We can’t help boasting: Berkshire Choral has a great reputation. Recognized conductors often seek us out. The experience of turning a diverse group of passionate amateurs into a tight-knit chorus in the space of a week is as invigorating for them as it is for you.
Hailed by the press as engaging, elegant, and entertaining, Erin Freeman holds a joint position with the Richmond Symphony, where she serves as Director of the Richmond Symphony Chorus, and Virginia Commonwealth University, where she is Director of Choral Activities. This unique appointment comes on the heels of seven successful years as the Richmond Symphony’s Associate Conductor, and includes overseeing all of the choral ensembles at VCU and preparing the 150-voice Richmond Symphony Chorus. Projects for this season include Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, a performance honoring the Richmond Symphony Chorus’s founder, Dr. James Erb, and a collaboration with VCU’s Global HIV-AIDS initiative.
In addition to her work in Richmond, Freeman just completed her first season as Artistic Director of Wintergreen Performing Arts. Her creative and vibrant programming resulted in record crowds, multiple sell-outs, increased donations, and an endorsement in the Washington Post. Under her leadership, the Festival boasted 20 world premieres; the Wintergreen Summer Music Academy expanded to include voice, conducting, and arts administration programs; and a new interactive program for the patrons, called Community Barn Week, proved wildly popular.
Freeman has been a frequent guest conductor with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and served as Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus. She has also Guest Conducted the South Carolina Philharmonic, the Savannah Symphony, the Richmond Ballet, and other ensembles in Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Missouri, and Illinois. In summer 2015, she made her debut with Berkshire Choral International and the Springfield Symphony, and this upcoming season, Freeman will guest conduct two honors ensembles, will lead several performances by the Richmond Symphony, and will continue her association with the Richmond Ballet.
Passionate about making classical music accessible to all, Freeman served as Director of Orchestras at Baltimore School for the Arts and American University, Conductor at Northwestern University’s National High School Music Institute, Lecturer for the National Philharmonic and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Music Director of the Richmond Philharmonic, and Resident Conductor at Peabody Conservatory. She has instructed national seminars for the Conductor’s Guild and serves on their board of directors as vice president.
Winner of numerous awards, including the Women’s Philharmonic Conducting Scholarship, Freeman was selected by Virginia Lawyer’s Weekly as one of Virginia’s 50 most influential women. She holds a Bachelor of Music from Northwestern University, a Master of Music from Boston University, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts from Peabody Conservatory. Teachers and masterclass instructors include Gustav Meier, Victor Yampolsky, Helmuth Rilling, Murry Sidlin, and Robert Shaw.
Kent Tritle is one of America’s leading choral conductors. Called “the brightest star in New York's choral music world” by The New York Times, he is Director of Cathedral Music and Organist at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City; Music Director of Musica Sacra, the longest continuously performing professional chorus in New York; and Music Director of the Oratorio Society of New York, the acclaimed 200-voice volunteer chorus.
In addition, Kent is Director of Choral Activities and Chair of the Organ Department at the Manhattan School of Music and is a member of the graduate faculty of The Juilliard School. Also an acclaimed organ virtuoso, Kent is the organist of the New York Philharmonic and the American Symphony Orchestra.
In the 2015-16 season, building on a sweeping, sold-out performance in March 2015 of Verdi’s Requiem by the combined forces of the Oratorio Society of New York and the Manhattan School of Music Symphonic Chorus and Orchestra at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Kent will lead the same groups in Mahler’s Symphony No. 8, “Symphony of a Thousand,” at the Cathedral. On the other end of the intimacy scale is “Four Quarters of Jerusalem,” a concert and new recording by Kent leading the Cathedral Choir of St. John the Divine and early/world ensemble Rose of the Compass performing music associated with the Holy Land. In the middle is a program showcasing the choral intricacy of Tallis’s 40-part motet Spem in Alium and Strauss’s 20-part Deutsche Motette with Musica Sacra. Kent also leads the world premiere of Evan Fein’s Deborah with Musica Sacra, the New York premiere of Marjorie Merryman’s Jonah with the Oratorio Society of New York, and the 2002 Requiem Oratio Spei by Juraj Filas, the Prague Symphony recording that he conducted in 2013, also with the Oratorio Society.
Recent notable performances have included: at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the performance of Verdi’s Requiem by the Oratorio Society of New York and the Symphony and Symphonic Chorus of the Manhattan School of Music, and programs of early music with the Cathedral Choir in the Chapel of St. James; with Musica Sacra, a program featuring world premieres of music by Juraj Filas, Michael Gilbertson, and Robert Paterson and an acclaimed performance of Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil; and with the Oratorio Society of New York, the world premiere of Juraj Filas’s Song of Solomon, and performances of Paul Moravec’s Blizzard Voices and Songs of Love and War and Mozart’s arrangement of Handel’s Messiah.
