Music Director Emerita: Gisèle Becker

Gisele Becker
photo by Wayne Guenther
Gisèle Becker is one of the Washington area’s leading choral conductors. Her vision of musical excellence and her commitment to imaginative programming, including commissions and premiere performances of new choral works, have earned for her the highest admiration and respect from her professional colleagues and audiences alike. The Washington Post says Ms. Becker “has molded her group into a well-balanced and responsive ensemble … [presenting] focused, intelligent music-making.” Anne Midgette notes “[t]here is a lot of magic to be found…in the innovative programming of Cantate Chamber Singers.” The Post called her 2003 performance of J.S. Bach’s Mass in B Minor “a version as transfixing as it was bold … riveting in its fresh, impassioned and personal vision.” Following Ms. Becker’s final performance with Cantate in 2019, the Washington Classical Review lauded her “sensitivity and control” and observed that “[t]he crowd reacted with boisterous applause, recalling Becker to the stage four times.”
Ms. Becker was the music director of Cantate Chamber Singers from 1994 to 2019. She served as director of choral activities at The George Washington University, where she conducted the University Singers and Chamber Choir. From 2006 to 2008 she was a conducting professor at The Catholic University of America, where she also conducted the Women’s Chorus.
Ms. Becker’s extensive experience in choral preparation has included the Folger Consort’s production of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Handel’s  Ode to St. Cecilia. She was chorus master for the Cathedral Choral Society for 10 years, preparing Hindemith’s When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d for guest conductor Robert Shaw and Haydn’s The Creation for Leonard Slatkin. She also sang with and served as assistant conductor of the Washington Bach Consort for 27 years, preparing the group for its performances of Handel’s Messiah with conductor Robert King, Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 with Harry Christophers, and Charles Ives’ Symphony No. 4 and Sofia Gubaidulina’s The Canticle of the Sun with the National Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin conducting. Ms. Becker also was a member and assistant conductor of the Oratorio Society, now the Washington Chorus, for 17 years.
Ms. Becker earned her bachelor of music degree from The Catholic University of America and master of music degree from George Mason University, and recently did additional graduate work at the University of Maryland. She has also served on the faculties of Trinity College in Washington and the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music in Winchester, Va. She volunteers with Encore Creativity, a choral program for singing enthusiasts over the age of 55.