DMA, University of Illinois

Donald Nally collaborates with creative artists, leading orchestras, and art museums to make new works for choir that address social and environmental issues. He has commissioned over 120 works and, with his ensemble The Crossing, has produced over twenty recordings. Donald and The Crossing have been nominated for five Grammy awards, winning Best Choral Performance in 2018 and 2019. He is also the John W. Beattie Chair in Music and director of choral organizations at Northwestern University. He has held distinguished tenures as chorus master for Lyric Opera of Chicago, Welsh National Opera, Opera Philadelphia, the Chicago Bach Project, and for many seasons at the Spoleto Festival in Italy.

Donald’s collaborations include the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Park Avenue Armory, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Menil Collection, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Beth Morrison Projects, Lincoln Center, Mostly Mozart, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall, National Sawdust, the Barnes Foundation, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s MusicNow series, Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the National Gallery, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the American Composers Orchestra, Klockriketeatern at the Finnish National Opera, the Institute for Advanced Study, Big Ears Festival, and the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center in Big Sky, Montana, where The Crossing holds an annual residency.

In addition to his work with The Crossing, Donald has been visiting resident artist at the Park Avenue Armory, music director of David Lang's 1000-voice Crowd Out at Millennium Park in Chicago, Lang’s 1000-voice Mile Long Opera on the High Line in Manhattan, and chorus master for the New York Philharmonic for world premieres of Julia Wolfe and David Lang.  His 60-chapter series Rising w/ The Crossing, a response to the 2020 pandemic, gained national attention and was featured in The Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, The Washington Post, and NPR's Performance Today; it has been archived by The Library of Congress as a cultural artifact as an "important part of this collection and the historical record."


Chicago’s Ear Taxi Festival to showcase Bienen School prominently

September 9, 2021

Bienen School presents live, in-person “Eclipse” world premiere April 25-26

April 28, 2021

Alumni Spotlight: Kate Lee

March 12, 2021

Alumni Spotlight: Thomas Mesa

January 15, 2021

Nally's The Crossing album on year's best list

December 17, 2020

Chatting with … Kevin Vondrak

December 1, 2020

Bienen faculty, alumni among 2021 Grammy nominees

November 30, 2020

Alma Mater featured in Northwestern campaign

November 21, 2020

Springing into Remote Learning

September 1, 2020

Educators try to create meaningful, in-person arts education during COVID-19

August 13, 2020

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Bienen Contemporary/ Early Vocal Ensemble


University Chorale



Christopher Cerrone - The Branch Will Not Break

Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble

Kile Smith - The Waking Sun

Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble and University Chorale

David T. Little - Am I Born

University Chorale and Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra

The Crossing and BCE

Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble

Nicholas Cline - Watersheds

Bienen Contemporary/Early Vocal Ensemble with soloists