Bernd R. Kuehn founded the group as the Washington County Chorale in 1985 as a 32-member choir. A German immigrant, he also directed choirs at Pacific University, Gaston High School, Hillsboro High School, and Century High School. In 1989 the Chorale made their first tour, to Germany and Austria. Also beginning in 1989 they presented a musical or comedy in the spring every few years.
The Chorale’s second tour was to England, Scotland, and Wales, in 1993; and their third was to Scandinavia in 1998. The group teamed with both a Scandinavian and a Polish dance group in March 2003. Held at Hillsboro High School, “Many Voices, One World” featured folk songs sung by the Oregon Chorale with the two dance groups performing traditional dances. This was followed by the Chorale’s fourth tour, to Finland, the Baltics, Poland, and Germany.
In April 2005, the group premiered a musical comedy written by Linda Needham entitled “The Great Lewis & Clark Extravaganza of 1905 – or Paddle Your Own Canoe”. The musical was set at the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland. The group’s Christmas concert in December 2005 featured songs in Czech, Polish, Russian, and Latvian in addition to English. To prepare for a tour in Europe, the Oregon Chorale performed folk songs from Ireland and Scotland for St. Patrick’s Day in 2007.
By 2008, the group had grown in size to include 60 singers. The chorale’s spring concert revolved around William Shakespeare in a concert titled as “The 409th Annual Night at the Globe Awards”. That June and July the group toured in Europe with concerts in Ireland, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, including a performance at the Belfast Maritime Festival. The tour was the fifth for the group in Europe. The group debuted Another Right-Down Rollicking Evening With Gilbert & Sullivan from a local writer in 2012. In 2014 the Chorale toured in Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Austria, Poland, and the Czech Republic.
Mr. Kuehn announced his plans to retire by June 2015, after 30 years of directing and building the Chorale. As a parting honor, a music scholarship was founded in his name. During the transition season of 2015-2016, three choral conductors directed Chorale concerts, and in June 2015 Jason Sabino was selected to take on the role of Artistic Director. Mr. Sabino also conducts with the Pacific Youth Choir and with Southminster Presbyterian Church in Beaverton.