Choral Department

Betsy Burleigh

Thomas R. Kasdorf Professor of Choral Conducting; Associate Professor of Music (Choral Conducting); Chair, Department of Choral Conducting

Burleigh, Betsy


Contact Information:
East Studio Building, JS331


Choral Conducting

  • D.M., Doctor of Music, Indiana University
  • M.M., Master of Music, New England Conservatory of Music
  • B.M.E., Bachelor of Music Education, Indiana University

Betsy Burleigh is Thomas R. Kasdorf Professor of Choral Conducting, associate professor of music (choral conducting), and chair of the Department of Choral Conducting at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.

She comes to the Jacobs School from Boston, where she held the posts of music director of Chorus pro Musica and artistic director of the Providence Singers (Rhode Island). She also serves as music director of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, a position she maintains, where she prepares the chorus regularly for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. She has led the Mendelssohn in its own concert productions, including performances of Brahms' Requiem, Bach's B Minor Mass, and Rachmaninoff's Vespers. In 2009, she took the Mendelssohn Chamber Singers, a select sub-chorus of 32, to sing an invited performance at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

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. Theater engagements have included music direction at Opera Cleveland and the Cleveland Public Theater. Also active as a clinician and festival conductor, she recently led Cincinnati's October Festival Choir in Haydn's Theresienmesse.

Burleigh's conducting has been critically acclaimed; her 2012 Chorus pro Musica performance of Haydn's Creation was praised in the Boston Globe as an "expansive, poetic reading," and in the Boston Phoenix as "a stirring and elegant, lilting and expansive performance." Her 2010 Chorus pro Musica rendition of Orff's Carmina Burana was praised as being both "nuanced" and "hair-raising." She won the 2000 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.

From 1994 to 2010, she was coordinator of Choral and Vocal Music at Cleveland State University, where she achieved the rank of full professor.

Burleigh's career began in Boston, where she was music director of The Master Singers, the Longy Chamber Singers, and the Cambridge Madrigal Singers, and held teaching positions at Tufts University, Clark University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

She holds a doctorate in choral conducting from Indiana University, a master's degree in choral conducting from the New England Conservatory of Music, and a bachelor of music education degree from Indiana University. She is an enthusiastic grower (and consumer) of heirloom tomatoes.