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.

Maynooth, Ireland

Julian Wachner

June 13-21, concert on June 20

Julian Wachner is one of North America’s most exciting and versatile musicians, sought-after as both conductor and composer. He appears on the world’s leading stages including engagements with The Philadelphia Orchestra, Glimmerglass Opera, Montreal Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops Orchestra, Portland Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Honolulu Symphony, Music Academy of the West, Calgary Philharmonic, San Diego Symphony, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Handel & Haydn Society, Pacific Symphony, and L’Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal. He was recently named Music Director of the GRAMMY® award-winning Washington Chorus, in residence at the Kennedy Center. In addition, he is associate professor of music at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University in Montréal, Québec where he serves as Principal Conductor of Opera McGill.

Julian Wachner's original music has been described as “bold and atmospheric” by the New York Times, “jazzy, energetic, and ingenious” by the Boston Globe, “highly enjoyable, touching, clever, and inspiring” by the Deseret News, and “upbeat, jazzy, glittering, and poignant” by the Providence Journal. His complete catalogue of music of over 80 works, is published by E. C. Schirmer. Also an award-winning organist and improvisateur, at the Spoleto Festival USA his improvised finale at his solo recital led one reviewer to report that “this stupefying wizardry was the hit of the recital, and it had to be heard to be believed.” As a collaborative pianist, Julian Wachner has twice toured South America with countertenor Daniel Taylor and the Theatre of Early Music. Wachner’s recordings are with the Chandos, Naxos, Atma Classique, Arsis, Musica Omnia, and Titanic labels.

Born in Hollywood, California, Wachner began his musical education at age 4 with cello and piano lessons at the University of Southern California, and studied under Gerre Hancock while a boy chorister at the St. Thomas Choir School in New York City. He earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Boston University’s School for the Arts where his teachers included David Hoose and Lukas Foss.  While at Boston University, Wachner began a long association with Tanglewood serving on the teaching staff of the Young Artists Vocal and Composition Programs (1989-91) and returning as director of the Young Artists’ Composition Program (1999, 2001, 2002), director of the Young Artists Chorus (1998), and Guest Conductor of the Young Artists Orchestra (2000).

In addition to his musical activities, Julian Wachner is training to become a practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method® in the south of France.  He is also an amateur chef, and is developing a growing fascination with politics, history and international affairs.

Portland, Oregon

Karen Thomas

June 21-28, concert on June 27

Karen P. Thomas, composer and conductor, is the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Seattle Pro Musica. As a conductor, Ms. Thomas has produced seven critically acclaimed commercial CD recording with Seattle Pro Musica and has received the Margaret Hillis Award for Choral Excellence and the ASCAP-Chorus America Award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music. She has appeared as guest conductor at the Bergen International Festival, International Conference on Women in Music, the Alliance World Festival of Women's Singing, Festival Vancouver in Canada, the NPR radio show Saint Paul Sunday, and at the American Guild of Organists National Convention and the American Choral Directors Association NW Division Convention, among numerous others. Ms. Thomas has presented lectures for the American Guild of Organists National Convention, the Chorus America National Convention, the American Choral Directors Association and the World Festival of Women's Singing.

Currently serving on the board of the American Choral Director's Association for the Northwest Division, the Board of Governors for the Pacific NW division of the Academy of Recording Arts (Grammy), the board of the Greater Seattle Choral Consortium, and the Advisory Board of the Seattle Girl's Choir, she has served on the boards of the Conductor's Guild, the International Alliance for Women in Music, and the League-ISCM. She has served on the faculties of Pacific Lutheran University, Evergreen State College, Cornish College and Edmonds Community College.

Sheffield, Massachusetts

Jane Glover

July 11-19, concert on July 18

Music Director of Chicago’s Music of the Baroque since 2002 and also Artistic Director of Opera at London’s Royal Academy of Music,  Jane Glover made her professional debut at the Wexford Festival in 1975, conducting her own edition of Cavalli’s L’Eritrea. She joined Glyndebourne in 1979 and was Music Director of the Glyndebourne Touring Opera from 1981 to 1985; and she was Artistic Director of the London Mozart Players from 1984 to 1991.

