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Cleveland Orchestra announces
Lisa Wong as Director of Choruses


For Release:  May 16, 2018

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Orchestra and Music Director Franz Welser-Möst have announced that Lisa Wong has been named Director of Choruses for The Cleveland Orchestra, effective immediately.  The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus is one of the few professionally trained, all-volunteer choruses sponsored by a major American orchestra. Its members hail from nearly fifty Cleveland-area communities and together contribute more than 15,000 volunteer hours to the Orchestra’s music-making each year.  Wong will hold the Frances P. and Chester C. Bolton Director of Choruses Endowed Chair.

Wong has an extensive history with The Cleveland Orchestra’s choruses, starting as a member of the ensemble during the 2009-2010 season. She joined the choral staff of The Cleveland Orchestra as assistant director of choruses at the start of the 2010-11 season, assisting in preparing the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and Blossom Festival Chorus for performances each year. In 2012, she took on added responsibilities as director of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus. 

With the 2017-18 season, Wong was appointed Acting Director of Choruses, leading the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus in such concerts as Haydn’s The Seasons in Cleveland and at New York’s Carnegie Hall; Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloé (complete ballet music); and choral works of Gabrieli, Pärt, and Kernis for a program titled Divine Ecstasy, as part of the festival "The Ecstasy of Tristan and Isolde." As Director of Choruses, she prepared the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus for this week's performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in Cleveland (May 17-19).

Further details of Wong’s biography follow later in this release.      

“Lisa Wong is an accomplished musician and collaborator who over the past seven seasons, and recently during our Centennial Season as Acting Director of Choruses, has shown great skill developing the artistry of the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus,” said Cleveland Orchestra Music Director Franz Welser-Möst. “I look forward to working with Lisa as Director of Choruses while she continues to demonstrate her extraordinary dedication and passion for the choral art form. I’m excited that she will continue to be part of The Cleveland Orchestra family.”

“I am deeply honored to be named as Director of Choruses for The Cleveland Orchestra, and to inherit the responsibilities associated with the Chorus’s historic legacy,” said Lisa Wong. “I am grateful to Franz Welser-Möst and to the entire organization for this opportunity, and look forward to our partnership with tremendous enthusiasm.”

The 2018 Blossom Music Festival season marks the 50th anniversary of Blossom Music Center and the Blossom Festival Chorus. The Blossom Festival Chorus performs as part of Vaughan Williams’s Serenade to Music (July 21) — a piece featured on the Festival’s very first season — and Orff’s dramatic Carmina Burana (August 25).

The upcoming 2018-19 season marks the beginning of the Orchestra’s Second Century, which extends the dedicated week-to-week work, creativity, and artistry required to continue being one of the world’s best orchestras year after year. In addition to performances in December for the annual Christmas concerts, the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus performs as part of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (“Resurrection”) on October 4, 5, and 6 and Schubert’s Mass No. 6 (May 16, 17, and 18). The Cleveland Orchestra Chamber Chorus is featured in Handel’s Messiah (December 6, 7, 8, and 9), and the Men of the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus perform as part of Busoni’s Piano Concerto (February 7 and 9).

About List Wong

After serving as Acting Director of Choruses for the 2017-18 season, Lisa Wong was named Director of Choruses in May 2018. She joined the choral staff of The Cleveland Orchestra as assistant director of choruses at the start of the 2010-11 season, assisting in preparing the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and Blossom Festival Chorus for performances each year. From 2012-2017, she took on added responsibilities as director of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus.   

In addition to her duties at Severance Hall, Wong is an Associate Professor of Music at The College of Wooster, where she co-chairs the Music Department, directs the Wooster Chorus, and teaches courses in conducting, choral literature, and music education. Choirs under her direction have performed at the Central Division Conference of the American Choral Directors Association, and at several state conferences of the Ohio Music Education Association. Previous academic posts include positions in public and private schools in New York, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. Prior to her appointment at The College of Wooster, Ms. Wong served as an associate instructor in the choral department of the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. In addition, she directed the Chamber Choir of the Indiana University Children’s Choir, where her duties included preparing the choir for performances of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, and several IU Opera Theater productions. She also led the group in performance at the Indiana Music Educators Association Conference.

Active as a clinician, guest conductor, and adjudicator, she regularly serves as a music grant panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts. Recent accolades have included work at Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya, as a part of Tunaweza Kimuziki, and as a conductor for “Conducting 21C: Musical Leadership for a New Century” in Stockholm, Sweden. Ms. Wong holds a bachelor of science degree in music education from West Chester University, as well as master of music and doctor of music degrees in choral conducting from Indiana University.

About the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus
and Cleveland Orchestra Choruses

The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus is one of the few professionally trained, all-volunteer choruses sponsored by a major American orchestra. In addition to performing with The Cleveland Orchestra in concerts at Severance Hall each season, the Chorus has appeared with the Orchestra on tour in Boston, Brussels, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, London, Lucerne, Luxembourg, Miami, Paris, and New York, as well as on television and in numerous recordings. The Chorus has also toured on its own, either a cappella or with other ensembles, to the Casals Festival in San Juan, Puerto Rico; the Chautauqua Institution in New York; and to venues in England, Wales, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Germany.

Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and Blossom Festival Chorus members hail from nearly 50 Northeast Ohio communities. Together, the groups’ 250 members volunteer more than 50,000 hours annually, through rehearsals and performances. The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus also raises money for their tours through a variety of projects and events.

Today’s Cleveland Orchestra Chorus was first formed in 1952 at the request of Music Director George Szell. The Chorus celebrated its 60th anniversary during the 2012-13 season. During The Cleveland Orchestra’s first several decades, a number of college and guest choruses appeared in performances, along with several short-lived attempts at forming a permanent chorus for the Orchestra’s annual seasons. Soon after Severance Hall opened in 1931, the Cleveland Philharmonic Chorus was created and flourished for nearly a decade before going out of existence during World War II. It provided choral forces for the many staged operas presented under Music Director Artur Rodziński’s direction at Severance Hall.

The Orchestra’s fourth music director, George Szell (1946-70), initiated the creation of a permanent chorus to be affiliated with the Orchestra made up of local singers admitted by audition. The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus began performing in 1952, under the joint direction of Russell L. Gee and Robert M. Stofer, and quickly proved its artistic worth. In 1956, Szell invited the young and nationally prominent choral conductor Robert Shaw to join the Orchestra’s conducting staff as associate conductor and chorus conductor, further solidifying and expanding the Chorus’s national reputation for quality. The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus has maintained its position as a leading American orchestra chorus under the subsequent leadership of choral directors Clayton H. Krehbiel (1967-69), Margaret Hillis (1969-71), Robert Page (1971-89), Gareth Morrell (1989-98), Robert Porco (1998-2017), and Lisa Wong (2017-present).

In addition to the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus, which sings during each year’s season of concerts at Severance Hall and on tour and recordings, several additional choral groups have been created under the auspices of The Cleveland Orchestra: Cleveland Orchestra Children’s Chorus (founded in 1967), Blossom Festival Chorus (created in 1968 for performances at the Orchestra’s summer home), Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus (founded in 1991 for high school students), and the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Community Chorus (first assembled in 1989 under the name Cleveland Community Gospel Chorus and formally rechristened with the reopening of Severance Hall in 2000).

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Media Contacts:

Rebecca Calkin

Michael Ritzert

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