The Sacramento Master Singers (SMS) is a group of 50 singers, ages 18 and older, from the greater Sacramento area who are dedicated to the advancement of choral music. Established in 1982, the group is known for its commitment to delight, challenge, and inspire audiences with seasons programmed to include premieres, classics, and a wide variety of musical periods and styles.
Dr. Ralph Edward Hughes has served as Conductor of the Sacramento Master Singers since 1986. His leadership during this period has generated increased recognition for the group’s high performance standards, innovative programming and interest in serving the community. This growth is evidenced by the numerous invitations extended to these singers to perform and by the tremendous increase in audience. Dr. Hughes’ direction has helped fulfill the community’s need for a professional-caliber chamber choir.
Ralph Hughes received his Bachelor’s Degree and teaching credential from California State University, Sacramento in 1983. He taught music and drama for seven years at Bella Vista High School in Fair Oaks and, from 1990 to 2021, he taught choir, voice and piano at American River College. He was awarded his Master’s Degree in Choral Conducting from CSUS in December 1992 and his Doctoral Degree in Conducting in 2002 from the University of South Carolina.
In recent years, Dr. Hughes has focused on extending the Master Singers’ impact on the community through an emphasis on multi-cultural music and programming designed to stimulate interest among the area’s young people. Regular participation in the World Symposium on Choral Music has introduced him to the world’s leading choral directors and composers of choral music, and he has responded by programming many exciting new works. These activities have exposed the singers and the Sacramento community to several West Coast or American premieres of important new works. In addition, the reputation he and the Master Singers have developed for high-quality programs and performances culminated with the invitation to join choirs from all over the world at the prestigious America Cantat choral festival in Venezuela. The Sacramento Master Singers were one of only three groups from the United States in attendance.
Ralph Hughes is a member of the California Music Educators Association, the American Choral Director’s Association, and the International Federation for Choral Music. In 1995, he was recognized as “Outstanding Music Educator of the Year” by the California Music Educators Association Capitol Section.
Michelle Keys Dunnaway