In continual demand on the international opera stage, Ms Glover has appeared with numerous companies including the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, English National Opera, Glyndebourne, Berlin Staatsoper, Royal Danish Opera, Opéra National du Rhin in Strasbourg, Opéra National de Bordeaux, Glimmerglass Opera, New York City Opera, Opera Australia, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and the Teatro La Fenice in Venice.  Known chiefly as a Mozart specialist, she has conducted all the Mozart operas regularly, all over the world, since her initial performances of them in Glyndebourne in the 1980’s.  (Highlights include the Da Ponte trilogy in Chicago, with the director Diane Paulus; Die Entführung at the Royal Opera, Cosi fan tutte in Berlin, etc.)  But her core repertoire also includes Monteverdi (she and Paulus also performed his three operas in Chicago, in 2000, 2003 and 2006), Handel (many operas including Giulio Cesare, Alcina, Agrippina, Tamerlano, Acis and Galatea, Ariodante and Theodora), and Britten, who indeed personally influenced and guided Jane Glover when she was 16, and to whose music she constantly returns.  Her operatic repertoire also regularly includes Purcell, Gluck, Beethoven, Rossini, Donizetti, Humperdinck (she performed Hansel and Gretel at the BBC Proms) and Knussen.  In addition she collaborates closely with the Mark Morris Dance Group, for whom she has conducted major productions of Purcell (King Arthur), Handel (L’Allegro) and Mozart.

Ms Glover’s concert engagements similarly take her all over the world.  She has performed with all the major symphony and chamber orchestras in Britain, repeatedly at the BBC Proms (another highlight was Britten’s War Requiem), as well as with orchestras in Europe, the US, the Far East and Australasia.  In recent seasons she has appeared with the San Francisco Symphony, the Houston Symphony, the Toronto Symphony, the St Louis Symphony, the Orchestra of St Luke’s (Carnegie Hall), the Philharmonia, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, the London Mozart Players and the City of London Sinfonia, as well as the period orchestras the Philharmonia Baroque, and the Handel & Haydn Society.  She has appeared at the Mostly Mozart Festivals in both New York and London.  She is also especially known for her experience in the choral repertoire, and was Music Director of both the London and the Huddersfield Choral Societies.

Jane Glover’s many recordings feature a series of Mozart and Haydn symphonies for ASV, and arias with Felicity Lott, all with the London Mozart Players, plus other recordings of Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Britten and Walton with the London Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic, and the BBC Singers.  Her most recent recording for Naxos features Haydn Masses with Trinity Choir, Trinity Wall Street.  Her extensive broadcasting career includes the television series Orchestra and Mozart, and the radio series Opera House and Musical Dynasties, all for the BBC.

Her book, Mozart’s Women, was published, to great critical acclaim, in September 2005.  It was nominated for both the Samuel Johnson Prize and the Whitbread Prize for Non-Fiction.  She is currently writing a book on Handel.

Highlights in recent seasons include operas The Turn of the Screw and Jeptha (Bordeaux); Semele (Milwaukee), La Clemenza di Tito (Chicago Opera Theater), The Rape of Lucretia (Aspen), Cavalli’s Giasone at the Royal Academy of Music and Acis and Galatea in Chicago with Music of the Baroque.  Additionally she has led concerts with Music of the Baroque (including Handel’s Hercules), the London Mozart Players (including The Creation), the Orchestre Nationale de Bordeaux et Aquitaine, and the Philharmonia Baroque; returns to Toronto to conduct the Toronto Symphony; in Montreal to conduct Haydn’s Creation with the Berkshire Choral Festival, returns to Aspen, Trinity and Handel & Haydn as well as appearances conducting Mark Morris Dance Group--in Boston leading Mozart Dances and L’Allegro in the UK (ENO and Birmingham) and at Mostly Mozart in New York City with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s.  In 2011 she will conduct the world premiere of Peter Maxwell Davies’s new opera, Kommiltonen with the Royal Academy and returns to Opera Theatre of St. Louis to conduct Don Giovanni.

Jane Glover studied at the University of Oxford, where, after graduation, she did her D.Phil. on 17th-century Venetian opera.  She holds honorary degrees from several other universities, and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Music.  She was created a CBE in the 2003 New Year’s Honours.

