The Verdi Chorus kicks off its 39th season with their Spring Concert, Hélas mon Coeur, dedicated to the memory of Verdi Chorus patriarch Maestro Aurelio De La Vega, for two performances only at the First Presbyterian Church in Santa Monica on May 14 and 15. Led by Founding Artistic Director Anne Marie Ketchum, the Verdi Chorus is the only choral group in Southern California that focuses primarily on the dramatic and diverse music for opera chorus. 

The Verdi Chorus has announced the Maestro Aurelio De La Vega Guest Artist Fund which will provide enhanced funding for guests artists that perform with the Verdi Chorus.  Guest artists have included Shana Blake Hill, Malcom MacKenzie, Jamie Chamberlin, Nathan Granner, Audrey Babcock and Alex Boyer.

The upcoming Spring Concert, Hélas mon Coeur, will feature three such guest soloists: soprano Julie Makerov whom The Huffington Post declared “triumphant” in her performance of Senta in Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer with Los Angeles Opera; tenor Todd Wilander, praised by The New York Times for his “brave, vocally assured portrayals” and who has returned for eight seasons thus far with The Metropolitan Opera; and renowned baritone Roberto Perlas Gómez who, with over 100 roles to his credit, has performed extensively throughout the United States. 

These performances are made possible, in part, through the generous support of the Sahm Family Foundation, The Green Foundation, and Colburn Foundation, and by grant funding from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture, and the City of Santa Monica through the Santa Monica Arts Commission.

The Verdi Chorus prepares for concerts with rehearsals every Monday night. There, an amazing thing happens as over 40 singers gather from every walk of life to become the Verdi Chorus.  This wide swath of people includes singers from 18 to 80 who come from a variety of professions, and yet have one thing in common: the desire to sing side by side each week and delve into the rich, dramatic world of opera.  They in turn are joined by up-and-coming opera singers at the beginning of their careers, and college students who have just begun to realize their operatic gifts, as all of them become one under the direction of Founding Artistic Director Anne Marie Ketchum. Each rehearsal is like a vocal master class.

The Chorus is also proud to continue with the Apprentice Singers program that was established in 2015 in which talented vocal music students at the college level gain the opportunity to work with the Chorus in rehearsals and sing operatic music in concert. Each receives a scholarship to provide funds with which they can broaden their music studies.  Sahm Foundation Apprentices who successfully complete the program are invited back to sing with the Chorus for subsequent sessions.

Apprentices for this session, named in honor of a generous grant from the Sahm Family Foundation, are sopranos Amelia DeCoster, Meagan Carlson and Ariana Flores, and mezzo Bianca Gutierrez.

Performance times are Saturday, May 14 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, May 15 at 2 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Santa Monica, located at 1220 2nd Street. Tickets are available for purchase at Priority seating is available for $40, general admission is $30, seniors are $25, and students aged 25 and under with a valid ID are $10. For more information visit:

Submitted by Peter Goldman