Berkshire Choral International


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.

Betsy Burleigh

June 10-17, 2018

Betsy Burleigh is associate professor of choral conducting at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.

She comes to the Jacobs School from Boston, where she held the posts of music director of Chorus pro Musica and artistic director of the Providence Singers (Rhode Island). She also serves as music director of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, a position she maintains, where she prepares the chorus regularly for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. She has led the Mendelssohn in its own concert productions, including performances of Brahms' Requiem, Bach's B Minor Mass, and Rachmaninoff's Vespers. In 2009, she took the Mendelssohn Chamber Singers, a select sub-chorus of 32, to sing an invited performance at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Burleigh served as assistant director of choruses for the Cleveland Orchestra from 1998 until 2009 and as chorus master for Cleveland Opera from 2002 to 2006. She also was director of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus for eight years.

As guest conductor, Burleigh has led the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Akron Symphony, the Canton Symphony, and the Rhode Island Philharmonic.Theater engagements have included music direction at Opera Cleveland and the Cleveland Public Theater. Also active as a clinician and festival conductor, she recently led Cincinnati's October Festival Choir in Haydn's Theresienmesse.

Burleigh's conducting has been critically acclaimed; her 2012 Chorus pro Musica performance of Haydn's Creation was praised in the Boston Globe as an "expansive, poetic reading," and in the Boston Phoenix as "a stirring and elegant, lilting and expansive performance." Her 2010 Chorus pro Musica rendition of Orff's Carmina Burana was praised as being both "nuanced" and "hair-raising." She won the 2000 Northern Ohio Live Achievement Award for best classical/opera performance and conducted the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus on an Emmy Award-winning concert for the 9/11 Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.

She has prepared choruses for Manfred Honeck, Rafael Frübeck de Burgos, Jan Pascal Tortelier, Leonard Slatkin, Sir Andrew Davis, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Anton Coppola, Jane Glover, Jahja Ling, Nicholas McGegan, John Nelson, Yuri Temirkanov, and Franz Welser-Möst, among others.

From 1994 to 2010, she was coordinator of Choral and Vocal Music at Cleveland State University, where she achieved the rank of full professor.

Burleigh's career began in Boston, where she was music director of The Master Singers, the Longy Chamber Singers, and the Cambridge Madrigal Singers, and held teaching positions at Tufts University, Clark University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

She holds a doctorate in choral conducting from Indiana University, a master's degree in choral conducting from the New England Conservatory of Music, and a Bachelor of Music Education from Indiana University. She is an enthusiastic grower (and consumer) of heirloom tomatoes.

Joe Miller

June 17-24, 2018

Joe Miller is conductor of two of America’s most renowned choral ensembles: the Westminster Choir and the Westminster Symphonic Choir. As Director of Choral Activities at Westminster Choir College of Rider University (Princeton, NJ), he oversees an extensive choral program that includes eight ensembles.

Keynote speaker at a recent Chorus America conference, he said, “Choral music in the United States has seen unprecedented growth in the past several decades.The influence of our past leaders is part of our fabric, but we must seize this time to create a new vision based on the foundation that has been laid before us. We must keep the traditions but be willing to change in order to build a vision for the future.”

Miller earned his Master's and Doctorate in Choral Conducting from the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati. He received his Bachelor in Music Education and Voice from the University of Tennessee. This will be his first year conducting with BCI.

Rob Istad

July 1-8, 2018

Robert Istad is beginning his inaugural season as the Artistic Director of Pacific Chorale. Mr. Istad’s 2016-2017 season included debuts with the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, and return engagements with Pacific Chorale, Pacific Symphony Orchestra, Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra, Sony Classical, and Long Beach Camerata Singers.  He is also Dean of Chorus America’s Academy for Conductors.  In June 2016, Istad made his debut with Berkshire Choral International and Santa Rosa Symphony Orchestra. 

Istad has prepared choruses for a number of America’s finest conductors and orchestras, including: Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Carl St.Clair and the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, as well as conductors Esa–Pekka Salonen, Keith Lockhart, Nicholas McGegan, Vasilly Sinaisky, Sir Andrew Davis, Bramwell Tovey, John Williams, Eugene Kohn, Eric Whitacre, Giancarlo Guerrero, Marin Alsop, George Fenton, and Robert Moody. 

Istad is former Artistic Director of Long Beach Camerata Singers and Long Beach Bach Festival. Under his leadership, Long Beach Camerata Singers has performed with Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, Pacific Symphony Orchestra, Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra, and Long Beach Opera.

Istad is also Professor of Music and Director of Choral Studies at California State University, Fullerton.  He was recognized as CSUF’s 2016 Outstanding Professor of the Year. Recently, he and the University Singers performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Pacific Symphony Orchestra, Andrea Bocelli, Kathleen Battle, recorded albums with Yarlung Records and with composer John Williams and Sony Classical, have toured throughout the world and performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Glinka Cappella, Hollywood Bowl, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and the Liszt Academy of Music. They have been selected to perform at national and divisional conferences organized by ACDA, NCCO, and NAfME.

Istad is President of the California Choral Director’s Association, and is in demand as an adjudicator, guest conductor, speaker and clinician throughout the nation. 

Brian Kay

July 29-August 5, 2018

Brian Kay divides his working life between the broadcasting studio and the concert platform. He presents over 100 radio programmes each year, including Brian Kay's Light Programme on BBC Radio 3, and Radio 2's long-running series, Friday Night is Music Night. He has also presented Classics with Kay for BBC World Service, and for the home networks, The Tingle Factor, the Radio 2 Arts Programme, Comparing Notes, Music in mind and Mainly for Pleasure. His television presentations have included the competitions to find the Cardiff Singer of the World and the Choir of the Year. In 1996 he won the Sony Radio Award as Music Presenter of the Year. Brian is much in demand as a conductor, especially of choral music. For ten years he was chorus master of the renowned Huddersfield Choral Society, and conductor of the Cheltenham Bach Choir. He is a frequent guest conductor in England and abroad; current appointments include the vice-presidency of the Association of British Choral Directors, and he is conductor of the Leith Hill Music Festival, which was started by the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams.

As well as appearing as narrator in repertoire as diverse as Peter and the Wolf and Bliss's Morning Heroes, Kay is well remembered as the bass in the King's Singers, with whom he made countless recordings, and live concert appearances all over the world.

He sang the voice of Papageno in the Hollywood movie "Amadeus" (his wife, the soprano Gillian Fisher, sang Papagena); Kay has been the lowest frog on a Paul McCartney single and a member of the backing group for Pink Floyd!