Berkshire Choral Festival

Year-round arts and culture in Winter Park

May 31-June 8, 2014

The Central Florida city of Winter Park was founded in the late 19th century by wealthy Northerners as a seasonal resort community. Today, though, this luxurious lakeside enclave just north of Orlando brims with arts and culture—including an esteemed Bach festival—all year. You’ll live and rehearse right in town, at Rollins College, which anchors one end of the city’s “Main Street,” Park Avenue. When you’re not rehearsing, the best the city has to offer will be just down the street. But Florida in June? Well, the average high there at this time of year is in the mid to upper 80s; the average low is in the mid-60s, and the humidity is about 50%. Not much different from Sheffield in July.

Made for walking, a city of parks and lakes

Winter Park is among the most walkable cities in Central Florida. Its historic central district offers upscale shops, fine dining, art galleries, museums, a golf course and country club, a beach, and a boat launch. As its name suggests, this city of 28,000 enjoys more green space per capita than any other Florida city—there are more than 70 parks. The crown jewel is downtown’s 11-acre Central Park. If you tire of walking the brick-lined streets, it’s not hard to find a place to sit in the shade of a stately cypress or oak.

The Atlantic shore is about an hour away, but there is plenty of water here: Winter Park is nestled among five interconnected lakes that cover almost 2,800 acres. The requisite scenic boat tour might treat you to alligators, cranes diving for fish, or a racing shell full of Rollins crew, and definitely to views of the opulent homes along the shores.

Winter Park is also home to the Bach Festival Society, the third oldest continuously operating Bach festival in the country, not to mention Central Florida’s oldest operating performing arts organization. Berkshire Choral Festival choristers will find an appreciative audience here.


You’ll have afternoons and one full day off midweek to rest your voice and discover the city and its environs. Of note:

Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. The Morse, located on Park Ave., houses the largest, most diverse collection of Tiffany glass in the world, including the chapel interior he designed for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The museum also offers fine collections of American art pottery and late 19th- and early 20th-century American paintings, graphics, and decorative arts.

Winter Park Country Club. One of the best golf courses in an area with plenty of them is open to the public. Right downtown, this challenging course features narrow, tree-lined fairways and tiny, bunker-guarded greens.

Concert venue: Knowles Memorial Chapel

Rollins College’s soaring Knowles Chapel is among the performance spaces of the renowned Bach Festival Choir. Built in 1932, it was designed by the noted ecclesiastical architect Ralph Adams Cram of the Boston firm Cram and Ferguson. Among Cram’s more well-known buildings is the Church of St. John the Divine in New York City.

The chapel is also noted for its fine 1932 organ, originally built by Skinner Organ Company of Boston, the preeminent organ builder of the day. It was completely refurbished in 1999, at which time a freestanding antiphonal organ was added, giving the instrument that much more presence.