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Jacobs School of Music

Alain Barker
Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Friday, June 17, 2011

IU Jacobs School professor Robert Porco receives Chorus America award

June 17, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Robert Porco, adjunct professor of choral conducting and senior advisor to the Choral Department chair at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, is the recipient of the Michael Korn Founders Award for Development of the Professional Choral Art from Chorus America.

This award from the advocacy, research and leadership development organization that advances the choral field honors an individual with a lifetime of significant contributions to the professional choral art. It was presented at the group's 34th Annual Conference in San Francisco, June 8-11.

"I'm very honored, flattered and humbled to be chosen and am very grateful to the nominators and the awards committee," said Porco, also director of choruses for The Cleveland Orchestra and director of choruses for the Cincinnati May Festival.

Chair of the Jacobs Choral Department from 1980 to 1998, Porco recently returned to the school on an adjunct basis. "The one thing that was missing in my life for 10 years was working with students, so I am really enjoying the opportunity to be back at the Jacobs School," he said.

Robert Porco became director of choruses for The Cleveland Orchestra in 1998, following in a line of distinguished Cleveland choral leaders that has included Boris Goldovsky, Robert Shaw, Margaret Hillis, Robert Page and Gareth Morrell. In addition to overseeing choral activities and preparing the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and the Blossom Festival Chorus for a variety of concert programs each season, Porco conducts the orchestra's annual series of Christmas concerts at Severance Hall and regularly conducts subscription concert programs both at Severance Hall and at the Blossom Festival.

During the 2010-11 Severance Hall season, Porco prepared the choruses for performances of Bach's Mass in F Major, BWV 233, Vaughan Williams' Toward the Unknown Region, Holst's The Planets, Mozart's Don Giovanni, Dvoák's Te Deum and Rossini's Stabat Mater.

Throughout his career, Porco has been active as a conductor of opera and of choral-and-orchestral works. He is a regular guest conductor and the director of choruses for the Cincinnati May Festival and has guest-conducted the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and other orchestras in the United States and Europe. He has prepared choruses for such prominent conductors as Pierre Boulez, James Conlon, Andrew Davis, Christoph von Dohnányi, Paavo Järvi, Erich Kunzel, Raymond Leppard, James Levine, Jesús López-Cobos, Zubin Mehta, André Previn, Kurt Sanderling, Robert Shaw, Leonard Slatkin and Franz Welser-Möst.

Highlights of Porco's Cleveland tenure in recent seasons have included preparing the chorus for a February 2009 Carnegie Hall performance of Janáek's Glagolitic Mass and Debussy's Nocturnes and for its May 2009 debut in the Cincinnati May Festival, performing Mahler's Symphony No. 8 ("Symphony of a Thousand"). He prepared the chorus for April 2008 performances of Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony, which he conducted, and January 2007 performances of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 that were conducted by Franz Welser-Möst and recorded live and released on compact disc by Deutsche Grammophon. During the 2005 season, he prepared the chorus for appearances with the orchestra in the Lucerne and the Proms festivals.

An Ohio native, Porco served as chairman of the choral department at Indiana University School of Music from 1980 to 1998 and currently teaches doctoral-level conducting at the school. He has directed the Cincinnati May Festival Chorus since 1989 and was artistic director and conductor of the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir from 1989 to 1998.