NCS has a long tradition of excellence in the performing arts. Today, that tradition is carried on by actors, musicians, dancers, and designers working with stage lighting, sound, and set construction. The arts are an active and integral part of a girl's education, fostering empathy, insight, collaboration, and creative thought. NCS's Performing Arts Department is coordinate with St. Albans School: that is, students at both schools practice, study, and perform together.

List of 8 items.

  • Instrumental Music

    Upper School students can perform with the Upper School Orchestra, the Percussion Ensemble, and the St. Albans Jazz Club Ensemble. They also can create groups of their own to play for Chapel and Cathedral services and special events.
     
    The Middle School and Lower School orchestras offer young musicians the chance to perform in a group and in front of an audience.

    All instrumental students are strongly encouraged to take private lessons.

    To learn more about instrumental music, please see our handbook.
  • Lower School Music and Chorus

    Each Lower School student studies music in both a choral setting and a classroom setting, and receives music instruction in either choir rehearsal or classroom music four times during the seven-day rotation. In the classroom, students study ear training, vocal technique, and music theory following a spiral curriculum based in the Kodály Concept. All units of study for music class are from the “Conversational Solfege” music curriculum by Dr. John Feierabend (GIA Publications).

    Large curricular choral ensembles, the Grade 4 Chorus and Grade 5 & 6 Chorus, provide performance opportunities throughout the year in the Cathedral including Fall and Spring Concerts, the Festival of Lessons and Carols, and more. The ensemble repertoire changes each year to reflect the interest and ability of the students as well as represent a variety of styles, genres, languages, and traditions. Fifth and 6th grade students may also choose to participate in the Lower School Guild, an extra-curricular choir for students with a passion for singing and who seek additional performance opportunities.
  • Lower School Guild

    Open to all 5th and 6th grade students, the NCS Lower School Guild is an extra‐curricular, after‐school choir that meets on Wednesdays. This extraordinary ensemble of young singers enjoys an active performance schedule throughout the year and includes a professional recording session in the spring.

    Past performances include the Kennedy Center, EagleBank Arena, and the National Memorial Day Parade, as well as regular performances at Washington National Cathedral. No audition is required for this ensemble, however students who sign up for Guild are expected to do their best to stay committed to the group for the year.
  • Middle School Chorus

    Continuing the strong tradition of choral singing developed in Lower School, the Middle School Chorus is the primary curricular choral ensemble available to all 7th and 8th graders who seek a community of singers. The Middle School Chorus provides weekly high-quality choral music instruction focusing on good rehearsal technique, expressive singing, ear training, music notation, and simple music theory concepts.

    The Middle School Chorus has performed in such venues as Nationals Ballpark, the National Christmas Tree, and Carnegie Hall, as well as regular performances at Washington National Cathedral. Additionally, this chorus collaborates with Form I & II singers from St. Albans at various points during the year. Annual performance opportunities include fall and spring concerts, the Independent Middle School Choral Festival, the NCS-STA Service of Lessons and Carols, an adjudication trip, and various cathedral and chapel services and other occasions. No audition is required to join this ensemble.
  • Chorale

    The Chorale provides all girls in the Upper School, whether experienced or inexperienced, with a substantive choral experience. There is no test for admission, but a short audition determines voice part and reading ability and provides and opportunity to discusses the expectations of singers. A side benefit of Chorale membership is the many opportunities for social interaction with Upper School boys from St. Albans: casual dinners, pool parties, ice skating, and other events supplement the weekly coed rehearsals throughout the year.
     
    The Chorale performs music ranging from sacred classical and world music to folk songs and show tunes. It sings two full-length concerts in the Washington National Cathedral each school year, as well as the Festival of Lessons and Carols, Commencement for both schools, and local and national choral festivals. Members of the Chorale participate in an annual spring tour; destinations have included U.S. cities from coast to coast as well as Australia and South Africa.
  • Madrigal Singers

    The Madrigal Singers are a select coed group of 28 voices, auditioned from the Chorale, to perform a wide range of music in a variety of settings. They have appeared on National Public Radio and at the National Tree Lighting, Kennedy Center Honors, the White House, and other prestigious venues.
     
    The Madrigal Singers are also called upon to sing for school occasions and alumnae events. Rehearsals for the Madrigal Singers are Wednesday evenings, with occasional extra rehearsals as needed before a performance.
  • Private Lessons

    Private lessons on the Close are offered in voice, piano, guitar, and all common orchestral instruments (of course, it's also fine for students to study with private teachers outside of the school community). Contact a teacher to discuss possible lesson times. If a time can be agreed upon, the lessons will be billed to student accounts.
     
    In addition to regular lessons, many of our teachers schedule workshops and recitals for students during the school year. Students who wish may have the opportunity to be evaluated, for example, by the Associated Boards of the Royal College of Music. Students may also want coaching toward a particular performance, such as a singing role in a musical or a cathedral performance.
  • Cathedral Choristers

    Some 20 NCS students are members of the Washington National Cathedral's Choir of Men and Girls, the first of its kind in the United States. Led by Choirmaster Michael McCarthy, the Girl Choristers have sung at churches and cathedrals all over England and the United States. They perform at NCS Cathedral services throughout the year and can be heard several times a week singing evensong in the Cathedral after school. For more information, visit the Chorister program's website.

Faculty

List of 5 members.

  • Photo of Charles Bowers

    Charles Bowers Jr. 

    Associate Choral Director
  • Photo of Aaron Goen

    Aaron Goen 

    Director of Choral Music, Lower Grades
  • Photo of Michael McCarthy

    Michael McCarthy 

    Choirmaster
  • Meghan Stoll 

    Interim Associate Director of Choral Music
  • Photo of A. Scott Wood

    A. Scott Wood 

    Director of Instrumental Music