Eric Choate Named Artistic Director As Ian Robertson Becomes Artistic Director Emeritus of the San Francisco Boys Chorus
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE / PRURGENT
The San Francisco Boys Chorus is pleased to announce the appointment of Eric Choate as the 10th Artistic Director of the renowned chorus, assuming the position from Ian Robertson who has been named Artistic Director Emeritus. The appointments are effective immediately.
Eric Choate is an accomplished conductor, composer, and organist, who has served as a guest Chorus Master for the San Francisco Symphony and the Berkeley Symphony. Since 2014, he has been on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music as Assistant Director of the Conservatory Chorus, which in 2016 collaborated with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Philharmonia Orchestra for performances of Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex and Symphony of Psalms. Previously Maestro Choate was Assistant Conductor of the Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra. He is also a sought after choral clinician and currently serves as Director of Music at The Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin in San Francisco.
Since 1996, Ian Robertson has led the San Francisco Boys Chorus, serving also as Chorus Director of San Francisco Opera. He has been responsible for the San Francisco Boys Chorus' phenomenal growth and artistic renaissance as one of nation’s premier youth choral performance and educational organizations. He has led the Chorus on numerous international tours, including the 2019 Summer Tour to Germany that included performances at Thomaskirche in Leipzig, where J.S. Bach was the choral director, and at Dresden’s Kirchensal. Under Maestro Robertson’s direction, San Francisco Boys Chorus collaborations have been enhanced with San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Symphony and many other music groups. In 2012, he was the recipient of the San Francisco Opera Medal; in 2003 he received Olivier Messiaen Foundation Prize for his artistic contribution to the preparation of the Company’s North American premiere of Saint François d’Assise. A Scotland native trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and the University of Glasgow, Robertson studied conducting under Scotland’s revered maestro, Sir Alexander Gibson.
In accepting the position, Eric Choate said, “I am extremely pleased to have been appointed Artistic Director of the San Francisco Boys Chorus, a first-rate ensemble thanks to Ian Robertson’s outstanding stewardship. I have admired the work of the San Francisco Boys Chorus as long as I have lived in the Bay Area and am honored and humbled to make music with these exceptional young boys.”
“Working together, Maestros Choate and Robertson will continue to enhance the San Francisco Boys Chorus as an instructional and performing arts organization, providing unparalleled opportunities for Bay Area boys,” Robert Howard, President of the San Francisco Boys Chorus said. “The Board of Directors is proud to be make these two important appointments at this juncture in the Chorus’ 71-year-history.”
Eric Choate is a graduate with Departmental Distinction in Music Composition from St. Olaf College in Minnesota, where he studied with Timothy Mahr and Justin Merritt. He was awarded a fellowship to study at the European American Musical Alliance in Paris, France; from this, he graduated with Honorable Mentions in Harmony and Solfège. He then went on to earn a Master of Music in 2014 with David Conte at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
As a composer, his works have been lauded as "music to grab the listener's attention through novelty and hold it through technical discipline" (Stephen Smoliar, examiner.com). He has several awards to his name, including First Prize in the SFCM Art Song Composition Competition for his setting of My Papa's Waltz, First Prize in the Vancouver Chamber Choir Composition Competition for his anthem Now Cheer Our Hearts, and runner-up for the James Highsmith award for his orchestral work Sonora. Recently he composed an Ave Maria for a Notre-Dame solidarity concert and conducted the performance with musicians from the San Francisco Symphony, American Bach Soloists, The Grace Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys, Frederica von Stade, and Johann Vexo. He is frequently commissioned by recitalists, chamber ensembles, and choirs, and his music has been performed by renowned artists including The Choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge, Brian Thorsett, Emil Miland, Friction Quartet, Areon Flutes, One Found Sound, and numerous sacred choral ensembles. Eric's music is published by E.C. Schirmer and Augsburg Fortress.
The San Francisco Boys Chorus was founded in 1948 as the San Francisco Opera Boys Chorus to provide trained boy singers for opera productions. Since then, boys trained in the San Francisco Boys Chorus’ 6-level training program have appeared in more than 160 San Francisco Opera productions. In 1992, the Chorus was awarded a Grammy for Best Choral Performance. Over the years with its active touring program the Chorus has sung for Presidents and Popes; in 1955 they sang at the opening of Disneyland and five years later appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, earning them the title of “San Francisco’s Singing Ambassadors” from the late Mayor George Christopher. Annually, KQED-TV features the Boys Chorus in a special holiday music program in broadcasts throughout Northern California.
More than 200 Bay Area boys participate in the music education and performance program, which includes biweekly rehearsals at one of 4 training sites in San Francisco, San Mateo, Oakland, and San Rafael. The boys also attend summer music camp. In the last year, the Chorus performed at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts with noted soprano Deborah Voigt and in holiday concerts throughout the Bay Area from the Union Square tree lighting to senior centers in Marin and San Francisco, and Davies Symphony Hall. This year members of the Chorus sang in Opera productions of Tosca and Carmen, and in the San Francisco Symphony’s performances of L’Enfant et Les Sortileges.
The San Francisco Boys Chorus is a trademarked, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Its mission is to provide music education, vocal training and performance experience at the highest artistic level to boys from all cultural, ethnic and economic backgrounds.