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Robert Porco

Robert Porco Photograph by Roger Mastroianni

Director of Choruses, 1998 to 2017
Frances P. and Chester C. Bolton Endowed Chair
The Cleveland Orchestra

Robert Porco became director of choruses for The Cleveland Orchestra in 1998.  In addition to overseeing choral activities and preparing the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and the Blossom Festival Chorus for a variety of concert programs each season, Mr. Porco conducts the Orchestra’s annual series of Christmas concerts at Severance Hall and regularly conducts subscription concert programs both at Severance Hall and Blossom.  In recent seasons, he has led performances of Handel’s Messiah, Vaughan Williams’s A Sea Symphony, Orff’s Carmina Burana, and evenings of Broadway and American favorites at Blossom.

Highlights of Mr. Porco’s Cleveland tenure have included preparing the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus for a wide variety of performances and repertoire, including performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 conducted by Franz Welser-Möst in January 2007, released as a Deutsche Grammophon recording.  He has prepared the Chorus for touring appearances with the Orchestra, including the 2013 European Tour and performances at the Edinburgh International Festival, Lucerne Festival, London Proms, and Carnegie Hall, as well as for a series of operas at Severance Hall under Welser-Möst’s direction. 

In 2011, Mr. Porco was honored by Chorus America with its annual Michael Korn Founders Award for a lifetime of significant contributions to the professional choral art.  His activities and achievements across four decades of work have included preparing choruses for such prominent conductors as Pierre Boulez, James Conlon, Andrew Davis, Christoph von Dohnányi, Raymond Leppard, James Levine, Jesús López-Cobos, Zubin Mehta, André Previn, Kurt Sanderling, Robert Shaw, Leonard Slatkin, and Franz Welser-Möst, among others.  As a guest conductor, Mr. Porco has led performances across North America, in Europe, and Asia, with appearances from Edinburgh to Lucerne, Reykjavik to Taipei, and from Chicago’s Grant Park Festival to the Cincinnati May Festival, where he has served as director of choruses since 1989. 

Ohio native Robert Porco served as chairman of the choral department at Indiana University 1980-98, and in recent years taught doctoral-level conducting at the school.  Highlights of his work at Indiana University have included a special performance by 250 students of Leonard Bernstein’s Mass as part of the Tanglewood Music Festival’s celebration of the composer’s 70th birthday.  He was artistic director and conductor of the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, 1989-98. 

As teacher and mentor, Mr. Porco has guided and influenced the development of hundreds of musicians, many of whom are now active as professional conductors, singers, or teachers.  As a sought-after guest instructor and coach, his teaching work has included programs at Harvard University, Westminster Choir College, and the University of Miami Frost School of Music.

Updated: June 2012