Kent led the “Mass Appeal Mass” of the “Make Music New York” festival for three years, including the 2012 premiere of a work by Philip Glass in Times Square. He has created high-profile collaborations for his groups with other major players in the New York music scene, directing the Manhattan School of Music Symphonic Chorus for performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the New York Philharmonic led by Alan Gilbert; Musica Sacra for the New York Philharmonic’s presentation of "2001: A Space Odyssey" film screening and live score performance, also led by Gilbert; and the Oratorio Society of New York for Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s led by Sir Roger Norrington. In 2013, Kent was the chorus director of the Carnegie Hall National High School Choral Festival, preparing three choruses from high schools across the country in Mozart’s Requiem.
As part of his work as Director of Choral Activities at the Manhattan School of Music, Kent recently established the school’s first doctoral program in choral conducting. He is also renowned as a master clinician, giving workshops on conducting and repertoire; in 2014 he made his third appearance as a featured conductor at the Berkshire Choral International, leading Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius, and in 2015 he led summer workshops at the Amherst Early Music Festival and Summer@Eastman, and a workshop in choral conducting at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. A Juilliard School faculty member since 1996, he currently directs a graduate practicum on oratorio in collaboration with the school’s Vocal Arts Department.
In more than 150 concerts presented by the Sacred Music in a Sacred Space series from 1989 to 2011, Kent conducted the Choir and Orchestra of St. Ignatius Loyola in a broad repertoire of sacred works, from Renaissance masses and oratorio masterworks to premieres by notable living composers, earning praise for building the choir and the concert series into one of the highlights of the New York concert scene. From 1996 to 2004, Kent as Music Director of the Emmy-nominated Dessoff Choirs. Under his direction the Dessoff Choirs performed with the Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, and Czech Philharmonic, as well as a nationally telecast Live from Lincoln Center concert of Mozart’s Requiem. Kent hosted “The Choral Mix with Kent Tritle,” a weekly program devoted to the vibrant world of choral music, on New York’s WQXR from 2010 to 2014.
Kent has worked with a wealth of young singers over the years; several with whom he was worked frequently are on the leading edge of the current group of rising stars in opera and concert: sopranos Susanna Phillips, Emalie Savoy, and Jennifer Zetlan; mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke; and tenor Paul Appleby. Kent has prepared choruses for conductors Alan Gilbert, Philippe Entremont, Christoph von Dohnányi, Leonard Slatkin, Michael Tilson Thomas, Robert Spano, Gerard Schwarz, Vladimir Spivakov, Nicholas McGegan, Leon Botstein, and Dennis Russell Davies. Among the soloists with whom he has collaborated are singers Renée Fleming, Jessye Norman, Hei-Kyung Hong, Marilyn Horne, Susanne Mentzer, Susan Graham, and Sherrill Milnes; cellist Yo-Yo Ma; pianist André Previn; and actor Tony Randall.
As an organ recitalist, Kent performs regularly in Europe and across the United States; recital venues have included the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the Zurich Tonhalle, the Church of St. Sulpice in Paris, Dresden’s Hofkirche, King’s College at Cambridge, Westminster Abbey, and St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague. With the Philharmonic he has performed Saint-Saëns’s Organ Symphony conducted by Lorin Maazel and Andrew Davis, and recorded Brahms’s s Ein Deutsches Requiem, Britten’s War Requiem and Henze’s Symphony No. 9, all conducted by Kurt Masur, as well as the Grammy-nominated "Sweeney Todd" conducted by Andrew Litton. He is featured on the DVDs "The Organistas" and "Creating the Stradivarius of Organs."
Kent has made more than a dozen recordings on the Telarc, AMDG, Epiphany, Gothic, VAI and MSR Classics labels. Among his most recent are two with Musica Sacra: "Messages to Myself," an acclaimed recording of five new works (by Daniel Brewbaker, Michael Gilbertson, Zachary Patten, Behzad Ranjbaran, and Christopher Theofanidis), and "Eternal Reflections: Choral Music" of Robert Paterson, a 2015 release about which Gramophone magazine said, “As shaped by Music Director Kent Tritle, the myriad hues, lyricism and nobility in Paterson's music emerge in all their splendour. The choristers of Musica Sacra lift their lines from the page, bringing passionate and lucid life to the varied challenges.”
