Frank Damrosch and The People’s Choral Union at Carnegie Hall

Yesterday I posted about singing at Carnegie Hall and about the People’s Choral Union, a 19th century choir of middle and low income singers started by Frank Damrosch. The People’s Choral Union sang in the same spot we did and so I was mulling that over while we waited to sing. What was it like for them, singing in such a sparkly, brand new concert hall, considering the hard lives they led during the day?

I also mentioned that I didn’t take pictures. Well, the daughter of the woman standing next to me did! Here is a picture of us and one of the People’s Choral Union. The angle is different and the shot of us is taken much closer, but you can see the same archway on the left. There was also close to a thousand singers in the People’s Choral Union. They spilled off of the stage and onto the floor, taking up space where there’d normally be orchestra seating.

After Frank Damrosch died, one of his students wrote, “the door to great things in music was not really opened for me until that year, when Frank Damrosch opened it wide for thousands, of which fortunately, I chanced to be one … Dr. Frank is our own hero. He was our friend.”

The People's Choral Union

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

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