The Northwestern Choir is one of the leading college choirs in the Midwestern United States, enjoying a rich history of performing primarily sacred a cappella music of all stylistic eras, hymns and spirituals, and regularly presenting major choral-orchestral works. Known for its motto "Choral music direct from the heart," the Choir sings skillfully and soulfully with a level of excellence rarely surpassed and which must be experienced.
In its recent history, the Choir has participated in the United States premiere of Wilhelm Stenhammar's tone poem Sangen with VocalEssence of Minnesota under Philip Brunelle, in a Bach motet master class with German conductor/Bach scholar Helmuth Rilling, and in a series of joint concerts with Nebraska's professional choir Soli Deo Gloria Cantorum. The ensemble has also performed by invitation for the National Association of Evangelicals. The Choir presented the world premiere of Te Deum by Dutch composer Frigyes Hidas, commissioned jointly with the University of Northwestern Symphonic Band. The University of Northwestern Choir has also appeared for state and divisional conventions of the American Choral Directors Association (2000, 2004), and performed the keynote concert of the 2002 Minnesota Music Educators Association midwinter clinic. Recordings of the choir have been featured on the nationally-syndicated radio broadcasts "Sing for Joy", the Skylight Satellite Network, Minnesota and Nebraska Public Radio, and National Public Radio throughout the country.
The Choir has appeared in concert at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, The Cathedral of Saint Cecilia in Omaha, Prague's Dvorak Hall, Dresden's Kreuzkirche and Annenkirche, the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the National Shrine in Washington, D.C. and other significant venues here and abroad. Annual domestic tours by the Choir have taken the ensemble throughout the United States and Canada. Overseas tours are taken every four years and have included the British Isles (1990) Scandinavia (1994) and a critically acclaimed tour of Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic (1998) where the Choir presented premiere performances of Minnesota composer David Dickau's Dresden Canticles, commissioned for that tour. In its second visit to Scandinavia (2002), the Choir's tour featured premiere performances of new works composed for the Choir by Minnesota composers Charles Forsberg, Dickau, and Phil Norris. Also included were traditional works by Scandinavian composers Grieg, Alfven, Ahlen and Knut Nystedt and the late Eskil Hemberg, with the latter two composers present in the audience in 2002. The Choir made another 16-day European tour in May 2006, with concerts in Germany at the American Choral Festival in Leipzig's Gewandhaus, as well as a reprise of Dickau's Dresden Canticles in its namesake city, and to enthusiastic capacity audiences in prestigious concert halls and churches in L'viv, Rivne, Luts'k and Kyiv, Ukraine.
For the 2009–10 concert season, the Choir performed by invitation of ACDA of Minnesota at the Minnesota Collegiate Choral Festival, for the Star of the North and F. Melius Christiansen Endowment concert series. In May 2010, the Choir performed for fine arts series at the Cathedral of Saint Paul and Christ Presbyterian Church, Edina before embarking on a 14-day tour of the Baltics, with concerts in Latvia, Estonia and Finland.