Kent holds graduate and undergraduate degrees from The Juilliard School in organ performance and choral conducting. He has been featured on ABC World News Tonight, National Public Radio, and Minnesota Public Radio, as well as in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
In his 34th season as Music Director of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, Tom Hall has added nearly 200 new works to BCA’s repertoire, and he has premiered works by Peter Schickele, Libby Larsen, Rosephanye Dunn Powell, Robert Sirota, James Lee, III, and other internationally acclaimed composers.
Mr. Hall is active as a guest conductor, including appearances with the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston, the Louisiana Philharmonic, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Choral Arts Society of Philadelphia, the Berkshire Choral International, Musica Sacra in New York, and the Britten Sinfonia in Canterbury, England. His 2005 concert with Orchestre de Chambre de Paris was broadcast on French television. Mr. Hall has prepared choruses for Leonard Bernstein, Robert Shaw, Helmuth Rilling, among others, and he served for ten years as the Chorus Master of the Baltimore Opera Company. In 2014, he was awarded the American Prize in Conducting, and honored by Chorus America by being named a Director Laureate.
Mr. Hall is also a well-known teacher, lecturer, and writer. He has served as the President of Chorus America and as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, and he has been an Artist in Residence at Indiana University, the University of Cincinnati, Temple University, and Syracuse University. He was the Director of Choral Activities at Goucher College for 31 years, and he has also taught at the Peabody Conservatory, the University of Baltimore, Towson University, Morgan State University, and the Johns Hopkins University.
The host of WYPR-FM’s “Maryland Morning,” Mr. Hall will step down as BCA music director in July 2017.
Born in Lower Austria, Heinz Ferlesch has successfully established himself as a conductor of his baroque orchestra Barucco as well as a longtime choirmaster of Wiener Singakademie.
He studied at the Anton Bruckner Conservatory Linz and at the University of Music and Performing Arts with Herwig Reiter and Johannes Prinz. At the age of 27 Ferlesch was appointed Artistic Director of Wiener Singakademie by the Vienna Konzerthaus, the youngest Artistic Director in the choir´s history.
Within his career he has worked with conductors as Georges Prêtre, Valery Gergiev, Gustavo Dudamel, Sir Simon Rattle, Franz Welser-Möst, Kent Nagano, Fabio Luisi, Adam Fischer, Bertrand de Billy, Ton Kopmann, Helmuth Rilling and Simone Young.
Engagements of the Wiener Singakademie took him – besides periodic performances at Vienna Konzerthaus – to London, Zurich, Budapest, Venedig and New York. Close collaboration with orchestras like Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and Zurich Opera House Orchestra have shaped the musical development of Wiener Singakademie and its Artistic Director.
In 2004, Ferlesch founded his orchestra Barucco and since then he has increased his appearances as an orchestra conductor. Barucco, a young ensemble consisting of international baroque specialists, focuses mainly on the music of 18th century. Since its foundation the orchestra has been a regular guest at Vienna Konzerthaus and it is the orchestra in residence of the festival Vokalwoche Melk.
Performing with young Austrian soloists and the Wiener Singakademie is one of the main concerns of the orchestra. In 2009 Barucco was invited to perform at the International Baroque Festival at the monastery of Melk. Various CD recordings and broadcasts show the wide range of the orchestra´s repertoire; in 2004 the orchestra recorded music by Antonio Vivaldi for the Austrian broadcasting station ORF, and in 2006 a live recording of Handel´s Judas Maccabaeus was released by the ORF Edition of Ancient Music. In 2009 a recording of Handel´s oratorio Alexander´s Feast was published.
Ferlesch also works extensively with the choir Ad Libitum, which he founded in 1993. This mixed choir focuses on a capella music and has performed at Festspielhaus St. Pölten, the Brucknerhaus Linz and various festivals such as. Europäischer Kultursommer Aspach, Passauer Konzertwinter and Kultursommer St. Paul. Concert tours took the choir to England, Italy, Greece and Germany.
Conductor Ferlesch and his ensembles have been awarded various national and international prizes. In 2007 he was awarded the highly respected Ferdinand-Grossmann prize. In 2009 he was awarded the Erwin Ortner Prize in honor of his activities promoting choir music in Lower Austria.
Ferlesch has been a guest conductor at Berkshire Choral International and also member of the jury of several national and international choir competitions. In 2010 he was invited to conduct Antonin Dvořák’s Stabat Mater in Paris in cooperation with the Choer de Radio France. Since 2002 he has taught at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. In 2013 Ferlesch won the Golden Badge of Honour of the Municipality of St. Valentin in the category of music.