University Singers

Choral Audition Information

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Meeting Times: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, 2:30-3:50

Conductor: Betsy Burleigh

Audition: Required

The University Singers of the Jacobs School of Music is a chorus that was founded by Dean Wilfred C. Bain nearly seventy years ago, and is the longest running choral ensemble in the history of the Jacobs School of Music.

The chorus is comprised of approximately 40 of the most advanced singers at the Jacobs School, and their repertoire can range from Renaissance Music to the latest compositions for the virtuoso choir. In addition to concert work, The University Singers has on occasion been the chorus for IU Opera Theater productions such as Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio, Stravinsky’s The Rakes Progress, to John Adam’s Nixon in China. Indeed, many members of the University Singers have gone on to major singing careers and have performed with opera companies around the world such as the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Santa Fe Opera, Covent Garden, La Scala, Deutsche Oper Berlin, & Bayerische Staatsoper, to name a few. University Singers alumni who are currently enjoying luminous careers include Lawrence Brownlee, Jamie Barton, Kyle Ketelsen, Kate Lindsay, Emily Magee, Nancy Maultsby, Ailyn Pérez, and the dynamic young conductor of orchestra and opera, Evan Rogister.

From its inception, the University Singers has been under the leadership of remarkable musicians and scholars. George Krueger was chairman of the choral department at the Indiana University School of Music from 1948 until his retirement in 1972. During this period, the department expanded from three choruses to a well-rounded program of 12, and he is credited with playing an important role in the School of Music's advancement to its present position of world prominence. In 1950, Professor Krueger founded the Singing Hoosiers, which toured the country and became the first collegiate chorus to tour for the USO. He was also a founding member of the American Choral Directors Association and served as its Indiana chairman for several years.

The University Singers continued under the direction of Dr. Fiora Contino in 1972. She combined her professional conducting career with a passion for teaching at the university level. Dr. Contino chaired the Choral Department at Indiana University, and along with fellow faculty member, Julius Herford, established the graduate program in choral conducting which included rigorous training in orchestral direction as well. She was also a principal conductor of the IU opera and symphonic program. Dr. Contino conducted some of the nation’s finest orchestras from Alaska to New York City’s Lincoln Center, all the while maintaining her ties to academia with faculty appointments at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Texas at Austin.

Chancellor’s Professor Emeritus Jan Harrington came to Indiana University to teach in 1973 after holding faculty appointments at the State University of New York at Fredonia and at the University of Oklahoma at Normal. He became the conductor of the University Singers shortly after his arrival and conducted the ensemble for the next 30 years. In 1995 he was entrusted with conducting the inaugural concert of the newly built Auer Hall in a performance of Monteverdi’s Vespers, a concert still remembered as one of the great musical events at the Jacobs School of Music. Under his baton, the University Singers sang at the American Choral Directors Association National Conference in Los Angeles in 2005 and gave additional performances in Malibu and Pasadena, California. As an orchestral conductor, Jan Harrington maintained an equally daring and thought‐ provoking profile. He conducted the Indiana University premieres of some of the most influential works of our time, many of which redefined music in the twentieth century. At the Musical Arts Center Harrington conducted John Corigliano’s Symphony “Of Rage and Remembrance” (the so‐called AIDS Symphony); Olivier Messiaen’s imposing Turangalila Symphony; Luciano Berio’s Sinfonia; and John Adams’ landmark opera Nixon in China. For the IU Opera Theater he also conducted Gluck’s Orfeo and Gounod’s Faust. After his retirement in 2007, the University Singers hosted a number of guest conductors including Dale Warland of the Dale Warland Singers, and Jörg Ritter of the Radio Choir of Cologne. 

With his appointment to the choral faculty in 2009, Richard Tang Yuk, directed the University Singers for the next three years. In addition to his teaching and conducting at the Jacobs School, he continued in his role as General & Artistic Director of The Princeton Festival, a position he holds to date. With over 34 years of experience in opera and choral music, Dr. Tang Yuk has overseen expansion of artistic programming at The Princeton Festival since its inception and is at the core of its creative planning and vision. The range of his large choral repertoire includes Matthäus Passion, Johannes Passion, B minor Mass, Die Jahreszeiten, The Creation, Le Roi David, Elijah, Carmina Burana, the requiems of Duruflé, Brahms, Mozart, and Schütz, and Messiah in a performance at Lincoln Center, New York. His operatic repertoire includes works by Handel, Mozart, Bizet, Wagner, Stravinsky, Gershwin and Britten to mention a few.

Dr. Betsy Burleigh is now at the helm of the University Singers and is also the Chair of the Choral Conducting Department at the Jacobs School of Music. Her former posts include music director of Chorus pro Musica of Boston, Massachusetts, artistic director of the Providence Singers (Rhode Island), and music director of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh. Burleigh served as assistant director of choruses for The Cleveland Orchestra from 1998 until 2009 and as chorus master for Cleveland Opera from 2002 to 2006. She also was director of The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus for eight years. As guest conductor, Burleigh has led the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Akron Symphony, the Canton Symphony, and the Rhode Island Philharmonic. Burleigh's conducting has been critically acclaimed and she won the Northern Ohio Live Achievement Award for best classical/opera performance and conducted the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus on an Emmy Award-winning concert for the 9/11 Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. She has prepared choruses for Manfred Honeck, Rafael Frübeck de Burgos, Jan Pascal Tortelier, Leonard Slatkin, Sir Andrew Davis, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Anton Coppola, Jane Glover, Jahja Ling, Nicholas McGegan, John Nelson, Yuri Temirkanov, and Franz Welser-Möst, among others.

University Singers