Betsy Burleigh is the Thomas R. Kasdorf Professor of Choral Conducting and chair of the Choral Conducting Department at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music.
Equally at home in the professional world and in academia, Burleigh served as music director of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh for 10 years. She led the Mendelssohn in performances of Brahms’ Requiem, Bach’s B-Minor Mass, Rachmaninoff’s All-Night Vigil, and Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor, and prepared the choir for numerous performances with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (PSO) and Manfred Honeck.
As a guest conductor, Burleigh has led the PSO, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Akron Symphony, Canton Symphony, and Handel Society of Dartmouth College. In 2016, she prepared the Tanglewood Festival Chorus for performances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Andris Nelsons, and, in 2012, she prepared the Cincinnati May Festival Chorus for performances at the World Choir Games with the Cincinnati Pops.
No stranger to the world of opera, Burleigh spent four years as chorus master for Cleveland Opera, where she served as music director for A Little Night Music. She also conducted the Cleveland Public Theater’s production of Ulmann’s Der Kaiser von Atlantis. During the course of her professional life, Burleigh has served as assistant director of choruses for The Cleveland Orchestra, where she prepared the chorus for all summer performances at the Blossom Festival, coached German and French diction, and oversaw the chorus for the Deutsche Grammophone recording sessions of Berlioz’s Roméo et Juliette, Pierre Boulez conductor. Other positions have included directing Boston’s Chorus pro Musica, the Providence Singers (RI), Akron Symphony Chorus, Canton Symphony Chorus (OH), and the Mastersingers of Lexington (MA).
Burleigh’s academic life has included teaching at Tufts University, Clark University, Longy School of Music, Southeastern Massachusetts University (now University of Massachusetts Dartmouth), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as Cleveland State University, where she achieved the rank of full professor.
Acclaimed for her oratorio conducting, Burleigh’s 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 rendition of Orff’s Carmina Burana was called both “nuanced” and “hair-raising” by The Boston Musical Intelligencer. She won the 2000 Northern Ohio Live Achievement Award for best classical/opera performance for Ulmann’s Der Kaiser von Atlantis and conducted The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus on an Emmy Award–winning concert for the 9/11 Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.
Burleigh earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree with distinction from Indiana University, a Master of Music in Choral Conducting degree with distinction from the New England Conservatory of Music, and a doctorate in choral conducting from Indiana University.
(Photo by Roger Mastroianni)