An exhaustive 18-month search for a music director for the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus ended today with the announcement that Erin Freeman has entered a multi-year commitment to the chorus.
"She is simply the total symphonic choral director," said Brad Felton, BPC vice president, who led the exacting search. "She brings to us a knowledge of repertoire, knowledge of singing, knowledge of orchestral conducting and a readily displayed sense of fun - all mixed with appropriate professional discipline."
Holly Grant, president of the BPC, echoes Felton's enthusiasm. "Erin herself is an accomplished singer, which helps her relate directly to what we do. She has a way of working with people that brings out the best. She will take us to the next level of artistry."
Freeman holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in Conducting from the Peabody Conservatory, a Master of Music in Conducting from Boston University and a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Northwestern University. She has served as the associate conductor of the Richmond (Virginia) Symphony and director/conductor of the Richmond Symphony Chorus since 2007 as well as an assistant professor of interdisciplinary and theory-based music classes at American University. Freeman is also a board member of the Conductors Guild.
The search process began with a review of 35 applications from around the world. Six semifinalists were brought before the chorus for review. From that group, three highly accomplished candidates were invited for an extended audition period giving each the opportunity to work with the chorus for a portion of the recently completed season.
"I am thrilled and honored to join the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus as music director. I felt a connection to the chorus and the community during the months I visited last season," Freeman said. "The chorus is clearly dedicated to the art of choral singing and committed to continued artistic growth. I look forward to being a part of what promises to be an exciting future for this historic organization."
Freeman's experience, education and ability offer a unique opportunity to share her skills with both the BPC and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. She is scheduled to conduct two BPO performances, including the annual cooperative presentation of "The Nutcracker" at Shea's Performing Arts Center with Neglia Ballet in November and the Chieftains in March. She is also scheduled to conduct the All County Orchestra.
"I am so pleased with the selection of Erin Freeman to lead the BP Chorus," said JoAnn Falletta, internationally esteemed music director of the BPO. "I am well aware of her fine artistry and extensive knowledge of both the choral and orchestral repertoire. Her ability, coupled with her outgoing personality, is a perfect fit for Buffalo."
Freeman co-instructed a conductors guild orchestral conducting workshop with Falletta and Gustav Meier in 2011 and prepared the Richmond Symphony Chorus for a performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 8 under Falletta's baton last spring.
"The BPO has had the opportunity to work with Erin several times during our last season, including our performance of the Mozart Requiem for which she prepared the chorus," said Dan Hart, executive director of the BPO. "This was one of our best-selling concerts of the year and the chorus did a tremendous job. We look forward to our future collaborations and believe she will do an exemplary job."
The 2013-14 season will be a transition year with Freeman assuming a full-time commitment to the BPC in the 2014-15 season.
"I look forward to making music with these dedicated musicians in this friendly and historic city," she said.
The Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the Western New York region through the performance of high-quality, diverse musical programs and the development of singers in the choral art. With a roster of approximately 120 singers, the BPC is frequently heard as the principal guest chorus of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.
Founded in 1937 as the Buffalo Schola Cantorum, the group became known as the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus in 1992 to reflect its close association with the BPO. It offers a self-sponsored concert series as well as various guest appearances throughout the greater Western New York region. On average, the BPC participates in 15 concerts each year - many of which have multiple performances.
Auditions for the BPC will be held in late August.