San Francisco Girls Chorus, Valérie Sainte-Agathe, Artistic Director
San Francisco Girls Chorus
Stunning range, flexibility, drama, and power are among the hallmarks of the 40-year-old San Francisco Girls Chorus, recognized as one of the world’s premier youth vocal ensembles. Led by Artistic Director Valérie Sainte-Agathe, SFGC has achieved an incomparable sound that underscores the unique clarity and force of impeccably trained treble voices.
Recent performance highlights include debuts in February 2018 at Carnegie Hall with Philip Glass in a remounting of the composer’s 1971 work, Music With Changing Parts, and in April 2017 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts with The Knights for the 2017 SHIFT: A Festival of American Orchestras; tours to the Nordic countries and Cuba; and the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama. SFGC presents an annual Bay Area subscription series and will collaborate this season with leading arts organizations including the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, Kronos Quartet, Opera Parallèle, and the Copenhagen Girls Choir.
Praised by Gramophone Magazine as a “remarkable tapestry of teenage voices,” SFGC has been a champion of the music of our time since its founding, having commissioned more than three dozen works by leading composers including Philip Glass, Richard Danielpour, Aaron Jay Kernis, Gabriel Kahane, Augusta Read Thomas, Lisa Bielawa, and Chen Yi. In February 2018, the ensemble released its newest album Final Answer on Philip Glass’s Orange Mountain Music label, which features seven world premiere recordings and commissions for or by the chorus. SFGC’s performance and recording activities have garnered five GRAMMY Awards and four ASCAP/Chorus America Awards for Adventurous Programming.
SFGC also operates a Chorus School, which annually trains more than 250 young women, ages 4-18, in the art of choral singing and has been called “a model in the country for training girls’ voices” by the California Arts Council. For more information, visit sfgirlschorus.org.
Valérie Sainte-Agathe, Artistic Director, has conducted the San Francisco Girls Chorus since 2013, including in performances with renowned artists such as Jon Nakamatsu, Deborah Voigt, Laurie Rubin, Philip Glass, Aaron Jay Kernis, Gustavo Dudamel, and Michael Tilson Thomas. A strong believer in musical collaborations, she has performed with the New Century Chamber Orchestra, Kronos Quartet, Magik*Magik Orchestra and Tenet Ensemble. In February 2018 she made her Carnegie Hall debut with the Philip Glass Ensemble, conducting with Michael Riesman in Glass’s Music with Changing Parts. She also conducted The Photographer by Philip Glass in October 2017. In June 2016, she conducted the Chorus alongside The Knights Orchestra and Brooklyn Youth Chorus for the New York Philharmonic’s NY PHIL BIENNIAL festival at Lincoln Center. She also collaborated with The Knights for the SHIFT A Festival of American Orchestras at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. After five years in the United States, her first recording as SFGC’s Music Director, Final Answer, was released on Orange Mountain Music in February 2018. Between 2014 and 2016, she was assistant conductor for Lisa Bielawa’s made-for-TV opera, Vireo.
Ms. Sainte-Agathe served as Music Director for the Young Singers program of the Montpellier National Symphony and Opera in France from 1998-2011. In this capacity, she trained young singers for opera and symphony concerts and productions. She participated in eight recordings with the Montpellier National Orchestra and The Radio France Festival. She is a recipient of Victoires de la Musique, and a two-time recipient of the Orphée d’Or award—for Honegger’s Jeanne d’Arc au bûcher and d’Indy’s L’Étranger. Ms. Sainte-Agathe studied at the Montpellier Conservatory in piano performance. She received her bachelor’s degree in conducting and a Master in Management from Université Paul Valery in Montpellier.