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Norman Scribner Sets a Date

For years Washington had possibly too many large choral groups giving too many performances of the same small number of overdone pieces, but little by little the titans of that scene have been making their exits. Robert Shafer was ousted from the Washington Chorus in 2006, eventually replaced by Julian Wachner, only to go on to found yet another volunteer chorus. Donald McCullough did not survive the financial collapse of the Master Chorale of Washington, only the first group in the area to succumb to the pressure of contracting revenues as a result of the credit crisis, while others spring up to take the places of the fallen. Earlier today, in an e-mail sent to members of the Choral Arts Society of Washington, Norman Scribner announced that he will retire from the leadership of the ensemble he founded and has led for forty-five years:
As you can well imagine, this decision has not been an easy one. The musical joy and fulfillment I have experienced over these past forty-five years has enriched my life beyond measure. My friendships with so many of you, forged in the mutual love we all share for great music, will remain in my heart forever. I have always understood, however, that there is a natural rhythm to all human endeavors. After careful consideration of the many factors in this matter, my innermost instincts have confirmed for me that the time has now come for me to pass the torch to a new leader for Choral Arts.
The resignation is not immediate but will become effective on August 31, 2012, allowing the organization a period of two years to decide on a successor. Whoever takes up that torch will have some challenges to face: the group's revenue was reportedly down by 20% last year, and the precipitous shortfall in fund raising experienced by Cathedral Choral Society and other ensembles will not likely improve any time soon.


Don McCullough said...

I'm not exactly sure what was meant by "Donald McCullough did not survive the financial collapse of the Master Chorale of Washington" but, lest anyone think I'm withering away in a padded cell somewhere or worse, six feet under, I thought I should say that I'm well and thriving.

Finding myself at the end of a much needed yearlong break I'm about to turn my attention primarily to composing while also accepting invitations to guest conduct. I was writing a great deal the last few years in DC and receiving more commission requests than I could reasonably fulfill. So, even though the economy has hit composers too, I'm charging ahead, with my face to the wind and looking forward to enjoying this next chapter in my life. I certainly didn't want the closing of the Master Chorale to be the way I found more time to compose, but I guess every cloud has its silver lining.

As for the main point of your post, Norman's retirement, I wish him all the very best. He deserves a hero's exit for all that he has done for the choral art in DC and beyond, and a two year celebration seems only fitting!

Charles T. Downey said...

Haha, no, only meant that you had not risen from the ashes to direct another ensemble in the Washington area. I'm glad you found the silver lining!

Cathedral Choral Society said...

Lest anyone be worried about the Cathedral Choral Society, while our Gala revenue was down, we still ended the season over $70K in the black thanks to our many loyal friends. As with many arts organizations, we have had to rethink how we do some things but we certainly believe that we are well-positioned for the future and look forward to making glorious music in a glorious setting for many years to come.

Charles T. Downey said...

I'm relieved to hear that.