American conductor LUKE MCENDARFER is emerging as one of the most compelling forces in the choral world today, with a dynamic career shaped by ambitious innovation, artistic creativity and musical excellence. Currently, he serves as Artistic Director, President and CEO of the National Children’s Chorus, one of the fastest-growing and most successful youth arts organizations in the United States. His artistic collaborations include work with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, American Youth Symphony, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Los Angeles Opera Company, New York City Master Chorale, Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra, the Joffrey Ballet, Opera Parallèle, Kronos String Quartet, and Stephen Petronio Dance Company. Over the years, he has prepared choruses and soloists for Gustavo Dudamel, Grant Gershon, James Conlon, Stephen Layton, David Alan Miller, Ibrahim Maalouf, John Rutter, Helmuth Rilling, David Willcocks, Eric Whitacre and the late Paul Salamunovich, among others. To date, his premiere conducting performances include music by Morten Lauridsen, Sharon Farber, James Wright, Stephen Cohn, Thomas Hewitt Jones, Daniel Brewbaker, Sage Lewis, Shawn Kirchner, Paul Gibson, Rufus Wainwright, and Nico Muhly.
In 2004, McEndarfer was appointed director of the acclaimed Paulist Choristers, and in 2008 his vision to create the National Children’s Chorus took flight. Since then, the NCC has grown from only sixteen families in Los Angeles to nearly seven hundred in the cities of Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., offering its students cutting-edge training and extraordinary musical experiences. Under McEndarfer’s leadership, the NCC has built an unparalleled educational platform, mindfully leading young singers from the age of five, and guiding them through to the college level. McEndarfer’s advanced vocal ensembles in the NCC are among the most accomplished youth choruses, with recent performances at the Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, Royce Hall, and Walt Disney Concert Hall. International debuts have taken place in Oxford and London, England; Beijing and Xi’an, China; and sites throughout Italy, including the Vatican City; as well as Berlin, Vienna, Prague, and Budapest. In the summer of 2019, students will perform in South Korea and Japan.
Though the National Children’s Chorus has been his primary focus the last several years, McEndarfer’s background and experience encompass numerous conducting appearances on both coasts featuring adult choral and symphonic masterworks. Upcoming plans include the launch of new programs within this genre of choral music as a natural extension of his expanding scope of work with the NCC, and deep passion for the full choral repertoire. Equally at home in the studio, he has worked on several motion picture soundtracks, such as Escape from Tomorrow, Snowmen, and Paramount Pictures’ feature film Imagine That, starring Eddie Murphy. Television credits include conducting performances and studio appearances with CNN, CBS, ABC, and Fox, as well as NBC’s former Tonight Show with Jay Leno. McEndarfer has also conducted in performance with Josh Groban, and on Entertainment Tonight for the Oscars in 2014. At charity events featuring fashion shows by Oscar de la Renta, he has arranged musical presentations for Princess Charlene of Monaco, former First Lady Laura Bush, and other distinguished honorees.
Since the age of six, McEndarfer has studied piano extensively, winning competitions and musical honors with the Music Teachers’ Association of California. He is a two-time graduate of UCLA, holding a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature and a Master of Music degree in conducting, the latter with full scholarship under the tutelage of Donald Neuen. Studying privately, McEndarfer was the conducting pupil of Kenneth Kiesler and Marianne Ploger at the University of Michigan, Lucinda Carver at USC, and the late Paul Salamunovich. September through June, McEndarfer manages a demanding bicoastal work and travel schedule that requires his presence in all NCC cities of operation.