The Choral Arts Society of Washington, D.C. is preparing for their 2013-14 season — the first season that was planned by Artistic Director Scott Tucker. The season will kick off on November 10th and include a schedule of five programs, including three performances of the annual Christmas concert.
Tucker joined the Choral Arts Society in 2012 just in time to usher in the 2012-13 season. Since that season had already been scheduled, this year will be the first opportunity Tucker has to put his mark on the music being performed.
An Academic Background
Prior to his appointment to the Choral Arts Society of Washington, Tucker was a professor and Director of Choral Music for 17 years. Educated at the New England Conservatory of Music and Tufts University, he possess both a B.S. in Psychology and a Master of Music degree. He also free lanced as a musician for several years during these early years.
For six years Tucker was Assistant Choral Director under Jameson Marvin at Harvard University. He also served as Choral Director at the Milton Academy. He also performed at King’s Chapel in Boston as a tenor soloist for several years.
He took his place at Cornell in 1995 where he directed both the Cornell University Chorus and the Cornell University Glee Club. He also led the Sage Chapel Choir, the Chamber Singers, and tool the choirs on several international as well as national tours.
A favorite with students and audiences, he did not always please the critics. However, as the years passed and his skill grew, he earned praise even in those circles, getting good reviews in the Washington Post and the San Francisco Classical Voice.
Below is a video of Tucker conducting the Cornell University Chorus:
The choral program at the university saw healthy expansion during Tucker’s tenure, with an increase in funding for special programs as well as for the department as a whole. In 2006 his post was endowed and he became the Priscilla Edwards Browning Director of Choral Music. He was also able to initiate and direct the commission of new music for the Glee Club and the Chorus. One of his notable achievements was a program which set the words of women poets to original music by women composers, entitled “No Whining, No Flowers.”
In addition to arranging regular performances with the Syracuse Symphony for his student groups, Tucker was able to bring in guest artists to collaborate with the choral groups. These included Peter Schreier, Anonymous 4, Garrison Keillor, and leading conductors from around the world.
In 2011 The Choral Arts Society kicked off a year-long search to replace outgoing director Norman Scribner. This was a critical search as Scribner had founded the Society and served as its leader for 46 years. Tucker was the unanimous choice of the search committee and his appointment was announced in the Spring of 2012.
Schribner expressed his delight with Tucker’s appointment at the time saying, “Scott’s appointment heralds a brilliant new era in the Choral Arts Society’s pursuit of excellence in the choral arts.”
Officials and students at Cornell expressed their sorrow at losing Tucker while at the same time recognizing the importantce of his new appointment and the passion and talent he would be able to share with a professional society. The chair of Cornell’s music department spoke of the legacy Tucker created that will be a tough act for his successor to follow. Several students and alumi credited Tucker’s appreciation of the university’s choral music legacy with their own success.
Here’s a video of Tucker’s goodbye speech to his students:
In putting his stamp on choral music in Washington, Tucker has mixed together traditional choral pieces with newly commissioned work. This formula is in evidence in the first concert of the season, entitled “Legacy and Life: A Musical and Visual Reflection.” The program pairs Verdi’s “Requiem” with the East Coast premiere of Steven Stucky’s “Take Him, Earth,” a piece that commemorates the 50th Anniversary of the JFK assassination.
For many the highlight of the season will be the three performances of “An Enchanted Christmas: A Heartwarming Concert with Yuletide Classics and the Beloved Carol Sing-A-Long.” The Children’s Chorus of Washington will also perform during this event. The program debuts on December 16th and features the Society’s 33rd Annual Holiday Gala and Auction.
In 2014 “Living the Dream…Singing the Dream” will offer a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr., in February featuring the Washington Performing Society’s Gospel Choirs (Men, Women, and Children). In April Bacalov’s “Misa Tango” and Alberto Ginaestera’s “Lamentations of Jeremiah” will comprise “Tango! Soul and Heart: A Celebration of Argentine Music and Dance.”
The season ends with the world premiere of a new commission by Armando Bayolo. That piece will be performed alongside “Mass (Concert Version)” by Leonard Bernstein as well as other American choral pieces. The evening is entitled “Made in America: Three Generations of Master and Emerging American Composers.” It will bring together the Children’s Chorus of Washington, the Washington Chorus, andthe Great Oise Ensemble to perform with the Choral Arts Chorus.
Tucker discusses the upcoming season and other Choral Society news in this video:
Dates and ticket information can be found at www.choralarts.org