WOOSTER, Ohio – Lisa Wong, associate professor of music at The College of Wooster, was named director of choruses at the Cleveland Orchestra – one of three such positions at a major American orchestra – it was recently announced.
The Cleveland Orchestra is part of the “Big Five” orchestras of the United States, with the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Philadelphia Orchestra being the others, and of those, only Boston and Chicago also have resident choruses.
The Cleveland Orchestra Chorus is a professionally-trained, all-volunteer chorus, and along with the Blossom Festival Chorus, consists of 250 members from nearly 50 northeast Ohio communities. Together, they contribute more than 50,000 volunteer hours annually through rehearsals and performances.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be in this position,” Wong remarked. “The Chorus was founded by Robert Shaw, who essentially shaped choral singing as we know it in the U.S., so to be following in that lineage is incredibly humbling, and also an enormous responsibility.”
Wong, who will maintain her position at Wooster, has served various roles with the Cleveland Orchestra since the 2009-10 season. She started as a member of the chorus ensemble, then joined the staff as assistant director of choruses for seven years, and was the acting director during the 2017-18 season.
“Lisa is an accomplished musician and collaborator who over the past seven seasons … has shown great skill developing the artistry of the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus,” stated Franz Welser-Möst, the music director of the Cleveland Orchestra, in a news release. “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.”
As director of choruses, Wong oversees all of the choral performances for the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus throughout each season, which also includes the Blossom Festival Chorus. In 2018-19, there will be seven different concert programs, each typically consisting of three performances, plus the Christmas series, which in itself is 11 concerts.
Additionally, the chorus will join the Cleveland Orchestra on tours occasionally, with this coming year a swing to Miami and Naples, Fla., planned. Last year, the Wong-directed chorus performed “The Seasons” by Hadyn in the world-famous Carnegie Hall in New York City. “The performance went well, and the audience reaction was extremely positive, so it was really exciting for all of us,” noted Wong.
Wong is in her ninth year as a faculty member at Wooster. She co-chairs the department of music, directs the Wooster Chorus, and teaches courses in conducting, choral literature, and music education. Thanks to Wong’s leadership, the Wooster Chorus has performed at a number of highly-regarded conferences and has twice been a finalist for The American Prize in Choral Performance.
“We are so delighted that Lisa has been appointed as the director of choruses at the Cleveland Orchestra. This appointment is a testament to her extraordinary skill and musicianship. She is a superb teacher and director, and our students are so fortunate to have someone of such accomplishment and distinction leading them,” commented Sarah Bolton, president at Wooster.