Yet, true to form, everything is perfect in balance, structure and sensibility.… Such depth of expression—a fusion of harmonies and texts—was the hallmark of [Atlanta Schola Cantorum] throughout the concert.”

Schola presents two sets of concerts each year (winter and spring) in the Atlanta area, with occasional concerts at other venues in the Southeast. Since 2000, Schola has frequently performed in Charleston in the Piccolo Spoleto Festival.  In Spring 2024 they were featured performers in the Sally Weston Hawie Concert Series at Wesley Church at Frederica, St. Simon’s Island. 

Music Director

Nancy Ruth Durance was appointed musical director and conductor of Atlanta Schola Cantorum in fall 2022.  She previously sung with the early music consort, Camerata Nova (now Dead of Winter), in Winnipeg, Canada, and has directed church, community, and school choirs in Canada, Vietnam, Slovenia, and England.  She has a Master of Music in Vocal Performance and Conducting from University of Surrey, UK, an ARCT Diploma in Piano Performance from the Royal Conservatory of Music Toronto, Canada, and is currently completing a PhD from Biola University, exploring the impact of contemporary culture on the field of choral directing.  In addition, she is a published composer with an output of more than 140 pieces, including music for choirs, piano, and modern hymns. Some of her music can be found under Beckenhorst Press and ICC Publishing House. She is a member of ACDA and GMEA.

Auditions

Atlanta Schola Cantorum is a mixed choir of amateur and professional musicians who volunteer their time and talents. We welcome the interest of qualified new singers throughout the year, by audition. If interested, please send a message through email, or via our Facebook page

News and Reviews

Religion of Music Redefines the Role of the Chorus at Piccolo Spoleto and Beyond (Leah Stacy, The Post and Courier [Charleston], 6/3/2012)

Early Music Celebrates Holiday Serenity – Atlanta Schola Cantorum and Play of Herod (John Lemley, WABE’s City Cafe, 12/9/2011)

Atlanta Schola Cantorum Brings Ancient Church Music to Life (Pierre Ruhe, AJC, 11/30/2009)

“Renaissance Rocks with Atlanta Schola Cantorum” (Pierre Ruhe, AJC, 5/7/2006)

Contact Us

Send email to atlantaschola@gmail.com