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.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Chorus

    Every Lower School student takes a class in music twice a week throughout the school year. This teaches the girls basic rhythm and pitch before layering more complex techniques. By the end of Lower School, almost all girls are able to read musical notes, sight sing simple songs, move rhythmically, play Orff instruments, and perform in a musical ensemble. 
    The music curriculum include two school concerts: a Christmas concert in December and a spring concert in May. Each is organized around a theme and includes music and movement.
  • 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.
  • Middle School Coed Chorus

    Any girl in Grade 7 or 8 may join the Middle School Coed Chorus.
    Performance opportunities include two school concerts in the Washington National Cathedral each year, the Festival of Lessons and Carols at the Cathedral, and Flower Mart. There are also occasional opportunities for singing in the community, and past performances have included the Kennedy Center Concert Hall and the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony.
  • 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.
  • Sarsaparilla

    In the fall, students in Grades 10-12 may audition for Sarsaparilla Singers, a student-organized group of a cappella singers. These girls sing for school and community events several times each year and garner enthusiastic support from their peers. Rehearsals are scheduled as singers are available.


List of 5 members.

  • Photo of Brandon Straub

    Brandon Straub 

    Director of Choral Music; Department Chair
  • Photo of Charles Bowers

    Charles Bowers Jr. 

    Associate Choral Director
  • Photo of Christen Hernandez

    Christen Hernandez 

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

    Michael McCarthy 

  • Photo of A. Scott Wood

    A. Scott Wood 

    Director of Instrumental Music