Third Practice is a professional chamber vocal ensemble that seeks to bring the beauty of the human voice to new and broader audiences. Its mission is to bridge the gap between traditional classical and contemporary music through thoughtful and adventurous programming that explores the close connections between today's music and the music of the past. Third Practice is named after a term for the late style of composer Claudio Monteverdi, in which he is said to have fused elements of the older "first practice" with the contemporary "second practice," creating a rich new musical language.

Since its founding in 2012, Third Practice has established itself as a leading voice for contemporary vocal music. Its opening benefit concerts of David Lang's little match girl passion raised thousands of dollars to fight homelessness in the local community. During the spring of 2013, Third Practice sang alongside The City Choir of Washington as the echo chorus for the world premiere of Sir John Tavener's Three Poems of George Herbert. A year later, the group enjoyed a further collaboration with Great Noise Ensemble and the Children's Chorus of Washington for the performance of Louis Andriessen's tour-de-force oratorio, La Commedia. Third Practice's artful singing won plaudits from the press, commending their "evocative heavy lifting" (Anne Midgette, The Washington Post) and "first-rate" musicality (Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, The New York Times). In 2015, the ensemble joined forces with the Three Notch'd Road and the Washington Cornett and Sackbutt Ensemble to perform Claudio Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610, and had the pleasure of giving the first complete performance of the work ever presented in Richmond, VA. Third Practice has had the honor of performing as part of music series at Dumbarton Oaks, the National Gallery of Art, Mount St. Mary's University, the Baltimore War Memorial, the Castleton Festival, as well as in many noted venues in the Baltimore/Washington region.

The musicians of Third Practice represent some of the finest vocal talent in the greater Washington area. Each concert draws upon an extensive roster of professional singers, varying in size according to the needs of the repertoire. Concerts seek to equip listeners with the tools necessary to engage with new works through informed programming and in-concert discussion. This approach endeavors to illuminate the inner workings of the music while tearing down barriers that too frequently discourage a first-time listening experience. In creating a welcoming performance space for listeners to experience new music, Third Practice seeks to build a larger audience for contemporary vocal music in Washington and beyond.

Third Practice Board of Directors

Ann Stahmer, Chair
Zain Shariff, Treasurer
Brian Bartoldus, ex officio
Shauna Kreidler Michels, ex officio
Dudley Oakes
Christopher Riggs
Robin Smith, ex officio

Advisory Board

Armando Bayolo, Artistic Director, Great Noise Ensemble
Gregory Lewis, Executive Director, The Washington Revels
Robert Shafer, Artistic Director, The City Choir of Washington

photo courtesy of The Frederick News-Post

photo courtesy of The Frederick News-Post


2016/17 musicians

Brian Bartoldus, artistic director
Santana Bartoldus, continuo
Katelyn Aungst, soprano
Joshua Bornfield, tenor
Karl Hempel, bass
Natalia Kojanova, alto
Patrick Kilbride, tenor
Shauna Kreidler Michels, soprano
Sara MacKimmie, soprano
Robin Smith Beckman, soprano
Gilbert Spencer, bass