- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 31, 2004

Nonprofit music organization veteran Debra L. Kraft is the newest executive director for the Choral Arts Society of Washington, a 200-member choral group.

Ms. Kraft, 53, starts her position today, after serving for the past decade as the managing director for the Olney Theatre Center for the Arts.

She has spent the past 35 years working at music-related organizations such as Olney Theatre in Montgomery County and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Northwest, where Ms. Kraft was co-director of youth and family programming.

“Music has always been my passion,” Ms. Kraft said, adding that she jumped at the chance to work with the Choral Arts founder and artistic director, Norman Scribner.

Choral Arts has an all-volunteer chorus but professional orchestra, conductors and soloists. The group, which performs primarily at the Kennedy Center, gives about six concerts annually.

This year the group will have eight performances, with the first one starting on Sunday to cap its 40th anniversary.

In addition to the Kennedy Center, Choral Arts performs at other venues in the Baltimore and D.C. region.

It also performs abroad, including in Italy and Russia. The chorus is planning to perform in South America in August.

Ms. Kraft said she will be in charge of maintaining the society’s core mission of being a major symphonic chorus while overseeing the group’s musical outreach and education programs, fund raising, marketing, touring and recording.

She also plans to help expand the society’s audience types and numbers. “I really look forward to the challenge of introducing new people to the music while making sure younger audiences are being developed as well,” Ms. Kraft said.

Anne Keiser, a first alto in the chorus who served on the search committee for Ms. Kraft’s position, said the board chose Ms. Kraft out of about 70 applicants because of her background in the industry and experience in the D.C. area.

“When Debra’s resume came, several things stood out about her. She was local, she had decades of experience in the arts and she had solid relationships with figures at other venues,” Ms. Keiser said.

Ms. Kraft has served on the board of directors for the Cultural Alliance of Greater Washington in addition to serving on committees for Maryland Citizens for the Arts and the Fine Arts Advisory Panel for the Maryland Department of Education.

Ms. Kraft lives in Arlington with her son.

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