May Festival Chorus
A profound musical experience from the May Festival Chorus, under the baton of its director, Robert Porco, this was a defining performance…a marvelous chorus singing great music at the top of its collective, no exception best…this was more than a (Fauré) Requiem to remember; for the listener at least, it became a new standard for the work.- Janos Gereben, San Francisco Classical Voice
The May Festival Chorus has earned acclaim locally, nationally and internationally for its musicality, vast range of repertoire and sheer power of sound. The Chorus of 145 professionally trained singers is the core artistic element of the Cincinnati May Festival as well as the official chorus of the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra. Throughout each season the chorus members collectively devote more than 40,000 hours in rehearsals and performances.
Founded in 1873, the annual May Festival is the oldest, and one of the most prestigious, choral festivals in the Western Hemisphere. The annual Festival boasts the May Festival Chorus and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra as anchors, hosts an international array of guest artists and presents two spectacular weekends of dynamic programming and choral preparation of Robert Porco. James Conlon, Music Director Laureate, provided the artistic leadership for more May Festivals than any other Music Director in the Festival’s 141-year history, directing the festival for the later part of the 20th century and stepping down in 2016.
Many important choral works have received their World and American premieres at the May Festival, including Johann Sebastian Bach’sMagnificat, Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, Benjamin Britten’s Gloriana, Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Death of the Bishop of Brindisi and Robert Nathaniel Dett’s The Ordering of Moses.
Beyond Cincinnati, the May Festival Chorus has performed with great success at numerous venues across the country, including three celebrated appearances at Carnegie Hall. They will return to New York City in May of 2014 for the Spring for Music Festival at Carnegie Hall, with James Conlon and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra.
The May Festival Chorus has further strengthened its national presence through numerous PBS broadcasts of live concerts and several award-winning recordings, many in collaboration with the Cincinnati Symphony and Pops Orchestra. In 2001 the Chorus recorded Christmas with the May Festival Chorus, a popular a cappella holiday compact disc. Their 2004 Telarc release, the world premiere recording of Franz Liszt’s St. Stanislausfeaturing James Conlon and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, was awarded the 30th International F. Liszt Record Grand Prix by the Liszt Society of Budapest. The Chorus is also featured on the 2012 Cincinnati Pops release, Home for the Holidays.
The May Festival Chorus has garnered two awards in recognition of its continuing artistic excellence and performances throughout the state. In 2011 the Chorus received the Spirit of Cincinnati USA Erich Kunzel Queen City Advocate Award from Cincinnati USA Convention and Visitors Bureau. In 1998 the Chorus earned the Irma Lazarus Award from the Ohio Arts Council’s annual Governor’s Awards for the Arts.