Luke McEndarfer is a GRAMMY® Award-winning American conductor and one of the most compelling visionaries in the classical music world today. His dynamic career spanning over two decades has been shaped by an unwavering commitment to ambitious innovation, artistic creativity, and musical excellence. Currently, he serves as Artistic Director, President and CEO of the National Children’s Chorus, one of the fastest-growing and most successful youth arts organizations in the United States. His conducting collaborations include work with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, American Youth Symphony, Los Angeles Master Chorale, Los Angeles Opera Company, New York City Master Chorale, Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra, the Joffrey Ballet, Opera Parallèle, Kronos String Quartet, and Stephen Petronio Dance Company. Over the years, he has prepared choruses and soloists for Gustavo Dudamel, Grant Gershon, James Conlon, Stephen Layton, David Alan Miller, Ibrahim Maalouf, John Rutter, Helmuth Rilling, David Willcocks, Eric Whitacre and the late Paul Salamunovich. To date, his premiere conducting performances include music by Morten Lauridsen, Sharon Farber, James Wright, Sarah Quartel, Stephen Cohn, Thomas Hewitt Jones, Daniel Brewbaker, Sage Lewis, Shawn Kirchner, Paul Gibson, Rufus Wainwright, and Nico Muhly.
In 2004, McEndarfer was appointed director of the acclaimed Paulist Choristers, and in 2008 his dream to create the National Children’s Chorus took flight. Since then, the NCC has grown from only sixteen families in Los Angeles to over one thousand across the country, offering its students cutting-edge training and life-changing musical experiences. Under McEndarfer’s leadership, the NCC has built an unparalleled educational platform, mindfully leading young singers from the age of five, and guiding them through to the college level. McEndarfer’s Senior Division vocalists are GRAMMY® Award-winning, having received music’s highest honor for Best Choral Performance in 2022. Across the nation, they comprise one of the most accomplished youth choruses in the world, with performances at the Hollywood Bowl, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Royce Hall, and Walt Disney Concert Hall. International debuts have taken place throughout Europe, including Oxford, London, the Vatican City, Rome, Florence, Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Lisbon, Seville, Madrid, and Barcelona; and in Asia, Beijing, Xi’an, the Korean DMZ, Seoul, Tokyo and Kyoto. In the summer of 2023, students will perform in Scotland, Wales and England. In 2020, McEndarfer initiated the building of a new annual opera camp in Vail, Colorado, that would grow to engage developing voices in the art of opera, curated with an extraordinary curriculum designed exclusively for youth education. The program aims to achieve global impact, partly by including new works and commissions staged and performed each year, with the goal of significantly expanding operatic repertoire dedicated for young people.
Though the National Children’s Chorus has been his primary focus the last several years, McEndarfer’s background and experience encompass numerous conducting appearances on both coasts featuring adult choral and symphonic masterworks. Upcoming plans include the launch of new programs within this genre of choral music as a natural extension of his expanding scope of work with the NCC, and deep passion for the full choral repertoire. Equally at home in the studio, he has worked on several motion picture soundtracks, such as Escape from Tomorrow, Snowmen, and Paramount Pictures’ feature film Imagine That, starring Eddie Murphy. Television credits include conducting performances and studio appearances with CNN, CBS, ABC, and Fox, as well as NBC’s former Tonight Show with Jay Leno. McEndarfer has also conducted in performance with Josh Groban, opened for John Legend, and been featured on Entertainment Tonight for the Oscars in 2014. At charity events hosting fashion shows by Oscar de la Renta, he has arranged musical presentations for Princess Charlene of Monaco, former First Lady Laura Bush, and other distinguished honorees. In 2019, McEndarfer was honored with an invitation to ring the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange after conducting the NCC in “Carol of the Bells” on a day the organization was formally recognized for its excellence in nonprofit growth and arts management.
Since the age of six, McEndarfer has studied piano extensively, winning competitions and musical honors with the Music Teachers’ Association of California. He is a two-time graduate of UCLA, holding a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature and a Master of Music degree in conducting, the latter with full scholarship under the tutelage of Donald Neuen. Studying privately, McEndarfer has been the conducting pupil of Kenneth Kiesler and Marianne Ploger at the University of Michigan, Lucinda Carver at USC, Simon Carrington at Yale, and the late Paul Salamunovich. September through June, McEndarfer manages a demanding work and travel schedule that requires his presence in all NCC cities of operation.