"What mattered most, of course, was the fine music-making."

Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times

about the society

The Oratorio Society of New York is one of the oldest musical organizations in the United States and has become New York City’s standard for grand choral performance. Founded in 1873 by Leopold Damrosch, the Society has played an integral role in the musical life of the city. In its early years, the Society established a fund to finance the building of a new concert hall, a cause taken up in earnest by the Society’s fifth president, Andrew Carnegie. In 1891, and under the direction of Pyotr Tchaikovsky, the Society helped inaugurate this new Music Hall, which would be renamed Carnegie Hall several years later.

The Society continues to perform several times each season at Carnegie Hall. Its annual performances of Handel’s Messiah, a New York holiday tradition unbroken since 1874, have become a holiday favorite with New York audiences. Our December 2024 performance will mark our milestone 150th performance of the work. In addition to its collaborations with the New York Philharmonic and Orchestra of St. Luke’s, as well as other performing arts institutions, the Society performs internationally every few years – including tours to Japan, Uruguay, Germany, Italy, and Brazil.

The Society is also committed to commissioning and championing new works, including most recently three pieces by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Paul Moravec and Grammy Award-winning librettist Mark Campbell: Sanctuary Road which was nominated for a 2021 Grammy Award and is available from Naxos Records, A Nation of Others, which saw its premiere in November 2022 and is available from Lexicon Classics, and All Shall Rise, focusing on voting rights in the U.S., to be premiered in May 2025.

OSNY was awarded the Handel Medallion in 1974, and helped found the New York Choral Consortium.

The OSNY membership consists of avocational and professionally trained singers as well as non-singing members. Auditions are held twice annually at the beginning of the fall and winter terms. OSNY is a not-for-profit 501c3 corporation governed by a volunteer board of directors with a professional music staff and executive director.

If you are interested in auditioning for OSNY, please visit our auditions info page.


OSNY brings together a diverse community of avocational singers who share a passion for choral music. Our mission is to contribute to the cultural fabric of New York City through public performance of both classic and contemporary choral works at the highest musical standards. We are committed to the musical development of members, audiences and artists.

Core Values

  •  Welcoming community
  • Joyful and accomplished music-making
  • Vibrant century-and-a-half history celebrated and preserved
  • Volunteering as a fundamental value
  • Highest standards of integrity
  • Continuous musical improvement
  • Diverse membership
  • Diverse repertoire
  • Openness to change

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Statement

Choral music brings people together to inspire and unite the human spirit. OSNY is committed to being an inclusive organization where diverse perspectives are sought out and valued; and to create experiences for our audiences where all people and communities feel welcomed, represented, and connected. OSNY continuously strives to achieve greater inclusivity and equity by leading in a way that represents our art form, one of collectivism and harmony. OSNY believes in the dignity of all and respects a diversity of cultures, identities, orientations, heritages, beliefs, and experiences.