Philip Brunelle

July 19-26, concert on July 25

VocalEssence Artistic Director and Founder Philip Brunelle showed signs at an early age of the adventurous spirit that has driven his lifelong enthusiasm for all forms of choral, vocal, opera and symphonic music. At the age of 25, Philip was appointed choirmaster-organist of Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis. He immediately established the Plymouth Music Series, which has become today’s choral music organization VocalEssence. Philip played piano on the very first episode of A Prairie Home Companion in 1974, forging a connection with Garrison Keillor that has resulted in many creative ventures over the years.

Philip has been invited to guest conduct choirs and orchestras across the United States, South America and Europe, including the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Berkshire Choral Festival, the BBC Singers and the Seattle Symphony. He is called upon to adjudicate choral competitions all over the world, with recent visits to South Korea, China, Norway and Hungary. In 2003, Chorus America honored Philip with its highest award, the Michael Korn Founder’s Award for Development of the Choral Art. He has also been honored with a “Local Legend” award from General Mills and the United Negro College Fund; American Composers Forum “Champion of New Music”; U.S. Bank Sally Ordway Irvine Award for Commitment, recognizing lifetime achievement, contribution and leadership in culture and the arts; and the F. Melius Christiansen Lifetime Achievement Award, American Choral Directors Association-Minnesota Chapter’s highest honor. Philip holds honorary doctorates from St. Olaf College, Gustavus Adolphus College, St. John’s University and United Theological Seminary.

Erin Freeman

July 26-August 2, concert on August 1

Hailed by the press as engaging, elegant, and entertaining, Erin Freeman is the newly appointed Artistic Director of Wintergreen Performing Arts, where she will lead artistic endeavors of the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival and the associated Wintergreen Summer Music Academy.

This season, Erin Freeman also joins the faculty of VCUMusic as Director of Choral Activities, a newly created joint position co-sponsored by the Richmond Symphony, where she continues as Director of the Richmond Symphony Chorus. This appointment comes on the heels of a successful seven years as the Richmond Symphony’s Associate Conductor, and will include overseeing all of the choral ensembles at VCU as well as vocal chamber music, and preparing the 150-voice Richmond Symphony Chorus for all of its performances.

As Associate Conductor and Chorus Director of the Richmond Symphony from 2007-2014, Freeman conducted subscription concerts, led the Pops and Lollipops Series, spearheaded the Symphony’s education initiatives, including its four youth orchestras, and directed the 150-voice symphony chorus. She collaborated with soloists such as Jamie Bernstein, Elena Uriosti, Arturo Sandoval, Marietta Simpson, Joseph Conyers, Patti Austin, and Maureen McGovern, and in 2012, Freeman prepared the Richmond Symphony Chorus for an historic performance and recording of Mahler Symphony No. 8 with the Virginia Symphony, under the direction of JoAnn Falletta.

Freeman maintains an association with the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, for whom she has served as Music Director, and with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, where she has been a frequent guest conductor. This year, she will conduct the BPO and BPC in their popular Classical Christmas program.    She has also been a Guest Conductor for the South Carolina Philharmonic, the Savannah Symphony, the Richmond Ballet, and other ensembles in Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Missouri, and Illinois. And, in summer 2015, she will conduct Dvorak’s Stabat Mater at the Berkshire Choral Festival.

Passionate about making classical music accessible to all, Freeman has led programs from the Richmond Symphony’s ground breaking Come and Play, resulting in a community orchestra of over 650, to Celebrity Maestro, for which she taught conducting lessons to such notables as Miss America Caressa Cameron and Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones. She has served as Director of Orchestras at Baltimore School for the Arts and American University, Conductor at Northwestern University’s National High School Music Institute, Lecturer for the National Philharmonic and Baltimore Symphony, Music Director of the Richmond Philharmonic, and Resident Conductor at Peabody Conservatory. She has instructed national seminars for the Conductor’s Guild, and serves on their board of directors as Vice President.

Winner of numerous awards, including the Women’s Philharmonic Conducting Scholarship, Freeman was selected by Virginia Lawyer’s Weekly as one of Virginia’s 50 most influential women. With degrees from Northwestern University, Boston University, and Peabody Conservatory, she has studied and performed in masterclasses with Gustav Meier, Victor Yampolsky, Markand Thakar, Helmuth Rilling, Murry Sidlin, and Robert Shaw.