Richmond Symphony and VCU School of the Arts Announce New Joint Position; Erin R. Freeman to Become First Incumbent

Richmond Symphony and VCU School of the Arts Announce New Joint Position; Erin R. Freeman to Become First Incumbent

RICHMOND, Va. (May 28, 2014) - The Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts and the Richmond Symphony have announced the creation of a new joint position of Director of Choral Activities at Virginia Commonwealth University and Director of the Richmond Symphony Chorus. The position is being piloted as a one-year, non-tenured faculty appointment for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Pending final approval, Erin R. Freeman, D.M.A., current director of the Richmond Symphony Chorus and holder of the James Erb Choral Chair at the Richmond Symphony, will be named initially to the new joint position, which carries a faculty rank of assistant professor in the VCU School of the Arts Department of Music.

"I'm thrilled to be joining the VCU music department," Freeman said. "Through my work with the Richmond Symphony, I have had the honor of getting to know and work with the faculty on several occasions. I am pleased to become their academic colleague in the fall."

The VCU School of the Arts is consistently ranked as one of the top graduate artsschools in the country by U.S. News & World Report. Darryl V. Harper, chair of the Department of Music in the VCU School of the Arts, said he's excited about the possibilities created by the new position.

"We are delighted that Dr. Freeman will be lending her formidable talents to the VCU community, and we are excited about the potential of this new collaboration with RSO," Harper said.

Following Freeman's tenure as associate conductor of the Richmond Symphony, the new position allows her to continue to contribute significantly to the musical life of the region and to play a major role in the education of young singers in the Commonwealth.

"I am thrilled that Erin will be continuing her exceptionally fine work with the RSO Chorus, as well as becoming a leader in this heightened collaboration with VCU," said RSO Music Director Steven Smith.

RSO Executive Director David Fisk said the partnership marks an important milestone in the long relationship between VCU School of the Arts and the Richmond Symphony and Freeman's participation offers both organizations an opportunity to do more together than either institution could accomplish alone.

"We are excited that Erin has agreed to accept this position and continue her commitment to building community and inspiring audiences in Richmond and beyond," Fisk said.

About the Richmond Symphony

Founded in 1957, the Richmond Symphony is an orchestra of more than 70 professional musicians, the 150-voice Richmond Symphony Chorus and more than 200 students in the Richmond Symphony Youth Orchestra Program. Each season, more than 250,000 members of the community enjoy concerts, radio broadcasts, and educational outreach programs. The Richmond Symphony is partially funded by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

About Erin Freeman

From 2007 - 2014, Erin R. Freeman served as the Associate Conductor of the Richmond Symphony, leading such programs as the family-focused Union First Market Bank LolliPops Series, the Genworth Financial Symphony Pops Series and the Symphony's wide-ranging education initiatives. She is the Director of the Richmond Symphony Chorus, having taken over from founder James Erb in 2007. An enthusiastic champion of music education for all ages, Dr. Freeman has served as Director of Orchestras at the critically acclaimed Baltimore School for the Arts and American University, lecturer for the National Philharmonic and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, conductor at Northwestern University's High School Music Institute, and Resident Conductor at Peabody Conservatory where she taught in the choral, orchestral, and opera departments. She has conducted the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, the South Carolina Philharmonic, the Savannah Symphony, and All-State, County, and Regional orchestras in Virginia, Maryland, New York and Missouri. Dr. Freeman received her Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Northwestern University, a Masters degree in Conducting from the Boston University School for the Arts, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Orchestral Conducting at the Peabody Conservatory.

About the Richmond Symphony Chorus

James Erb organized the all-volunteer Richmond Symphony Chorus in 1971 for a December performance of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, under guest conductor Robert Shaw. For 36 years, Erb continued to direct and build the Chorus to reflect the Symphony's high standards. Erin Freeman assumed leadership of the Chorus at the start of its 2007-08 season. The repertoire for its selected volunteer membership has included most of the standard repertoire for chorus and orchestra: Bach's St. Matthew Passion, St. John Passion and Mass in BMinor, Haydn's Creation, Beethoven's Symphony No.9 and Choral Fantasy, Mendelssohn's Elijah, Requiem settings by Mozart, Brahms, Verdi and Faure, Mahler's Symphony No.2, Vaughan Williams' Sea Symphony and all of Ravel's Daphnis and Chloe. Over the years they have also sung shorter choral-orchestral works by Handel, Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Bruckner, Delius, Debussy, Barber, Britten, Richard Strauss, Vaughan Williams, Stravinsky, Olivier Messiaen and Luigi Dallapiccola. Recent projects have included a performance and recording of Mahler Symphony No. 8 with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, under the direction of JoAnn Falletta, a performance with the Richmond Symphony in the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC., and a recreation of the Chorus's inaugural performance of Missa Solemnis.

About the Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts

The Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts, ranked by US News & World Report as the #1 public university arts and design graduate program in the country, offers a variety of graduate and undergraduate degrees in design, fine and performing arts, with a unique emphasis on creative immersion. VCUarts is comprised of sixteen programs and more than 3,000 students. With the inclusion of our campus in Qatar, come an additional 6 programs and another 254 students.

About the Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Music:

VCU Music's voice area ensembles have gained recognition for their dynamic performances, which range from campus and Richmond-area venues to regional conferences and abroad. VCU Opera has the longest running tradition of annual full-scale productions in the state of Virginia and from 2011-2013 won three awards from the National Opera Association. The Commonwealth Singers, a select choir of 40-45 singers chosen from throughout the university, has performed internationally in Beijing, China and Montreal, Canada. Other vocal ensembles include Choral Arts Society, Vocal Chamber Ensemble, and Women's Choir. Active in community outreach in Richmond and beyond, the voice area also sponsors an annual camp, Vocal Arts Project, and a high-school invitational, Choral Classic, aimed at younger students. The success of the program is demonstrated by the consistently strong showing of our students and alumni in major regional and national competitions, as well as the number of VCU graduates performing on the international stage.