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Choral Scholars

About Us


Choral Scholars is an internationally-acclaimed chamber choir of gifted student singers led by founding Artistic Director, Dr Desmond Earley, based at University College Dublin College of Arts & Humanities, and a member of the suite of ensembles fostered by UCD School of Music.

The choir frequently performs with Ireland’s leading instrumentalists and orchestras and has in recent years collaborated with the Irish Chamber Orchestra, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, and the European Union Chamber Orchestra. In touring the Netherlands, Hungary, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, the group has brought University College Dublin and its music to an international audience.

The choir regularly broadcasts on television and radio. Notable recent appearances include Centenary (RTÉ), for which the ensemble provided the choral soundtrack, and concerts with Hans Zimmer and Ennio Morricone. In March 2019, they marked their 20th Anniversary with a debut concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

The performance and commissioning of works by living composers is a hallmark of this ensemble. New compositions have been written for the group by Elaine Agnew, Ivo Antognini, Mark Armstrong, Seán Doherty, Eoghan Desmond, Desmond Earley, Eriks Esenvalds, Damien Geter, Andrej Makor, Colin Mawby, Michael McGlynn, Natasa Paulberg, Laura Sheils, Timothy Stephens, Dale Trumbore, Bill Whelan and Kevin Whyms.

Be All Merry (2020) is their third album on Signum Classics following the hit release Invisible Stars (2015) and Perpetual Twilight (2019), and is a collection of traditional and contemporary Advent and Christmas music from Ireland and Scotland, including new arrangements and compositions by some of Ireland’s most celebrated composers.


Artistic Director

Desmond Earley

Hailed by The Irish Times as ‘enterprising and wide-ranging’, Desmond Earley, Artistic Director of the Choral Scholars of University College Dublin, has established a reputation as one of Ireland's foremost choral directors and early-keyboard specialists.


Desmond is a lecturer in Performance Studies at University College Dublin (UCD) and serves as rotating Artistic Director of the UCD Ad Astra Academy. In 2017-2018 he was Visiting Scholar at Lewis & Clark College, Oregon (USA) and Guest Conductor/Scholar at Bowdoin College, Maine (USA).


As a concert instrumentalist and director, Desmond works with many of the world's finest orchestras including the Portland Baroque Orchestra, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Irish Baroque Orchestra, RTÉ Concert Orchestra, European Union Chamber Orchestra and English Chamber Orchestra. Desmond has also collaborated with some of the world's great musicians including Sir James Galway, Roy Goodman, Christopher Hogwood, Monica Huggett, and Konrad Junghaenel.

As a celebrated composer and arranger, Desmond has published works with Music Sales (UK), Hal Leonard Corporation (USA), Alliance Music (USA) and with Seolta Music (IRL) where he serves as editor of the international ‘College Choral Series’.


His acclaimed work Body of the Moon (2017) based on a setting of texts by Galileo Galilei, was commissioned by All Classical Portland Radio (USA) for the total solar eclipse across the United States of America. He has created special arrangements for renowned ensembles including the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the Portland Symphony Orchestra (Maine, USA), Tenebrae (UK), and the Irish Baroque Orchestra.



Critics Say

"Blending ‘folk’ voices with choral precision and tight harmony isn’t easy, but Desmond Earley has a passionate stake in both and doesn’t put a foot wrong here. Too many highlights to list, but Ivo Antognini’s ‘War’ and ‘Peace’ stand out, as do a lovely arrangement for tenor of ‘Black is the Colour’ and Earley’s own ‘He wishes for the cloths of Heaven’ (after Yeats) [...]"

Choir & Organ Magazine review of Invisible Stars


"Whatever artistic director Desmond Earley and voice coach

Síle McCarthy-Cannon are doing with The Choral Scholars of

University College Dublin, it’s something every other choral

director should be knocking down their door to discover. [...]"

Gramophone Magazine review of Pereptual Twilight

"The Choral Scholars is one of the best choirs I’ve worked with on my live tour."

Hans Zimmer, Film Composer & Performer

Advisory Board to Choral Scholars:
David Agnew, Sarah Blackman, Prof Joseph Brady, Prof Mary Codd,
Dr Desmond Earley ex officio, Prof Orla Feely, John Keogan (Chair),
Eilis O'Brien, Prof Sarah Prescott ex officio, Dr Bill Whelan.
2021 CS infographic RL.png

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