The Music in the Mountains Chorus

The Music in the Mountains Chorus is an auditioned community chorus, made up of about 80 singers from the region. We perform several times a year, sharing our love of great choral music with the community.

The Chorus is directed by Artistic Director and Conductor Ryan Murray, who since 2008 has been superbly guiding the growth and improvement of the group. Recent performances include an array of great choral works, such as Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, Mozart’s Requiem, Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Toward the Unknown Region, Gilbert & Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore, and Faure’s Requiem.

The chorus has its roots in the Golden Chain Chorale of the 1970s, a group of 20-40 members, part of the Sierra Musical Arts Association. In the mid-1980s Music in the Mountains formed (with the chorus at its core) and renamed the group the Festival Chorale. The chorus has since grown into one of the top community choirs in the Sierra foothills. Many of the founding members are still part of today’s choir.

Since performances have expanded beyond MIM’s seasonal festivals, the choir dropped “festival” from its name in 2013, becoming the MIM Chorus.

Auditions are held at the first rehearsal of each semester, in February and September. If you are interested in joining, send an email to Conductor Ryan Murray at [email protected]. He can also be found on his website. For all questions and information, you may also contact the current Chorus President, Joan Mosley.

Interested singers should be able to read music and have sight-reading skills. The individual auditions will be in three parts: vocalization, pitch memory and sight singing.

Rehearsals are held Monday evenings from 7-9 pm, September through mid-June, with a break during January. Rehearsals are at Peace Lutheran Church (828 West Main Street) in Grass Valley. Concert and additional dress rehearsal dates are announced early in the season, and members are expected to be available. Singers must read music and attend rehearsals regularly and are asked to purchase the group’s official “concert black” attire.

Once each semester, in the fall and spring, the Chorus hosts an all-day workshop and retreat on a Saturday. With the visiting vocal experts, pot luck lunch and extensive work on our music for the season… we have a great time!

Chorus Charter

Singer Participant Agreement

Mission & Values

Our Mission and Values

We envision a thriving community inspired by transformative music.

  • We are serving a community of engaged, connected, and caring people in harmony with each other and their surroundings.
  • We are presenting inspiring concerts and accessible educational programs for everyone.
  • Our music brings hope, joy, and comfort.

Our Mission is to inspire, engage, and connect our community through extraordinary musical experiences.

  • We will provide transformative music by presenting inspirational concert experiences.
  • We will present accessible education programs for everyone.

Core Values

Accessibility: Our concert programming, presentations, and music education programs are approachable and accessible for all.

Artistic Excellence: We value performances at the highest level of talent and artistry and strive to present guest artists and performers who embody this standard of excellence.

Building Community: We value creating connections among the diverse members of our community, fostering communication and unity through the beauty of music.

Collaboration: Recognizing the interdependence of our social, economic, and artistic community, we value collaboration and a collaborative spirit.

Donor Centric: We believe that all types of donors – monetary, volunteer or otherwise – are central to our success.

Education: Because we know that learning changes minds and lives, we value creating knowledge through the teaching of appreciation for music.

Engaging Programming: We strive to create programs that foster a sense of peace, joy, inspiration, and belonging through exciting musical experiences.

Ethical: In all that we do, we strive to be honorable, fair, transparent, and accountable to the community we serve.

Inclusion: We foster an inclusive community that celebrates all the rich contributions of our audience members, staff, performers, and volunteers.

Nurturing the Human Spirit: We believe music is more than entertainment; Music has the power to unite, heal, and transform people.

To further expand on our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion we are developing statements that more fully explain our commitments.


Music in the Mountains Racial Equity Statement:

We of Music in the Mountains (MIM) acknowledge the land designated as Western Nevada County as the ancestral homelands of the Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan Tribe. We honor the fundamental value and dignity of all individuals. We pledge to maintain an environment that respects diverse traditions, heritages and experiences. We affirm our commitment to addressing systemic racism and bringing about a more just society through classical music. We do not know what a racially equal society looks like yet and will not always know the right thing to say or do, but we are committed to learning and doing better.

We recognize music’s power to heal and transform communities. We acknowledge that classical music traditions are deeply rooted in European culture and that culture at times has been harmful. While great beauty can be found in this history, extraordinary voices have been neglected and silenced at the hands of racism.

MIM pledges to:

Generate opportunities for BIPOC, women, LGBTQ+, and other traditionally marginalized groups to participate in the decision-making process for the organization by continuing to create and maintain safe, accessible, and inclusive spaces on the decision-making bodies within the organization.

Celebrate and affirm the lives and music of all people and in all its diversity in race, creed, age, color, gender, ability, and sexual orientation through orchestral and choral music.

Offer a diverse world of music, artists & cultures through robust music education programs. Treat all who engage with this organization with respect, dignity, and fairness.

Provide a welcoming space for BIPOC to experience and create music.

Actively seek and hire a diverse universe of performers, conductors, composers, and administrators who can present classical music to inspire all.

Commit to continuing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work through MIM’s upcoming strategic planning process and beyond.

BIPOC = Black; Indigenous; Person of Color

LGBTQ+ = Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer +


Our History


In the Beginning

A small brave band of music lovers with a big dream gathered in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada to produce a few summer concerts. Four decades later, Music in the Mountains brings the classics to life in new ways, in new places and in new formats.



Initial organizing meetings take place. City Opera (founded in 1978 by Paul Perry and Terry Brown in San Francisco to present little known works of opera) moves to Nevada County as sponsor. A new Board of Directors is elected with the mission to produce a Summer Festival called Music in the Mountains (MIM).



The first Music in the Mountains Summer Festival takes place in St. Joseph’s Hall, Grass Valley, in June. The local volunteer Golden Chain Chorale, already under the direction of Paul Perry, is the core of the Festival, and professional musicians are hired from orchestras throughout the United States.



The corporate name is changed from City Opera to Music in the Mountains, and the Golden Chain Chorale is renamed the MIM Festival Chorale.



The Allegro Alliance is formed as the hospitality and benefit event auxiliary. The Young Musicians’ Competition debuts, adding educational activities as an integral part of MIM’s mission.



Two “mini-fests”, one in the spring and one in the fall, are added to augment the Summer Festival and the Holiday Choral Concerts.



A joint project with the Nevada County Fair creates the ability to transform an exhibit hall into The Amaral Family Festival Center concert hall.



Paul Perry, the founding Artistic Director and Conductor retires, and Ryan Murray is hired as Choral Director.



Gregory Vajda is hired as Artistic Director and Conductor (2009-13).



Peter Nowlen is hired as Artistic Advisor.



Ryan Murray’s role expands to include the title Resident Conductor, in addition to Choral Director.



Paul Perry, Artistic Director Emeritus dies.



Peter Nowlen becomes the Artistic Director.



MIM Youth Orchestra (MIMYO) debuts.



Peter Nowlen retires and Ryan Murray becomes Artistic Director and Conductor as well as Choral Director. MIM Offices moved to Grass Valley.



The COVID-19 pandemic forces multiple cancellations and the SummerFest, MIMYO and more go virtual.



MIM continues to be powered by volunteers: The Board of Directors, the renamed MIM Chorus and MIM Alliance.



Professional musicians grace our stages indoors in many locations, and outdoors on the Great Lawn at the Fairgrounds, continuing the tradition of delighting audiences in enchanting settings.



The Education programs have grown to encompass numerous in-school activities: the biennial Young Musicians’ Competition; The Young Composers Project; opportunities to play “Side By Side” with professionals; and the MIM Youth Orchestra.

Thank you so much for wanting to keep the great music alive.

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