Vermont Symphony Orchestra Announces Director Robert De Cormier's Retirement

Vermont Symphony Orchestra (VSO), Vermont's only statewide symphony orchestra, announced this week that Robert De Cormier is retiring as founding director and conductor of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra Chorus. De Cormier has held this position for twenty years.

During his tenure with the VSO, the chorus has won unqualified praise. Vermont concert goers have been treated to many significant choral works including the Requiems of Verdi, Faure, and Mozart. Many performances featured De Cormier's personal arrangements and favorites. At the upcoming 20th anniversary celebration of the VSO chorus on January 25th at the Flynn Theater in Burlington and repeated on the 26th at the Paramount Theatre in Rutland, audiences will be treated to Bernstein's Chichester Psalms. This piece was on the first VSO Chorus performance under the direction of former VSO Music Director Kate Tamarkin 20 years prior. Also on the program will be Brahms' Ein Deutches Requiem. The piece has particularly special meaning to De Cormier. He remarked, "every time I conduct the Brahms Requiem I discover more beauty in it! I'm very happy to include this piece that I love so much-truly a work for all people-on my final concert with the VSO Chorus."

Under De Cormier's direction, the VSO Chorus has grown and become recognized for its merits and music presentation at the highest levels. He has displayed timeless dedication and endless passion. Robert is dearly loved by those who have worked with him throughout the twenty years. Lyn Lauffer, one of the original VSO Chorus members remarks, "It's been a privilege and a joy to sing with the chorus under Robert's direction these past 20 years. His special combination of humanity and musicality always made our work together a deeply affecting personal affair for all of us. The Terezin Project was a particular peak experience, as we came to understand, through his guidance, the powerful impact that music can have on the human condition."

De Cormier has been a Vermont resident for over forty years; however, his reputation is known beyond the state. He served as music director of the New York Choral Society for 17 years. Under his leadership the group became renowned for its high standard of excellence in choral singing and unique programming.

A graduate of Juilliard School of Music, De Cormier's other conducting engagements have taken him from Broadway and opera to numerous concert tours throughout the U.S. and Canada with his own professional group, the Robert De Cormier Singers. He spent many years as conductor and arranger for Harry Belafonte and has been music director for the popular folk trio, Peter, Paul and Mary.

He has written several works ranging from choral to ballet to Broadway scores. His cantata, The Jolly Beggars, based on the poetry of Robert Burns, premiered in New York to critical acclaim. His ballet score, Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder, is in the active repertoire of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. His choral works Legacy, Four Sonnets to Orpheus, Shout for Joy, and Under a Greenwood Tree, were premiered at Carnegie Hall by the New York Choral Society.

De Cormier's television credits include a three-part series of Choral Folk Songs for the BBC and an Emmy award-winning special with Harry Belafonte. For PBS, Mr. De Cormier was the choral director of a special starring Jessye Norman and Kathleen Battle, conducted by James Levine, as well as "Christmas at Carnegie" with Kathleen Battle and Frederica Von Stade, conducted by Andre Previn.

He has served on the New York State Council on the Arts and been a member of the Choral Panel of the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2000, De Cormier established Counterpoint, a nine-member vocal ensemble made up of VSO Chorus members. In 2002, he was honored by the New York Choral Society at a concert in New York's Carnegie Hall, and was presented the Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts by the Vermont Arts Council, in recognition of his 80th birthday.

VSO Music Director, Jaime Laredo reflects, "It has been a great honor and privilege to have worked with Bob all these years. He is theconsummate musician and an extraordinary human being. Sharon and I wish Robert and Louise the very best and look forward to seeing them often."

The Vermont Symphony Orchestra will conduct a nationwide search for the new Director of the VSO Chorus.

The Vermont Symphony Orchestra is the only statewide orchestra providing live musical experiences for listeners in Vermont. It is a state-supported non-profit institution founded in 1935 and exists for the purpose of fostering and encouraging the appreciation of music in all its various forms, with emphasis on orchestral, choral and chamber music.

The Vermont Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by retiring Robert De Cormier:

SATURDAY, JANUARY 25 8:00 pm, Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, Burlington

SUNDAY, JANUARY 26, 3:00 pm, Paramount Theatre, Rutland

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