Thursday, April 3, 2008

Robert DeCormier

The Robert DeCormier who was conducting campers in the Peter Horn video went on to become quite famous:
from counterpointchorus

ROBERT DE CORMIER acted as music director of the New York Choral Society for seventeen years and under his leadership the group became renowned for its high standard of excellence in choral singing and unique variety of programming. As Music Director Emeritus he guest conducted a performance of the Verdi Requiem in 1990, the Berlioz Requiem at St. Paul's Cathedral, New York City in 1992 and the premiere of a commissioned work, the Missa Iona in 1993 at St. Bartholomew's in New York City.
In 1995 he began a two year project based on the music produced in the concentration camp in Terezin, Czechoslovakia. With funds generously provided by the Vermont State Legislature and Vermont Arts Council, the Vermont Council on the Humanities and the Spielberg Foundation (this was the first grant awarded by this Foundation), as well as many individual contributions, it was possible for Mr. De Cormier to mount and conduct productions of two operas from Terezin; Brundibar, a children's opera by Hans Krasa, and The Emperor of Atlantis, written by Viktor Ullmann. The operas toured throughout Vermont, Massachussetts, and New Hampshire, culminating in a performance at Merkin Concert Hall in New York City. They were the bookends of a project whose initiation was a performance of Verdi's Requiem at the Flynn theater in Burlington, Vermont, in memory of those who had performed it in Terezin.
In January, 2000 he conducted the Vermont Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in performances of the Mozart C Minor Mass, Samuel Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and PDQ Bach's Bluegrass Cantata. In March of 2000 he conducted the Buffalo Philharmonic and chorus in Arthur Honegger's King David. As part of a year long celebration of his 80th birthday he led the Vt Symphony Orchestra and chorus in two performances of the Brahms Requiem in March and July of 2002; conducted the NY Choral Society and Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, Verdi's Four Sacred Pieces and his own work, Under A Greenwood Tree; and on July 20 the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary came to Vermont to give a benefit concert for and with Counterpoint, DeCormier's 11 member professional vocal ensemble, as a birthday gift to their musical director of more than twenty years.
A graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, Mr. De Cormier's other conducting engagements have taken him from Broadway and opera to the Berkshire Choral Institute, the Zimriya World Assembly of Choirs in Israel and numerous concert tours throughout the United States 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 for the past twenty years.
In 1993 he helped found the Vermont Symphony Orchestra Chorus and Chamber Chorus and as their director he both prepares and conducts performances with the symphony. In the fall of 2000 he established Counterpoint, an 11 voice professional vocal ensemble based in Vermont. He has written several works ranging from choral to ballet to Broadway scores (music for The Wall and The World of Sholem Aleichem). 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 Dance Theater. 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. Spiritual Suite, commissioned by the West Village Chorale premiered in New York in 1991 Mr. De Cormier has also arranged extensively, from African-American spirituals to American and international folk songs.
Recordings include albums of Yiddish folk material for Martha Schlamme, Natanya Davrath and Jan Peerce for Vanguard Records, four Christmas albums on the Arabesque label with the De Cormier Singers, the Kodaly Missa Brevis and Vaughan Williams' Mass in G Minor on Vox Turnabout with the New York Choral Society, Songs of Liberty for Book-of-the-Month Club with the Choral Society and the De Cormier Singers, as well as Carmina Burana for Newport Classics, Paul Alan Levi's Mark Twain Suite and De Cormier's Legacy and Four Sonnets to Orpheus for Centaur and an album of Christmas music with Jessye Norman for Philips. A recording of John Dowland's music, Awake, Sweet Love with Julianne Baird and the DeCormier Singers was released by Arabesque in 1992 and Noel We Sing with the Choral Society was a Musical Heritage release in 1994. Recent Arabesque releases include Oh, You Beautiful Doll, early twentieth century popular American songs, Children, Go Where I Send Thee, international Christmas songs, two operas from the Terezin concentration camp in Czechoslovakia; Brundibar, a children's opera by Hans Krasa and The Emperor of Atlantis, composed by Viktor Ullmann. The Jolly Beggars, De Cormier's settings of Robert Burns' poetry was released by Arabesque in May, 1998.
Counterpoint recordings include A Counterpoint Christmas released by Choral Excellence, When the Rabbi Danced and Misa Criolla on the Albany label and two new CD's, Shir La Shalom (Sing for Peace) and Counterpoint Sings Noel, due for release by Albany Records in the fall of 2005.
Mr. 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. More recently for Thames TV he conducted Christmastide with Jessye Norman, and for PBS A Holiday Concert, Peter, Paul & Mommy Too, and Lifelines, all with Peter, Paul and Mary. Also for PBS Mr. De Cormier was the choral director for a combined concert, television and recording 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.
Mr. De Cormier 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. He has been honored by the Vermont Arts Council with the 2002 Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts.

1 comment:

Write To Literary Artist said...

Hi. This is Susan Louise Darnell, professional writer. I'm researching Robert DeCormier and found this site terrific. Thanks alot. You can find my short bio on Mr. DeCormier at

My name is not posted there. It's posted mostly for longer pieces I do under articles. In time, I'll be able to write a longer piece about DeCormier. His repertoire is fantastic.